Sunday, 23 October 2011

Moxey on Tour: Faia Brava

After a damp, blustery weekend here in North Liverpool, there wasn't much to report, so to lighten the mood, here is another instalment from Moxeys September Portugal Tour. I'm off to Portugal for a few days myself see you when I am back. Scouse Ringer

The Douro Landscape

After lunch we set off for the only private reserve in Portugal, Faia Brava. The journey north took us to the border town of Vila Formosa where I had crossed into Spain a few weeks before on my way home with my wife Anne, alias the Mothership, and eldest daughter Julia. Paulo, as usual, was keen to show me the sights so there were several detours. There were spectacular views of the Douro with roosting Griffon Vultures on the cliffs.

We arrived at Faia Brava in the early evening and in time to put up the nets. The formation of the reserve was initiated by Antonio Monteiro. From small beginnings it has expanded and is now quite large. The group have great plans for the area and have made a good start. A small herd of horses keep the grassy areas cropped which encourages rabbits which provide food for both Golden and Bonelli’s Eagles. It also has the aim of reducing the risk of fire which is a real danger in the summer months. Egyptian Vultures breed and along with Griffons frequent the feeding site particularly in the first fifteen day after the eggs have hatched.

The reserve is hilly and boulder strewn with not a great deal of cover for the nets. This meant that the net lines were more apart than usual. The terrain and the glorious weather made net rounds hard work for me - not so for Paulo and Luis.

The evenings catch was twenty nine birds of ten species. The main species was Pied Flycatcher Which was great for me as I don’t handle them at home very often. They seem to by-pass SW Lancs RG area on their migrations.

Whitethroat 1
Pied Flycatcher 10
Blue Tit 9
Sardinian Warbler 1
Short-toed Treecreeper 1
Blackbird 1
Redstart 1
Spotted Flycatcher 1
Cirl Bunting 1
Great Tit 1


26th September: Faia Brava

The day dawned bright and chilly. Paulo and Luis had the nets open and after breakfast we ringed the roosted birds while Paulo did the rounds.

Luis was keen to ring Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and I was very keen to see one as they are absent from my sites and the only one I had ringed was over 20 years ago. As usual, Paulo did not disappoint us. In the first round he brought one with a Nightjar from the first line – not bad for quality.

Lesser-spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocops minor)

Redstart (Pheonicurus phoenicurus)

The weather warmed up and I was grateful I did not have to do the hard slog around the nets. Luis and I were helped greatly by Vanessa doing the scribing. Paulo brought us a steady stream of birds including a Reed Warbler. What was that doing there in such an arid place? Three Griffon Vultures drifted over while we were ringing just before Paulo brought us two Hoopoes. There was an added bonus as we could compare them and see that one was a juvenile and the other an adult.

Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandara)

Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata)

Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus)

Like Vale de Senhora da Pova, the bulk of the warblers caught were Blackcaps and the Subalpines had largely gone. Only two were ringed but there was a nice surprise for Luis, his first Dartford Warbler. Then Paulo brought back a sparrow. Now Spanish Sparrows breed commonly in the village and surrounding area but alas it was just a House Sparrow. I now have a reason to return here – not that I need one though.

Antonio alerted me to a Golden Eagle that was drifting by directly overhead. This gave me the opportunity to break off from ringing and do the scribing thus allowing Vanessa to do some ringing. She showed great potential and i hope she gets the bug.

Towards the end of the session as Paulo was extracting at one of the lines, some Thekla Larks decided to fly into the nets right next to him. So Paulo and Luis got to ring them. They brought the total of species ringed to 25 for the day and in all a very satisfactory total of 87 birds were ringed.

All too soon it was time to move on and say our farewells. Many thanks are due to Antonio and his colleagues for their help and hospitality. I will return next year given half the chance.

Sardinian Warbler - 9
Blackcap - 23
Robin - 3
Stonechat - 2
Pied Flycatcher - 5
Blue Tit - 5
Cirl Bunting - 2
Corn Bunting - 1
Reed Warbler - 1
Redstart - 1
Whinchat - 1
Garden Warbler - 1
Blackbird - 12
Hoopoe - 2
Nightjar - 1
Whitethroat - 1
Nuthatch - 1
Thekla Lark - 4
Great Tit - 2
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Willow Warbler - 3
Subalpine Warbler - 2
Dartford Warbler - 1
Short-toed Treecreeper - 2
House Sparrow - 1


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