birdwatching in portugal just life

weeknotes 47/23

we spent the week in beja!

we had a postcard meeting this weekend and used our house swapping membership to spend a few extra days there, in a cozy and super central apartment. the week was passed birdwatching, walking the narrow streets of beja, people-watching in centenarian cafés, admiring all the pretty tiles and filling up our bellies with alentejo’s many delights.

we went into a local museum with works from jorge vieira, and only later did i realize that he was the same artist who did the huge “man-sun” metal sculture on expo 98. the museum focused more on his ceramic works, and the boy and i admired the one above, which we both thought was a pig until someone pointed out the horns… 😅

and naturally, there was some birdwatching too! nothing too fancy, but we logged a few new birds, like a red kite, eurasian jackdaw and a spanish sparrow, which looked rather mean!


more waxbills

i’ve mentioned waxbills here on the blog before… but these pictures taken in the early morning light with the vineyard on the background came out so cute, so here they are again!

probably one of my favorite tiny birds!


glossy ibis

stumbled on a bunch of glossy ibis here in the ria the other day. they’re called the equivalent of “black ibis” in portuguese, and they do look black at a distance… but a closer look reveals a lot of other beautiful colors too, greens and rusty tones.

such a gorgeous bird! i don’t think i had ever seen them so close.


zitting cisticola

the zitting cisticola is the kind of bird you recognize mostly by hearing its periodic “zits” — when you look up, you notice a bird flying in waves, with the sound coinciding with the top of the wave. i was riding my bike through the salt ponds last weekend and noticed this one hanging around on a bush by the side of the road.

it gave me enough time to grab the camera and snap a couple of pictures, before flying away. neat! :)

birdwatching in taiwan

more taiwan birds

let me just make note of a few more birds we saw in taiwan, because they don’t exist in this part of the world, and so it felt extra special to see them. first up, the light-vented bulbul, our first ever bulbul. a little bird, that seems like it has been snowed on:

next, the chinese bamboo partridge! we spotted them next to a patch of bamboo and while we watched with the binoculars, a couple of taiwanese hikers walked by, curiously looked at where we were looking and exclaimed “ah! bamboo chicken!” :D

the common myna seems so used to people in taiwan that they get really close to us in the city…

and look at the black bulbul, with its spiky hair… a funky sight!

just as funky was the malayan night heron. it’s a big, stern-looking bird, and the juveniles look less rust-colored than the adults. i learned that the technical term for the color is “rufous”.

and last but not least, we saw some oriental turtle-doves with their stripes on the neck (and the spotted dove too in the south, but i didn’t get a good picture).

this concludes the brief tour of birds we saw in taiwan! i think it’s one of the brilliant things of being so far from home, and especially on an island: every bird we saw seemed new and made us look more closely, even sparrows and doves.