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.
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.
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.
In case you did not get the memo, I am in Portugal for the next 12 days. Two nights in Lisbon, and a visit to Fatima for Carol, then 3 days of birding and photography in the Tagus River Estuary, four days in the Alentejo and the steppe county of Castro Verde, and then three days in the Algarve, and back around to Lisbon for one more night. This is our Lisbon Hotel, the Hotel Zenit Lisboa. Note the tile work…Lisbon is famous for its tile and has been for several hundred years. We tried to walk to the old town center, about 20 minutes down hill from the hotel, but it was just misting too hard to be enjoyable, so we did not make it. We are now resting after our 30 hours in airports and airplanes yesterday into today. Sony Rx10iv at 24mm equivalent. In-camera HDR. Processed in Polarr.