In spite of only just beginning to recover from a vile "flu-like" ailment I thought that a "lifer" (not had one this year) would cheer me up so I did the long drive to Santa Luzia near Tavira to hopefully tick and get photos of an Upland Sandpiper, the second record for mainland Portugal.
The bird was found by Nigel Jackson on 29th September and word put out on "Raridades" by Peter Dedicoat who had re-located the bird later that day and obtained some good photos which are posted on Peter & June's blog "Jupiter Birding": http://www.jupiterbirding.blogspot.com/ Peter also provided excellent directions to the site so off I went. Fully expecting other birders to be present I found no-one and after two hours of searching in brilliant, scorching sunshine there was no sign of the bird either. How Nigel found this brown bird amidst the sundried brown pasture I do not know, but well done.
Cutting my losses I went to the salinas at Tavira in the hope of photographing some waders but the salt harvest has just finished and most of the pools near the town are dry and devoid of birds. The one wet area I found had quite a few Dunlin, godwits, Avocet and Little Stint but they were very 'skittish' and my approach with camera, long lens and tripod flushed them; by this time the heat haze had made photography impossible anyway.
On the way home I dropped in at Lagoa dos Salgados and was pleasantly surprised to find the lagoon in a healthy state with lots of birds. SPEA/RSPB have erected several "No Trespass" signs and also cut off some of the access tracks by rough ploughing - this is rather frustrating as I can no longer creep around the shore in the Land Rover to take photos but, in the general scheme of things, is obviously good for the birds. First thing to catch my eye was a Sacred Ibis which was un-ringed (Salgados now has Glossy, Bald and Sacred Ibis) and as Simon Wates arrived with clients he was leading on tour we found the Buff-breasted Sandpiper which has been there for a few weeks - a "Golden Moment" for a tour leader, I hope they "tipped him"! The distance and heat haze made it impossible to photograph, but here is "one I cooked earlier" (a bird in the same location on 27th September last year):
And, just for good measure, an un-ringed Sacred Ibis from Parque Zoologica de Lagos :
Nice day out in superb weather, but a pity I dipped on the Upland Sandpiper.