Monday 10 April 2017

Birding Huelva: Day 3

Thursday 6 April

Day 3: Castro Marin and the Portuguese Salinas of Taverna

Lots of Bee-eaters Abejanuco Europeo Merops apiaster seen at close quarters
The relatively short drive down to the Portuguese border in the one car and then across to the Castro Marin reserve that borders the river.  Whilst we had recorded Collared Dove, Spotless Starling, Kestrel and both Barn and Red-rumped Swallows on the way down, it was the increasing numbers of Crested Larks and Corn Buntings that reminded us more of the habitat we were about to encounter.  No sooner had we arrived than we were also finding Magpie, Stonechat and Zitting Cisticola but then came the moment, at last, when we finally found our first Azure-winged Magpies since arriving in the west.  Interesting to find a massive Ocellated Lizard resting in the shade; must have been at least 60cm long including tail.

Ocellated Lizard Timon lepidus
The small pools contained a mixture of Mallard, Cattle and Little Egrets along with Black-winged Stilts, Redshank and a solitary Greenshank.  A Marsh Harrier drifted by away to the right and then flight sightings also of White Stork, Bee-eater and Common Swift. Both Spoonbills and House Martins flew over as we made our way towards the Visitors Centre and a pleasant inter-change with local warden Felipe.

Lovely to see so many Spoonbill Espatula Comun Platalea leucorodia

A walk, having collected the key, to the enclosed fresh water pool produced Serin and Goldfinch and on the water Coot, Mallard, Shoveler and Gadwall along with a few Shelduck.  A Little Grebe was happy to regularly dive for its food and even a pair of Red-legged Partridges came down to the waterside to see what was going on and revealed a Common SandpiperRed-rumped Swallows were above us as we made our way back and then took a look at the far salinas which revealed a small number of Flamingos and two pairs of Avocet.  Once we had recorded the Little Ringed Plover we made our way down to the extensive salinas along the coast to the east of Tavira.

These extensive salinas were awash with waders and water birds.  Not just the expected Grey Herons and Little Egrets but masses of Dunlin and Redshank along with Grey Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling and Turnstone.  Great fun watching the Turnstones doing as their name implied as they turned quite large stones over in the shallow water.  As expected, we also found both Little Ringed and Kentish Plover.  On the banks we found a number of Iberian Yellow Wagtail along with the occasional Blackbird.

Bar-tailed Godwit Aguja Colipinta  Limosa lapponica
As the Yellow-legged Gulls flew overhead we then found a Marsh Sandpiper and Bar-tailed Godwit, the latter the only godwit seen during the week.  The Bar-tailed Godwit took off to the nearby river and, on finding the bird, we also found another Grey Plover and a WhimbrelOystercatchers were seen and a Sandwich Tern was feeding off-shore.  As we returned to the main road, the final pool provided our first Purple Heron of the week and a distant Curlew was heard by all.

Curlew Zarapito Real Numenius arqueta
On the track we came across a Northern Wheatear which remained faithful to the top of a pile of stones and a Hoopoe crossed the track in front of us whilst, high above, a Buzzard was making lazy circles in the sky.  Driving away we also noted the resting Cormorants.

Northern Wheatear Collalba Gris Oenanthe oenanthe


Birds seen:
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel,  Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Redshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Turnstone, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Collared Dove, Common Swift, Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Magpie, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Serin, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting.

More of the Bee-eaters Abejanuco Europeo Merops apiaster

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

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