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Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers

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Yesterday I saw a pair of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers preparing their Nest Hole in preparation for egg laying. The male seemed to be doing all the duties whilst the female kept leaving and returning. I only managed to get shots of the male.

Our local area has a large number of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers probably the most commonly seen Woodpecker here. This is interesting because every resource I read about their presence in Portugal states that they are uncommon. I will be keeping an eye on this nest site and hope to grab some feeding photos if they are successful at breeding. The Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers seem to be less bothered about my presence than any of the other Woodpecker species which means they tolerate me getting quite close.

Here’s a few photos I snapped of him.

Male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
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The European Bee-Eaters Have Started To Dig Their Tunnels

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I was out just after sunrise this morning and hidden near the “meeting tree” that the Bee-Eaters have been gathering in. However, today, they chose another tree about 50 meters away. I waited for a while and eventually one pair turned up and got the shot below.

Afterwards I was able to walk away and get a good look at them, they have started to build their tunnels in preparation for breeding. In case you don’t know Bee-Eaters dig tunnels in near-vertical banks that they nest in and build new tunnels every year (see video below).

Luckily, the land on overlooking this area I where they are building we own and although extremely difficult to get to I will be looking in a way to get closer. Here is a shot that I did manage to get.

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European Bee Eater - Abelharuco - Merops apiaster
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Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers In Abundance

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Due to the terrain and the number of trees in the local area, we have large numbers of Woodpeckers and it seems that the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker outnumbers all the other species (Greater Spotted, Iberian Green and Wryneck).

I often hear them tapping away on trees and their call which is similar to the Iberian Green’s “laughing call” but softer and cuter. The name “Lesser” is often thought that its because they are seen less often but it actually means smaller. In other words a smaller version of the Greater Spotted Woodpecker. They are the size of a sparrow and the female is often overlooked due to its black and white colours. The male as seen in the photo below has a red crown.

Here is a photo from a few mornings ago. It’s quite heavily cropped so not my usual quality of detail.

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Male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - Pica-pau-galego (macho) - Dencrocopos minorContinue reading >>

A Local Little Owl

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Portugal has a large population of Little Owls and can often be heard calling and seen at anytime of day. However, locally to myself they are not found in large numbers. 2 years ago I spotted one near the Quinta on a few occasions but then never seen again. Until yesterday, I was heading into the village late afternoon and I spotted one sitting on the electricity cable in the same place I spotted one before.

This afternoon I decided to take a look and there it was sitting on an old tree stump. I almost missed it as it blended in so well. Armed with just my 80-400 lens I snapped these shots. It was incredibly tolerant of me being there too letting me get very close. As they are quite small, I need to go back with my 500mm lens (maybe even with the 1.4x converter) to grab some great detail shots. Hopefully more pictures soon, but for now, here you go.

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Little Owl - Mocho-galego - Athene noctua
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A Little Closer To The Blue Rock Thrushes

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Yesterday afternoon I dressed up in my Army clothing, took my camo-bag and tried to sneak close to the ruin that the pair of Blue Rock Thrushes are nesting in. It didn’t go well, the male was sitting at the location I was trying to get to and even though he moved away I think he was watching me and seemed uncomfortable so I abandoned the idea. Back at the house it got me thinking, earlier in the day he was less worried when I walked through with the dog in normal clothing. So this morning, I tried something different, I put a 1.4x teleconverter on my 500mm lens (which gives me a 700mm with minimal quality loss on such a great lens) and took it out using a Monopod rather than a Tripod for ease of carrying.

I walked my usual route and the female was sitting on a nearby telephone pole and I could see the male on the roof of the ruin. I positioned myself near to the ruin in full visibility of the birds. They seemed far more relaxed with my presence, the male even more so as he came to the roof top. Although not the perfection I’m looking for I did come away with some nice photos.

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Male Blue Rock Thrush - Melro-azul - Monticola solitarius
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Morning Dog Walk:…..And Now The Female Blue Rock Thrush!

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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.

Yesterday morning, after searching for weeks I finally spotted the Male Blue Rock Thrush. This morning we walked through the same location and I spotted a Female.

As you can see, the female has no blue colouring, she is dark brown with a spotted chest. She wasn’t so relaxed around me as the male and moved perch constantly. However, she flew in almost exactly the same pattern as the Male, circling the ruined building. I think it’s pretty certain that they are nesting in this building. I won’t go investigating as I am not interested in disturbing the nest (and what seems like hundreds of House Sparrows) but I will be monitoring this site to hopefully capture some great shots.


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