Male Blue Rock thrush

Busy springtime

Springtime is in full swing and many bird species are already in action, with some already raising young.

First, I want to introduce “Bluey and Roxy”, a pair of Blue Rock thrushes that I have been watching and photographing in an old ruin near my house.

As you can see in the photos, only the male is blue with the female looking similar to a female Blackbird. You’d be forgiven for completely missing a sighting of a male, too, as in bright or dark conditions they can look almost black but, in the right light, particularly in spring when they have their breeding plumage, they are a stunning colour.

These Starling-sized birds are a resident species but may move around locally and are not seen too often as they are very shy of humans. As their name suggests, they prefer rocky areas, which includes crumbling walls of ruins to nest in.

I have watched them for weeks, chasing away House sparrows that are also trying to use the same nesting hole, and the male and female would take it in turns to stand guard ready to use their larger size to intimidate any sparrow that tries its luck. They usually sit on top of the electricity poles and wires waiting to spot insects and reptiles to swoop down to eat.

As I type, I haven’t seen them for a few days. Could it be they are nesting? Have the sparrows finally won their battle? Or, has the new arrival of a female sparrowhawk in the area had a part to play in their story? You can keep up to date with any news on my website’s blog.

No springtime article is going to be without me writing about my favourite Algarve bird, the European bee-eaters. They are back, and they are back in numbers this year!

My local area has a lot more than usual and we may even have two colonies present. They are currently building their new nest tunnels as they do every year and I have already spent a few sessions amongst them and am certainly planning more.

The courtship of the male gifting his partner any larger insects he catches is a joy to watch and their aerial display as they chase any flying insect is mesmerising. If you are hoping to see any, there are plenty of places to view them, but this year it seems the numbers are greater in the hills. I never need an excuse to watch them and my nature walks always have routes to view them.

Barn swallows are as usual in large numbers and one pair have returned to their nest, down inside a disused well. I am able to approach the well unseen and able to view the already hatched babies inside the nest from above. The photo looks like there are three, however, the nest has five babies.

Lastly, something different from birds – the Mediterranean tree frogs are in full voice. These small frogs, also known as Stripeless tree frogs, are ready to breed and, although we have limited standing water, the males are calling out to the females from anywhere they water. They are even calling during the daytime, meaning it’s easy for me to find them and photograph them.

This is just a small account of all the species that are in the mood for spring and I suggest you head to the countryside and coast to seek out more opportunities to witness this amazing time of year!

By Craig Rogers
|| features@algarveresident.com

Craig Rogers is a wildlife and nature photographer from Wales now living in the Algarve, offering photography workshops. For more information, photographs and his blog visit www.craigrogers.photography

Photos: Craig Rogers

Mediterranean tree frog
Barn swallow nest
European bee-Eater
Female Blue Rock thrush
Male Blue Rock thrush