Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The Algarve, Portugal October 2017

Photographs from Algarve Portugal October 2017

Western Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio)

Great Shearwater (Puffinus gravis)

Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)

 Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

Stonechat (Saxicola torquata)

Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus)

Lanner Falcon (Falco biarmicus) 
Cape St Vincent, Sagres 7th October 2017

Having seen very little at Cape St Vincent, we headed towards the raptor watchpoint known at Monte da Cabranosa taking the track from the N268 at . As I drove towards the north end of the track at 37°02'10.3"N 8°57'43.2"W a large pale brown Falcon flew in low from the west and continued to the east and passed rapidly out of view, obscured by pine trees. The time was about 11.30am. 

The bird was only on view for about ten seconds. In that time through binoculars I saw some finer plumage details, including the brown, heavily streaked pale breast, the dark brown greater underwing coverts and slightly less dark brown greater primary underwing coverts. These feathers contrasted with the paler primaries, secondaries and to a lesser extent the paler brown lesser and median underwing coverts. The head appeared pale with a slight darker brown moustache stripe. The falcon had to be either a Lanner or Saker Falcon. But which one? And it was gone. I had had no time to photograph the bird. 

I felt somewhat reassured, as I thought the observers at the watchpoint would also have seen the bird and identified it. We drove directly to the watchpoint and arrived about 11.40. I saw Rob Mills, who I had met the previous evening, and walked over to him to ask if anyone had just seen a large brown Falcon. I was a bit surprised, and a little deflated, to learn that no one had spotted the bird.

We stayed to enjoy watching the raptors go overhead. In the back of my mind I always hoping the bird may reappear, and very happily it did. It arrived from the north-east and flew quite close to the watchpoint in a south-westerly direction, at 12.50pm. It then turned and headed back towards the north-east, but this time a little closer. I took a sequence of photographs (as did others). Photographs confirmed the bird to be a Lanner Falcon and others assigned it, to the most likely to occur, North African ‘erlangerirace. What a relief.