Friday, December 01, 2006
The Red-rumped Swallows which set up home and bred in the passage between the house and the garage returned this year. The nest was refurbished and a small extension to the entrance tunnel was added. We had hoped for an additional nest but no luck this year, and we have no idea whether the returning birds were the original pair, off-spring, or other.
Three broods were raised with five, three then two chicks hatched and fledged. In the autumn activity at the nest was intense with all twelve birds feeding over the garden and apparently all roosting in the nest - very crowded! One fledgling was found several times on the ground and manually returned to the nest. He (she, it?) appeared to be unharmed and was seen flying and returning to the nest after his parents and siblings had migrated south.
We look forward to their return in April 2007.
Every one of Portugal's IBA's (Important Bird Areas) has a designated "Vigilante", or Caretaker, who's role is to generally oversee the "care" of the site. Until recently the vigilante of Lagoa dos Salgados has been Joao Ministro but the role has now been transferred to a local Portuguese birder called Rui Eufrasia.
Rui looks "mean", and he can be; he does a wonderful job in reprimanding any miscreants (dog walkers, horse riders, quad-bike drivers, etc) who threaten the tranquility of this site and the welfare of the birdlife.
But, he is also a very nice guy and an excellent birder who knows more about the birdlife and everything else which goes on at Salgados than anyone else. His command of English is very good and he knows the names of all the Western Palearctic birds in Portuguese, Latin and English - quite an achievement!
If you meet him there please say "hello" - you will learn a lot from him.
On 16th November a visiting birder, Kevin Wilson (Manager of Gibraltar Point NNR), found a Moussier's Redstart near Fortaleza de Beliche on the road between Sagres and Cape St Vincente. If accepted by the Portuguese Rarities Committee this will be the first record for Portugal. I am grateful to Marcial Felgueiras (Warden of the A Rocha field centre where Kevin was staying) for informing me of this find and to Kevin himself for giving me precise locality details. I went there myself on the 18th November and managed to locate the bird and take some photographs - a cracking adult male in pristine, fresh autumn plumage.
Apologies for the absence of posts for such a long time. This is partly due to the lack of information and the fact that a meeting convened in May (2006) between all parties involved was cancelled. The situation is now looking a little brighter and José Tavares (RSPB) and his counterparts in SPEA have been working very hard. Rather than post the actual document here I would refer you to the SPEA website section on IBA's http://www.spea.pt/IBA/ibas/35.html where the latest information is available in English.