Flora & Fauna

A Sultana Bird and the Horse of Witches

And other fauna hidden in the water reeds

I love attempting to photograph dragonflies, otherwise known as cavalinho-das-bruxas (horse-of-witches), and it would seem when I compare last week’s photographs with those in my first dragonfly post, I am getting better at it. Just look of that one in flight! I am though still struggling with identification. I think two of these are of a Blue Hawker, and the third is Red-veined Darter.

Dragonflies were not the only things we spotted in the water reeds, there were also numerous birds, including the Purple Swamphen (also known as the Sultana Bird), the Glossy Ibis, a Great Crested Grebe and a Dabchick (Little Grebe).

We saw all of these at Ludo and Lagoa de São Lourenço. It remains one of our favourite birding walks despite the increased walkers, cyclists and joggers, and the appalling reed bed management. They are regularly cutting back the reeds on the southernmost edge  reducing the amount of cover for the birdlife. Whilst I appreciate that cutting and removing areas of reed on a rotational basis is a necessary part of reed bed management I don’t think that is what is happening here. As the only area they have worked on is by a very popular footpath.

Ludo and Lagoa de São Lourenço

I think the cutting is all about maintaining the view. The problem is by failing to keep a robust barrier between humans and wildlife, birds are less likely to breed here or even winter, particularly the elusive ones such as the Little Bittern. And one of the more recent selling points for this lagoon for tourists has been the bird life, hence the enormous hide which is now a conspicuous white elephant. Hopefully though I am wrong and what I think is appalling reed bed management is instead the cutting edge of wildlife and reed bed conservation!

23 comments on “A Sultana Bird and the Horse of Witches

  1. I have never been able to get a decent photo of a dragonfly. Yours are gorgeous – well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You do come up with some fascinating information, Becky. 🙂 🙂 I’ve been amazed at the number of dragonflies around the beach this year. My naming system doesn’t extend beyond ‘red one’, ‘blue one’… You are seducing me into paying more attention to birds, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I suspect you’re right, putting human needs first instead of natures.


  4. Great photos and I love the Sultana Bird, although with a name like that I expected it to be black and very small 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dragonfly photography is tricky but rewarding when you get that shot. I am not sure of the reed cutting. Maybe there’s a local craft? You are right, not much cover for bird watching or for the birds to do their thing 🙂


  6. Witches horses is a fab name!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. And not only witch horses, but sultana birds too. Lovely post, Becky.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Witches horses, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

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