This time of year is always in my mind the best here at the Quinta, the last two weeks of April and the first two of May. OK, so it’s not as hot as later on in the year and the lake’s not so warm either, but everything seems to be buzzing with Life, and especially so the entrance to the Quinta as you can see above with the Jasmine and Wisteria in full bloom. It makes it a shame to have to leave it to go out birding sometimes!
We’ve just been written about in another French magazine, this time this week’s edition of “Madame Figaro”, so we seem to be becoming known to our Gallic cousins and I can see I’ll have to polish up my French.
What I also have to polish up is my nursing skills, as Daniela is highly unimpressed with them; she managed to put a knife through her arm yesterday and now has nine stitches holding her together. The Health Centre in Odemira was mercifully empty when we pitched up there yesterday so we were in and out in a jiffy; what wasn’t so impressive was a complete absence of Betadine anti-septic … I hope it’s just a one-off and not a cost-cutting exercise, but I must remember to take our own bottle in there next time to be on the safe side …
It’s a first I think for me to post a photo on either of my blogs that i didn’t take myself, but this is an exception as it’s such a fantastic shot of Carolina.
It’s one of the many ways that we’re lucky here in that the Quinta attracts more and more fantastic photographers to stay and take advantage of the subjects, light and clarity we enjoy.
During the last two weeks we’ve had two such photographers here, Antonio Cruz and Ben Cherry; have a look at their stuff.
Now all I have to save up for is a 1D Mk 4 and a nice little wide-angle ….
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!