The Black Kite was by far the most common raptor we saw in our 10 days of birding in southern Portugal. They were everywhere we went, from the Tagus Estuary, to the Alentejo, to the Algarve. We saw them flying and we saw them perched. From any distance at all, they do indeed look black, but, of course they are much more richly colored. They are described in the field guides as “grey-brown” but as you see in this photo, in the right light they can look a fairly bright rich rufous. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds in flight and action modifications. Processed and heavily cropped in Polarr.
Southern Portugal is rich in Eagles, compared to the Americas. There are 5 breeding in the region, and another that winters there…plus recent records of Steppe Eagle at least passing through (we saw one!). Of the possible breeding birds we saw all 5, plus the Steppe Eagle. Some were just little black dots soaring high on the thermals over the Castro Verde plains, but we got several closer views. These are immature (I believe), Booted Eagles from the banks of the Tagus where we took our boat trip. Two individuals sitting near each other, perhaps a potential pair. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
I had limited wifi in Portugal…in fact I had to resort to my cellular data on my iPad for most posts…so I did not post to WordPress. These are the images you missed 🙂 European Spoonbill in flight from the Tagus Esturay. Two shots of a Squacco Heron from nearby. A cooperative Black-winged Kite from the Alentejo. A Hoopoe, also from the Alentejo. A European Bee Eater we chanced on while looking for Black Storks. Two Crested Grebes doing a mating display, a pair of Common Shelducks, both from the Algarve, and a Little Owl posing nicely beside the road near our hotel in the Algarve.
Over 4 days in April 2019, we saw several Great Bustards in the steppe country between Castro Verde and Mertola in the Alentejo of southern Portugal, but all at great distances, on the hillsides across the swales, and through heavy heat shimmer. Not totally satisfying, and frustrating for photography. This is a heavy crop from a 600mm equivalent frame, and the only photo of a Great Bustard from the trip that I am willing to post. Still, it is an amazing bird. According to our Portuguese guide, the world’s largest bird that can still fly (if you ask in Africa, they will tell you that honor belongs to the closely related Kori Bustard…but that is to be expected). From the distance at which you see them, they look small ships moving through a sea of high grasses. To get a closer photo, I am told, you have to visit one of the specialized “hides” that are maintained near leks. You have to crawl into the hide before daylight, and stay until after dark, so it is a daylong commitment. I might try to do that next time I go to Portugal, if I am still up to crawling at that point. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Manual focus to get accurate focus through the heat shimmer. Processed in Polarr.
There were White Storks nesting everywhere we went all over southern Portugal: in the Tagus Estuary, in the Alentejo, and in the Algarve. Most nest on telephone poles and high tension towers, or on poles put up for them to keep them off buildings, but we did see quite a few nesting in trees in a more natural setting. This was taken in the Alentejo, and is the greeting behavior as the mate returns to the nesting bird…weaving and bobbing and bill clacking. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
We are back this morning from 12 days of birding and photography in Portugal. I will do a catch up post later this week. On our 2nd day of actual birding we drove a good ways up the Tagus River from the Estuary to take a boat ride on the river to visit, among other things, a mixed rookery of waders. I caught this Grey Heron coming back to the island were the birds nest. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds in flight and action modifications. Processed in Polarr.
Looking from the hill where the faithful believe the angle of peace appeared across the little valley to the Basilica at the site of the apparition of Mary in Fatima. The Hungarian Pilgrim way runs from there to here. The Basilica is just to the right of the trees on the left. Sony a5100 in-camera HDR. 16mm prime with UWA converter for an 18mm equivalent field of view. Processed in Polarr.
Pic for today: Lisbon Looking out over Lisbon from the highest view in the city. We took a toktok tour after the rains yesterday. I certainly could not have walked up here 🙂 St. George Castle on its own hill on the left. The Tagus in the mid-ground. In-camera HDR. Sony a5100 with 16mm prime and UWA converter for an 18mm equivalent filed of view. Processed in Polarr.
I always spend at least one morning at La Jolla Cove, up the coast from Mission Bay where the San Diego Birding Festival has its home in late February. The cormorants and pelicans are in breeding plumage, the Harbor Seals are pupping and the Sea Lions are sunning on the rocks. This is the Brown Pelican, of course, in full regalia. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my birds in flight and action modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 125. Processed in Polarr.
Another “not the most exciting bird in the world” but interesting (to me) none the less. I can still remember when this was the Canyon Towhee, even in California…and the split gave me another life-bird 🙂 While Towhees in general are hard to see, due to their habit of skulking in the underbrush digging holes for grubs and worms (as this one is), the California Towhees at Cabrillo National Monument on the tip of Point Loma in San Diego California are parking lot birds, and very easy to see. I had to track this off the tarmac to get it in its more “native”, “natural” (and “characteristic”) habitat. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 400. Processed in Polarr and TouchRetouch (that out-of-focus branch extended over the bird…a testimonial to the focus on the RX10iv, but not an attractive addition to the image. :).