Visit your favourite destinations
|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Lisbon and Central Portugal, 7 - 15 March 2008 ,
A Birdwatchers’ Guide to Portugal & Madeira by CC Moore, G Elias & H Costa.
The Collins Guide to birds of Britain & Europe, with N Africa and the Middle East by Hermann Heinzel, Richard Fitter & John Parslow.
With friends living near Cascais (35km west of Lisbon), the invitation to visit them and do some bird watching around the Lisbon area was irresistible. So leaving some hideous British weather behind we headed off from Luton airport on 7th Mar and retuned on the 16th having missed the biggest storm of the British winter – what a result!
Car parking at Luton cost £42 for eight days, car hire in Portugal cost £63.08 for eight days with the local firm – Guerin and the flights cost £139 return for two adults with Easyjet. The total cost was a good price for an enjoyable week birding in the sun. If I hadn’t eaten so much Chicken Piri Piri and drank so much beer it would have been even cheaper. The price of petrol had gone up since my last visit however I only used about 25 euros per day, so it wasn’t that bad.
Day 1 – 8 Mar
After a short flight from Luton to Lisbon, a frustrating time hiring the car that had been booked and a drive to our friend's house we arrived at Murches; a small village outside Cascais where the Sintra hills featured as a back drop.
Serins were much in evidence and a quick walk around the scrubby, rocky area at the back of the house revealed a male Siskin, Sardinian Warblers, several common woodland birds and a male Blue Rock Thrush.
Day 2 – 9 Mar
A visit to Cabo de Roca produced four Balearic Shearwaters, several Gannets and two Shags with accompanying Yellow-legged Gulls. Later around Murches the only Dartford Warbler a Buzzard and three Spotless Starlings were seen.
Day 3 – 10 Mar
An early start and a long drive to the International Tagus reserve on the Spanish border via several N (National) roads. White Storks became common and House Martins, Swallows and Cattle Egrets put in an appearance. The highlight near Constancia Sul was a large roost of cormorants and a single Black Stork flying up the river. The first Black Kite was also seen here. East of Castelo Branco near Ladoeiro two Southern Grey Shirkes were noted along with seven Azure-winged Magpies. A brief stop at a roadside pool on the N353 produced a Bluethroat, two Reed Buntings, several Snipe a Great White Egret.
Continuing to Rosmaninhal via Idanha da Nova, two Red-legged Partridges were by the roadside and just North of Rosmaninhal a showy Black-shouldered Kite was seen perched on roadside telegraph lines. South of Rosmaninhal in the Vale de Morena, International Tagus reserve, two Black Vultures, five Griffon Vultures, a Hoopoe and at least 30 Azure-winged Magpies brightened up a fairly soggy day.
The return to Lisbon via Boquilobo Marsh produced a Redstart, Grey Wagtail and a pair of Brambling one of which was a stunning male. Sadly this area has suffered from a number of dry winters and the marsh area is much reduced.
Day 4 – 13 Mar
A cultural day out in Lisbon today was vectored into the visit to our friends, which was very enjoyable. Several Natas, coffees, a few beers and lunch had us heading for an early night.
Day 5 – 12 Mar
A journey to the Tagus Estuary area just North of Lisbon started with a visit to the Pancas track area, through Cork Oak woodlands. Two Black Kite were encountered and the only Red-rumped Swallows of the trip. A pair of Kingfishers put in an appearance and a Black Redstart perched on the buildings at Bate Orelhas. Several common species were observed including Hoopoes, Fan-tailed Warblers and about sixty distant Greater Flamingos on the estuary proper.
A short drive to Barroco Marsh was rewarding where at least a1000 Black-tailed Godwits and 137 Glossy Ibis were feeding. A pair of Marsh Harriers entertained whilst a Water Pipit and a pair of Penduline Tits were still present from the winter. Summer plumaged Iberian Wagtails were seen and of the exotics, Village Weavers were numerous.
In the afternoon at Cascais sea front a Sandwhich Tern was seen, however the “Frango” chicken Piri Piri and a cold beer deserved more attention.
A quick drive around the Sintra Hills in the early evening was rewarded with a pair of Wood Pigeons, a Short-toed Treecreeper and in conifers near Murches a Firecrest.
Day 6 – 13 Mar
A day out south of Lisbon over the 25th April bridge saw a visit to Albefeira Lagoon which was a little disappointing followed by an enjoyable walk around Cape Espichel. Upon arrival at the Cape two Cory’s Shearwaters, two Balearic Shearwaters and several Gannets were seen attending a fishing boat. The only Pallid Swifts of the trip were noted and two singing male Cirl Buntings were seen. A Willow Warbler and a c25 Spotless Starlings finished off the visit.
Negotiating Satubel found me arriving at Prais de Sado saltpans at about lunchtime, which produced numerous Black-winged Stilts, several Kentish Plovers, a Grey Plover, two Dunlin, a Greenshank, three Avocet and four Greater Flamingos.
Driving south in search of the track to Panheiro had a light phase Booted Eagle drifting over me, whilst the track itself is now gated about a mile from the road stopping further access. However a drive around the local area and other likely looking tracks produced a Great Spotted Cuckoo, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Buzzard, a singing Woodlark and a Nuthatch.
Whilst returning north I stopped at Zambujal Marsh which held c1000 Black-tailed Godwits and c150 Glossy Ibis; probably the same concentration of birds noted a Barroco Marsh two days previously as when I returned there later in the week no birds were present. Seventeen Spoonbills, c300 Avocet and three Mediterranean Gulls (two of which were impressive in their breeding plumage) brought the day to a conclusion.
Day 7 – 14 Mar
Today brought an early morning start and another visit to the Tagus Estuary area, the Ponta de Erva plains and surrounding areas. Driving through the cultivated fields in the early morning saw two Black-shouldered Kites leaving the roost, numerous Green Sandpipers in the drainage canals, several Marsh Harriers and a Common Sandpiper. Whilst leaving the area, heading north the expected Calandra Larks were located in display flight.
Driving further north from Porto Alto, I visited Muge Dam and was fortunate to see another light phase Booted Eagle, an Osprey, several Black Kites, three Buzzards and three singing Iberian Chiffchaffs. Returning south and heading for the Vasco de Gama Bridge, I once again followed the same route as the other day through Pancas to Barroco Marsh, which was rewarding. The only Jays of the trip were observed; a Southern Grey Shrike, another Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker were seen. On arrival at Borroco several Little Stints, at least six Common Sandpipers, a Greenshank, three Kentish Plovers and a surprise Purple Gallinule were noted. More Village Weavers were very vocal and were joined by four Yellow-crowned Bishops.
Day 8 – 15 Mar
A trip to see our friends’ son play football for the local Portuguese side was not completely bird less with Chiffchaffs, a Fan-tailed Warbler and the only Western Orphean Warbler of the trip being observed in trees surrounding the pitch at Pyred.
Systematic Species List
|Little Grebe||Tachybaptus ruficollis||Present in small numbers in suitable habitat|
|Cory’s Shearwater||Calonectris diomedea||2 from Cape Raso and 2 at Cape Espichel|
|Balearic Shearwater||Puffinus yelkouan mauretanicus||4 from Cape Raso and 2 at Cape Espichel|
|Northern Gannet||Morus bassanus||Several from coastal locations|
|Great Cormorant||Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis||Common in suitable habitat|
|European Shag||Phalacrocorax aristotelis||2 at Cabo de Roca|
|Cattle Egret||Bubulcus ibis||Widespread and numerous|
|Little Egret||Egretta garzetta||Good numbers at Zambujal Marsh and 1s & 2s elsewhere at wetlands|
|Great White Egret||Egretta alba||1 North of Ladoeiro at a roadside pond|
|Grey Heron||Ardea cinerea||Common|
|Black Stork||Ciconia nigra||1 flying up the river at Constancia Sul on the 10th|
|White Stork||Ciconia ciconia||Nesting on every pylon|
|Glossy Ibis||Plegadis falcinellus||C150 at Barroco and Zambujal Marsh – probably the same migrating group.|
|Eurasian Spoonbill||Platalea leucorodia||17 at Zambujal Marsh on the 13th|
|Greater Flamingo||Phoenicopterus rubber||Good numbers in the Tagus Estuary & 4 at Prais de Sado|
|Gadwall||Anas strepera||Several at Albefeira Lagoon and a few at Barroco Marsh|
|Mallard||Anas platyrhynchos||Common & Widespread|
|Northern Shoveler||Anas clypeata||Good numbers at Albefeira Lagoon and Barroco Marsh|
|Common Pochard||Aythya farina||1 female at Albefeira Lagoon|
|Black-shouldered Kite||Elanus caeruleus||1 just north of Rosmaninhal on the N533 and 2 leaving the roost early morning at Ponta de Erva Plains|
|Black Kite||Milvus migrans||1s & 2s encountered almost anywhere|
|Griffon Vulture||Gyps fulvus||5 at International Tagus reserve|
|Black Vulture||Aegypius monachus||2 at International Tagus reserve|
|W Marsh Harrier||Circus aeruginosus||Pairs at Wetland areas|
|Common Buzzard||Buteo||As for Black Kite|
|Booted Eagle||Hieraaetus pennatus||1 near Panheiro Track and 1 at Muge Dam|
|Osprey||Pandion haliaetus||1 at Muge Dam|
|Eurasian Kestrel||Falco tinnunculus||Common and Widespread|
|Quail||2 heard at Ponta de Erva plains|
|Red-legged Partridge||Alectoris rufa||2 on the N353 south of Idanha da Nova and 1 at Cape Espichel|
|Common Moorhen||Gallinula chloropus||Present in small numbers in wetland areas|
|Purple Gallinule||Porphyrio porphyrio||1 at Barroco Marsh on 14th|
|Eurasian Coot||Fulica atra||Common in wetlands|
|Black-winged Stilt||Himantopus himantopus||Numerous in salt pans and wetlands|
|Avocet||Recurvirostra avosetta||C300 at Zambujal and 3 at Prais de Sado|
|Kentish Plover||Charadrius alexandrinus||Small groups in suitable habitat|
|Grey Plover||Pluvailis squatarola||1 at Prais de Sado|
|Little Stint||Calidris minuta||At least 5 present at Barroco Marsh on the river bank|
|Dunlin||Calidris alpina||2 at Prais de Sado|
|Common Snipe||Gallinago gallinago||1 at Barroco Marsh and 7 by a roadside pool just North of Ladoeiro|
|Black-tailed Godwit||Limosa limosa||C1000 at Barroco Marsh on the and Zambujal Marsh on the were probably the same flock|
|Spotted Redshank||Tringa erythropus||1 at Zambujal Marsh|
|Common Redshank||Tringa tetanus||Small numbers in suitable habitat|
|Common Greenshank||Tringa nebularia||Singletons at Zambujal Marsh, Prais de Sado and Barroco Marsh|
|Green Sandpiper||Tringa ochropus||Common in drainage channels on the Ponta de Erva plains|
|Common Sandpiper||Actitis hypoleucos hypoleucos||1 at Ponta de Erva and at least 5 near Barroco Marsh on the river bank|
|Mediterranean Gull||Larus melanocephalus||3 present at Zambujal Marsh|
|Black-headed Gull||Larus ridibundas||Numerous in suitable habitat|
|W Yellow-legged Gull||Larus cachinnans michahellis||As above|
|Sandwhich Tern||Sterna sandvicencis||1 at Cascais seafront and 1 at Point de Erva|
|Woodpigeon||Columba palumbus||2 in the Sintra Hills|
|Collared Dove||Streptopelia decaocto||Common & Widespread|
|Great Spotted Cuckoo||Clamator glandarius||1 at Pinheiro track|
|Pallid Swift||Apus pallidus||4 at Cape Espichel|
|Common Kingfisher||Alcedo atthis||2 Pancas track at and 1 at Barroco Marsh|
|Eurasian Hoopoe||Upupa epops||3 in various suitable habitats|
|Great Spotted Woodpecker||Dendrocopos major||2 at Pancas Cork Oaks and 1 at Panheiro track|
|Crested Lark||Galerida cristata randonii||Common & Widespread|
|Woodlark||Lullula arborea||1 at Pinheiro track|
|Skylark||Alauda arvensis harterti||Common on the Ponta de Erva plains|
|Calandra Lark||3 displaying at the Ponta de Erva plains|
|Sand Martin||Riparia riparia||Several at marshy locations|
|Barn Swallow||Hirundo rustica||Many flybys in widespread locations|
|Red-rumped Swallow||Hirundo daurica rufula||2 near Pancas|
|House Martin||Delichon urbica||Present in villages when driving through|
|Meadow Pipit||Anthus pratensis||Numerous at Ponta de Erva plains and small groups elsewhere in suitable habitat|
|Water Pipit||Anthus spinoletta||1 at Barroco Marsh|
|Iberian Wagtail||Motacilla flava||1 at Prais de Sado, several at Barroco Marsh and Ponta de Erva plains|
|Grey Wagtail||Motacilla cinerea||1 at Boquilobo Marsh|
|White Wagtail||Motacilla alba||Common and widespread|
|Robin||Erithacus rubecula||1’s seen everywhere|
|Bluethroat||Luscinia svecica||1 at a roadside pond north of Ladoeiro|
|Black Redstart||Phoenicurus ochruros gibralteriensis||Common at Cape Espichel and 1 male at Bate Orelhas at the end of the Pancas track|
|Redstart||Phoenicurus phoenicurus||1 at Boquilobo Marsh|
|Common Stonechat||Saxicola torquata||Common and widespread|
|Blue Rock Thrush||Monticola solitarius||1 at Murches|
|Eurasian Blackbird||Turdus merula mauretanica||Common and widespread|
|Song Thrush||Turdus philomelos||Present in small numbers in wooded areas|
|Cetti’s Warbler||Cettia cetti||
Common and widespread heard mostly but seen well at Borroco Marsh
|Zitting Cisticola||Cistocola juncidis||Common and widespread in grasslands|
|Reed Warbler||Acrocephalus scirpaceus||1 heard singing at Barroco Marsh|
|Dartford Warbler||Sylvia undata||1 male at Murches|
|Sardinian Warbler||Sylvia melanocephala||The most numerous warbler – common and widespread|
|Orphean Warbler||Sylvia hortensis||1 at Pyred|
|Blackcap||Sylvia atricapilla||1s & 2s seen in suitable habitat|
|Common Chiffchaff||Phylloscopus collybita||Fairly common and widespread|
|Iberian Chiffchaff||Phylloscopus brehmii||3 singing at Muge Dam|
|Willow Warbler||Phylloscopus trochilus||1 at Cape Espichel|
|Firecrest||Rugulus ignicapillus||1 at Murches in conifers|
|Blue Tit||Cyanistess||Small numbers in Cork Oak woodlands|
|Great Tit||Parus major excelsus||As above|
|Nuthatch||Sitta europaea||1s in Cork Oak areas|
|Short-toed Treecreeper||Certhia brachydactyla mauretanica||1 in the Sintra Hills and 1 at Panheiro track|
|Penlduline Tit||Remiz pendulinus||2 at Barroco Marsh on 13th|
|Southern Grey Shrike||Lanius meridionalis||Several near Ladoeiro and 1 at the Pancas track|
|Jay||Garrulus glandarius||2 birds on the Pancas track|
|Azure-winged Magpie||Cyanopica cyana||Common at Int Tagus and a small group just north of Ladoeiro|
|Magpie||Pica pica||1s & 2s seen E of Castelo Banco|
|Carrion Crow||Corvus corone||Small numbers but widespread|
|Common Raven||Corvus corax tingitanus||2 seen South of Rosmaninhal - Int Tagus|
|Spotless Starling||Sturnus unicolor||Common at Int Tagus, Cape Espichel and Murches|
|House Sparrow||Passer domesticus tingitanus||Common and widespread|
|Chaffinch||Fringilla coelebs||Common in Cork Oaks|
|Brambling||A male & female at Boquilobo Marsh|
|European Serin||Serinus serinus||The most common bird everywhere|
|European Greenfinch||Carduelis chloris||Small groups in many locations|
|European Goldfinch||Carduelis carduelis||As for Greenfinch|
|Siskin||Carduelis spinus||1 male in trees at Murches|
|Eurasian Linnet||Carduelis cannabina||Small groups at Ponta de Erva plains and Cape Espichel|
|Cirl Bunting||Emberiza cirlus||1 male singing at Cape Espichel and 1 near Pancas|
|Reed Bunting||Emberiza schoeniclus||1 at a roadside pond north of Ladoeiro and 1 at Barroco Marsh|
|Corn Buntin||Emberiza calandra||Common in suitable habitat|
|Village Weaver||Ploceus cucullatus||Common at Barroco Marsh|
|Yellow-crowned Bishop||Euplectes afer||4 at Barroco Marsh|
This proved to be a really enjoyable week in a relaxed part of the world. Several good and several surprising species were seen whilst also fulfilling the shopping and drinking obligations. Without travelling too far from Lisbon a wide range of habitats may be encountered which are adjacent to each other maximising the chances of stumbling across a good spread of species. With limited prior planning it is possible to visit several sites in one day. The “N” (National) roads and Toll roads make travelling easy between sites, which enables more time for birding.