Wildlife photography: Portugal 2018
Birding at the Algarve

October 21, 2018


Although the Algarve is well known to everyone as an unrivalled holiday destination, it is perhaps less well known than it deserves to be for the value of its birdlife and biodiversity. In its variety of sandy coastlines, cliffs, mountains, wetlands and Mediterranean landscapes there occur many resident, wintering or migratory bird species that journey from north to south.

I managed to take some time out of my schedule to spend on one of the most demanding but also most rewarding photographic activities - birding.

I'd like to mention that the Algarve Tourism Board provides everyone interested in birdwatching or bird photography an absolutely awesome birdwatching guide [if the link doesn't work and you want the guide just shoot me a mail], with extensive information about species, locations, seasonal information and much more that can be downloaded for free.

All the pictures in this article were taken either in the early morning or late afternoon with a 500mm f/4 lens and usually a 2x teleconverter.

Right around sunrise when the air is still cool is the favorite time for Kentish plovers to look for invertebrates in the shallow salt basins.
The same foraging behavior can be observed with dunlins.
Wherever there's water there are ducks.
This northern shoveler is however not such a common sight.
I've seen and photographed many great crested grebes before as any regular on this website will know. This is however the first time I was lucky enough to see one breed. One parent tended to the nest while the other was hunting for food nearby.
The little grebe in breeding plumage.
The hoopoe is especially notable for its distinctive crown of feathers.
Male Eurasian skylark.
Two grey herons and a little egret in a saltmarsh.
A little egret stalking prey in shallow water.
Glossy ibis

One of the main reasons to go birding in Portugal was my hope to see some greater flamingos. I had never seen one of these in real life and was understandably excited to finally spot some.

A flock of greater flamingos.
Unless a strong headwind is present, flamingos can only take flight after a run-up of a couple meters.
Adult birds in flight. The coloration comes from the carotenoid pigments in the organisms that live in their feeding grounds and only develops when the animals reach maturity.
A still gray adolescent.
Feeding in a coastal lagoon.
The soft early morning light provided perfect conditions to capture these elegant creatures.
One of my favorite images from the trip. I tried to position myself so that the flamingo would be in the center of the low suns reflection.

There is one more article left in the Portugal series which will deal with the most interesting locations in the south of the country. Please stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!

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