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Morning Dog Walk: Plenty Of Birds Big And Small

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I take a camera along on my Dog Walks to bring you some of the sightings that I see on my morning walks, these photos are rarely going to be great quality as its hard enough keeping an energetic Dog entertained and get close enough to anything. They also help me identify where species are so that I can plan to return.

It was another beautiful and cloudless morning that started off cold before warming up very quickly. On this morning’s Wally Walk, we circled a nearby Barragem (Portuguese for Dam) that is used as a Fire Fighting collection point. There are currently 3 Cormorants resident and also a Grey Heron that sits in the top of large tree.

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Barragem for the Firefigters

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Close Encounter Of The Otter Kind

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Let me set a story……

I have lived here in the Algarve Hills on the river bank of the Odelouca for almost 2.5 years. We are so lucky to live here and have the river run through our land. There are Otters present, but I have never managed to spot one during daylight hours. This also goes for a long stretch of the river in the area.

Now, lets cue-up Roy! Roy has recently moved to São Marcos da Serra, in fact has been here for little over a week. Yesterday morning I get a message from Roy stating he spotted an Otter in the River near the village…….WHAT? TWO AND A HALF YEARS ROY!

So, this morning at sunrise, I camouflaged myself against the river bank in the area Roy mentioned and waited……for 30 seconds! Yep, almost immediately after setting myself up 3 Otters turned up.

Unfortunately, they arrived before the sun had risen enough to light the river, so conditions where far from perfect as I struggled to photograph them swimming around with such a low shutter speed and high ISO. Whenever I am hiding with the camera I am always reluctant to press the shutter button, even with the camera set to “Quiet” mode, it still makes a noise (this is where Mirrorless will one day become a winner!) but I pressed it and hoped for the best!

Immediately, all 3 stopped and looked straight at me and I thought they would retreat to the bamboo on the opposite bank. However, one of them decided to investigate and headed straight for me where I managed to get these close up shots.

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Close Encounter Of The Otter Kind
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A Chilly Morning At The Reflection Table

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Over the past couple of weeks, my Reflection Table has started to attract visitors so this morning I was up at sunrise in the hope of appearances from some feathered friends.

It was a cold 2 degrees (Celsius) and whilst that may not sound cold to some of you, for us (now seasoned) Algarvers, it is chilly. The surface of the water had a light covering of ice, so reflections were not possible until this melted, however, the table still attracted some visitors.

First up was a very brief visit from a Male Sardinian Warbler that landed on the perch gave a sort of shake-down before moving on its way. I managed to grab a shot of him shaking his wings and tail before he flew away.

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Male Sardinian Warbler - Toutinegra-de-cabeça-preta - Sylvia melanocephala
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Morning Dog Walk: Pipits Everywhere And Fresh Otter Evidence!

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On this morning’s Dog Walk we ventured through large field that has been ploughed. It is an old Olive Farm that is abandoned and therefore the area was very overgrown. I assume it has been cleared both for the fire risk and for grass to regrown for the local Sheep.

At first I thought it was going to hurt the local birds as I often saw flocks of Goldfinch feasting on the seeds. However, although these have now moved on, the area has become full of Wagtails and what I thought was either Water Pipits or Meadow Pipits. As I was with Wally, I struggled to get close enough to ID, so took this following photo and asked some Portuguese Birders for advice

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Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) - maybe...
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Stonechat At The Reflection Table

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Since building my Reflection Table back in September, I haven’t had much luck with visitors. Yesterday I made a slight change to the layout and as the weather was great this morning I was up early and waited. It’s still not as busy as I’d hoped, but at least a Male European Stonechat decided to visit briefly. There were plenty of birds around the area, so I now hope that it will start being used more often.

This male is almost in his winter colours, in the summertime his head will be a much darker black. There was a slight breeze blowing across the table so the reflection isn’t as sharp as I’d like, but still very happy it is now being visited.

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Male European Stonechat in (almost) Winter Colours - Saxicola rubicola
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