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Southwestern Water Vole

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I was in the Kingfisher hide this morning but they just didn’t come to the perch, everywhere else but the perch. However, in the distance I saw some movement. Looking through the viewfinder I spotted either a Brown Rat or a Southern Water Vole. I magnified on the live view and could see it was indeed a Southwestern Water Vole.

Also known as a Southern Water Vole, it is a slightly different species to the European Water Vole found in other regions of Europe. This large semi-aquatic rodent can reach sizes of between 16 and 23cm long, not including the tail which is a further 3/4 of the length of the body. They are often seen in the daytime, mainly during the later morning and early evening. This is the 2nd time I have seen it at this time of day so will be looking to get closer!

Allegedly, it was originally one of the main ingredients of the Spanish Paella! It’s great to see one as they are in decline and are classified as “Vulnerable” on the ICN Red List.

I quickly popped on the 1.4x teleconverter, but even at 700mm, it was still a long way away for a decent shot. However, here it is eating fresh bamboo growth for its breakfast. More info and identification guide after the photo.

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Southwestern Water Vole - Rato-de-água - Arvicola sapidus
📷 Nikon D850, AF-S 500mm f/4 with Nikon TC14E III 1.4x Teleconverter (giving 700mm) @ 1/800sec, f/5.6, ISO1400Continue reading >>

Sunset at the Barragem de Odelouca

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Normal weather has returned to the Algarve over the last few days (will it last is the big question) so I decided to find a new spot to photograph the sunset. Using the PhotoPills App, I found a spot on the side of the Barragem de Odelouca (Odelouca Reservoir) where the sun would be setting on the far side of the water.

This location was very remote and took about 20 minutes of dirt track to reach. I was hoping to find something interesting to place in the foreground such as an old tree or rocks, however, the banks here are very steep and just dropped into the water. This is one issue going to an unknown location. I decided to try to use light shining off a bank and a large rocky island instead. Myself and Emma took along some wine and enjoyed the sundown whilst taking the photos.

The first photo was 20 minutes before sunset just as the sun was falling behind the hills.

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Pôr do Sol na Barragem de Odelouca
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The Smell Of The Algarve Serra Has Returned, But The Rivers Still Have Not

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The recent cold spell is over and the daytime temperatures are back in the low 20s, the evenings can still be chilly though. This morning I was out walking the dog and noticed something I’d been missing, the smell of the Esteva, in English it’s called the Gum Rock Rose and its latin name is Cistus ladanifer.

This extremely tough evergreen shrub covers most of the Algarve Serra which is why the hills look green. The plant produces a resin and its this very sticky substance that gives off the amazing smell. As you can see in the photo, there is new growth on the top of this branch. The small leaves are extremely sticky hence the return of the smell. I mentioned “tough”, yes this shrub can withstand extreme drought and requires very little water.

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Esteva Shrub

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Reflections At The Local Barragem

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On my morning Dog walks I’ve noticed that the local Barragem (Portuguese for dam, but also used to name a reservoir) water has been very still and the reflection amazing. So, this morning I also took my camera for a walk with the Dog.

Whilst letting Wally run around exploring the Barragem surroundings, I took a few reflection photos.

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Barragem Reflection

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Introducing The Oasis

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No, it’s not a re-group of the 90s rock band but a section of our land behind the house that always seems to have water.

Water Trickle

We live on top of a hill, however, there always seems to be water on a section of the land behind the house, even in the hot, dry summer there is evidence of water. There are a few theories; Does our Water Cistern (we have a bore hole) leak? Does our Septic Tank release the clean water here? Does it take the water from the roof guttering here? Is there some strange water spring?

No matter how this water gets here, it creates a fantastic Oasis of wild plants. I’ve noticed that this time of year, the returning winter birds congregate for breakfast just after sunrise. Numerous Finches, Robins, Waxbill, Chiffchaff, Stonechat to name a few feast on the flower seeds and insects.

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Sunset Reflection at the Barragem

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I’ve been waiting for a perfectly still night and another fantastic red sunset to get down to a local “Bomberios Barragem” to get a reflection shot.

Here in the Serra (hills) of the Algarve you’ll find a lot of these man-made lakes (Bomberios Barregem translates to Firefighter Damn) which are used by fire trucks and helicopters to fill up with water in the event of a local forest fire.

This image is much better viewed on my Flickr Page

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Barregem Sunset - D810, AF-S 24-70 f/2.8E @ 24mm, f/13, ISO64, 0.4sec, Hoya Super Pro 1 D Revo Circular Polariser Filter - {Flickr Link}

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