Thursday, January 1, 2015

End of the Year 2014

It's the time of the year when some lists go back to zero, January 1st.  According to Ebird I ended 2014 with 352 species seen on 2 continents. I got to see some really great birds during the year, and can't really pick a best bird for the year.  I did have a great end to the year by getting a chance to do some birding with two of the Irish birders that I got to meet so far.  I've been really busy lately with the holidays, a quick trip to Paris, having both kids home from school and lousy weather, to do much birding.  But my friend Brian asked me if I wanted to go look for a Ruddy Duck that had been seen in various parts of North Dublin.
We met at a petrol station or some coffee and ventured to a private fishing lake (angling club) in Knock.  The gate was closed, but a short stroll through some fields brought us to the larger of 2 ponds and we quickly found the Ruddy Duck among some Mallards, Tufted Ducks and Eurasian Coots.

Ruddy Duck
Ruddy Duck - Knock Lake, Co. Fingal, Ireland
Our friend Paul Lynch met us at the pond.  We also go to see a Kingfisher and had a Water Rail fly right in front us and into some reeds, not more than 10 feet away from us.  And then we got to hear another one calling just a bit further away along a the bank of a smaller pond.  We made our way back through the fields where we got to see some Yellowhammers and Sky Larks feeding in a field of stubble.
Paul mentioned that there were some Eider Ducks seen nearby at Skerries. I had yet to see some so I suggested that we head that way and see if they were still around.  We made it to the coast and scanned the sea around the nearby Skerries Islands but no Eiders could be seen.  We saw a Common Murre and many Shags moving about offshore, but no ducks.  

Rockabill Lighthouse
Irish Coast - Skerries, Co. Fingal, Ireland
I did spot some porpoises swimming just off shore, and we watched their dorsal fins break the surface a dozen times, but nothing else exciting. We stopped in Skerries for some coffees and then made our way further down the coast towards Rush.  We noticed lots of gulls, but nothing exciting and some shorebirds along the coast.  Redshanks, Ruddy Turnstones, Plovers and some Sanderlings were working the beaches and rocks.  We were hoping for some Purple Sandpipers, but none were present.
Ringed Plover
Ringed Plover - Rush, Co. Fingal, Ireland

Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstone
Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstone - Rush, Co. Fingal, Ireland
Paul parted ways with Brian and I at this point since it was starting to get dark.  Brian was mentioning a Martello Tower north of us and where to look for Short-Eared Owls near there.  I asked how long he could be out and then suggested that we just go over and see try to see them then, since we were 45 minutes from sunset anyway.  We made our way there and then walked through more farmer's fields and up the coast trail, stopping to see if a Black Redstart was still around, but it wasn't.

IMG_20141231_155744
Martello Tower and Irish Coast - Co. Fingal, Ireland
We found a spot in the grass to sit and wait for it to get darker while scanning to the north.  It was too dark for spotting scopes or my camera so we just waited with our binoculars.  And then I spotted 2 big shapes gliding over the grass.  The short faces and wing-shapes could only be owls. I decided to put my camera in video mode and crossed my fingers that I could get some usable footage and I did.  Here's the video on Youtube.


My friend Brian had a much nicer camera set-up than me and shared some of his photos, which I'm posting with his permission.
Short-Eared Owl - Co. Fingal, Ireland.  Photo Courtesy of Brian Carruthers  
Short-Eared Owl - Co. Fingal, Ireland.  Photo Courtesy of Brian Carruthers
A very fine way to end the year, if I don't say so myself.  The owls were lifers for me and one that I missed seeing in Oregon back in the first half of the year.

Thanks for making it this far,

Cheers.

Monday, December 8, 2014

One Hundred Irish Birds

It has been a slow few weeks of birding for me.  The holidays and busy kids haven't left much time for birding, plus is finally got cold here in Ireland.  But I have been out a couple of times south of Dublin, and both times with a local birder, Brian Carruthers.
The first trip was to Cahore bog in County Wexford, just at the end of November.  Along with Brian, another local birder, Rachel Hynes also came along.  They were looking for a Great Egret which had been seen in area, and maybe Bearded Reedlings (AKA Bearded Tits) too.  But as we got there, some other birders said that we had just missed the Great Egret as it flew off and any Bearded Reedlings that were there decided to stay out of sight.  But it was a beautiful Sunny day in a great looking location, with some giant wind turbines standing tall overhead.

Wind turbines in County Wexford Ireland.
Cahore Bog and Turbines - Co. Wexford, Ireland
It ended up being a day of ID'ing ducks through the scope and counting waders flying overhead, so I didn't get many photographs. I did get to see flocks of hundreds and hundreds of Golden Plovers taking to the skies.  And I got my 100th Irish bird on the trip, which happened to be a Peregrine Falcon.  We actually saw 2 at the same time, one on a telephone pole and the other on the grass in front of one of the turbines.
Towards the end of the day we got to see a very friendly Stonechat and I had a chance to take a photo of an actual bird.

Stonechat
Stonechat - Co. Wexford, Ireland

Stonechat
Stonechat - Co. Wexford, Ireland
At the end of the day I had quite a few lifers and new Irish Birds, Golden Plovers, Hen (Northern) Harrier, Peregrine Falcons, Greylag Goose, White-Fronted Goose, and some ducks. Not a bad time, despite the cold and the cow patties everywhere.

Earlier this week I was walking to do some shopping in our town of Maynooth. The road crosses the Rye Water near one of the combination shopping mall and apartments which are quite popular in Ireland.  I usually stop on an stone bridge to see if there's a Kingfisher down below (there never is), but this time there was a pleasant surprise.  A European Dipper was sitting on a barely-submerged rock.  

Eurasian Dipper in Maynooth
Dipper - Maynooth, Ireland
Sorry for the potato photo, but I only had my phone with me. You can see the white bib which is an easy ID.  I also took a video of it swimming through the water, you can watch it over on YouTube here if you'd like. The bird is pretty hard to see, but is popping up and then diving back down towards the middle of the shot, and then it flies to some rocks.  I've seen Dippers nearby, but not in town before.

Yesterday Brian invited me back to the East Coast Nature Reserve in County Wicklow, which I wrote about back in October.  We got a very early start in order to get there before the Sun rose and drove all the geese away to forage.  But it ended up being in vain since the only fowl on the the reserve were a half-dozen Mallards, which was disappointing to say the least.  I was hoping to see some Pink-Footed Geese, or maybe a Barnacle Goose, but those will have to wait.  We did see a hundred or so Graylag Geese flying off because of a dog walker. But one of the first birds that we saw would be the highlight of the day.  Just before dawn we saw a raptor flying over the reeds in lazy circles. It was just barely light enough to see a white band around the tail and ID a female Hen (aka Northern) Harrier!  A nice surprise for Ireland, although common in the area.  But alas, the light was not good enough for photos, and we lost sight of it when the Graylags that I mentioned above, took off flying.
    We saw a few hundred Eurasian Wigeons on some flooded fields, and some Mute Swans, including these 2 which flew off above us.

Mute Swans in Flight
Mute Swans - ECNR, Co. Wicklow Ireland
In addition to all of the waterfowl, there were quite a few passerines about.  We saw a Yellowhammer sitting on a wire with some Linnets and Reed Buntings.  And stood watching a large flock of European Goldfinches eating some berries, maybe thirty birds in all.

Eurasian Goldfinches and Redpol
European Goldfinches - ECNR,Co. Wicklow Ireland
I can't decide if I like the European or American Goldfinch more.  Both are nice birds to see out in dull winter.
Eurasian Goldfinch
European Goldfinches - ECNR, Co. Wicklow Ireland
We were watching the flock of Goldfinches when I noticed that some of the birds were streaky brown.  Brian got his binoculars on them and noticed a red spot on top of a sparrow-looking bird.  A pair of Common Redpolls, a winter visitor to Ireland and a lifer for me!

Common Redpol
Common Redpoll - ECNR, Co. Wicklow Ireland
They neither Redpoll got into the light, so this is the best photo that I got of them, and I think that it's Mrs. Redpoll too.  They reminded me that I miss seeing the myriad Sparrows found back home in the USA (and don't get me started on Woodpeckers...).
We were driving off to get a bit of lunch when Brian saw a Coal Tit out of his window so we stopped.  And then we saw a few hundred Graylag Geese fly over and looked around to what scared them up.  We soon saw a Common Buzzard, and then another one or 2 others.  We watched one fly off and the other fly into a tree.  And then another raptor flew into the same tree, a Sparrowhawk.

Common Buzzard (below) and Sparrowhawk (above)
Buzzard (below) and Sparrowhawk (above) - Co. Wicklow, Ireland
In addition to walking through the fields, bogs and woods of the Nature Reserve, we also walked along the beach for a bit.  I spotted a lifer Little Gull, but no photo, as well as some other nice birds, like some Scoters, a Common Guillemot and a Ruddy Turnstone.  And also a few Red-Throated Divers (aka Loons) diving off the coast.

Red-Throated Diver (Loon)
Red-Throated Diver - ECNR, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
There were also some Wigeons on the ocean, which I've never heard of before.
Scaup on Irish Sea
Wigeons - ECNR, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Birds weren't the only wildlife about, a single Common Seal popped up near us, which is so awesome to see.

Seal
Common Seal - ECNR, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Despite it being a very windy and cold day, Brian and I still managed to get 47 species and I got to see much more of the Reserve than I usually do. Next up is a trip out to try and see some Short-Eared Owls and some Common Cranes were just reported in County Fingal. Plus I'd like to get down to Wexford and visit the big waterfowl reserve down there and see some Barnacle and Pink-Footed Geese.

Thanks for making it this far,

Cheers

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Portugal part 2: Bustards, Skuas and an Owl

I started writing about my families trip to Portugal here in my previous post.  That post recalled the guided birding that I did Saturday morning with a local guide, Georg Schreier. Without getting too far from Faro we were able to see 83 species, 37 of those being Lifers for me.
Just after noon we stopped by the beach for some pizza and coffee.  While sitting there we were able to watch Northern Gannets diving just off the coast.  And then I spotted a pod of dolphins swimming by just off the coast. We had 2 choices for the afternoon, head West to the Cape of St. Vincent, the most Southwesterly spot in all of Europe, or north into the steppe of Alantejo.  At the Cape we could see raptors and maybe vultures on migration, while up north Bustards and Sand Grouse.  The Great Bustard is the heaviest flying bird on the planet and a species that I was eager to see if I could.  Georg checked in with a friend at the cape and the word was that it was a very slow day, so we decided to head north.
After almost an hour of driving, some on the motorway and some through some small towns, we arrived at open farmland.  Just before we got to the area where Great Bustards might be spotted, we stopped along the road so that we could get our binoculars on and other gear situated and stretch our legs a bit.  There were also Southern Grey Shrikes sitting on wires, another lifer for me.  I turned back towards the car and saw a large pair of wings just behind Georg, I yelled for him to turn around thinking that it was a Buzzard. But it wasn't, it was a Great Bustard.

Great Bustard
Great Bustard - Alantejo Portugal
I had read how skittish and hard to see they were.  That if I were lucky, I'd see one a few hundred meters away through a scope.  Well here was one about 70 meters away, and then we saw a second one with it, a smaller female.  Great Bustard males may be the heaviest flying birds with wingspans near 8 feet, but the females were typically only a third of that size.

Great Bustards
Great Bustards - Alantejo, Portugal
As they walked off and over a nearby hill, I spotted a corvid sitting out on a post, a Carrion Crow and my 3rd lifer in just a few minutes.

Carrion Crow
Carrion Crow - Alantejo, Portugal
We continued on our way to where we expected to see Great Bustards and maybe some Sand Grouse if we were really lucky.  My hired car was a Nissan SUV, who's name I won't even try to spell, and had the clearance to check some areas that Georg had a difficult time getting to.  We drove through a gate after talking to a friendly farmer and spotted more than a few Northern Lapwings.  And then we saw a small bird sitting on a post.  Georg asked me if I recognized it and I did immediately, although  had never seen one before.

Northern Wheatear
Northern Wheatear - Alantejo, Portugal
I had been looking for this bird all over Ireland with no luck.  There was also a rare one in New Mexico right after I left.  Friends of mine had seen them in Pennsylvania and Ohio, but I couldn't see them where they bred, it was my recent Nemesis bird.  But here in the middle of nowhere was a Northern Wheatear.  And as this things usually go, I'd see a few more after seeing my first.

Northern Wheatear
Northern Wheatear - Alantejo, Portugal
We stopped again a short while later to scan the fields for any more Bustards and spotted another pair far off.

Great Bustards
Great Bustards - Alantejo, Portugal
They flew off a bit further and were soon joined by another pair.  And then another pair.  Georg suggested that we sneak up to some rocks and see if any more where still there.

Great Bustard
Great Bustard - Alantejo, Portugal
Great Bustard
Great Bustard - Alantejo, Portugal
What beautiful birds.  Sort of like a miniature Ostrich or maybe a land-goose. I managed to get a few more shots before they flew off, and it was as great to see them fly as I thought that it would be.


Great Bustards in Flight
Great Bustards - Alantejo, Portugal
We saw some raptors out there in the Steppe too.  Some Red Kites, Black-Shouldered Kites, Kestrels and some Common Buzzards, including this one, which is my first good photo of one.

Common Buzzard
Common Buzzard - Alantejo, Portugal
We never saw Sand Grouse, but we did manage to see almost 20 Great Bustards, more than I had hoped to see.  I drove us back south towards Faro and then Georg and I parted ways.  What an amazing day.  I know that if I would have gone out by myself that I would not have nearly the day that we did, 90 birds and 42 lifers.


I was up early the next morning and my wife and kids were still sleeping, so I decided to walk around the hotel grounds and see what I could see.  I was watching some Sardinian Warblers on the other side of the fence from the pool area and trying to get a photo of one, but they were flying around way too fast.  But I noticed a bird fly up and land on the cliffs below me and land.  It was a Kestrel out hunting along the cliffs.
Eurasian Kestrel
Eurasian Kestrel - Albufiera, Portugal 
After everyone else woke up and we had breakfast, we went out to see some non-bird sights.  We visited some Roman ruins from the 3rd century and saw some really amazing mosaics that have held up fairly well.  Then after lunch we were scheduled for a boat tour along the coast. My wife really wanted to see some dolphins while we were there and this was our best chance.  
Once we were out on the water I pointed out some Northern Gannets that were diving into the water.  My daughter was watching them and then we started cheering every time they made a splash, and soon I had the entire upper deck of the boat watching and cheering too.  There were quite a few Gannets around, including some immature ones.
Northern Gannet
Northern Gannet - Algarve, Portugal
But I was looking for something else.  I knew that we weren't going out far enough for anything too amazing, but I was watching every bird that I could see.  Finally I saw a dark shape, that looked like a gull on steroids. Through the binoculars I could see a brown bird with tell-tale white edges to the wings and I actually let out a loud cheer, it was a Great Skua.  Another bird that I had always wanted to see.

Great Skua
Great Skua - Algarve, Portugal
I would end up seeing 3 or 4 others on the trip along with lots of gulls, Yellow-Legged and Black-Headed in the majority, along with a Mediterranean sprinkled in.
Here's a view of the coast from our boat, what a great time.

Albufiera
Albufeira from the sea - Algarve, Portugal
Once the boat returned to port I was done birding for the next day and a half.  We decided to not go north to Setubal and stay an extra day and a half in Algarve and then go to Lisbon the day before our flight and visit the large aquarium there.  We also planned to stop at the Sado Estuary on the way to try and again see dolphins, there is pod which lives there year round. But we ended up missing our exit and turning around would have added too much time to our trip.  Instead, we decided to stop by the Tejo Estuary just East of Lisbon.  Little did we know that it is really far into rice fields on dirt roads.  But we did make some nice discoveries.
I saw my first Great Egrets in Europe in what may have been a union meeting for waders, or maybe a birthday party.  But a sizable group of Grey Herons, Great Egrets and Little Egrets were in the same spot.

Great Egrets, Grey Heron, Cattle Egrets
Great Egrets, Little Egrets and Grey Herons - Tejo Estuary, Portugal
There were many raptors about too. I saw Merlins, Buzzards, Osprey, another Black-Shouldered Kite that dove down right next to our car, and Kestrels, including this female sitting on a fence post.

Eurasian Kestrel - Female
Eurasian Kestrel - Tejo Estuary, Portugal
We eventually discovered a large building in the middle of the fields, the EVOA center. The center consisted of a visitor's center and snack shop, as well as a series of ponds and hides.  Admission came with a guide to take you all the way out to the estuary proper.  Due to a time constraint, my wife and I were the only ones to go out for a walk while my kids and our friend ate lunch inside. The majority of the birds were Wigeons and lots and lots of Lapwings with some Little Grebes and Black-Winged Stilts around too.

Black-Winged Stilts and Lapwings
EVOA Wetlands - Tejo Estuary, Portugal
Apparently we had missed the Avocets and Purple Herons which had already left for the season. I also didn't get to see any of themany Bluethroats that were ringed there.  But the best animal that we saw wasn't a bird at all, but a mammal.

Egyptian Mongooses
Egyptian Mongooses - Tejo Estuary, Portugal
My wife and I came around a bend in the trail and saw 3 animals wrestling around. I had no idea what they were. They saw us and took off into the brush.  But it wasn't until later that we discovered that they were Egyptian Mongooses!  An animal that is found only in certain locations in Europe.
We finally met up with our guide just as we had to turn around.  He was very informative, but mainly had bad news in the way that the birds I most wanted to see were already gone.  But he did tell me where I could find Little Owls.  Apparently it was odd that we didn't see it on the way in.  But he described where to look on our way to Lisbon.  We said our goodbyes and set off to the Oceanarium in Lisbon.
We found the location where the Owls were supposed to be and stopped to look around.  They were supposed to be standing on buildings or fence posts, but I din't see anything anywhere.  But then I saw some eyes looking out at me from under a roof. 
Little Owl
Little Owl - Tejo Estuary, Portugal
I was immediately reminded of Burrowing Owls from back home.  But these live in nooks and crannies instead of holes in the ground.  My guide from earlier in the trip said that they liked to nest in piles of rocks in farmer's fields, stacks made when the fields are cleared. Unfortunately, I was the only one in the car who spotted this guy, because as soon as we backed up and my wife and daughter got out of the car, a truck full of farmers drove up and scared the owl away. At least I got one photo before that happened.

All in all it was a great trip.  I'd like to go back in the summer next year to see the birds that I missed, and to explore the great history of the country.  Plus I never got a hat made out of cork.  But in basically 2 days worth of birding I managed to see 99 species and get 44 lifers, including most of the species that I wanted to go there and see, Flamingo, Hoopoe, Great Bustard and Little Owl, with Great Skua being a very pleasant surprise.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Portugal part 1: Faro

My daughter's school was having their mid-term break and we wanted to visit someplace sunny before winter really set in.  We were looking at various places when I saw a post on Portugal from the Birdchick's blog. That pretty much made the choice for me and I told my wife to book it.  Doing a little more research online I found the website for a local guide, Georg Schreier, and booked a day of guided birding. This would be my first paid for birding trip and I was really looking forward to utilizing my one day of the holiday set aside for birding.
Saturday morning came and I drove from our hotel in Albufiero west towards Faro before dawn. Georg and I had a funny moment when we were both in a filling station drinking coffees side by side while waiting for the other to show up. It was 5 minutes before we said something to one another.
Something else interesting about Portugal was that everyone drank shots of espresso, almost all of the time.  And the tiny filling station served coffee in ceramic cups and food on real plates with real silverware, not a very busy culture.
Our first stop was some very fragrant sewage ponds for waders and whatever else we could see.  First we saw some Spotless Starlings and heard some Common Waxbills and then saw a Marsh Harrier circling out over the fields around the ponds. When we finally reached the ponds I saw lifer Black-Winged Stilts and Glossy Ibis. And then a small, pale bird. It was a lonely Sanderling, and another lifer for me.

Sanderling and Common Sandpiper
Sanderling (L) and Common Sandpiper (R) - Faro, Portugal
We would see some White Wagtails and even a Yellow Wagtail, both different from the Pied and Grey Wagtails of Ireland.

White Wagtails
White Wagtails - Faro, Portugal
We also spotted some rare for the area Wood and Green Sandpipers along with Ruff and Common Sandpipers. Small birds were all around too, Water Pipits, Black Redstarts, Crested Larks, Zitting Cisticolas, Sardinian and Cetti's warblers, plus some others common to Ireland.  A Spoonbill made an appearance too.  We saw a brown shape with black and white wings fly by us and land behind some reeds, it could only have been a Hoopoe!  A bird that I really wanted to see on this trip. Unfortunately for me, I never saw it again for a photo and I wouldn't see another while in Portugal.
We left the ponds with a list of 44 species and 18 lifers in less than an hour of birding.  

Our next spot was closer to Faro and the Aeroport. A mixed forest which led to some salt ponds, a golf course and finally sand dunes, lagoons and the ocean. 
We walked through some trees to a spot over-looking a wide forest valley.  Our targets here were raptors.  It started off quiet.  A solitary Booted Eagle was roosting in a tree, which my guide somehow spotted.  And then a white bird in a tree turned out to be a Black-Shouldered Kite through the scope.  And then far off in another tree was a grey bird, a surprise Northern Goshawk.  All too far or any sort of photo, but great spots.  And then three Booted Eagles were in the air at one time and one of them came close enough for a good shot.
Booted Eagle
Booted Eagle - Faro, Portugal
Having spotted the targets, with a bonus Goshawk, we went to drive along the salt ponds.  These were rectangular ponds where seawater was held until it evaporated and the remaining salt collected into giant piles. Here we saw more waders, some sandpipers and plovers.

Kentish and Ringed Plovers
Kentish and Ringed Plovers - Faro, Portugal
We spotted our first Kentish Plovers, a local specialty, along with some Ringed Plovers and a few Little Stints, a bird that I had just missed seeing in Ireland.
Another of the birds that I really wanted to see were all around, Flamingos.  We had seen some in Lisbon while driving down in the car, but I wasn't keeping track and was driving instead.  But now they were everywhere, at least 30 were on both sides of the road.


Flamingos
Flamingos - Faro, Portugal
It was amazing to see them in the wild and not in a zoo for once.  There were still other sandpipers and ducks around too, mainly Eurasian Wigeons and the usual Mallards.
We left the last of the salt ponds and parked the car near the San Lorenzo Golf Course and continued on foot.  Another bird to see in Portugal is the Iberian Magpie, a much more colorful cousin to the, mainly, black and white magpies that I have seen before.  We were able to see a few along the fairways.

Iberian Magpie
Iberian Magpie - Faro, Portugal
We also saw lots of songbirds about.  Goldfinches, more Sardinian Warblers and we added tiny Serin to the list, although more heard than seen.
We eventually arrived at a 2-story hide overlooking some impressive wetlands alongside the course.
Wetlands at San Lorenzo Golf Course
Wetlands at San Lorenzo Golf Course - Faro, Portugal
 Immediately Goerg noticed the white rump of a Ferruginous Duck among more Wigeons and now Shovelers too.

Ferruginous Duck
Ferruginous Duck - Faro, Portugal
And nearby was another odd duck, a female Garganey.

Garganey - Female
Garganey - Faro, Portugal
You can see the small size when compared to the Shoveler in the background, and the bill is fairly distinct.  An unexpected find.
The target birds for the marsh were Purple Swamphens, Kingfishers and maybe a Little Bittern. Purple Swamphens where plentiful, with 5 or 6 at various places on the wetlands.

Purple Swamphen
Purple Swamphen - Faro, Portugal
A few Kingfishers were darting about, and I was somehow able to get a shot of this one.

Kingfisher
Kingfisher - Faro, Portugal
Although we didn't see or hear any Bitterns, we did spot this Snipe doing it's best to not be seen.

Common Snipe and Coot
Common Snipe and Coot - Faro, Portugal
A few Little Grebes were also swimming in front of the hide, including this one.

Little Grebe
Little Grebe - Faro, Portugal
We finally left the wetlands and the green of the Golf Course to take a look at some saltwater lagoons behind some sand dunes.  We spotted a Plover that looked a bit off.  Georg felt that it might have been an American Golden Plover. But after observing it for 10 minutes or so, we decided that it was a Grey Plover (aka Black-Bellied) who looked a bit off.

Grey (Black-Bellied) Plover
Grey Plover - Faro, Portugal
I was also able to get a better look at a Kentish Plover.  They lack the full rings of a Ringed Plover and instead have a bit of a horseshoe shaped ring around the neck.

Kentish Plover
Kentish Plover - Faro, Portugal
Not seeing anything else interesting, we turned back towards our car.  But before we got too far, we saw some large birds flying overhead, some White Storks.
White Stork
White Stork - Faro, Portugal
I had seen some really large nests on the drive down to Algarve from Portugal and found out that they were Stork nests, but this was the first time seeing some.

It was time for lunch and to decide what we were going to do with the second half of our day.  Either head west to the Southwestern tip of Europe or north looking for the heaviest flying bird on Earth.  But by lunch we had already seen 83 species and 37 lifers, what a great day.

I'll conclude the trip with another post,

Thanks for making it this far,

Cheers.