If you’re reading this in the UK, chances are 2017 started with a hangover, some soon-forgotten vows to shed the Christmas belly and a realisation that the long cold nights will have to be endured for a few more weeks.
Well we can’t help with the first two, but we can at least offer you some reassurance from Iberia that Spring really is on the way!
We spent our Yule in Portugal’s Algarve region, where, among the many species on the trip list, sightings included Barn Swallows, House Martins and Ospreys.
We are close enough to Africa that some birds overwinter here, notably Ospreys. However some of our sightings were probably early returners, intent on burning off the Christmas belly by beginning their traverse of the globe.
The springlike trend continued on New Years Day – we have, perhaps foolishly, accepted the 2017 bird race gauntlet thrown down to us by David Lindo, aka The Urban Birder. Keen to get off the blocks, we headed down to local birding hotspot La Janda – just a short drive from our base at rural eco-lodge Huerta Grande – to bag a few wetland and farmland lovelies in this superb birding area.
Among the dozens of species, we again picked up Barn Swallow and also added Black Stork, and a cheeky Garden Warbler.
Reflecting on our progress outside a favourite bar in Tarifa, we had Lesser Kestrel overhead (probably an overwintering bird) and Yellow-legged Gull in full breeding cry.
And, to my delight, while walking the woods of Huerta Grande this morning, I found a stack of Fumitory in flower. If you’re aware of the plight of the Turtle Dove, you’ll understand why this plant is such a welcome sight to us, involved as we were in Turtle Dove conservation through the RSPB’s Operation Turtle Dove for many years.
So fear not, ye dwellers of Northern darkness! Though it may yet seem a distant dream through the fug of washing up and mince pie crumbs, Spring is coming, and Nature’s annual Revolution has begun!