Monday morning brought another sleep in and a second day of work in our project groups. I had chosen to join Dr. John Quinn with the bird study group. We had spent Sunday camped out at the edge of the Alvor estuary, near the beach, observing a small flock of flamingos. We worked in pairs recording sweep scans and focal samples of their feeding and general behaviour.
After Sunday’s long day of work we had all the data we needed for the project write-up so John had decided we could afford to spend most of the day on Monday searching for some more uncommon species and take a trip back to the Lagoa dos Salgados to have a closer look at the species in the lagoon.
The day started with an unpleasant surprise, our trusty rental van had been broken into overnight! Thankfully nothing had been left inside and there was no damage to speak of. Laden down with our telescopes and tripods we loaded up the van and set off. After a few wrong turns and a long drive in the heat, we reached the lagoon.
We settled in and spent a few hours spotting from the new bird watching hide at the water’s edge. There had been word of a booted eagle, the Algarve’s largest raptor, in the area but unfortunately it never reappeared for us. We did get some fantastic views of spoonbills, a stone curlew, purple swamphens, glossy ibis and hoopoes amongst others.
Back at the hotel, we hit the pool for some well-deserved R&R in the sun. That evening everyone gathered for a slideshow of the trip’s photos and the presentation of some awards for the best of the photos. Our last night in Portugal was rounded off with a traditional meal together in a local restaurant before everyone wandered out on the town to make the most of the last night of the trip.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect from such a long field trip but the week was easily one of the best experiences I’ve had in university. You don’t really know your classmates until you’ve lived with 40 or so of them for a solid week! I’d like to thank the all of the staff that travelled with us and made the experience so valuable, particularly Prof. Schouten and Dr. Nooren who flew from the Netherlands to lend their expertise. The Algarve is truly a stunning region to study and our time there provided us with an insight into the realities of practical field work.