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For the first time ever all three prizes from the Birdfair Raffle have been claimed, so many congratulations again to the three lucky winners, Rosemary, Brenda & Chris! We look forward to seeing you out at the Quinta during the next year.

The picture above shows that it's not all about birding ... a beautiful Red-veined Darter snapped from the Water Rail Hide this morning. A pity that the Water Rail below didn't step into the sun like the Darter ...

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The Cetti's earlier on in the week didn't either ...

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but the Zitting Cisticola played ball this morning!

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 For the last ten years I've been running the Birdfair Raffle and I have a feeling that this is the first time that anyone's claimed the first prize within the week allotted, so feeling quite chuffed! Congratulations Rosemary Sargent and we look forward greatly to seeing you out here during the next year.

Sadly no-one claimed the second and third prizes so I've drawn them again and the winner's names are announced below.  Tough luck on Mark H and Mark M who didn't claim, but there y'go. Prizes are as explained at the Birdfair and outlined also on last week's blog.

These two pictures were taken this week, that above out on the Plains of a Black-winged Kite and that below of a nice Richard's Pipit on the top of Foia.


OK, so now it's time for the second and third prizes to be awarded again, so I hope that Brenda Hovell or C Hatch picks them up. If that's you just get in touch with me before the 22nd and we'll take it from there.

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Summer's drawing to a close; the Barn Swallows have gone, our local Bee-eaters too, (dead on time within a day or two of 31st August as usual), and the Eurasian Golden Orioles that nested in the Quinta's gardens this summer left yesterday. The temperature's dropped down to a balmy 35º and yesterday morning it even felt as if it could rain for an hour or two ... it'd be nice if it did so that beautiful patina of green would peek through on the roadsides again. Well, it won't be long now ...

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We've had a busy summer and've been birding throughout - except that is, funnily enough, when Carolina and I went to the UK for the Birdfair, (more of which further down the page), and we've managed to see and photograph some great species as usual.

I get the feeling it's been a good breeding season - even if a bit late due to the adverse Spring weather. The result has been loads of juveniles of all species, like the Black-winged Kites above or the Red-legged Partridges below, and certainly all the Barn Swallows around the house fledged their first clutches successfully without the snakes being active enough to take out the usual one or two nests, and the latter have been noticeable by their absence during the summer as well. 

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Of course there are other predators always waiting to have a go ... I'd heard from friends how aggressive Water Rails were, but had never witnessed their pugnacious killer instinct first hand until July when this one tried to kill a half-grown Moorhen almost as big as itself. The Moorhen survived the attack, and, as an aside, the next couple who used our Water Rail Hide said they saw the exact reverse the next day, with the adult Moorhen trying to kill the Water Rail fledgeling - which also survived!

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Speaking of the Water Rail Hide, I spent some enjoyable mornings down there over the summer photographing Common Kingfishers ... they're fast diving ...

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...and are up again in a flash too ...

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... so it's nice when they sit still for a bit. This one regurgitating shows that it'd been gorging on the crayfish in the river.

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However, I was incredibly lucky - and pleased as punch - to get this shot of a Kingfisher as it flew over the top of a Water Rail. 

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Both species are hard to see at the best of times, but it was just a shame the shot above was in the shade - not a usual problem when photographing Zitting Cisticolas ...

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... or Sardinian Warblers posing nicely in among the flowers.

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Posers this summer also included this Little Owl ...

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... and this Common Waxbill,

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but 1st prize must go to this Eurasian Jay. They're normally such a shy bird around here but the one below gave us a lovely view when it caught this terrapin.

What else? Oh, yes, the Birdfair Raffle. As normal we ran our raffle at the Birdfair, the first prize of which is a week's accommodation for two in one bedroom at the Quinta between mid March and mid July 2019 or mid September and the end of October this year or next. The second and third prizes are three mid-week nights in the same place during the same periods. All the lucky winners have to do is email me from the same email address they submitted at the Birdfair and we'll take it from there, so congratulations Rosemary Sargent who won first prize - but I'm afraid that Mark H and Mark M didn't claim their prize so I're-drawn it and the winner's names are on the Blog posted on the 15th September.

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A lovely morning with a stool, cushion, tripod, hat, camo-netting and various cameras and lenses produced these shots.

It's been a chilly, damp Spring, with it feeling more like winter some days, but the weather's changed now and I thought I'd get a quick morning on my own before it becomes roasting hot out on the Plains, so, having left the Quinta nice and early I was all set up before sunrise .... and then waited, freezing, for a wonderful three hours before the first of my two target species deigned to turn up!

Silly me - having warned everyone all Spring to dress warm, "as it can be surprisingly chilly out there", I failed to follow my own instructions and froze, but it was worth it when the Black-bellied Sandgrouse below landed right in front of me ...




Having taken some film and the shots above I moved on to the Rufous Bush Robin's nest I found a few weeks ago ...



She's still sitting so I reckon another morning I'll pop on out there again for some shots of her feeding the chicks - but next time I'll be taking a jersey!

Apart from actually going in to Faro airport I actually like picking up guests there as it always gives me the chance to explore the area a little, and today was no exception, so I thought I'd just quickly post some of the shots we got today while I was down there ... first off the blocks was this Eurasian Wryneck, one of the four individuals we were lucky enough to find during the morning.


A short while later came a surprise, a solitary and distant Curlew Sandpiper moulting in to summer plumage.


This Little Egret showed off its gorgeous plumes and posed well for us,


as did the many Kentish Plovers we saw.


Several times this flock of Greater Flamingos flew overhead and they looked stunning in the beautiful weather we're now enjoying.


It seemed that nearly every bush held a singing Sardinian Warbler.


As well as finding a well hidden Kentish Plover's nest we also found this Little Tern nesting scarcely a meter away from a busy walking trail.


One of my guests was particularly anxious to find a Purple Heron - and was even more particularly pleased when we did just that! A pity it didn't stick around for very long but that's Life ...


I was pleased I captured the Purple Heron before it disappeared for good and was also pleased with this quick shot of an Iberian Magpie. It's always difficult to get the focus right on moving birds against tangled backgrounds.


Of course everyone loves European Bee-eaters - especially when they've caught a bee and bring it back to the branch just above your picnic!


OK, they're originally an escaped cage-bird, even if they are well established now, but Common Waxbills are always nice to see.


Last but not least on the photo front was this Eurasian Hoopoe.


We saw many, many more species of course, Crested Tits and Little Bitterns amongst them, but I think that should do for now!

Birding in Portugal

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

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