Passerines of the Tagus Estuary, Portugal

Stone Chat, European Goldfinch, Corn Bunting, European Robin, Chiffchaff, Eurasian Tree Sparrow

I have a great deal of admiration for any photographer who successfully photographs Passerines in Europe. Passerines are “perching birds”, sometimes called “song birds”…generally small inhabitants of fields, forests, gardens, and lawns…the little birds that often most enliven our lives because they live so close to us, and because they sing. Unfortunately, in most of Europe, until recently, they were also hunted for both food and sport. (There are still countries in southern Europe where hunting song birds is common, if now illegal.) Because of the hunting pressure over hundreds of thousands of bird generations, the passerines of Europe are wary of humans…extremely wary…so wary that it is almost impossible to get close enough for frame-filling images without a lot of patience and a good “hide” (we call them “blinds” in the US…some way of disguising your human presence). Even birds that have been relatively “tame” in England on my visits there, like the common garden Robin or Goldfinches, are skittish and flighty in Portugal. On my trip through the Tagus Estuary and the Alentejo with Birds and Nature Tours Portugal, we had some success sneaking up on birds on the fence lines in the car (essentially using the car as a hide)…some…maybe 1 in 25 birds…sat for a picture, and none allowed close approach. I am told that it is easier in the spring when the birds are establishing nesting territories, there are more birds about, and they are bolder. The panel above shows some of the closest encounters we had in the Tagus Estuary in December: (reading left to right and down) Stone Chat, European Goldfinch, Corn Bunting, European Robin, Chiffchaff, and Eurasian Tree Sparrow. We encountered these birds everywhere, and in great numbers. Getting photos was a whole other thing. Don’t get me wrong. It might have been frustrating, but it was also fun! Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. Processed in Photoshop Express. I hope, one of these years, to get back to Portugal in the Spring.


  1. Reply
    gerrit haagsma December 22, 2017

    yes previous ones were fixed, thank you–not this one. Happy Holy days

    • Reply
      Steve December 22, 2017

      Should be good to go now??? WordPress changed how it handles media an I still have not figured it out completely. 🙁

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