On Saturday, I will be heading back to my second home in Portugal (I don't actually own any property, but I do spend an awful lot of time there). With a couple of ongoing projects, such as the Blackbird Project and trialling new ringing sites in the north of the country, it's going to be an action-packed trip provided the weather stays in our favour.
The plan is to spend a day or two in Porto celebrating Tineke's birthday and spending time with friends. I've spent quite a lot of time in Porto over the last six or seven years and it really is an under-rated city, the nightlife is pretty good and some of the history and architecture.
On Monday, we are planning to ring at Parque Biologico de Gaia targetting Blackcaps that will be concentrating in preparation for their northward migration. Following the ringing session we will head to Viana do Castelo, to set up the ringing site at Veiga da S. Simao, where we first ringed in October (you can read about that ringing session here). We will ring at Veiga da S. Simao on Tuesday and possibly Wednesday, hooking up with some trainees from Porto and Viana. Whilst we are in the northern reaches, we will go and check out a reed bed site at Caminha near the Spanish border with the possibility of ringing there in the last week of July.
On Wednesday we will head south to Coimbra to spend time ringing with one of my greatest friends, Paulo Tenreiro. There are a number of possible ringing sites, one of which has given large numbers of Water Pipit so far this winter, and the others will provide more opportunities to catch wintering Blackcaps. We'll stay in Coimbra until Saturday, leaving after the APAA (Portuguese Ringers Association) board meeting, to which I have recently been elected to the fiscal board, on Saturday.
In local news, I have gradually done a bit more clearing at Brook Vale, but it is a big job. There is a significant amount of Willow and Sycamore encroachment on the reed bed and it is vital that this is removed. In the short term, the effect will look ugly, but ultimately improve the quality of the reed bed. The feeders are getting emptied every other day and there have been decent numbers of Chaffinch and Greenfinch building at the feeding station. Moxey is hoping to get ringing sessions in at Brook Vale and Crosby Hall whilst I am away, it's good to keep it ticking over.
In the absence of any local photos, here are some from previous summers:
Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)