Monday, October 18, 2010

Mid-summer Madness

Like many birding Bloggers I am overcome with a sense of apathy with the arrival of summer (late June to end of August here in Algarve).  Birdlife has more or less been replaced by human (and often inhuman) activities. The past year has had the most extreme weather conditions since records began 160 years ago; after the wettest winter, with almost three times the average annual rainfall (we had four months when it rained every single day) we then had the hottest summer with temperatures hovering around 40 ℃ for much of July and August (I recorded shade temperatures of 42 ℃ on several days in my garden). To go out birding in these temperatures is crazy, and photography is impossible because of the heat haze.

A Dornier (DO80 - WWII cargo plane), one of the noisiest machines in the world, transporting sky-divers to jump over Ria de Alvor; one of the best "bird scarers" ever invented.

It was anticipated that this year tourism in the Algarve would be much reduced due to the recession. There was a notable decrease in British, German and Dutch visitors but this was more than made up for by a huge invasion of Spaniards as well as larger numbers of people from the north of Portugal who would have holidayed in more exotic places such as Brasil in better times. Congestion on the roads was unbelievable and since most of these people were sun-seekers the beaches looked like Blackpool on a sunny Bank Holiday.

Wind-surfers and Kite-Surfers are O.K. in small numbers but having 100+ racing around the Ria at the same time causes considerable stress to gulls and waders roosting on the sandbanks. Worst of all are the Jet-Skiers who should be shot on sight.

The last weekend in August is blissful relief  -  all of these human intruders disappear virtually overnight and the Ria de Alvor begins a slow recovery to its tranquil normality.

One of the most recent scourges to the Algarve  -  "Para-planing". A mindless moron with an inflatable kite and a petrol-engined propeller strapped to his arse enables him about 30 minutes airbourne in which to "buzz" flocks of roosting birds  -  Greater Flamingos are a favourite target. And speaking of targets....!!!!!!!!!!!


Andrew Cunningham said...

Those para-planers look like good sport indeed!

Shall I bring Big Bertha, my trusty blunderbluss this winter? What!

Colin said...

Heat-seeking missiles would be better Andrew then we could knock out those sky-diving planes as well.

tony and june said...

Hi colin coming to vilamoura on the 19th feb 2012 from somerset uk interested in local sites we are there for 1 week . not experts but very enthusiastic. said...

Dear Colin
Very disappointed to see that your blog has not been updated this year. I trust that you are both well?
Kind regards
Mick & Tina

Trevor leaman said...

Just signed up to your blog....been to the Algarve birding for the last 11 years, love the area, and like you, my favourite 2 sites are the Alvor estuary, and Pera Marsh......I pray they leave it the Algarve needs yet another golf course ?????