ALGARVE DAY 3: BIRD PRACTICAL AND FIDDLER CRAB (by Gavin Arneill)

 

black winged stilt in courtship flightWEBToday, the 4th of April, we returned to Salgados for the morning and thankfully had the first day of constant sun and high temperatures. There were two tasks for the morning so the group was split into two.

The first group was led by Dr John Quinn where we identified and mapped the species on and around the brackish lake. The other task was led by Dr Ruth Ramsay and Dr Sarah Culloty where we constructed an Ethogram (behaviour log) on two species of our choice. This introduced everyone to scan and focal sampling. As I plan on specialising in ornithology this was my favourite part of the trip and John’s enthusiasm for the task meant that even non ‘birdy’ folk felt the same.

A few new species to us included the Greater Flamingo, Black-winged stilt, and the Purple Swamphen, and the Caspian tern. And the kestrel (a small falcon) is always nice to see, even if also common back in Ireland.

kestrelWEB

After lunch in the sun, and too many minutes watching an ant nest tackle a cracker, we were back on the bus heading for Faro. We successfully carried out the Fiddler Crab behaviour study which built on the techniques we were introduced to in the morning. The crabs showed a variety of behaviours which ranged from courtship (‘the come hither wave’ – as Dr Ruth Ramsay liked to describe it), to combat (‘aggressive open armed hug’), which were humorous to watch. It was separated into male, female and left or right handed males. It was a day for the Zoologists where everyone learnt a lot of practical field skills.

male fiddler crab arm waving to a femaleWEB

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