Up until last week our visits had all been in the winter, but we decided we wanted to experience Olhão in the high season – just to see how busy, how warm and what difference it made in terms of bird watching.
Well it wasn’t the true ‘high season’ but even in early May much much busier. Fortunately still manageable in Olhão probably because it
is not a tourist destination, although we wonder how more years will that last. It was definitely warmer, in fact we were there during a mini-heatwave, and as we’d half expected we saw far fewer waders. It was though lovely to see them in their summer plumage and we did find more non-waders which was great. The early summer flora was as stunning as the winter flora, with more pinks and reds. Definitely helped by the stunning Algarvian blue skies which accompanied the sunshine. Insect life also felt as though it was more in abundance, but fortunately not too many of the biting variety apart from one episode! I’ll tell you more about that in a moment.
The real highlights for me though were finally seeing a Hoopoe and Bee-eaters. Both the Hoopoe and European Bee-eater are migratory which is why we have not seen them before now.
We first saw the Hoopoe whilst sitting on our balcony, it flew past below and so had a wonderful view of its unique markings. We then saw it again the following day in the scrub area around the saltpans. The Bee-eaters we saw on the other side of Olhão towards the Rio Formosa park headquarters. My photographs are not brilliant because I suddenly realised my legs were being bitten alive by insects in the long grass, and that was it the Bee-Eaters might be amazing but I valued my legs more!
The warblers, wagtails and weavers were also more evident on this trip. Will we be back in May, definitely as long as it doesn’t get any busier. If it does then perhaps we will have to move to a quieter village for the early part of the high season.