Darting ahead of us in the flowers and grasses on Thursday evening were about half dozen Estrilda astrild, more commonly known as Waxbills or as we are in Portugal Bico-de-lacre. Unfortunately my photographs are not brilliant as not only were they busy foraging but they were also some distance in front of us. Hopefully though you will get a sense of the beauty of this lovely small bird.

Common Waxbill

Enjoying the seeds of a Crown Daisy

I have been reliably informed by MrB that they are so named because their unmissable bright red beak looks like sealing wax. It is though their wonderful red eye-mask that I love, makes me think of carnivals and superheroes!

Originally from sub-Saharan Africa they are now resident in Portugal and spreading rapidly into Spain. You’ll also find them in places as far afield as Madeira, Brazil, Bermuda and Hawaii. They mostly eat seeds which is why we saw them clinging to the grasses and flower heads with their long, spindly claws. Common Waxbill foragingThis is not the first exotic resident we have come across in the Algarve, and like the first – a Black Headed Weaver – the first time we saw one was at the increasingly popular (read crowded!) Quinta do Lago. They breed in reeds and bulrushes and so if you are going to spot them it is mostly likely to happen in Portugal’s coastal wetlands. For more information on this gorgeous passerine bird, including where best to spot them I recommend beginning with the excellent Aves de Portugal website. Don’t head for Quinta do Lago though as unfortunately it is becoming even more crowded there and the main hide is rarely quiet. They have also removed some of the reed islands from the lake so it is not as good a viewing spot as it once was.

Take off from a Tree Mallow

Take off from a Tree Mallow

PS Did you notice my title? Yup another Six Word Saturday, but unlike my personal blog I only managed to keep to a six word title here. Thank goodness for Debbie’s relaxed rules!