You know the ones you see out of the corner of your eye, or chirp away in the tree above you but cannot be seen. Saw and heard quite a few of these in early April and even managed to photograph six of them.
The first is a favourite of mine with his bright red eyes, and one I have posted about it before. It’s the Sardinian Warbler. They accompany us on most walks around Olhao’s saltpans flitting in and out of the shrubbery. There is one in particular who I am convinced challenges me to spot and then photograph him on a bush in front. Sometimes I manage it to respond to his calls in time, but mostly by the time I’ve spotted him and focused he’s long gone! There is though another which has two fence posts he seems like to pose on- a morning post and an evening one.
My next is another one I have written about before – the Iberian Yellow Wagtail. Just look at that glorious chest. They are migratory birds and like the Swallows are one of the birds that indicate Spring has arrived. They arrive in large enough numbers that they are easy to spot from March onwards in the Algarve. The one in the gallery below was having a good preen in the wind, and didn’t seem to mind me snapping away only a couple of metres away.
We’ve still not seen a watch of Shrikes but these little fellows – Woodchat Shrikes – have returned to the Iberian Peninsular for the summer. They spend their winters in Africa, and their arrival in Portugal is a sign it is Spring. They really are quite unmistakable, even when they are perching at a distance as this male was. I’ve not yet photographed a female Woodchat Shrike, and whilst their colourings are not as striking as the males they are also a stunning bird. Perhaps I’ll make that my goal to photograph a female when we return to the Algarve this Autumn, they are usual around until late October/early November so it might be achievable.
Now onto three birds I don’t seem to have mentioned before. The first is the European Stonechat (Cartaxo-comum). As happens with many small birds the male is more easily identifiable than the female but for once I have managed to photograph both. It is a resident of Portugal, but according to the Aves de Portugal website they less likely to be seen during the breeding season in the Algarve. Perhaps we were lucky on the days we saw these, or perhaps it is early in the breeding season as the pair in particular were very visible and vocal.
One we see a lot but I rarely photograph because of its habit never to keep still, is the Zitting Cisitcola. I think that is such a great name, reflecting the calling noise it makes. Its Portuguese name – Fuinha-dos-juncos means ‘weasel of the reed’! A resident species in Portugal and you will hear it frequently on the coast. Spotting it however it another matter, and photographing a real challenge! In fact even now I’m not 100% certain I have identified this one correctly.
My final two photographs are of the Corn Bunting which we saw in its favourite environment – open farmland. Unfortunately farming practices in the UK mean you’ll be incredibly fortunate to see these birds in England these days, but fortunately here in the Algarve and Alentejo open meadows still exist and so the Trigueirão is a common sight. The first one we spotted spoilt us by singing its heart out, whilst the second demonstrated its ability to perch almost anywhere.
Lots of words I know again for a Six Word Saturday post, but my title was six and there were six birds so I hope Cate forgives me! To send you off with a spring in your step as you explore other Six Word Saturdays this morning, here’s a recording of the wonderful Corn Bunting. As always it is a Peter Boseman sound recording downloaded from the excellent Xeno-Canto website . Such a shame this is no longer a common sound in England, but another great excuse to visit the Algarve.