‘Kings’ of the Saltpans

I suspect the European White Storks, Flamingos and Redshanks will disagree , but Aves de Portugal describe Black Winged Stilts (scientific name – Himantopus himantopus) as the ‘kings’ of the saltpans. They certainly act like it at times! Their numbers vary enormously on the saltpans near us, with some years only a few appearing and other years such as this year they’re everywhere.

Some guides indicate that females have whiter heads and that the juveniles are the ones with the grey heads. However our favourite bird book when travelling in Europe – Collins Bird Guide – confirms what I was beginning to suspect that when it comes to gender there is much overlap in colourings and markings, and that the patterns are not a robust indicator of sexes. So I am not 100% sure who is who in the squabbling group above, although pretty sure a mix of adults and juveniles.

“Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)” from xeno-canto recorded, by Marco Dragonetti.

As a species, however, they are unmistakable with their black and white markings, incredibly long legs and noisy calls. Their Portuguese name is ‘pernilongo’, and it is a name also used for mosquito. When I look again at their dangling slightly bent legs and listen to their annoying call, I can see the resemblance!

As you might imagine with such an elegant and distinctive bird I photograph them often. So if you have time to spare why not explore some of my earlier posts. I have also included below a few photos from those posts to tempt you to explore further!

Author: BeckyB

It had been a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, blogging, and best of all spending time with MrB, family, & friends. Sadly it no longer is. Suddenly and unexpectedly I have become a widow.

28 thoughts

  1. This morning,through breakfast bar window,Marsh harrier,,Hoopee, a pair of white Storks,and in the distance a few Black winged Stilts.
    They are less numerous than of old as the Camera dumpedexfactory subsoil,close to their breeding area.
    They are much more scattered around the Salinas now.

    1. oh how fantastic to see a Hoopoe and Marsh harrier from the window. And yes have noticed the stilt numbers reducing again, but so much better still than they were in 2019

  2. Beautiful birds and well photographed as usual Becky 🙂 🙂
    Still looking for Stilts around here. Others have posted photos so they do exist. Maybe if I catch a genie and my wishes are for a new car, a mansion and a bird with long legs, it may come true 😂

    1. Thank you Brian, and one of these days they will turn up for you – or just hop on the genies magic carpet and come to Portugal!!

  3. Great photos, Becky! Wasn’t it a glorious afternoon? I finally made it to Gueirreiro do Rios and the artwork is even more impressive in close up. Mick says the cat is an Iberian lynx and I’m not sure if he’s right.

      1. We are sufficiently recovered to be eating out at Noel in Tavira. Friday night treat. Hopefully well enough for the walk tomorrow. Bom fim de semana 🤗🤗

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