Pilar and I just got back from an amazing two weeks spent in southern Portugal and Spain. I've got lots to share so will break it up into two or three posts.
Most of our trip was along the coast. Along the Atlantic in Portugal that usually means spectacular cliffs interspersed with beaches. There are a variety of birds specializing in very rugged areas like this, including Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush and Black Redstart.
Northern Gannets could be seen migrating south in large numbers. Other seabirds mixed in with them included Cory's and Balaeric Shearwaters, Great Skuas, jaegers and one Razorbill.
Two species of large gull were common everywhere - the resident Yellow-legged Gulls and overwintering Lesser Black-backed Gulls. This is a Yellow-legged, looking a little bit darker than reality in this photo.
We noticed this dead Rhinoceros Beetle dead in a parking lot. The larvae emerge from rotting wood.
A variety of coastal lagoons had incredible numbers and diversity of waterbirds. Among the gulls and Mallards in this photo can be seen Common Pochard, Common Moorhen, Little Egret and Eurasian Spoonbill.
A wider view of the same wetland (Lagoa dos Salgados). There were at least 23 species of waterbird visible from this single observation point.
Black-winged Stilts were a common site at rich wetlands, one of 20 species of shorebirds seen on the trip. It was interesting to see a mix of familiar species like Black-bellied Plover, Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstone and Sanderling among the more exotic ones.
I could not manage a good photo of these gorgeous Audouin's Gulls. This is one of the rarest gulls in the world.
A wide variety of wheatears can be found in open areas throughout Eurasia and Africa, with Northern Wheatear barely extending into North America. We saw many Northern Wheatears (below) as well as a couple of Black Wheatears.
Visible in the backround of this view over Castro Marim, Portugal are artificial salt collection ponds, a common sight in coastal areas. These habitats attract an excellent variety of wading birds and shorebirds.