Summer birding near the Quinta

Kingfisher with fish 2737

Over the last month I've been enjoying birding a few days every now and again - it's an excellent time for it right now.

Adults are busy, busy, busy gathering as much food as they can for hungry chicks whenever they're not sitting on new clutches, and there're quite a few new chicks around to test our powers of recognition, but what I've really been enjoying more than pretty well anything else is testing myself by trying to get decent shots of birds in flight - and none are more difficult to capture than Common Kingfishers, so I was particularly chuffed to have grabbed this sequence a few days ago ...

Kingfisher 3865

Kingfisher 3866

Kingfisher 3868

Kingfisher 3869

Kingfisher 3870

I dread to think how many hours or how many wasted shots I spent to finally get this sequence, but it was worth it in the end I think you'll agree. These shots were taken down at our "Water Rail and Kingfisher Hide" of course, which really does keep on producing stunning opportunities, and is an excellent place to study the unfolding of life along this little stretch of river.

While I'm on the subject, the Water Rails themselves have had a productive year down there with at least two fledged clutches of four chicks apiece, and the adults have been as busy as any other species finding enough food for their broods, but luckily the river's well stocked with crayfish which seem to be everyone's cup of tea.

Water Rail with crayfish 3701

I was down there yesterday for a couple of hours with a couple of friends, one of whom mentioned they'd only ever seen one Water Rail in his life, but within the following few minutes he'd quadrupled his Life sightings of this elusive species when the female popped out of the reeds right opposite us with a couple of chicks in tow and proceeded to feed them out in the open.

Water Rails 3900

It's a cryptic species at the best of times so to see adults and chicks together was a real winner. I never cease to be amazed at my good fortune to be able to live in this little piece of paradise.

But I digress a little; I was writing about birds in flight and feeding chicks wasn't I, so here're a couple of European Bee-eaters,

Bee eater 3359

and here's one of a male Eurasian Golden Oriole carrying food to its chicks. 

Golden Oriole 3519

The Golden Orioles are easily seen at the moment in our Golden Oriole Hide in the Quinta's garden, and I think we have about forty or so there every morning. It's another species that, despite its bright colours, is a surprisingly difficult one to see well - or even see at all! - so to be able to see three adult males and two juveniles in a single shot, (like that below), is a revelation to those of our guests who have been struggling to catch a glimpse of this bird for many years.

Golden Orioles 3546

I must bring this blog to a close and get out there again - make hay while the sun shines, and it's certainly shining at the moment so I think I'll pop down to the lake for a quick dip before heading out again, but, before I go, here're a couple of little species that either tend to be missed or are difficult to identify.

First of all an Iberian Chiffchaff, a well camouflaged and flighty individual, more easily identified by its distinctive song than by any plumage difference to the more well-known Common Chiffchaff,

Iberian Chiffchaff 2588

and finally a juvenile Subalpine Warbler, looking completely unlike its more colourful and infinitely more easily-recognised adult self, but the white moustache can just be made out and the dark tertials with light brown borders are a diagnostic marker.

Subalpine Warbler 4013

Birding in Portugal

Quinta do Barranco da Estrada
7665-880 Santa Clara a Velha

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Phone : (+351) 283 933 065
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