We took our usual place at the Birdfair last week – only we doubled the space and had a bigger stand. It was a huge amount of work to design and organize it all, but we wanted it to go well and to make a splash out of the expansion of our sister company, “Birding in Portugal” and our new website – and all the work paid off when we won 3rd prize out of the whole Fair for it! Well choughed!
We also ran our annual raffle for a week’s free accommodation here at the Quinta and the winner this year is Andy Davis.
Congratulations! we look forward to welcoming you here next year.
We’re absolutely over the moon at receiving our third Certificate of Excellence from Tripadviser.
We’d like to thank all our past guests for having such confidence in us – and we’ll look forward to seeing you again soon!
The weather this Spring has been gorgeous, hot sunny days interspersed with a few rainy ones here and there. Wetter than normal and the rain seems to have lasted a great deal later than usual which has kept everything green and fresh.
Loads of food around for all of nature to take advantage of and we’ve had great fun observing it all.
One of the nicest places around the Quinta is the little Cortebrique Valley about three miles away, and I’ve spent many happy hours there during the past few months. It has a mixture of habitats from scrub to grassy meadows to kitchen gardens and fields of maize and wheat to patches of cork oaks and woodland. I’ve posted quite a few pictures of birds I’ve seen there on the Quinta’s Birding website, and it’s sometimes difficult to know where that blog ends and this one begins – or vice versa – but this beautiful Southern Gatekeeper belongs here I think.
There were quite a few of them yesterday in a small patch of wood, flitting about early on in the morning warming up; this is a male.
He’s smaller than the female, (only about 15mm wide rather than 20mm), who lacks that beautiful pattern on the top forewing shown above. The pattern is actually scent glands called androconia that are used in attracting the female. They feed on grasses and like it hot with dappled shade, so the Cortebrique Valley suits them right down to the ground. They fly in one brood from June onwards throughout the summer, extending from Portugal eastwards to Turkey and along the north African shore, though apparently absent from the eastern Mediterranean.
I got most of the above information, including the original id, from Matt Rowlings and his excellent website, so “Thanks, Matt!”. If you’re interested in butterflys I can heartily recommend a visit.
Breakfast at the Quinta can be a lot of things; getting ready for the day, nursing an over-indulgence from the night before, lively conversation, a relaxed start or just a time to contemplate while enjoying the fresh croissants and the Quinta’s honey.
In the background Uncle Harry is most likely welcoming everyone with “Olá” and squawking away like a wound-up toy while he clambers from one branch to another, and so it was this morning, but I found the Nightingale singing just outside the window too and grabbed this quick film which I hope you’ll enjoy!
We’ve all been horrendously busy during the last few weeks as Spring is Springing like nobody’s business and we’ve been choc-a-bloc with Nature enthusiasts. I’m out guiding most days, so when the forecast last night said rain it was with a sigh of relief that we looked forward to a small lie-in, but it wasn’t to be …
A huge thunderstorm broke over our heads in the middle of the night and I was up and down the stairs protecting our electricity – most of the time splashing about with a tatty old umbrella and an equally tatty hat and dressing gown!
I finally got back to sleep again in the wee hours, only to be woken by an excited Flora at half past six gabbling on excitedly about something or other, and my excitement matched hers as she told me about the Fire Salamander she’d just found outside.
Rushing downstairs again we found him where she’d left him. They don’t wander far – nor too fast either, though this one was quicker than most as it was only young – and they’re territorial so it’s a real bonus to have them around here. They love this warm, wet weather and come out on nights like the one we’d just had, so it was a real silver lining to all that lost sleep.
Death’s Head Hawkmoth
Contrary to the forecast it turned into a beautiful day as well AND we found a Death’s Head Hawkmoth.
These moths are huge and love honey, regularly raiding bee-hives; we have a few of these here at the Quinta as you may know – it’s where our delicious honey comes from – but this moth had been attracted to a hive in the roof of one of the staff rooms and become trapped inside. We took some photos and let him out and he’s been resting on one of the poles on the terrace all day, getting ready for the night’s activities …
It was great to spend a day at home, the first in quite a while, and to take a little wander around the “home patch” too; we were even lucky enough to come across this Dartford Warbler who’s got a nest in some scrub in the garden; what bliss!
Following his family’s successful Fishing Holiday in Portugal at the Quinta, Christophe sent me this lovely film he made while here fishing with Paulo Jorge Ramos, the World Wide-mouthed Bass Champion. I think they enjoyed themselves! So, notwithstanding the Quinta’s reputation as a birding and nature hotspot, it’s not all about those past-times, not by a long cast!!
Another new species has colonised the Quinta’s gardens!
It’s fantastic how as the garden matures so it becomes more and more attractive and new birds appear here.
This Cirl Bunting has been singing away prominently for the last week or so but every time he’s seen my camera he’s high-tailed it into the undergrowth … until yesterday afternoon, and I’m over the moon with having got this shot.
Driving through Cortebrique this morning and someone shouted out to me, “Congratulations!”
“What for?” I asked.
“Why, for being #1 on Google of course; didn’t you know?”
“#1 on Google? I had no idea”, I replied truthfully. Though both Daniela and I work hard to promote the Quinta and countryside tourism in general in this area, I had no idea we’d apparently been so successful. “What search terms were you using?” I asked, intrigued.
“Quinta Portugal,” my friend replied, “and what’s so clever of you is that “Quinta” isn’t even in the name of your site. You beat all the big boys, all the other tourist sites and even all the “Quinta for sale” sites. Very smart. Congratulations! How did you do it?”
I had to come clean of course and say I didn’t know; as I say we work hard at our internet presence here, and maybe our Birding Site helps in this respect, but whether I know how it came about or not, it’s still a huge feather in our cap and we’re justly proud of ourselves and all of us hope our many friends and volunteers will be too, as it’s just as much thanks to all of you as to anything we’ve done.
Right, enough scribbling, I’m off down to the village to get the bubbly!
We got this in the post today and we’re absolutely blown away by it!
We realise of course that we’d never have received it but for all of our guests this year who contributed their time by writing a review on us, so may Daniela and I take this opportunity to thank all of you – and of course all our staff this year who worked so hard to making the Quinta a success, Fatima and Dulce of course, but also those who volunteered their time here, Marcus, Susanna, Des, Shirley, Brian, Steve, Araby, Maria João, Ann, Bronwyn, Elias, Flora and Carolina; this is as much a certificate of excellence for all of you as it is for the Quinta as a whole, so a million thanks to all of you.
We look forward to doing more of the same in 2011!