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Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Alentejo region of Portugal!!!

Savannah like plains!
Great views of one of the largest flying landbirds...

Easily spooked....

Drab Little Bustard!

Seen distantly...

They don`t usually hang around!!!
I decided that I wanted to see some of the rural parts of Portugal during my stay,so an hours drive North found me in the Alentejo region.This area is a wilderness covering some 800 sq kms.Farmed in the Spring and Winter for crops and then left desert like and barren throughout the Summer,this is one of the most important places for species such as Great and Little Bustard and the very wary Black Bellied Sandgrouse.All of Portugals raptors breed here too so I was full of excitement when I arrived early one morning!I`d got the phone number of a highly recommended guide called Simon Waites,he`s an Englishman that has lived out here for the best part of twenty years.Simon does a lot of work for the Portugese wildlife and Fauna societey and was an absolute joy to be with.As we approached a track leading to one of the many stubble fields, he slowed right down and gently rolled the car into a small lay by.Three days ago he`d found a small group of Great Bustard nearby, albeit some 400mts away,this time they were literally 70mts from the car, but they`d seen us approach and were slowly moving away.'Usually you just cant get near to these' he whispered',must be our lucky day!They are one of the largest flying birds in the world,just like an overgrown Turkey.Suddenly they spooked and were up and away,but not before I`d took a few shots with the camera!Great, what a start to the day.Simon reckoned there were some 500 adult birds throughout Portugal with most being here.
As we carried on through the stubble fields, Simon gave me a brief history about the area and its wildlife.Hares were prevelent here and many were seen, as well as a Fox scurrying away in the distance.'Keep your eyes out for Raptors' he enthused,as anything can be encountered here.Suddenly he stopped,look there on the ground 30 metres to the right,'male Montagues Harrier,they use this area as a roost but we should see some more later on'

Wow things were really beginning to hot up and we`d only just got here.
Ten minutes later and he`d located some Little Bustard,and we were treated to some more good views of these unusual birds.They seem rather drab and uncomprimising when amongst the stubble but their true colours can be seen when in flight with their broad wing bar and black primaries,beautiful!
The Black Bellied Sandgrouse were another proposition though,'they`ll spot us before we see them' Simon echoed',usually they`ll head away but come back to take a look at us, so get ready with the camera and you might get a few images!
True to form a small party were put up, but this time they kept on going before they were lost in the distance.Ah well two out of three aint bad I muttered.
I was looking forward to obtaining some decent raptor images and Simon promised me I would,so I`ll sign out for now and tell you all about it in my next blog!!!!

1 comment:

  1. Paul. Sorry only just managed to catch up with your blog. What a fantastic selection of birds you saw and photographed in wonderful lighting conditions. Well worth the services of the local guide. Looking forward to your next account of what was a wonderful holiday for you and the family. Wouldn't have been as good in Cornwall !!!!