Living on the Algarve means that we have the privilege of seeing a tremendous variety of birds all year round. The longer we live here, the more we learn!
Our best time for seeing birds is when the guesthouse is quiet, especially on those rare occasions when we are on our own here. But we love sharing the enjoyment of our guests, when they look out the window and see birds they have never seen before. Some of these birds seem almost tame, especially the white cattle egrets who are cheeky enough to sit by the pool or wander across the lawn. The hoopees are much more timid, but we have two pairs who are brave enough to walk across the lawn even when we are outside. A small owl welcomes in the evening and sometimes comes to stare at us as we eat our evening meal on the terrace in the warm summer evenings. Swallows have taken over our barbecue area and the shy kingfisher occasionally makes a welcome appearance by the old agricultural tanks.
However we have never taken our bird watching very seriously -it is one of the many simple pleasures of living in a rural guesthouse on the Algarve. When a new bird appears we try to find its name and origin and in renovating the property we have tried to be as gentle as possible with the wildlife that predated us. But we are not real bird watchers….and that is why it was such an education and a joy to have two real bird watchers staying with us as guests this summer. Both of these have kindly sent us a report of their bird watching activities while on the Algarve and they are happy for us to make this available to others who are interested. Contact us for more information.
This is what Alan Millar had to say about his time at Duas Quintas:
`The B&B is set in 12 acres of orange groves and bordered on one side by the Ribeira de Arade. Hosts Mary and Les were very helpful with suggestions on places to visit. Seen regularly in the orange groves around the Quinta were flocks of Goldfinch, Linnet, Common Waxbill and Azure-winged Magpie. Red-rumpled Swallows were nesting around the buildings and gathered around the swimming pool with House Martins late afternoon. Other sightings included Sardinian Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Spotless Starling, Hoopoe, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Crested Lark and Kingfisher. A Cattle Egret regularly visited the hen compound and overhead we twice saw a Short-toed Eagle. Mary and Les often saw a Little Owl at dusk or dawn on power lines near the house. Whilst we didn’t see the bird we heard it twice.
Our Dragonfly sightings included Broad Scarlet, Blue Emperor, Lesser Emperor and Epaulet Skimmer whilst Butterflies included Long-tailed Blue, Lang’s Short-tailed Blue, Small Copper, Meadow Brown (ssp. hispulla) and Monarch. Other sightings included Moorish Gecko, Spanish Psammodromus and Spanish Terrapin.
During the day a single Hummingbird Hawkmoth was seen but a nightly check around the security lights turned up other moths. The numbers weren’t vast but this wasn’t surprising as each light had a resident Gecko guarding it. Macro moths included Vestal, Bordered Straw and Pale Shoulder.
Before leaving on our last morning we had two new bird species; Serin and Blackcap, showing the richness of the area and the need to keep looking.´ Alan goes on in his report o talk about his experiences in Silves and the area surrounding Duas Quintas and then further afield on the Algarve. A really interesting report.
Brian Cochrane, who is also generously making his report available to anyone who is interested, saw a huge number of birds and fascinated us with how many he discovered in our own garden. He used Duas Quintas as his base to visit a number of different, well known bird watching sites on the Algarve and has helpfully listed the place and date of everything he saw. Brian says
´Duas Quintas is about an hour and fifteen minutes drive from the airport, close to the medieval town of Silves. A wonderful old renovated farmhouse, it retains many traditional features, has lovely gardens and 12 acres of orange groves. It was a great central location´. Brian provides a full list of all the birds he spotted and goes on to list the sites as follows:
Duas Quintas – Birding around Duas Quintas was normally from first light until breakfast around 9am and all sightings were within 15 minutes walking distance.
Fontes – 24th September
Lago de Salgado – 28th, 30th September, 2nd, 6th October
Serra do Caldeirao Hills – 29th September
Sagres – Trig point for raptor watch– 1st and 4th October
Cabo de Sao Vicente – 26th September
Serra do Caldeirao Hills – 29th September
Alvor Estuary including Cruzinha Field Study Centre – 27th September, 5th October
Foia, Monchique – 3rd October’.
Both Brian and Allan opened our eyes even further to the wealth of bird life here on the Algarve, and especially in our own back (and front!) garden. As I write this our winter feathered friends are keeping us company through the winter. There is a chorus of birdsong as I type. Everyday, there is something new to see and discover. If you are a bird watcher coming to the Algarve on holidays, get in contact with us and we will happily share these 2 reports with you.