If you go také pictures to Helgoland in the North Sea, your
goal is red sandstone cliffs with colony of gannets and guillemots. If you go
to Lake Kerkini to Greece, pelicans are the clear target. But when you go to
Portugal, it’s much more difficult. You have hundreds of goals ahead. And you
want to catch everyone!
Portugal is mainly driven by the sea. What about the sea, the ocean! The jagged rock cliffs alternate here with endless beaches of golden sand. The wave behind the wave with the banner of frothing ocean surf battalions rolls toward the coast. The ubiquitous wind carries grains of sand with tiny salty drops that fall between the prickly and blooming coastal vegetation. Breathtaking scenery. But the most interesting from a bird photographer’s perspective is hidden behind the coastal dune beach. Wetlands and ponds and salt reservoirs were the right treasuries for which I went to this part of Europe.
On the coast and adjacent wetlands or salt wetland, feathered flying objects can be photographed in two ways. In the strictly professional called “walking shots”, we have to rely a little on the fact that the subjects are used to people and let the photographer get closer to the range. The second method requires the posting of a lying shooter at the edge of the coastal vegetation and lurking. However, it is important to note that you are in a reservation at all interesting places.
Parque Natural Ria Formosa is right next to the airport. Several tens of hectares of shallow sweet and salty lakes, canals and soles separated by dikes with thorny shrub vegetation. If a bird in a coat of arms had a coastline in Portugal, it would undoubtedly be written by a Black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus). They appeared everywhere, along with their elegant distant cousins, the Avocet (Recurvirostra avocetta) and in addition to looking for food, we also observed copulation, nesting and in one case a nest with eggs.
Although I am not a great golf fan, the pool at the Sao Laurenco Golf Resort has inspired me. On a carefully trimmed green, Purple swamp-hen (Porphyrio porphyrio) were walking all day. With their strong red beak, these metallic blue-colored coastal inhabitants consumed fresh shoots of the reeds. The real rarity was the tiny Green heron (Butorides virescens), the American species that is here on a very rare visit. It was only the third occurrence of this species in Europe.
With its location on the southwestern tip of the old continent, Portugal is destined to become a junction of bird roads from Europe to Africa in the spring and autumn, and vice versa. It is also possible to reach some African species settled there permanently. A big surprise for me was just one of the “Africans” Common waxbill (Estrilda astrild ), which we found on the salt marshes of Tavira. We tried to find their nesting site at Lagoa dos Douradas, but unsuccessfully.
On the border with Spain is located Reserva Natural to Sapal de Castro Marim e Vila Real de Santo António. The magnificent setting of wetlands and water reservoirs is sharply contrasted with the generously built, but currently dilapidated building of the local information center. The sad impression of neglect is enhanced by the information boards of the former nature trail, which left only pure white plates. In addition to the already mentioned ubiquitous writing, we first saw the Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) and Red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa).
Another of our coastal missions took us to Costa Vincentina. Spectacular landscape views of the Atlantic Ocean, azure waters beyond the horizon, and foamy caps of endless rush of waves. Surfers paradise and a pair of Herring gulls (Larus argentatus) with the wind beneath their gray-white wings.
The sandy shores hidden behind the wind and the fluctuations in the water level at low tides create temporary lagoons in some places, such as the Ria de Alvor estuary. They are home not only to bird populations, especially the Gull-billed terns (Sterna nilotica) and Sanderling (Sterna nilotica). Atlantic marsh fiddler crab (Uca pugnax) live in large numbers in their sandy burrows.
An absolute treasure appeared before us in a place called Lagoa dos Salgados. Behind the sand dune on a relatively small water surface were dozens of waterbirds, among which mainly European spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia), Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus), Avocet (Recurvirostra avocetta), Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), several ducks and seagulls, and Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber).
On the day of departure we still visited a place called Parque Ambiental de Vilamoura. The greatest experience was the observation of the Black-headed Weavers (Ploceus melanocephalus) in the construction of its suspension nests. With this activity, the photographer would last for a day. However, the plane will not wait. Maybe next time.