The mid-October to early November period of the raptor migration in southwest Portugal continued to provide a good diversity of species and varying numbers of individuals.
Despite the peak numbers occurring during the latter part of September, Booted Eagle Aquila pennata is one of the easiest species to photograph with birds seen in small numbers daily.
On some days, good sized flocks of Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus were observed gliding into the peninsula, with some making it to Sagres – the southwest tip of mainland Europe, and as expected they carried with them several Rüppell’s Vulture Gyps rueppellii.
A Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus was present around the Sagres area during the latter part of October, along with small numbers of Hen Harrier C. cyaneus. Late Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus were still being seen, and a juvenile Spanish Imperial Eagle Aquila adalberti finally put in an appearance.
Passerines were very much in evidence during the period, with increasing numbers of Skylark Alauda arvensis, Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis, White Wagtail Motacilla alba alba, Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros, Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs, Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia in the area. The latter period of the month saw an increase in Song Thrush Turdus philomelos, which brought with them odd Redwing T. iliacus.
Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla showed well at times, a Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus was on of several seen during the month in the Barão de San João area, and two juvenile Rosy Starling Pastor roseus were seen briefly in Sagres on October 24th.
A storm on October 19th produced both Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea and Black Tern Chlidonias niger in Sagres harbour, while the following day a Lesser Crested Tern Thalasseus bengalensis appeared.
Photo courtesy of Jorge Safara – more photos of the Sagres season can be found on the Birdwatch in Alentejo blog here.
Up to 28 Black Tern C. niger were in the Martinhal area on the same date with odd Arctic Tern S. paradisaea, Common Tern S. hirundo and Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis.
A good selection of gulls dropped into Martinhal lagoon to sit out the storm. Scanning of the Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis and Lesser Black-backs L. fuscus graellsii turned up Common Gull L. canus, Audouin’s Gull Ichthyaetus audouinii and numerous Mediterranean Gull I. melanocephalus.
A pale-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla hrota also appeared in Sagres harbour to ride out the storm, along with a few Gannet Morus bassanus.
Belatedly, small numbers of Death’s Head Hawk-moth Acherontia atropos larvae were found on the Cabranosa during the middle of October, but not as many as in previous years.
This impressive spider, which is probably Lycosa hispanica was one of several found around the Cabranosa, with others in the Barão de San João area.
Meanwhile, one of Cabranosa’s other inhabitants – the scorpion Buthus ibericus – could be found when lifting rocks during quiet periods in the day.