Orchis lutea. Nuno Barros

Birding around, Spring, wild flowers

Wild Orchids and the end of the avian winter

23 Mar , 2016  

It was mid-March and took the afternoon to look at the ground searching for wild orchids – it is definitely the best way to overlook birds. But let´s be honest, those little beauties are amazing.

Ophrys speculum, near Espiche. Nuno Barros

Ophrys speculum, near Espiche. Nuno Barros

I went to explore the Barrocal area around Espiche, Barão de S. João and Bensafrim. In the end I reckon I saw 8 species of wild orchids. The most numerous were Orchis lutea, followed by Ophrys speculum and Ophrys bombyliflora. Some other interesting ones were Anacamptis morio and Serapias parviflora. However, there were more than orchids around, and In the middle of the already colorful assembly of Rock Roses, some specialties were Scilla peruviana, Muscari neglectum or Linaria amethystea. There were not many butterflies around, the star of the afternoon being a very cooperative Green Hairstreak Callophys rubi.

Callophys rubi. Nuno Barros

Callophys rubi. Nuno Barros

The following day the birds were back on the menu (so to speak). We set out to explore the area North of Portimão to the border with Monchique county, and East to Silves and Lagoa. The highlights of this rewarding sunny day were scattered flocks of Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus everywhere there was water, a pair of displaying Goshawks Accipiter gentillis around Monchicão, 8 Purple Swamphens Porphyrio porphyrio at a small abandoned rice field, a distant Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus in a private dam, and a flock of 40 Flamingos Phoenicopterus ruber at Alvor Estuary.

Glossy Ibis. Michele Lamberti/Creative Commons

Glossy Ibis. Michele Lamberti/Creative Commons

And of course the beautiful places we visited, like the Odelouca Stream at Laranjeira, and some riparian woods. At the end of the day I had nice list of 80 species, from which arriving breeding birds were still largely absent – apart form the already large number of Swallows and Hoopoes. In two weeks time, everything will have changed. Once more.

Laranjeira, Monchique. Nuno Barros

Laranjeira, Monchique. Nuno Barros


1 Response

  1. Simon Bennett says:

    I was in the Algarve last week and saw quite a few orchids: in particular I found three species of Serapias near Vila do Bispo: Serapias parviflora, cordigera and strictiflora; together with Anacaptis morio, Gennaria diphylla and Ophrys lutea. Near Boca do Rio I found Ophrys apifera, lutea, speculum and bombylliflora (pretty much over at this point), Serapias parviflora, Anacamptis pyramidalis, morio and champagneuxii, and Orchis italica.
    Some areas where I have seen a lot of orchids in previous springs were almost bare. It may be the weather dring the winter, but I also wonder whether some land is being grazed more, as I get the impression that some people who have lost urban jobs in the economic downturn are returning to rural areas and seeking to make a living off old family farms that had been pretty well deserted. The grazing seems to favour tougher plants that the animals don’t like.
    You mention glossy ibis, which I saw on the Rio Arade in small numbers. However, I saw a flock of a few hundred from the train on the main line just south of Santarém.

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