I spend, as a lot of you will know, an inordinate amount of my time showing our guests the birdlife that surrounds the Quinta, and many many mornings I’m up before dawn to be in the right place at the right time. The early bird, as they say, catches the worm, but if you want to catch the bird then there’s no option than to be up even earlier.
I know some people have trouble getting up early, especially on holiday, but there are some wonderful compensations, and none better in my opinion than to see the sun “come up like thunder” across the Plains of the Alentejo.
Sometimes everything comes together and I get a shot I’m truly proud of; this was one of those times a couple of days ago …
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.
The first Lapwings are arriving back again to over-winter here. We find a lot of them on the plains of the Alentejo along with Golden Plovers.
I had a break with Daniela at the beginning of the week and we decided to go north and grab ourselves a Dipper; thanks to a very informative offer from Rui Marcão we were able to do just that and the above is the result. We were looking for some other species as well but sadly we blew out on all of them – not surprising really as the temperature was well over 40ºC/105ºF and it was a tad warm even for us.
I wasn’t going to put this picture up on this blog …. I posted it on my birding blog and was going to leave it at that … I mean I see these Little Owls every other day, they’re not that special, but ever since I put it up on to my Flickr Photostream I’ve been inundated with comments so hey, what the heck, if it’s that good I’ll post it here as well! I hope you enjoy it!
It seems ages since I wrote the last entry in this blog – it all goes to show that there’s no rest for the wicked I suppose! So what’s been happening?
Well, the sun’s been shining and most days recently I seem to have been out there guiding and birding – and when I haven’t been doing that I’ve been trying to catch up with the paperwork that always goes on behind the scenes.
Now I’m not going to bore anyone with the ins and outs of the paperwork, (which just seems to get more tedious, involved and threatening every day – the latest gem is a threat from our local authority to fine any business that doesn’t comply with the latest State grab for more money with a fine of two and a half million euros!), as the photos below make up for all the days we have to spend doing it. They were all taken during the last couple of weeks during which time the Quinta’s been lucky enough to play host to some far better photographers than I’ll ever be, but these are my offerings; some of them are colourful, some of them not, some of them interesting to the general public, and some of them interesting only to those of us who get a thrill from distinguishing one little brown bird from another! The one above is of course of one of my favourite species, a Red-rumped Swallow. They were picking up nesting material from the petrol station forecourt in Santa Clara, so it was a nice easy shot to make – comfortable too, sitting in the bar with a drink by my elbow!
Pure luck to have been in the right place at the right time again but this is one of my favourites. Not often that one’s able to get a record this sharp …. I think I’m proudest of this shot than of pretty well any other I’ve taken during the last few months!
A rather boring LBJ but one that it’s difficult to find and get a good shot of so I was pleased with this.
I adore Rock Buntings and we’re lucky enough to have them nesting in the garden – so why did I feel it was necessary to trek to the top of a mountain for this shot? No reason really, the shot was there and sometimes one simply doesn’t see the beauty we have on our own doorstep ….