Archive for February, 2011

Another lovely wet winter leaves Santa Clara a tad damp …

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Santa-Clara-Feb-2011-8392, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

Spring is definitely on the way and the first Barn Swallow chicks have hatched in the Quinta’s Library. The days are appreciably longer and today the sun is shining fit to bust, but the last few days and nights Winter threw at us everything it could possibly fling with the result that we’ve lost Turtle Island, Chicken Island is a mere blip in the ocean that is the lake and Santa Clara has a roaring torrent flowing past its door instead of its usual trickle. The pontoon is a jump away from the garden now, (I honestly can’t pull it up any further and will instead build a bridge to get out to it), and there are just three steps from the Summer House lawn into the water.
Yes, I’ve seen it higher, back in November ‘97 when we had the worst storm in living memory and the lake came up 3 mts in a single night, but I honestly haven’t seen it as high as this since then. Back then we were hit hard and then followed a drought that only really lifted eleven years later; I wonder what the next eleven years will bring?
In the meantime we’ll relish the proximity of the water to our door and pray that the Câmara, our local County Council, repair the roads that are all falling apart around here - the potholes are simply everywhere; it’s getting as bad as Costa Rica, so we’re glad we’ve had recent practice !

The picture I’ve dreamed of for years - what a Valentine’s day!

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Black-bellied-Sandgrouse-8361, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

No posts for ages, but there’s been a reason … Daniela and I have been Honeymooning in Costa Rica and only got back a few days ago! We managed to take around 3,500 pictures which’ll take me some time to sort out, but as soon as I manage it I’ll post them up on our Birding site for you to take a look at.
We’ve had a busy time finding our feet again here, but I’ve managed to squeeze in two days birding on the Plains, the second of which was today – and it’s GREAT to be birding on my home patch again, back amongst old friends!
The species count today was only 57 in an eight hour period, but that’s to be expected at this time of year before the migration gets into its stride. However the views we had were stunning as always, and it makes a huge change from birding in the Rain Forest where, although the birds are spectacular, the light for photography is so often “flat” and one has to be constantly changing the ISO and other settings. Back here the ISO is pretty well a constant 200 at f5.6 and this gives excellent results as you can see from this post’s photo.
What was more we had the highest count I’ve ever witnessed for Great Bustards over a similar time period, well over my highest in years past which was 87; today it was 126!
They’re gathering together into droves to prepare for the mating season which normally gets into its stride in a few week’s time, (though we saw a couple displaying well today). This increase in numbers is solely due to the successful hard conservation work put in by the LPN and SPEA and I take my hat off to them; all power to your elbows!
Anyway, I could have posted any number of shots of either of the Bustards as they’re the flagship species for the area, but instead I had to post the picture of these Sandgrouse, as, on top of being the shot I’ve dreamed of taking for years, it goes to show that all that hard work done by those splendid organisations benefits not only those flagship species but also those other species that live in the same habitat, like these gorgeous Black-bellied Sandgrouse.