Birding in the right place at the right time

Yesterday we returned to an old favourite haunt of ours and had an extraordinary day. Not only were the number and variety of birds stupendous, but there were hardly any ‘twitchers’ or bird guides. Bliss!

We thought we would only be out a couple hours, the time it takes to walk the circuit a leisurely pace. However we were out nearly four hours as there was so much to see. We arrived on an incoming tide and had decided to follow the birds inland to the salt pans. But before we could even do that we were waylaid by a Curlew on the mudflats and then a Kestrel taking advantage of the runway lights.

The day then just got better and better. I of course did my usual thing with too many photographs of herons and storks, so I’ve limited myself here with three.

There were also Little Stints and Plovers, Turnstones and Egrets, Redshanks and Greenshanks and Great Crested Grebes. There were more ducks and gulls than you could count or recognise, and to our delight a few unexpected observations. The latter is my excuse for the many identification and action shots. Can you work out what the Stork is having for his lunch, we couldn’t! And can you spot the Grebe with the fish? It wasn’t until we got home and uploaded my photographs that I had realised I had got him with fish in situ. Also look out for Turnstone’s shadow. It kept me enthralled for ages.


The highlights of the day have to be the Ruffs and Spotted Redshank, and for me, in particular, the Water Rail. MrB only got to see its tail, I though was more fortunate and saw it properly. I didn’t manage to get a shot of her as she was scurrying about in the undergrowth, and the few seconds she was out in the open I was too busy watching to photograph. She was gorgeous and maybe one day when we next ‘follow the yellow brick road’ we will get to see her again.

Follow the yellow brick road

There again maybe not! Water Rails (Frango-d’água) whilst common here and in England are very secretive birds and so rarely seen. They are about the size of a Moorhen, with chestnut brown upperparts and grey underparts with black/white flanks. Their under tails are white and flick up, and they have long red beaks. If that description sounds unmistakable it is because they are! We were incredibly lucky yesterday.

There was though almost a disaster on our birding expedition. I had been feeling under the weather the night before and so totally forgotten to re-charge my camera. Fortunately it lasted until the golf course so there wasn’t much that I missed. You can imagine my frustration though when it did! A few moments before it died I did manage to snap this one of the Hoopoes and Azure Winged Magpies. Hoopoes and Azure Winged MagpiesThe former remain elusive to my current camera but I am getting a new one next week which has a fabulous lens. So fingers crossed the week after a next if I see Hoopoes again I will be able to take much better shots. My current camera though is pretty good so I can’t really complain as I was quite a distance from these Hoopoes when I took this. And as you will have seen from the rest of this post I do manage to take quite good shots most of the time, including these two of some of the insect life.

It was though the birds that really caught our attention. We saw at least 50 varieties of birds, and there may have been more. It really was a wonderful day, and explains why Quinta do Lago and São Lourenço is considered one of the top birding sites in the western Algarve. For those who enjoy birding you will find below our full list of what we definitely saw and can recollect. For everyone else I thought I’d finish with a Great Crested Grebe.Great Crested Grebe



Great Crested Grebes

Ringed Plover

Azure Winged Magpies



Black Headed Gulls



Black Tailed Godwits


Sardinian Warbler

Black Winged Stilts






Chiff Chaffs

Lark (Crested?)


Common Sandpipers

Lesser Black Backed Gull



Little Stint

Spotted Redshank







Curlew-Sandpiper (?)

Pied Wagtail

Tufted Ducks





Purple Swamphens

Water Rail


Red Crested Pochards




Yellow Legged Gulls



Author: BeckyB

It's a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, reading, blogging, and best of all spending time with family, friends & the cat!

31 thoughts

    1. Think might already be too hot! Why we always return to England for the summer . . . where are you at the moment Spain?

        1. Some good and some things a bit more tricky! Family health issues and appointments. But also good news as am waiting to be a grandma! So perhaps more toing and froing or a different approach to our life out there.

        2. Sorry to hear about all the health issues and appt stuff – MrB and I can empathise as similar issues here. Never easy is it this split life.
          That’s fabulous news though about becoming a grandma this year – how exciting 😀

        3. Thanks and hope all goes well for you both too. I quite like the split life! But always miss aspects of each place and its people.

  1. Well done for spotting the water rail. I’ve never seen one, but heard one, which I didn’t at first recognize as it’s the kind of sound you expect a small bunting or finch to make. Lovely photos!

    1. Thank you 🙂 was an amazing moment now I just need to get a photo! Suspect going to be a long wait, be very happy though if I heard one in meantime.

  2. We saw turnstones yesterday in St Ives, scurrying around. I’d love to see hoopoes. I must get down to the estuary and see what’s there, I don’t have a huge zoom on my camera though so I suspect photos won’t be of much use. Still it would be nice to see some unusual birds.

    1. Turnstones are such fun aren’t they…….if your camera is the one in your Avatar then am sure you will get some good shots ☺

      1. New camera – Olympus EM-10 but largest zoom lens is 150 which isn’t bad, but probably not good enough for birding. I do have a bigger one on my Christmas list 😉

        1. Actually that’s about the same as my current camera! Fabulous though a new one is on order. I have the Nikon P510 but am about to get the P900 . . . .

  3. I have NO idea how you manage to identify so many. I’m very cavalier when it comes to birds. We do have a bit of a thing for hoopoes though, and we’ve seen loads. Looks like you had a happy time down at Ludo. I’d have more airplane shots than birds 🙂 🙂

    1. Hee hee . . an interest for both of us since childhood I guess . . . . . you’d have had a great day too then down here as there were tiny planes as well as the big ‘uns!

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