Great Spotted Woodpecker at nest with juvenile 3594

June 15th, 2012


Great Spotted Woodpecker at nest with juvenile 3594, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

A wonderful find down the Secret Valley a few days ago was this Great Spotted Woodpecker nest with nearly mature chicks. Spent a few hours down there now and managed to get this lovely shot.

25 years on …

May 12th, 2012


File0097-straightened, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

Our home, Quinta do Barranco da Estrada, better known as “Paradise in Portugal” has now been running successfully for 25 years.
We started off with pretty well nothing but a few wooden shacks, a dream and some dry, barren land as the picture above shows.
For the past month or so as the date’s drawn nearer we’ve been racking our brains for some way to celebrate this achievement and finally have it!
We’re offering a 25% promotion for any stay of four nights or longer during the three weeks around the 25th week of the year, i.e. anytime between 11th June and 1st July.
Thus a double room will cost a mere 82.50 euros, (approx £66), rather than 110, (approx £88), including, of course, all the standard extras like the boats, sauna and wifi etc.. In these days of austerity we thought that this would be the most appreciated way of celebration!
If you’d like to take this offer up please drop us an email as soon as possible quoting this promotion as we expect the vacancies we still have available to fill quite quickly.
Looking forward to seeing you out here!

Sideways RIP

May 3rd, 2012


Sideways 1 for web, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

I seem to always post good news here, and not surprising really as the Quinta’s a pretty good place to be, but occasionally my natural exuberance takes a hit.
I have to say this last week is one of the worst where that’s concerned as one of my favourite friends passed away suddenly a few days ago after a short illness.
We will miss him here, as I am sure will everyone who ever had the good fortune to meet him. He was the friendliest and most intelligent dog I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.
We buried him here in the garden he loved and have planted a cyprus tree to mark his grave.
Rest in Peace Sideways; I count myself honoured to have had the chance to know you for so long.

The Jasmine and Wisteria entrance to the Quinta

April 23rd, 2012

Jasmine-and-Wisteria-approach-to-bar-2529, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

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 …

Carolina by Antonio Cruz

April 21st, 2012

Carolina-by-Antonio-Cruz-1809, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

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 ….

Clouds across the lake 0955

April 19th, 2012

Clouds across the lake 0955, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

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.

A first for Frank

April 1st, 2012

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 …

And here’s the Owl that Kate saw …

March 27th, 2012

Little Owl 8275, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

Adventurous Kate has written another blog article, this time about the day I took her birding here. It’s great she liked it so much! Above is the owl she saw, and here’s her article.

Blog it, Sister!

March 23rd, 2012

View from the bar, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

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!

Great Bustard “Foam Bath” mating display

March 20th, 2012

Great Bustard Display-0110, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

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!

If you want to see more pictures, visit Frank’s Birding site, www.birding-in-portugal.com