Thursday, November 05, 2009

Lunch with the Bustards

I spent a couple of hours at Cabranoso, the raptor watch-point near Sagres, one morning hoping to see hundreds if not thousands of birds - nothing. Despite perfect conditions and a northerly breeze the birds were just not coming through. So, I decided to "trawl" around the tracks near Vale Santo in search of Dotterel and Red-throated Pipit which had been recently reported. I was slowly edging my way along dirt tracks which no other vehicle than my Land Rover Defender would be able to cope with, with my 1DMk3 and 500mm lens cradled on my lap. Not much doing so I stopped to have my lunch (cheese butty with crisps and a banana and apple) and just reveled in the warmth of the autumn sunshine and the spectacular scenery of this beautiful but harsh landscape. Something moving amidst the low vegetation caught my eye - a Little Bustard, about 50 metres away.

Then more, and more - I counted twenty birds on the ground.
The light was harsh and rather against me so I started up the Land Rover and in ultra-low gear slowly crept around this grazing flock. I took many shots with the lens resting on the lowered window, but had to keep turning the engine off (the vibration causes a lot of blur). I tried to get closer, starting the engine and inching further forward, but they knew I was there and for every metre I gained the birds slowly idled a similar distance away. In the end I pressed it too much and they took flight - I counted 28 birds in total which I believe is a record for a single flock here. A magnificent sight.


Mark Telfer said...

Colin, Superb photos! We saw about 10 Little Bustards at Vale Santo on on 3rd but not as well as you: see Mark Telfer

Colin said...

Thank you for your comments Mark. I have had a quick look at your blog and will comment as soon as I have a moment to spare.

All the best,


MelG & GillE said...

Hi Colin,
Didn't bump into you this visit-returned to UK Friday 27th Nov-visited Vale Santo on Tue 24th and saw small flock of 8 L.Bustards and flock of 50/60 Choughs.
MelG and GillE, Redruth, Cornwall

Martin Hodges said...

Some superb photos. Vale Santo is a great place to see Little Bustards. Shame they only seem to come out once the traffic has headed down to the surfers car park!!!