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Some Birds of the Feathered Variety.

This list is of some of the birds which have been seen in this area of the Algarve. It is by no means a full list, but only the more common  - or outstanding rarity. Neither are there any Latin names or many pictures. For that you could consult a bird book, or an expert ‘twitcher’. They are listed in the order that they appear in a reference book.

A large sea-bird with white plumage and large bill, that dives into the sea to catch fish. A young one of these was found in distress by the owners of the luxury villa in Barão São João, when they had gone to the Carrapateira beach for a picnic. They took it home, consulted with the local vet, and were observed trying to feed it sardines.

A black sea-bird that has a snakelike neck. These are often to be seen from the beaches swimming offshore, and always look as if they are about to sink.

A long-legged white bird, which is often to be seen in the fields, feeding off the ticks and insects that surround the horses. Some of them could be Cattle Egrets, which are larger than the more common Little Egrets. They often follow the plough in Winter, picking up the grubs that have been brought to the surface. Sometimes a flock of them will perch in a tree, making it look as if it is covered in white handkerchiefs.

White Stork
A large black and white bird, with long legs and bill. With several pairs nesting on the chimneys in Lagos, they are frequently seen flying overhead on their way to the coast at Sagres. They have even landed in the fields and followed the plough for food with the Egrets. You can really appreciate how large they are when they are seen from the tractor.

Greater Flamingo A long legged pink bird, the colour of its plumage affected by its diet, with a large down-curving bill which it uses to sift through the mud. A flock of these overwintered (2001/2002) in the shallow water by the bridge over the river Arade at Portimão. Their plumage was very pale, almost white, as the shrimp or algae which give them their colour was absent from this river.

Grey Heron
A grey and black bird, with long legs and bill. An occasional visitor, which is either seen at one of the smaller field tanks, or perched on the edge of the cistern, contemplating the carp.

Purple Heron
Much the same as the ordinary Heron, but with a purple colouring. Like its cousin, it also has been seen looking at our fish for its next meal. Both kinds of Heron can be sometimes be seen when crossing the rivers Arade and Boina on the new bridge at Portimão.

Red Kite
One of these, with its distinctive deeply forked tail was seen once in the Almádena river valley, near Burgau.

Sparrow Hawk
An occasional visitor hovering overhead looking for mice and voles. It has rounded ends to its wings

More often seen when out for a walk or a ride in the National Forest. A large bird of prey, with pointy bits on the end of its wings. Sometimes one flies over the Almádena valley, and we all rush out to look at it.

Honey Buzzard
A pair of these were observed at the ford on Vale Grifo farm in the spring of 2006.

Short-toed Eagle
Also seen more often further inland, but occasionally soaring overhead. When we used to keep free-range duck and geese, they always ran for shelter when a large bird of prey was in the area. Mind you, the geese always used to keep an eye on the high-flying planes as well, when they were taking exercise on the cistern, so you were never entirely sure what they were calling the alarm for.

Hen Harrier
There used to be one who’d hopefully come and check if our bantams were being careless.

Montagues Harrier
Looks very much like the Hen Harrier, but somebody assured me it was different. Like the Red Kite, a one-off, but there could be more around if you actually went looking for them.

Griffon Vulture
Often seen in October, when a great spiralling mass of maybe more than a hundred young birds travel the thermals down to Cape St. Vincent to start their first migration.

Very similar to the Sparrow Hawk, but this bird has more pointed wings, as it is a kind of Falcon.

Red Legged Partridge
An ordinary looking partridge, but with red legs, this is sometimes kept as a cage-bird.

Flocks of theses small birds can be put up in the local lanes. They are also kept as a food bird, for their eggs and flesh. ‘Cordenizes’ can be seen for sale in the butchers and supermarkets, though I don't know how anyone can cope with so little flesh on so many bones!.

Seeing a bundle of feathers laying in the field, it was thought that one of the bantams had deceased out there. On investigation, it proved to be a Woodcock.

Great Skua
This sea-bird was seen off the cliffs on a visit to Cape St. Vincent.

seagullsburgau.JPG (10199 bytes) Gulls
There are plenty of these around at Lagos, especially by the Marina and Fishing Docks.

These were feeding in the shallows off Burgau

Common Tern
As with the gulls, probably more than one variety is represented in the area, settling on the mud-flats in the rivers at low tide.

Not exactly seen by anyone we know, but definitely heard.

  Collared Dove
Distinguished by a narrow black half collar at the back of the neck, several of these doves seem to have taken up residence here (2002) and can often be seen perching on the arena lights or on the rooves. Their coo-ing is very distinctive with a long Coo-Coooo followed by a very short Coo.


barnowl.JPG (6525 bytes) Barn Owl
This large light coloured Owl is sometimes seen when travelling on the smaller roads at the back of Espiche at night. There used to be a pair in our valley, who took to nesting in the disused wells. Having rescued two of the fledglings that had fallen off the ledge and into the shallow water at the bottom of the well, we kept them going for at least four months, but just as we were thinking of releasing them one died. The other (in the photograph) for all we know, could be one of those seen around the nearby countryside or the one nesting in the Orange grove.

Little Owl
This Owl is the most common in the area. They can often be seen perching on the telephone lines. Many are killed at night as they tend to sit on the roads clearing up the many insects that have been hit by cars and succumbing themselves as they are dazzled by the headlights.

Tawny Owl
There are a pair of Tawny Owls that nest in the Almond trees on the neighbours land. A young Tawny Owl has been seen picking up insects from the field, like any other common bird, which was what drew our attention to it, as it didn’t look the right shape to be doing that sort of thing.

Sometimes seen over Almádena.

Seen once on the river Odelouca, on the back way up to Alferce and Monchique.

bee eater.JPG (4441 bytes)

These shy, colourful birds are most often heard before they are seen. They arrive in the Algarve around April, and nest in the sandy banks of hollows and rivers. (Deborah took two hours to capture this shot!)
beeaternest.JPG (26174 bytes) A colony usually nests at the back of Boca do Rio,(see below) and they can be seen perched on the chain-link fence that surrounds the old Roman area. Sometimes we can see them here at Vale Grifo, sitting on the electricity wires, or in the fig trees. They are also abundant out in the Forest.

The route of one of Tiffany's Pathfinder rides passes a large nesting site.

A bee-eater's nest hole at Boca do Rio. You can just see the footprints coming out of the hole to the bottom left in the sand.

Petition against construction in the Sudoeste Alentejo e Costa Vicentina Natural Park 

Nesting Area in Danger


hoopfly.gif (13345 bytes) Hoopoe
We have at least one pair here at Vale Grifo, and they can be seen foraging around Tiffany’s sand arena, coming quite close to the house, so we can see their distinctive crests. Also out in the Forest, their black and white wings are quite eye-catching as they fly out of cover.
(My first attempt at animation...not quite right is it?)

Ordinary sort of Spotted Woodpeckers are found in the forests and woods around Barão de São João.

Crested Lark
Tiffany claims to have seen one of these, but as far as I’m concerned it is just a small brown bird but a bit bigger.

swallow in house.JPG (10096 bytes) Swallow
There are loads of Swallows here. They are always nesting in the stables and crapping on the horses below. There are even a few that are tourists over-wintering, but the majority, just as those in England, come here in the Spring and leave in October, when the telephone and electricity wires are covered with them preparing to migrate. They are often to be seen swooping across the surface of the cistern, sipping up water to drink.
This youngster had flown into the house at dusk and had to be caught before the dogs or cats attacked.

Red Rumped Swallow
These look very like the ordinary Swallow, but have a pale pink patch on their rumps, and not so much red on the face. A pair nested over the breakfast table on the patio of the villa behind Vale Grifo.

House Martin
With the tail not so deeply forked as the Swallow, and with a white rump, this is fairly easy to distinguish. They don’t nest here on the farm, but in larger colonies on the houses in the villages around.

Pied Wagtail
We know the rainy season is here when we see a Wagtail. They usually appear in the area in Autumn and stay until late Spring, but as soon as it starts hotting up for June, July and August, they are off to wetter climes.

Woodchat Shrike
A smallish Shrike, with a Chestnut-red cap to its head and black back, seen perching in the trees along the river valley.

Great Grey Shrike
Also known as the Butcher Bird, from its habit of sticking insects on thorns to store them. They perch on the electricity wires, and on the trees at the river junction.

Sardinian Warbler
I know it was a Sardinian Warbler because the bird book says it has a distinctive red rim around its eyes. Other than that, it could have been any one of the nameless little brown birds that come onto the patio and then fly away again.

We’ve seen one of these, and a Stonechat.

A Robin visits us every winter, and entertains us at breakfast time hopping on the wall of the patio, and in the geraniums.

In April and May the Nightingale’s song can be heard as it sits at evening in the fig tree by the side of the house.

Several Blackbird’s nests have been found by various small boys over the years, but they manage to survive.

Great Tit
Another Vale Grifo patio visitor. I think a pair used to nest in the old Almond tree until it died and we chopped it down.

A pair of Chaffinches have been seen fairly often at the end of the drive.

Next to the House Sparrow, this small bird seems to be a favourite prey of the farm cats, and bodies have been discovered in bathrooms, or on the back porch.

Flocks of this pretty finch invade the valley in the Autumn, to feed off the thistles.

House Sparrow
We’ve definitely got these. All night long they tramp up and down under the roof tiles. Wish they would take their boots off sometimes.

Golden Oriole
A male is a bright yellow and black woodland bird seen in the National Forest and other more wooded areas.

Spotless Starling
A Starling without spots. One sits on the pole by the front door and sings away, but always flies away when one tries to creep up on it with a camera.

Another bird of the Woodlands

Azure-winged Magpie
This more colourful bird than the ordinary Magpie has been seen in the fields and orchards behind Espiche nearer the wooded areas. They often fly across the EN125 between Vale Grifo and the traffic lights at Espiche to Praia da Luz.
A pair have now taken up residence at vale Grifo - 2006.

This largish black member of the crow family has a red bill and red legs. They can be seen flying off the cliffs at Cape St. Vincent.

Flocks of Jackdaws gather in the Winter, and take the niche that the common starlings do in England, following the plough and scavenging off the insects that are turned up by the share.

Associated with St. Vincent, these large members of the crow family can sometimes be seen in the area. We had a pair visiting our valley several times one year.

Nature: - Bulbs and Orchids - Trees and Bushes - Other Flowers
Amphibians and Reptiles - Creepy Crawlies - The Dragonfly - Butterflies and Moths

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Last modified: June 25, 2006