Whilst it is not uncommon to observe small groups of Pied Avocets (Recurvirostra avosetta) in the saltpans around Olhão, we don’t tend to see what I would be happy to call a ‘orchestra’. Well that all changed last week. We assume they were gathering prior to the next stage of their journey to their breeding grounds as this medium sized ‘orchestra’ was only here for a few days. I say medium-sized as colonies can be up to 150 in numbers, which this one clearly wasn’t. An ‘orchestra’ is the collective noun for a group of Avocets.
Wonderful to watch as every few minutes the ‘orchestra’ suddenly launched into the sky, swooping round and calling to each other. Was really like watching and listening to an ‘orchestra’ in flight. Quite extraordinary. I don’t have the necessary audio equipment to capture their call but here is a recording by Peter Boesman from the excellent xeno-catro website to accompany my photographs.
Their Portuguese name is Alfaiate, and they are a coastal wader of the same faily as the Black Winged Stilts. If you happen to be out exploring the Ria Formosa between October and March you will definitely see or hear them, and in fact you may see them here year round as a small colony breeds in the east. By the way if you are not a birder but are pondering why even you are recognising this gorgeous wader it is probably because the Avocet is the emblem of the RSPB.