Saturday, 12 August 2017


25 July - 8 Aug

Two weeks in holiday....but as usual I was determined to fit in some birding.  I tried to organise a trip to the Tagus estuary area with a local birder but that failed....and armed with the knowledge that it was a pretty impossible area without a person that knows where to go, and potentially only having a day to do it, I gave that up.

We based ourselves about 80km north of Lisbon.  The motorway was great, mostly empty....though the Portugeuse have an annoying habit of driving a few inches from your bumper even if the motorway is clear, they dither a lot about overtaking....and the worst bit is on the minor roads where they do the same, right up your rear end, looking as if they want to or will overtake, but doing nothing.  I found it infuriating after a short time.  No indicating was another annoyance, so you had to be aware all the time.

View from the pool

The weather was a bit unpredictable.  This area north of Lisbon has many modern wind turbines and many old windmills.....this will give you a general idea of the windy times around this area....and it was pretty non stop direct across the became somewhat tedious, would encourage cloud over night to come in, sometimes mist....but by mid morning to late morning it would clear away to blue skies most of the time...and if you wanted it hot just head inland....where on some days it was well over 30 degrees....shouldn't complain, evenings and mornings the temperature dropped to about 19 ish...but this was still warmer than the day temperatures back home!!

For kids the beaches were good, it was possible to find quiet places too....the sea was damn cold though and even the locals didn't go in....luckily the pool at the house was fine...

Enough about the area....the birding...

....was mostly terrible.  They have forsaken much of their native flora in favour of....urgh....Eucalyptus plantations....swathes of it as soon as you leave Lisbon....why?  They grow it for 8 years, then chop it down for pulp, then re plant it.  This means that as the areas are only a few years old, all uniform, offer little animal friendly territory for anything....its dead.....and quiet...I'm guessing very little actually lives in among the trees.  None of it is old enough for a woodpecker, or big enough.  Nothing moves in it.

Little bits of scrub here and there offered a few farmland gave up Black Redstart, as did the garden....Jays....a good number of Linnet....some took a week to find a Blackbird....Woodpigeon.  A Buzzard was the only raptor.  Swifts and Barn Swallows were around too.  I did get a life tick near the house...I saw a Cirl Bunting on two occasions.

Other than that when I was out and about heres the list...

Greenfinch, Stonechat, House Martin, Blackap, Wren, Pied Wagtail, Little Owl, Crag Martin, Grey Wagtail, Spotless Starling, Sandwich Tern, Yellow-legged Gull.

I think there were a few others but I had generally lost interest, it was hard going and I gave up taking my scope around then gave up taking my binoculars.

A visit to the Lisbon Aquarium....very impressive....provided a life tick....does it count?  I'm fairly unlikely to ever see one in the wilds of South America....

Inca Tern, Larosterna inca

No....I cant really count it....captive and cant go anywhere....they did entertain by being allowed to fly around the area where the public walked and occasionally pooped on people...nice....

One of the highlights out and about visiting was this aquaduct which you could walk was pretty high up...around 40 feet....and no hand rail to stop you falling and safety doesn't really exist in Portugal!  But hey, it made it much more entertaining.

From a birding point of view I couldt wait to get holiday it was ok....I wouldn't rush to go back....but I'm glad I saw dinosaur footprints, the aquaduct and the castle on the island in the river which reauired a boat ride to get to and more terrifying health ad safety-less ramparts....

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