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

The latest article

March 14th, 2012

Fountain-2184, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

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!

New Quinta bathrooms

February 26th, 2012


New Quinta bathrooms, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

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!

Bullfinches visit the garden

February 19th, 2012


IMG_9286, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

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!

Irish Surprise

December 28th, 2011

Frank-with-Wren-8158, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

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.

Happy New Year to you all!

An easy way to get down-under?

December 11th, 2011


Piddle-Bridge-sign-at-Wareham-0339, originally uploaded by Paradise 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?

New Lens takes Wildlife Photography up another notch at the Quinta

November 30th, 2011

Crested-Tit-8479, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

Went mad a month or so ago and bought the Quinta a lovely new lens and’ve been getting some cracking shots with it over the last week - now that I’ve taken enough vitamin pills to be able to lift  it!

Can’t wait till Spring comes around and I can get it out to the Plains where it’ll really come into its own, but in the meantime here’s a Crested Tit that’s in the garden at the moment.

Sunrise-6996

October 3rd, 2011


Sunrise-6996, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

There’s nothing quite beats sunrise over the Plains … and I’ve been seeing more than my share of them recently, so thought I’d share this one with all of you!

Raffle Take 2 - what a lovely view!

September 11th, 2011

New-view-shot-0374-cropped, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

Well, we’ve drawn the raffle again, but before I get there, I’ve had quite a few emails from recipients of the email I sent out asking what the picture of the lake is all about, so rather than write to all of you individually, the lake view picture above is the view from your room when you’re staying in Paradise at the Quinta.
OK, on to the Birdfair Raffle winners; well, I’m afraid only one of the winners got in touch with me during the last seven days, so she’s been awarded the First prize of a week’s free accommodation anytime apart from High Season during 2012. Congratulations Vicky Gilbert! Go and celebrate with a nice bottle of wine - with a cork in it!
For all the rest of you, better luck next time. Remember we’ll be at the Birdfair again next year and’ll run the same raffle with the same great prizes, so there’s always 2012 to have another go - and if you can’t wait till then, well, come out sooner and drink in the view above with your wine!

Birdfair 2011 Raffle

August 28th, 2011

Birdfair-2011, originally uploaded by Paradise in Portugal.

So … another Birdfair done’n'dusted, and what a Birdfair it was!
Glorious weather, not too hot nor too cold; pelted with rain the day we set up and pelted again the day afterwards, just right really, so not too hot in the tent, nor too wet and slippery around the fair either … perfect! Our thanks go out also to all those hard-working souls behind the scenes who organised and ran yet another successful weekend.

It was a great venue to showcase the Quinta’s new joint venture, “Nature Provides” where we’re going to be promoting jewellery and other accessories made from our local natural products here, such as cork or olive wood.
My lecture went well - or so I’m told - but I’d have liked it to be longer so I could really get my message out there that screw top and plastic stoppers in wine are seriously bad for the environment and adversely affect much of Western Palearctic birdlife. In October I’m off to spread the word in Middlesborough and Teeside at two lectures, thankfully longer, for the RSPB groups there, so if you’re in the area please come along. In the meantime, if you drink wine, please make the effort to buy bottles with real corks in them; the birds you see in the future depend upon us making this small, pleasurable, commitment. Not too much to ask is it?
Not too much to ask for me to get a move on and announce the lucky winners of this year’s Birdraffle either …  but i had them up for a week and nobody claimed, so I’m going to re-draw on Sunday 11th September and the new winners will be posted here from midday that day. Remember that the names will only be up here for the following week so if you were an entrant make sure you pop by during that time.

Of course you could always come out here beforehand and see what Paradise is like - you can see what birds we get by visiting our Birding site. We’re keeping the prices the same as this year for any reservations made before Christmas, and there’s a wonderful promotion of 20% for any stay of a week or more, so it’s never been better value for money.