Thursday, October 16, 2008

Quinta do Lago

Most visiting birders to the Algarve will be aware of the presence of the lagoon at the edge of the São Lourenço golf course on the Qta do Lago development. The 'orrible (and way out of date) "Gosney Guide" gives directions as to how to find this 'little gem' amidst the disgusting opulence of this up-market estate (all of the many traffic round-abouts play piped music, and the mobile telecommunications masts have been diguised as trees!!).

No matter, this quite large lagoon with its numerous reedbeds is well maintained and, being at the edge of the Ria Formosa natural park attracts a large number of resident and migrant birds. There has been a raised hide there for many years but this fell into dis-repair but has now been replaced by a super (and very well constructed) two tier hide. Well worth a visit - you will meet many of the "upper crust" but in fact most of them are very nice people and always worth talking to and explaining your birding hobby.

One good thing from the point of view of photography is that many birds are very used to human presence (I have watched golfers "shooing-off" Purple Swamp Hens from the greens in the early morning so that they can proceed with their game).

Rarities and scarcities do turn up here (seven Black-crowned Night Heron this summer, almost certainly breeding), and in September an adult and juvenile Little Crake (Porzana parva) were found. I spent two mornings there trying to photograph these birds - it is on the "Rarities" list in Portugal and would be a "lifer" for me. I did manage to see the adult bird but it was feeding within the reed beds and photographs were impossible; the Portuguese name for this species is Franga-d'água-bastarda, and certainly was being a real "bastarda" for not coming out into the open which it apparently had the day before!

A consolation prize was being able to photograph a female Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus); I counted at least eight birds, adult males, females and juveniles (this species also breeds here), but this bird landed in a reedbed just in front of the hide and then emerged to feed on the abundant dragonflies.

Female Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus)

(click on photos for larger images)


nick.orsman said...

Colin we met you last year at Quinta de Rocha and have followed your updates on Salgados since.
Could you help my father in law - a keen birdwatcher?
He is out in Portugal currently and saw what he thought was a White Headed Duck on Lagoa de Salgados. Is this possible? Would it have been male/female, juvenile/adult?

Many thanks

Manyt thanks

Colin said...

Hi Nick,

Don't seem to be able to reply directly to you, so hope you read this. There is indeed a female White-headed Duck at Salgados which has been there for several weeks - initially there were two, both adult females.

An up-date on Salgados is due soon from RSPB/SPEA which I will post as soon as I receive it.