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I spy from my little farm

I have always been a bit of a twitcher… And moving to Portugal has been a real treat on that level, here is some of the birds that we have spotted from our kitchen window, in no particular order ; hoopoes, Sardinian warblers, robins, sparrows, collared doves, azul magpies, green finches, golden oriole, bee eaters, cookoos…
Some of them actually do actually come a bit too close for comfort; when living in the caravan, I remember bolting up right in the midle of the night as we got awaken by the sound of an hooting awl on our roof… The mag pie family with their young squawking for food aren’t always the most pleasant of neighbour’s either, but you can definatly count on them to let you know if there are any birds of prey in the hood! I should have been more in tuned with them that one day, when before having the chickens successfully penned in, one hen and her chicks were hanging out nearby the house. I was busy washing up, when I heard her going crazy like if her chicks were being attacked by the cat, as I stepped out of the door, a red kite took off, a few feet away from me. She used to have 4 chicks, she had 3 from then on…
Stepping into the garden to put the laundry out to dry, more often than not, I get to see gliding birds, generally vultures or stalks. It is only a few days ago that I understood the reason why ; sunshine, light winds, what to me are perfect laundry drying conditions, are indeed, to any gliding bird, the optimum flying conditions!! In spring or autumn, when the thermals (ascendant winds birds use to gain altitude ) are not too strong, I usually have the time to run into the house, grab the camera and run back out again to take pictures. In the summer, different matter, no matter how fast I run, anything I spot is just a dot in the sky by the time I am behind the lens. I mean, this year, the heat got so strong that with a little wind, our straw mulch actually took off and landed back on the gazebo we were having our lunch under, yes, it did make me feel a bit nervous…
Further afield, on my way to feed the geese I am used to see a king fisher and the cattle egrets, but I once saw a couple of young great spotted cookoo. I saw some again near by a lake, they are not common but like to perch in prominent spots. I was in my in laws’car, driving back home, when I shouted ; “stop, stop now, here, look to the right, a meter off the ground, in the pine tree, two great spotted cookoos!!”. Despite my shouting, the car stopping, and all on board staring, they stayed a while, giving us a great display! None of them had seen one before, it was a great way to end our day.
Another time, looking for wood and only because it took off as I came too near, I spotted a nightjar. I had never seen one before, I called my other half over, told him where I saw it land, and him too got to see it, confirming what I thought it was.
But the 2 sightings I am most happy about, are, those of a black stalk, yet again spotted whist putting the laundry out, that was in spring, hence the photo. And the other one was in July, a few years back now, my partner and his brother were building our roof, main beam in place, they were joining the rafters, balancing above a 5 meters drop, belts and hand full of tools. When I, with my two feet comfortably on the ground, started the shouting again ;
“Look up, right above us, there a bird, it’s massive, it looks like a stalk but it not a stalk!… What is it???”
The first reaction I got was of course something like;
“Hum, not so easy, right now, for us to look up Love…”
Fair enough, I am used to walking on stilts, and yes, looking up whist balancing on two pegs is one of the things I feel least comfortable with… So fair enough answer, but not quite satisfying enough… Luckily they are more skilled, or fearless, or mad than me, and did looked up. Here is what I was told;
“It’s an Egyptian vulture!!”

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