After one of the driest winters I can remember – we only had 15 minutes rain between August and April – we’ve been blessed with some Spring showers the last few weeks, and the countryside has recovered incredibly fast. The flowers are out, the birds are singing fit to bust and everywhere nature seems to be making up for lost time.
Of course it wont be anything like the Spring we had last year, but it’ll be a hell of a lot better than we were dreading it was going to be.
Obviously we’re very sorry for those unfortunate enough to have booked their holiday here during this unsettled weather, but for those staying during the coming weeks this rain, though not enough to make up for the drought during the winter, has at least salvaged the majority of the flowers – and the cloud formations like the above that we’ve enjoyed during the last fortnight have been stunning!
For those interested in the natural world, remember that all the latest birding news is posted on our birding website.
We do a lot of nature themed activities here at the Quinta as I’m sure a lot of you are aware, and most of these revolve around Birdwatching, so it’s not every day that Frank, the Quinta’s owner and Birder-in-Chief, gets to see something he’s never seen before, but this week was an exception when we saw Great Bustards fighting, so we thought a small clip of it would amuse you.
There’s a larger film on our Birding Blog if you want to see more …
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that there’d been a press article about the Quinta, and hot on the heels of that one comes a blog entry from Adventurous Kate, a “solo-female-travel-blogger” Frank met at the World Travel Market last November. Here’s her article. Have a nice read!
One of the great draws of spending time at the Quinta is the fact that Frank, (the owner), regularly guides birdwatching trips, and the area he thinks is the best are the Plains of the Alentejo just north east of us. He’s been doing it now for nearly twenty years and so knows the area like the back of his hand.
The Plains are famous for many species, but the flagship of the area is the Great Bustard, the heaviest flying bird in the world, and there is no better time to see this individual than right now, the end of March and the beginning of April, when they have their famous “Foam Bath” mating display.
They are a globally threatened species – a bird can’t walk around with 18 kilos of meat without having problems – and are therefore very wary and seldom let one approach close, so to get the shot above is the answer to many years of dreams!
It’s always gratifying to have an article published about the Quinta and we’ve just been written about in “Portugal Life and Travel” magazine which is a great bonus for us, especially at this time of year when the birdlife around us is so spectacular.
Just for the record, our Bullfinches are still in the garden; very late for them still to be here, but a daily joy to see them every morning!
I mentioned in one of my December posts that the winter here is a time of maintenance, and here’s the result of some of this winter’s work.
We’ve obviously done a lot behind the scenes that won’t be noticeable to most past guests, but I don’t think that anybody could fail to notice the up-grade we’ve been able to give to five of our bathrooms!
Many people have commented in the past on the nice size of these rooms, but now they’re even better – new, larger baths, new plumbing, new sinks and sink-surrounds, new tiling throughout – and with each bathroom having its own unique design to go with the room.
This picture is from “Cão” or “Dog” and of course we had to celebrate our four mutts here, Sideways, Meiktila, Pesca and Honey.
We hope you like them when you come to stay – the dogs and the new bathrooms of course!
Every ten years or so the conditions are just right for Bullfinches to over-winter down here in the Quinta’s gardens, and this year is one of those years with a small flock gracing us with their presence. It makes having a cold, dry winter more bearable, and I don’t even mind them feasting on all the peach buds!
Winter at the Quinta is the time for maintenance and recuperation … and our holidays!
Last week we took a quick break in Ireland where Daniela’s always wanted to go; OK, this time of year isn’t the best time to see the Emerald Isle in all its glory, but we had a fun time nevertheless visiting Newgrange, (the oldest human structure), and the Tetrapod trackway, (the oldest footprints of any animal), as well as catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in over 40 years, (who must be the oldest friends I haven’t seen for a while as well!).
It was a week full of surprises – I’d told Daniela we were going to take a quick trip to Morocco, so it was a delight to see her face when we started queuing for a flight to Dublin instead of Marrakesh – but one of the nicest surprises, (apart from re-kindling old friendships of course), was this Wren landing on my shoulder … what made it even better was that Daniela had the camera in her hands and was able to get this photo. I’ve posted the picture on my birding blog as well, even if the chap wasn’t in Portugal.
Daniela and I are having the holiday of a lifetime next month and’re off to Australia for a few weeks. I’ve had the dream all my life and finally we’re going, complete with the new monster lens. Unfortunately it looks as if it’s going to be even more expensive than usual, with their economy booming and Europe’s going down the pan, so anything to keep the cost down is in order … which reminded me of this sign on the bridge over the River Piddle in Wareham where I grew up.
Now let me see … where did I put the spray paint?