Regular readers will know that one of the main reasons we return again and again to Olhão is the birding out on the saltpans. The saltpans are just a few minutes walk from the apartment, and so perfect for a stroll after breakfast or before dinner. Some days we’re overwhelmed by the number and range of birds, other days are quiet and nothing new to see. All of these shots were taken over a period of just one hour on a quiet day. So whilst not a great session for my ‘birder’ husband I had a fun time experimenting with bird portraits. dscn9396

Generally the waders congregate in groups and are wary of humans, so without a hide or full camouflage outfit taking close-ups and portrait photographs isn’t always that easy. My wader photographs tend to consist of lots of brown birds against a brown background. Adequate for identification purposes but not much else!dscn9416

This hour though was a good sessions for close-ups, enabling us to appreciate their individual beauty. They might be ‘birds of a feather’, they might all be very brown in winter but up close they are beautiful and unique even ‘Willy Wicket’!

And it wasn’t just waders and gulls that were frequenting the saltpans. There were small birds flitting about in the shrubs either side of the paths. They never paused long but two did stop just long enough for me to take their portrait.

Unfortunately from a birding and wildlife photography perspective the council have lots of plans for this area. Whilst I agree the area in front of the hotel should be redeveloped, the gardens by the market should definitely be left alone as should the estuary area beyond the hotel. Some call this area bleak (see link above) however I cannot see how another marina full of boats that never move will be any better. Certainly won’t add to the beauty of the Ria Formosa, and worse the development will impact on the feeding grounds for all these birds. I’m hoping when we return in the next couple of weeks there won’t have been any significant change yet, but the clock is ticking both for the neglected areas beloved by wildlife and for the gardens beloved by tourists and locals alike. dscn9400

PS So did you spot in the gallery which wader once had the nickname ‘Willy Wicket’? Such a great name.