Mike’s Monday Pics – Portuguese Flamingos

On our recent trip to Portugal we arranged two birding trips with a private guide.  It took a little work on the Internet to locate Portuguese guides but we ended up going with Birds and Nature Tours (https://www.birds.pt ).  Our contact, Joao Jarra was very accommodating even to the point of having our guides pick us up at our accommodations.

Our first birding trip was scheduled for a half day around Lisbon.  It may seem an unlikely place (Lisbon) to go birding but the city itself sits where the Tagus River flows into the Atlantic Ocean and an estuary formed just north of the city.  Some of the lands we visited are privately farmed and some of areas we visited is marsh and wetlands.  The estuary itself is huge and had we given ourselves a whole day of birding our guide would have taken us to a much larger area upstream.  Our guide Amelia led us to some of the farming lands first but kept an eye on the time because of the tides in the estuary.  At high tide the water covers up much of the mudflats (so the birds leave) and at low tide the birds are too far away (on the outer edges of the mudflats).  When we arrived hundreds of birds were all over the mudflats – Amelia said that during the height of migration, about a month earlier, hundreds of thousands of birds foraged there.

We spotted 27 species that day and the one that caught my eye was the Greater Flamingo.  Other than what can be found in zoos and race tracks there are very few wild Flamingos left in the U.S. (five were spotted just north a Milwaukee in early October, which created quite a stir in the birding community).  As I looked out into the mudflats there were a group 80 Flamingos foraging with the city of Lisbon in the background (across the river/estuary).


I zoomed in a little bit to get more detail of these elegant birds.  Note all the other birds behind the Flamingos foraging in the mud and fluddles.


We made another stop with Amelia on some private land with a couple of small lakes where we watched a juvenile Flamingo forage in the water.  I’m not quite sure if it was standing or swimming.


Our second day of guided birding took place in the southern-most region of Portugal, the Algarve.  Towns along the coast face the south toward the Atlantic Ocean (the Strait of Gibraltar is east of this area).  Our guide here, Guillaume, picked us up on an overcast day.  As we got to the outskirts of town it started to sprinkle, which soon turned into a steady rain.  Long story, short, it continued to rain throughout the morning and we had to call it a day by lunchtime (we had arranged a full-day of birding).  Before it started to rain hard we did get some birding in and spotted more Greater Flamingos along a wetland.  This one slowly made its way across the muddy land toward the berm separating the fields (former rice farms).


More pics from Portugal to come, but the Greater Flamingo was a favorite!

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The air quality appears to of note. They are really cool looking birds!