Friday, May 5, 2017

The passage to Spain

Back in wifi land after a few days in Outback Extremadura, Castuera. It's a rather dodgy town with a dark history. At present, they don't sell milk or bread in any supermarket. Bizarre.
I have a serious backlog to catch up with, so will start with May 1st. That was our last morning working in Portugal - we worked near Veiros. There's an SPA there that still has some nice habitat with both bustards.

Somewhat artistic experiment - Great Bustard

Thanks to Dan, or maybe it's Dan's fault, I pay more attention now to non-birds. As everywhere in Alentejo, Red-striped Oil Beetles were present in large numbers. They are poisonous, and are used as a gut-cleaner / parasite remover by male Great Bustards.

Black-tailed Skimmer - male

Another interesting invertebrate that got away before a proper photo was taken - Hummingbird Hawkmoth:

On the way back to the car, a walk through an adjacent montado produced the regular montado birds, including this Short-toed Treecreeper:

In the afternoon of that day we arrived in Castuera. We dumped our stuff in our accommodation, kindly provided by ANSER, and headed off for some touristic birding at Castillo de Benquerencia, just a few minutes outside of Castuera. The vista off the top is simply stunning.

I have visited this site before, in 2015. It's an easy spot for Black Wheatear, and indeed just above the carpark we had our first a singing male. Photographing them there is a different story. We did invest some time and effort, but the results are still unsatisfactory. Unfinished business with them... The light and angle are alright, but annoyingly the wheatears kept their distance.

While wasting our time trying to make friends with the wheatear, Alpine Swifts were whizzing around our heads. They are such fantastic beasts, ultimate aerobats. To hear their wings whiz past at hi-speed merely a meter from my ear was breathtaking. They breed on the cliff below the castle, and were chasing each other in display, often is groups of three or four:

Alpine Swifts

A great way to end the day. More on La Serena in the next posts.

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