Tuesday, 17 January 2017

End of year visit to the Réserve Ornithologique du Teich.

As we have said before, this is a great place to spend some time. With the weather looking good, albeit the morning fog we set off for a days birdwatching.

Grey Heron, demonstrating its agility in the low morning light.

Lovely shimmering light on this statuesque Little Egret.

Sometimes it is better to take the wider photograph rather than compressing on a subject. I just love the way this Kingfisher mirrors the Winters hue.

Another brightly colored bird, and very fast moving, a Northern Shoveller.

A Great White Egret, finds itself a lunch!

A lone juvenile Ruff, makes a fleeting visit, unfortunately just as I bite into a sandwich!

(Common) Snipe, enjoying the afternoon sunshine.

This Little Egret is treading the mud to raise critters.

A male Pintail Duck watches over the sleeping female.

Dunlin and Grey plovers returning to the parc, the tide has reached its high point in the surrounding Arcachon Bassin.

"I know! they are Mallard ducks but I love the Winter infusion of colour."

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Crag Martins to Vultures

We parted company with the  Rio Douro at Barca d'Alva and climbed up on to the
planalto - tableland - of the Beira Alto. This area of Portugal is strewn with boulders and feels remote, the wildflowers are amazing and fill the air with their aroma.
Pigeon houses are spread all over the landscape.They have been used since ancient times to produce Pigeons for their meat and manure, the "pombino." The International Douro Natural Park has been renovating them in recent years, with over one hundred of these important buildings already completed.

Pigeon houses.

Castelo Rodrigo, dating back as far as 500BC, today it has been extensively renovated, under the Historic villages scheme.

A lucky moment, "some may not think so," a Mule has died in a field, the arrival of Vultures must have started yesterday! judging by what was left at that early hour. More circled overhead, this one was very alert but we managed to get close enough to photograph it.

The Reserva natural Serra da Malcata.

From the dam, we are able to observe the delicate Crag Martins searching for nesting materials.

They must be using their find, as a nest lining, the main nest is made of small mud balls.

Occasionally birds were having to protect their finds from plundering comrades.

As we passed Southwards, heading for Alcantara in Spain, the fields were amazing, filled with wild flowers.

It had been raining all day, small water courses were running fast.

Walking a dirt track, we found these Tadpoles in the puddles, hopefully, it continued to rain for them!

It may have been a wet day, nonetheless, it was still full of color and beauty!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Birdwatching in the International Douro Natural park, Portugal.

This is a super place for a few days of birdwatching, situated in the municipality of
Miranda do Douro, in North East Portugal. The park was set up to preserve the landscape along with the Flora and Fauna.
The river runs through a deep gorge or canyon, this, in turn, acts as the natural border between Portugal and Spain and runs for just over one hundred kilometers.
There are many hydro-electric dams along this stretch of the river and it is sparsely populated.
We have visited in different climatic conditions, but whatever the weather, the cool breeze is there.

Looking back up river towards Zamora in Spain and Salamanca, both to distant to see.

 From another vantage point, we could see the snow-capped Sierra Gredos far away on the horizon.

The Griffon Vultures can be close here.

Below we could see the full eight-foot span of their wing.

Some come extremely close!

On the canyon edge, two beautiful Red Rumped Swallows search for nesting material.

Guess when you can fly, it doesn't matter much about the long fall, we were staying well back!

You never know, who will just perch on the edge, here it is a Calandra Lark.

Below on another outcrop, a male Black Redstart calls for a mate.

All day long the Griffon Vultures fly on the thermals, their following the sheep and goat trails through the Olive trees.

And keeping an eye on us!

The slightly smaller Egyptian Vultures, pass much faster across on the Spanish side of the river.

Peregrine Falcons and Lesser Kestrels take it in turn to scan the rock face.

The mighty Alpine Swifts, with their twenty-one-inch wingspan, their sheer power and speed leave you in awe.

The sound of their wings as they scythe past fills the air.

Once again, it was time for us to move on!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Lago de Sanabria y Alrededores, the largest glacial lake in Iberia.

Sometimes good comes from bad, our planned visit, to the Parque natural Somiedo had to be curtailed, this being due to the rotten weather that arrived shortly after us. We had a lunch of hearty Asturian fare in a hostelry perched above the river, in the small town of Enfrago. After speaking with the owner and some of the locals, it was decided we should night-stop and continue upwards in the morning.
Alas, Monday morning, the mountains were shrouded in cloud, and heavy drizzle soaked all. The onward and upward journey would take us through a height of just over four and a half thousand feet, and sadly, as we passed up through the fog and mist, through and into the snow line, we could see nothing but the road edge.

With the snow behind us, we paused to look back at the Puerto de Somiedo, the entrance way for us, South out of the Parque, "perhaps we will visit another time if the weather could be kinder."

With time on our hands, we decided a visit to The glacial Lago de Sanabria y Alrededores, of which we had never visited.

Just silence, on a vast scale!

Playa Viquiella, not a soul could be seen or heard, just crystal clear ice water.

Crested Tits perched through the fence, at the beach cafe.

Iberian long-tailed tits clung under the rocks, whilst searching for insects.

A Short-toed Treecreeper foraged for insects with its long beak and seemed to miss the Beetle.

Spain to the right and Portugal left, we continue down a small windy road left into Portugal.

A quick walk around the medieval Castle at Bragança.

Our road continues its meander, South through the stunning and empty countryside.

We near to our next destination, the International Duero, the huge gorge, through which flows the Rio Duero, splitting Portugal and Spain. The entire area covered with huge rolling hills, some farmed some covered in gorse and wild flowers, a natural haven for wildlife.