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A Report from

Southern Portugal, June 16th - 30th 2002,

Stephen and Pat King


This was a strictly birding holiday hoping to see Great & Little Bustard, Red Necked Nightjar, Rock Bunting & Great Grey Shrike.


We had downloaded the following off the internet:

The Massie's- Excellent for the directions for Alentejo.

Mike Taylor's- Excellent for the birds in the area.

We had also ordered ' A Birding Watching Guide To The Algarve' by Kevin & Christine Carlson & 'Where To Watch Birds In Britain And Europe' by John Gooders & 'Collins Bird Guide' by Killian Mullarney.

The roads on recent reports had said that the road to Alentejo were undertaking major reconstruction, the roads have been completed and took less than an hour & a half to reach Alentejo.


We hadn't rented a car before so we had decided to read the 'road code' first, we later hired out an excellent Hyundai Atos & got an extra day for it from Car Travel. It was small but did the job.


During our 2 weeks in Portugal we had experienced some amazing hot weather in the  85's. Dawn broke at 6am & sun setting at 9pm.


Monday-Thursday 17TH-20th

Hotel area near Portimao had a dirt patch with woodland next to it which produced Little Owl, 5 White Storks nests with young, 20 Yellow Legged Gulls, 9 Crested Larks, Woodchat Shrike, 5 Bee-Eaters, Serin, 2 Blue Rock Thrush at Castello's bar on the beach, Little Egret, many Cattle Egrets flying overhead, Pallid Swifts, 3 Fan Tailed Warblers, Sardinian Warblers.

Friday 21st

We had booked seats on a tour to Monchique/Silves not as a birding trip, we went by bus to Monchique/Silves seeing White Storks nest everywhere some even with youngsters, 4 Cattle Egrets, 3 Serins feeding beneath a birdcage, 1 Spoonbill. We had come to an old Moorish castle, inside was a bird singing and our first intention was that it could be a Hippo but when tracked down was a male Blackcap, Pallid Swifts, Great Tit.

Arriving near Monchique Pat had a glimpse of a Great Grey Shrike!!! at the round about leading up to the mountain. There we had departed from the group to explore finding Red Rumped Swallows, 4 Rock Buntings, Woodlark, Blue Rock Thrush, Stonechat, and numerous amounts of Corn Buntings singing from the masts.

Saturday 22nd

We had decided to get some sea watch in so we headed for Cape St Vincent, which was an hours drive from our hotel. On getting there we had seen yet again more White Storks nests.

When we had reached Cape St Vincent we were greeted by 8 Jackdaws, 3 Choughs, 6 Alpine Swifts, Black Redstart that came to only an arms length away, Spotless Starlings.

We scanned the sea from the lighthouse seeing Cory's Shearwaters, Gannets, a White Storks nest on the island covered by Yellow Legged Gulls, 5 Rock Doves, Blue Rock Thrush.

We headed inland finding 3 Kestrels, a group of Corn Buntings, Serin, Fan Tailed Warblers, Bee-Eaters.

Sunday 23rd & 27th    

The Carlson guide (Pg 12 Map 4) says that Kentish Plovers nest at Alvor so we went to check it out.

There is a Christian Centre there that catches birds on Thursdays so we had come back and this is what we had, Little Egret, Cattle Egrets, White Storks soaring, Quail (H), Yellow Legged Gulls, 2 or 3 Red Rumped Swallows at the bridge, Sardinian Warblers, Crested Larks, Black Winged Stilts, Woodchat Shrike, Woodlark, Azure Winged Magpies in the fig trees, Spotless Starlings, Great Grey Shrike, Stonechat, Peregrine catching a Feral Pigeon, Serins, Kestrel, Hobby, Barn owl, Little Owls, Melodious Warbler, Kentish Plovers, Little Terns, Lesser Short Toed Lark, Yellow Wagtails, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Bee-Eaters, Woodchat Shrike,

At the centre I had held a Serin, Sardinian Warbler and a Chaffinch.

Monday 24th

We had wanted Purple Gallinule so we decided that Pera Marsh would be the best place for them.

On arrival Pat had seen something in a tree that looked odd even though it was in a heat haze, he got the scope on it and a grin appeared on his face, turned and said that famous word 'ROLLER'. (yeeeeeesssssssssss)

We had scanned the marsh finding 300+ Greater Flamingos, 18+ Avocets, Dunlin, Redshank, 400+Yellow Legged Gulls, Lesser Black Backed Gull the marsh was jam packed.

I decided to explore the other side of the marsh stumbling on to a Little Bittern when I turned the corner, 20+ Alpine Swifts picking insects off from our heads& 10+ Pallid Swifts doing the same, Hoopoe Catching butterflies, 5+ Thekla Larks singing overhead, and then at hole eleven a group of 5 Purple Gallinule were feeding in the grass, Yellow Wagtails, Great Reed Warbler (H), 2 Little Biterns, Pochards, Gadwall,  Sanderling. Excellent day out!!!!!

Wednesday 26th

Alentejo, probably the best place in Portugal. It stood up to its reputation when we visited we visited the area. We headed north up the IC1 to Ourique, taking the road to Castro Verde towards Mertola where the eucalyptus trees along the road- Azure Winged Magpie. We then turned south along the road signposted to St Barbara De Pedroes. We stayed on this road through Ralao, turn left at the crossroads towards Guerrerio then along the track described by Massie's report.

Driving up we had seen 4 Azure Winged Magpies, Montagu's Harrier, we stopped to stretched our legs seeing 2 Blue Tits, Great Tit, Quail (H), 3 Montagu's Harriers. The drive up consists of Storks nests mainly, Jay.

We followed Massie's directions all the way and it brought us to were we wanted to go we stopped at Medronho bridge and found 6+ Red Legged Partridges, Montagu's Harrier, Green Sandpiper, Lesser Kestrel, then we moved onto the Melosa bridge where you can see a dirt foot path on the right walk along it until you have the full view of the wheat field on your right we had 20+ Lesser Kestrels, 4+ Spanish Sparrows, 8+ White Storks in the field while a tractor was cutting his wheat, Corn Buntings, Sardinian Warblers, Raven, Azure Winged Magpies.

We then went a bit on until we could we eucalyptus trees on our left, take the immediate right, we stopped and I turned to check the fields but saw a Black Kite being mobbed by a Montagu's Harrier which was being mobbed by 3 Azure Winged Magpies, following the road you will come to a t-junction, turn left there is pool on the left after you turn left there we had Black Eared Wheatear and 9+ Spanish Sparrows. Keep going until you see a dirt track leading to the left take it until you see a house then turn right you then will be on a track with ploughed fields on your right there is flocks of 200+ Calandra Larks, 3 Collard Pratincoles, Little Owl and a Roller there should be a stubble field to your left here is where we had our Little Bustard, 3 Black Bellied Sandgrouse keep going until you see a sign facing the opposite way when you pass it, it should have a picture of a Little Bustard on it. Keep following the track and it should bring you around a couple of hills (keep your eyes open for flying Bustards because you can easily drive passed them) and there should be a village to your left but stick to the road, on one of the hills there should be a little white oblisque there we had 3 Great Bustards, Booted Eagle, Buzzard, Montagu's Harrier. Coming back towards the eucalyptus trees we had 20+ Montagus's Harriers, Pied Wagtail, Red Rumped Swallow, Short Toed Eagle. We left late, absolutely brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

Systematic List

1. Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
1 at Alvor

2. Cory's Shearwater (Calonectrics diomedea)
20+ at Cape St Vincent

3. Gannet (Sula bassana)
10+ at Cape St Vincent

4. Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Alvor Estuary

5. Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

6. Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Alvor  harbour

7.   Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
2 at Alvor

8.  White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)

9. Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)
Seen in a marsh on the way to Silves/Monchique

10.  Greater Flamingo (Phaenicopterus falcinellus)
300+ at Pera Marsh

11.  Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minustus)
2 males seen at Pera Marsh

12.  Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
5 seen at Alvor

13.  Gadwall (Anas strepera)
1 seen at Pera Marsh

Common at Alvor

Pochard (Aythya farina)
5 at Pera Marsh

14.  Tufted Duck (Aytha fuligula)
7 seen at Pera Marsh

15.  Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra)
6 seen at Cape St Vincent

16.  Short Toed Eagle (Circaaetus gallicus)
1 seen soaring overhead at Alentejo

17.  Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus)
1 seen on a rock at Alentejo

18.  Black Kite (Milvus migran)
10+ seen at Alentejo

19.  Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus)
20+ seen feeding on the ground at Alentejo

20.  Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
1 seen soaring at Alentejo

21.  Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Common in the Algarve

22.  Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni)
Colony seen at Melsoa Bridge, common throughout Alentejo.

23.  Hobby (Falco subuteo)
Juv. Seen briefly at Alvor

24.  Peregrine (Falco peregrinus)
Female seen catching a Feral Pigeon at Alvor.

25.  Red Legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa)
4+ seen at the first bridge in Alentejo

26.  Quail (Coturnix coturnix)
Calling birds at Alentejo and Alvor.

27.  Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
2 seen at Alentejo

28.  Moorhen (Gallinulus chloropus)
Common at Pera Marsh

29.  Coot (Fulcia atra)
Common at Pera Marsh

30.  Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio porphyrio)
12+ seen at holes 11-15 at Pera Marsh

31.  Great Bustard (Otus tarda)
Male & 2 Females seen at the white oblisque at Alentejo

32.  Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax)
Female seen in a stubble field opposite to the Calandra Lark field.

33.  Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
1 seen at Alvor, common at Pera Marsh.

34.  Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
16+ seen at Pera Marsh

35.  Black Winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Common at Alvor & Pera Marsh

36.  Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Common at Alvor

37.  Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrius)
Common at Alvor

38.  Grey Plover (Pluvius squatarola)
5 seen at Alvor harbour.

39.  Turnstone (Areanaria interpres)
Common at Alvor harbour

40.  Sanderling (Calidris alba)
1 seen at Pera Marsh

41.  Little Stint (Calidris canutus)
1 seen at Pera Marsh

42.  Dunlin ( Calidris alpina)
1 seen at Pera Marsh

43.  Curlew (Numenius arquata)
Common at Alvor, 5 seen at Pera Marsh

44.  Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
8 seen flying overhead at Pera Marsh

45.  Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
1 seen at the first bridge in Alentejo

46.  Redshank (Tringa tetanus)
7+ seen at Pera Marsh

47.  Black Tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
20+ at Pera Marsh

48.  Black Headed Gull (Larus riribundas)
Only a handful seen daily

49.  Yellow Legged Gull (Larus cachinnans0
Extremely common

50.  Lesser Black Backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
1 seen at Pera Marsh

51.  Little Tern (Sterna albafrons)
30+ at Alvor on a sand island

52.  Black Bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis)
3 seen flying over the Little Bustard sign in Alentejo

53.  Collard Dove (Streptopelia decaocota)
Extremely common

54.  Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)
A couple up in Alentjo

55.  Rock Dove (Columbia livia)
Common at the cliffs at Cape St Vincent, easily passed!!!

56.  Woodpigeon (Columbia oenus)
1 seen at Alentejo

57.  Stock Dove (Columba oenus)
3 seen flying over Alvor

58.  Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
Seen hunting at 10.45 in Alvor

59.  Little Owl (Athene noctua)
Common at Alvor or any area with open fields with trees surrounding it

60.  Red Necked Nightjar (Caprimulgus Rufilcolas)
We were advised not to release this information due to the fact that the wardens are doing a research on this specieshajust been released in that area. (sorry!!!!!!)

61.  Swift (Apus apus)
Extremely common in any area

62.  Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)
Common in any area

63.  Alpine Swift (Apus melba)
Common in Pera Marsh and Cape St Vincent

64.  Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
1 seen going to a local supermarket and 1 seen at Pera Marsh

65.  Bee-Eater (Merops apiaster)
Common in many areas

66.  Roller (Coracias garrulous)
1 seen at Pera Marsh and 1 at Alentejo

67.  Woodlark (Lullula arborea)
1 seen at Monchique

68.  Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calandra)
300+ at Alentejo

69.  Thekla Lark (Galerida thecae)
5+ seen at Pera Marsh

70.  Lesser Short Toed Lark (Calandraella rufescen)
1 seen at Alvor

71.  Sand Martin (Riparia ripiria)
15 seen at our hotel

72.  Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

73.  Red Rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica)
2 seen at Alvor and a small flock at Monchique

74.  House Martin (Delichon urbica)

75.  Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratenis)
Common in Alentejo

76.  Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
2 seen in Alentejo

77.  Yellow Wagtail (Motacillas flava iberiae)
Common at Alvor

78.  Wren (Troglodytes)
Heard frequently in Alentejo

79.  Black Redstart (Pheonicurus ochruros)
Seen at Cape St Vincent just an arms length away

80.  Stonechat (Saxicola torquata)
4+ seen at Cape St Vincent  

81.  Robin
Outside hotel

82.  Black Eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica)
Seen at the pool in Alentejo

83.  Blackbird (Turdus merula)

84.  Sardinian Warbler (Slyvia melanocephia)
Common in most areas

85.  Blackcap (Slyvia atricapillas)
Seen at the Moorish Castle in Silves

86.  Fan Tailed Warbler (Cistola juncidus)
Common in most areas most often heard than seen!!

87.  Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
Heard at Pera Marsh

88.  Melodious Warbler (Hippolais polyglotta)
1 seen at Alvor Harbour

89.  Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)

90.  Great Grey Shrike (Lanius exubitor)
1 seen at Alvor Harbour

91.  Azure Winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyana)
Common in most wooded areas often heard before seen

92.  Great Tit (Parus Major)
Seen at Alvor

93.  Blue Tit (Parus caerulescens)
Seen at Alvor

94.  Spotless Starling (Sturnus unicolor)
Common at Cape St Vincent and a small flock at Alvor

95.  Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
Seen on the way back from Alentejo

96.  Chough (Pyrrhocorax)
3 seen at Cape St Vincent

97.  Jackdaw (Corvus mondela)
Seen at Cape St Vincent

100 Raven  (Corvus corax)
Seen at the first bridge in Alentej   

101 Spanish Sparrow (Passer)
Common  in Alentejo

102 House Sparrow ( Passer domesticus)
Common in the hotel area

103    Serin  (Serinus serinus)
Common in towns

104    Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebas)
2 seen in Alvor

105.  Goldfinch Carduelis)

106.  Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris 

107.  Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)

108.  Siskin (Carduelis spinus)
Seen at Moorish Castle in Silves

109.  Corn Bunting (miliara calandra)
Common at Alentejo and Monchique

110.  Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia)    
Common at Monchique


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