Monday, 24 October 2016

Castro Marin on the Portuguese border

Monday 17 October

A selection of waders.  How many can you identify?  Only three, keep looking.
Off across the border river to explore the Castro Marin reserve on the Portuguese side of the Rio Guadiano in the wonderful company John and Jenny Wainwright.  It seemed that most of our group took the same route but, at least, we were able to split up on very many occasions before going our separate ways for the rest of the day.  Once again, lovely weather and no wind and we were greeted by old friends such as Crested Larks and Red-legged Partridges.  No sooner had we made our first stop that we had both Mallard and Spoonbills passing overhead and no shortage of local Stonechats and Corn Buntings.

Stopping by the first pool a Green Sandpiper moved away and in the low vegetation we found both Dartford and Sardinian Warblers.  Cattle Egret, Redshank and Heron were added to the list whilst posed on top of a middle-distance bush was the first Iberian Grey Shrike of the morning.  House Sparrows were flocking near the fence on top of the hill to the left and Black-winged Stilts walked the next pond but it was the juvenile Bluethroat that really stole our attention.  Amazingly, whilst watching the Bluethroat below tree a Spotted Flycatcher perched just a couple of feet above. Having drawn the attention of others to the Spotted Flycatcher it obligingly removed itself to be replaced within a couple of inches by a Pied Flycatcher!  Now that's the way to see birds.

A rather lovely Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
The next pools, which seemed to have a water link at the back, contained both Ringed Plover and a single Grey Plover and when the Little Egrets had moved away we also found a Greenshank.  Both White Stork and Hoopoes were in the air and then, on a distant dead tree to the right of the Visitors Centre, a resting Osprey.  Parked at the Visitors Centre we were able to look over the vegetation and find a single Great White Egret whilst to the left a number of Flamingos were feeding.  Scoping the surrounding area we also observed Northern Wheatear along with Yellow-legged, Black-headed and Slender-billed Gulls. Our final sighting before moving away from the site was a single Whimbrel.

A stop at the working salinas immediately below Castro Marin produced a range of waders including Ringed, Little Ringed and Kentish Plover along with Black-winged Stilts, Redshank, Turnstone and Common Sandpiper.

Common Sandpiper Actitis macularius
Our final stop before returning to Costa Esuri was another working salina on the outskirts of Tavira. Here, not so many birds, but we did record Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, lots of Redshank and Turnstone along with Little Egret, Little Stint, Curlew SandpiperDunlin, Ringed and Kentish Plover.

Distant Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea in winter plumage

Birds seen:
Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Heron, Great White Egret, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Osprey, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Little Stint, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Bluethroat, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Iberian Grey Shrike, House Sparrow, Corn Bunting.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

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