Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Porto weekender

I had a decent weekend the one just gone. Karen and I headed to Porto, largely for a bit of relaxation and to see a new place, but also predictably there was an element of birds thrown in. Unsurprisingly gulls to be precise. That said, I'd genuinely recommend Porto as a really pleasant place to spend do one of those weekend breaks 'normal people' do.

So, this is for me how Porto is set out - everything either happens at the Douro estuary or a few miles up the coast at the port (and beach) of Matosinhos. Loads of gulls mingling about, a pretty dynamic area where no two days would ever be the same. I just got a snapshot of things as my birding was constrained by time but would say the following: -
- Matosinhos was the best site (early mornings as is a roost site before gulls head off for the day)
- Estuario do Douro (from the south side at Praia do Cabadelo) during the day for loafing large gulls
- Foz (along the estuary for small gulls and near the port for large gulls)
- Afurada (along the estuary near the marina for small gulls and a few large gulls)
Other birds seen with zero effort included a large wintering flock of Serins, half a dozen Monk Parakeets and a Black Redstart.
Serin Estuario do Douro, Porto 22nd November 2015
But back to the gulls, and I was pleasantly surprised with what I saw species wise - a sub-adult Glaucous Gull and a second-winter Iceland Gull the main highlights. Also the odd Herring Gull, single Great Black-backed Gulls and Common Gulls, low double figures of Med Gulls plus all the other usual suspects. Ring wise was a bit disappointing but probably down to my lack of time for a concerted effort with just seven found (a Med Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull from France, a Spanish ringed Yellow-legged Gull and four Lesser Black-backed Gulls from SW England and South Wales). Here's a few shots of the stars involved: -
2nd-winter Iceland Gull Matosinhos, Porto 22nd November 2015
sub-adult Glaucous Gull Matosinhos, Porto 22nd November 2015
adult Lesser Black-backed Gull Matosinhos, Porto 22nd November 2015; ringed in Bristol on 25th June 2006 and regularly recorded in Portugal during the winter and back in Bristol during the summers (and seen on passage at Valdovino, La Coruna in September 2013)
adult Herring Gull Matosinhos, Porto 22nd November 2015
adult Yellow-legged Gull Matosinhos, Porto 22nd November 2015; note the extreme head streaking not unprecedented on Atlantic race birds.
1st-winter Mediterranean Gull Afurada, Porto 22nd November 2015

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