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Paradise for twitchers (birdwatchers)

From: Mary (and Mike)
Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2012 16:24:53 +0100

The apartment location is lovely with a gorgeous view. My boyfriend is a
twitcher (birdwatcher) and has some really powerful photographic
equipment, binoculars, and a telescope, so he was happy to spend
hours watching the lagoon wildlife from both the terrace and beside
the pool.

Having something to keep my partner busy was great for me because all
I wanted to do was crash out for a week on the sunlounger with the
latest best sellers. I hadn't brought enough books with me, but I
found some more in the apartment which was great.

We drove down from Brussels as we had lots of luggage with us, and it
was an easy trip with only one overnight stop near Bilbao. The
motorways down are really great, and in France and Portugal they are
empty too, so we arrived in the afternoon.

On arrival the apartment was comfortable and well equipped and when I saw
how big it was I decided we would bring some friends next time, or
perhaps my Mum and Dad. Next time we will have to stay longer and see
more of the local area, and I know they would enjoy that magnificent
castle town at Obidos.

We even managed to rake up enough energy to play some tennis after a
few days poolside.

thanks for a great holiday!
Mary (and Mike)



Thanks for the feedback Mary, it's great to hear you enjoyed
your quick break this year, and glad that Mike found the terrace
view useful too.

We find visitors with lots of luggage, bikes, surf-boards and
the like are driving down more now that the motorway network is
so good, and coming via the ports of Santander or Bilbao. After
getting off the boat in the morning they can arrive here in the
afternoon of the same day.

When you visit again, do take your Mum and Dad to Obidos, and be
sure that Mike brings his binoculars along. The Obidos Castle
walls and the surroundings are very interesting for birders. So
it will be a great place for Mike to watch warblers and raptors
while the rest of the family take in the breath-taking views and
enjoy the historic location.

There is a wealth of information on the "Aves de Portugal" web
site, but you might want to view it using Google Translate.
Alternatively, on the English language "Iberian Nature Forum"
you can read about what a "British Trust for Ornithology"
surveyor saw while on holiday in 2010.

At Obidos he saw two "Little Owl" at 8 am from the north west
castle battlements with one being mobbed by Orphean Warbler and
Chiffchaff. I guess he must have spent the day there as he also
reported hearing two Nightjar in the evening at around 9 pm.

Walking around the castle ramparts Graham Guthrie (the BTO
surveyor) also reported seeing Kestrel, Grey Heron, Booted Eagle
(being mobbed by Carrion Crows) and a pair of Cettis Warbler
sizing up Little Owl.

A Sand Martin was seen from the north east end of the castle and
a Crag Martin and two Hoopoe on the west side and Reed Warbler
in the reeds beside the stream to the west. A Scops Owl (Otus
scops) was seen roosting in a tree on the south west side and
Buzzard on a pylon next to the railway line.

He also reported that Tree Pipit were common in pairs, with
sightings of Wood Warbler, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Wren, Great
Grey Shrike, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackbird, Spotless
Starling and Blackcap.

As you and Mike have already discovered, the Óbidos lagoon is an
excellent place to observe birds of several groups, including
waders, wildfowl, gulls, terns and passerines. Emblematic
species are regular visitors, namely the Greater Flamingo,
Spoonbill and Osprey.

The Obidos Lagoon and Bird Sanctuary is of national importance.
It is over 5 kilometres long and up to 1 km wide in places.
There are known to be 78 resident, 46 visiting, and 40 migrant
species. Many of these can be seen from the observation tower
conveniently located near the marshes at the upper reaches of
the lagoon.

You can also take a walk around the cycle path where you will
see many attractive signs have been provided detailing the
geology, history, flora and fauna as well as pictures of the
fish, birds and other wildlife.

You can rent bikes now to go all around the cycle path which
allows you to circumnavigate the whole lagoon. Sally and Jason
of `Explore Silver Coast´ will organise that for you and they
can also organise paddleboards on the lagoon and stand up paddle
surfing. SUP has become a very popular lesson with visitors.

In a post by Jason on the "Iberian Nature Forum" there were
reported sightings in 2010 on and around the lagoon of Corn
Bunting, Nuthatch, Willow Tit, Mallard, Common Sandpiper, Black
Headed Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Kingfisher, Little Egret,
Grey Heron, Greenshank, Redshank, Sedge Warbler, Kentish Plover,
Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Whiskered Tern, Oyster
Catcher, Black Redstart, Turtle Dove, House Sparrow, Stonechat,
Chiffchaff, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Carrion Crow, Willow Tit,
Great Tit, Hoopoe, Sardinian Warbler, Common Waxbill, White
Wagtail, Melodious Warbler, Robin, Short-Toed Treecreeper,
Woodpigeon, Ring Ouzel, Wimbrel, Curlew and Serin (feeding

Jason's post states that Montague Harrier are possible here in
summer, Merlin over wintering and Greater Flamingo are regularly
seen in summer months. But own experience is of seeing the
Flamingos in quantity in the upper reaches of the lagoon from
around Christmas through to spring but not the summer. In the
winter and spring of 2012 they were also to be seen in the lower
reaches of the lagoon making them readily visible from the
terrace of the apartment.

I was glad to read that someone else had confirmed spotting
Merlin, as I was doubting my own eyes on that. As the one I see
almost every winter spends so much time on the beach and the
sand bar visible from the apartment I was thinking that it might
be Eleonora's Falcon, but my bird book doesn't seem to suggest
it's presence is likely this far north. But Peregrine are seen
just a short way along the coast at Cabo Carvoeiro.

As you can tell I'm no ornithologist myself, but I do enjoy
taking my binoculars and pocket bird book out for a walk or
cycle around the lagoon paths and seeing what I can spot. I've
seen more than a few of the birds listed in the reports but it's
great to read an expert confirm some of my sightings. At the
beach end of the lagoon from the apartment we see Cormorant and
Oyster Catcher in great quantity and of course many other

If you are not up for a long walk you can reach one elevated
bird observatory, which is open to the public, easily by taking
a very pretty drive via the tiny back roads to the light
aircraft field just beyond Arelho and walk through to the tower
from there. And because it's little known we've never found
anybody else there and have so far had it to ourselves.

While out for a drive go on to nearby Cabo Carvoeiro at Peniche
where the main species are: Common Scoter, Cory´s Shearwater,
Great Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Manx Shearwater, Balearic
Shearwater, European Storm-petrel, Northern Gannet, Great
Cormorant, European Shag, Pomarine Skua, Arctic Skua, Great
Skua, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern and Arctic Tern.

Then from Peniche you can take a boat trip out to the nature
reserve on the Berlengas islands, but I'd better stop now as
this has already become a very long reply to your message.




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