Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Moxey on Tour: Vale de Senhora de Povoa

Moxey continued his trip around the interior of Portugal with members of the PADA Group of Ringers and writes....
Scouse Ringer

Vale de Senhora de Povoa

The area was very different. Nets were set around the edges of the small fields against the cover of brambles and small trees such as olives. Four lines of nets were put up using a mixture of 15m and 12m nets. While they were being erected we could hear the calls of Azure winged Magpies everywhere.

Before the nets were furled for the evening we had caught 20 birds of 11 species for ringing in a very short time.

Azure winged Magpie - 6
Blackbird - 1
Blue Tit - 2
Pied Flycatcher - 4
Blackcap - 1
Sardinian Warbler - 1
Whinchat - 1
Robin - 1
Great Tit - 1
Wren - 1
Willow Warbler - 1


What a fantastic day—great company, great weather, great scenery and great birds. As I looked up at the clear sky and surveyed the stars, I wondered what tomorrow would bring, and how privileged I was.

Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus)

The day dawned clear, calm and a little cold. Paulo and Luis already had the nets open by the time I got up, which I hasten to add was at dawn. Paulo prepared breakfast so I was well fed before the first net round. It was Sunday and the hunters were out. Their shots and voices were very clear but Paulo soon re-assured me that they were a distance away from us and the nets. It was so still and free from traffic noise that the sounds of the hunters seemed to be much closer than they actually were.

Catching was good from the offset although the good numbers of Willow Warblers which were present the previous evening had obviously upped and gone south with the perfect conditions overnight. The first net round produced two Azure-winged Magpies with at least another two escaping from the nets. There were birds everywhere in the trees and bushes with Woodlarks and what appeared to be Crested Larks in the open areas. Cetti’s Warblers were calling from the scrub which I did not expect as the habitat was very different to that of the places I have caught them before. Soon the temperature rose and Paulo did the rounds of the nets while Luis and myself did the ringing.

In late August Paulo, Miguel and The Young Pretender had caught a few Orphean Warblers. These I did not really expect and if any were present they avoided capture. In their place were Blackcaps - No worries ; something to look forward to next year. Most of the Subalpine Warblers had moved on and just two were caught. From the line that in August had produced about sixty Subalpines, Paulo made the three of us very happy by bringing back a Woodlark each. They are really great little birds.

As the morning rolled on the goodies continued to arrive. Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Whinchat and Nightingale as well as Cirl Bunting and Serin were ringed. A female Hawfinch, only the second I have ever handled, was treated with the utmost caution. Then the identity of the second lark species was confirmed after reference to Svensson – Thekla Lark. Two new species of lark ringed in a day by me was most unexpected.

When things started to quieten down I managed to get to the nets near the campervan. I was rewarded with a real beaut of a Hawfinch, a male this time. Somehow, I managed to extract it without being bitten by that fearsome bill although earlier the female did have a go as I handled the closed bag It was great to see the difference between the sexes.

Female Hawfinch (Cocothraustes cocothraustes)

Male Hawfinch (Cocothraustes cocothraustes)

Lunch time approached and we had to take the nets down before heading north. This was not before 119 birds of 26 species had been ringed. - a very satisfying mornings ringing in a really great place.

Azure winged Magpie - 2
Blackbird - 11
Great Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 8
Long tailed Tit - 9
Thekla Lark - 1
Woodlark - 3
Whinchat - 2
Stonechat - 1
Nightingale - 1
Redstart - 1
Robin - 4
Serin - 7
Chaffinch - 2
Hawfinch - 2
Cirl Bunting - 1
Tree Sparrow - 1`
Wren - 1
Short- toed Treecreeper - 1
Pied Flycatcher - 3
Blackcap - 32
Sualpine Warbler - 2
Sardinian Warbler - 11
Garden Warbler - 6
Willow Warbler - 2
Cetti’s Warbler - 2

TOTAL: 119

Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae)

Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae)

Woodlark (Lullula arborea)

Woodlark (Lullula arborea)

Next stop: Portugal's only private nature reserve - Faia Brava

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