Friday, 20 March 2015

The salt- pans of Tavira, a close encounter with it's nature.

Early morning walking through the salt pans towards the sea, bird song fills the fresh morning air.  High above another aeroplane full of tourists descends into Faro airport, the moon is still in the sky. It is low tide, waders are feeding out on the exposed mud flats. We are in search of Fiddler Crabs.

This is the area to find the Fiddler Crab, the intertidal zone.

Here is our Fiddler Crab. In southern Portugal we find their only European foot hold, (claw hold). From here to Angola in Africa you can find them, it is the most abundant crab in the Gambia.

They are reminiscent of a vehicle used to explore far off planets. Something out of Mad Max!

It may look like a battle field but there is a lot more to this. The claw is waved to attract the attention of a female, at the same time it is a weapon of aggressive intent.

The Ilha de Tavira lies across the Ria Formosa, between us the tide has turned, soon the birds will return to the salt pans.

A little Tern hunts it's pray on the rising tide.

Returning to the salt pans we stop to admire the wild flowers along the way.

Little Owls inhabit a derelict building.

Plants grow in the shade of some of these buildings and we found this family of Sardinian Warblers.

The male bird arrives with food for his three fledglings.

For these fledglings this is their first day outside the comfort of the nest.

European Bee-eaters are now arriving, fatigued by their migration flight they rest on the warm sand on the margins of the salines.

With the changing tide, Knots find some salines with water to preen and roost.

The tide is nearly high now and waders flock onto the salines.

Most birds are heading for these mud banks that separate the salt pans.

Knots, Dunlin and Turnstones find resting places at the high tide.

There are many species out here, a magnificent male Grey Plover looks on, Little Stints try and sleep.

It is soon obvious that any island will do for Dunlin and Sanderling.

A Curlew Sandpiper arrives looking for the company of others.

If undisturbed these birds will settle and wait for the tide to ebb.

It will make no difference to these superb Little Terns,  hunting opportunity at all times.

Poised, hanging in the air.

Such concentration.

 The prey is sighted and like a missile the Little Tern plummets into the water.

Success!  a quick shake of the wings and gone.

Predator and prey.

A Black-winged Stilt shadow dancing.

The lengthening shadows beckon, where does time go when you have a great day out!

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