Day 3 16th May 2011.
A trip along the empty motorway north was an easy drive to Castro Verde. We paid the exit toll and took the Beja road to visit the LPN reserve just north of Castro Verde. This place was recommended to us by an english guy we had met at Castro Marim who had said there was a visitor centre and the staff had made him very welcome and were very helpful only yesterday. We arrived but unfortunately the centre was closed so we parked in the car park and scanned the surrounding fields. Rollers were on the roof of the building, lesser kestrels floated around the purpose built tower, a little bustard was calling and showing, and 3 great bustards flew across a distant hillside. Caladra larks,skylarks and crested larks gave display flights while cattle egrets passed over. 2 montagu's harriers floated across the plains with red kite,several black kites,with many storks feeding in the fields.
We then took the N123 road to Mertola which is lined with stork nests with Spanish sparrows nesting in these nests. Also along this road we had red rumped swallow, southern grey and woodchat shrikes, crow and raven.
We had lunch here in a cafe near the Mertola castle. Here we had crag martin, lesser kestrels, many jackdaws, bee eaters, serins and nesting storks.
We then drove down the N122 and stopped at the many bridges that cross rivers which produced golden oriole, crag martins and more red rumped swallows. We called in at the village of Alcoutim which is on the river Guadiana and looks across to Spain. We then drove back to Tavira where we had dinner watching nesting Pallid swifts flying in and out of thier nest holes in the Palm trees here.
The plains of the southern Alentejo around Castro Verde are really beautiful with many wild flowers still in bloom in mid May and a real must visit place in Portugal.
distant great bustards