Muscicapa striata - Ponta da Atalaia. Nuno Barros

Autumn migration

Summer’s gonne. Head for Sagres.

23 Sep , 2015  

Although the wind was blowing hard and steady form the North, and I set up for a classic day birding around Sagres peninsula.

Martinhal was quiet in the early morning hosting 5 roosting Grey Herons, and some Great Ringed Plovers (about 20, which is more then the usual). Nothing new here, so I headed for Ponta da Atalaia to explore it´s South facing hedges.

As I was arriving, a couple of Red-billed Choughs were calling, and a Northern Wheatear was flying in up front – the abundance of this long-distance migrant in Sagres is so far quite low for the season. In the hedges a lot of small migrants were resting, exhausted from the long night flight – these were about 10 Spotted Flycathers, 10 Willow Warblers, 1 Subalpine Warbler, 1 Whitethroat, 1 Reed Warbler and 1 Pied Flycatcher. Encouraging… next stop – Cabranosa.

Windy as it so often is, Cabranosa was rather quiet, but still managed to produce 10 species of soaring birds quite promptly 3 Black Storks, 1 Short-toed Eagle, 3 Booted Eagles, 2 Honey Buzzards, 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Hen Harrier, 1 Montague´s Harrier, 2 Peregrines, about 5 Sparrowhawks and the usual Kestrels. A few Red-veined darters were around as well, but far form the thounsands of passing dragonflies from 2 days before.
But then the wind raised again, birds were in trouble flying, and I decided to move on.

With all that wind, Vale Santo was not the most pleasant place to be, but I went anyway. The highlights were a flock of ~25 Yellow Wagtails quite close by, 1 elusive Turtle Dove, and 1 juvenile Ortolan Bunting on top of a Juniper – always a joy to watch these birds.
In the end, 51 was the number of species registered. And properly registered they were in the traditional way, written down in the old logbook of Vigia Restaurant, over an earned beer. Pity I did not get there early enough for sewatching at the Cape…

Check out local bird feedback from the first 2 weeks of September in our piece in partnership with Sagres Birdwatching Festival here.

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