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Sport

Night time wildlife in the Algarve

One hidden benefit of living in the Algarve is the wildlife

We eat out on the terrace most nights between April and October. I love being outside, there's always an incredible variety of things to see and hear and to me at least, far more entertaining than the telly.

Alfanthe terrace

The frogs, just before the sun sets are very active, one presumes catching the mosquitoes, while shouting at one another across the pond. The sky is full of Bee Eaters, House Martins and recently, larger Swifts doing incredible aerobatics, catching the bugs as these rise up from the landscape as the same time the humidity begins to drop. At this time of year Jupiter (and now Saturn and Mars) is still visible and is one of the first 'stars' to appear just above the west. And Mars at this time is pretty much due south.

...and when the sun goes down, the show begins:

As the sunsets and it's getting dark, the Geckos start making a their high pitched groans (they sound like an old fashioned dial up router!) in their nest. These little fellows are surprising vocal! They then emerge, seeming from opposite corners of the balcony over the terrace and commence their nightly hunt for mosquitoes and flies round the lamp. The leader of the pack and by far the most successful is a fellow that lost his tail. He's successfully grow back a new one now.

Then like the cockerel at dawn the 'tree frog' (that's a little family joke), that's the nightjar starts his characteristic and somewhat frog like call from up in the trees overlooking the garden. He usually moves about a bit, so his call appears from different places throughout the valley. Some time after he's done his bit a loud 'clapping' of wings wooshes up the valley: We're not sure what this is but suspect it might be the barn owl. I first saw the barn owl about 50m away on the trees by the road. I'm not sure where he resides, but he's a local. He's got a wonderful call (the typical huh huw of an owl). I sometimes can't resist calling back, thinking that on some level we're all connected. The owl isn't a nightly visitor, he comes by about once a week.

Not from the terrace, but up on the road, fifty meters away where I saw the owls big white face, there's a little fox. He's tiny compared to the Irish foxes I remember seeing when I lived in Dublin, he's half the size. Now I'm not sure if he's responsible for the next call or not: At about 20' minutes after sunset, when it's completely dark there's what we call the 'banshee', a death like scream pretty much directly from the south, towards the sea at the end of the valley.

Recently the nights out have been particularly entertaining with the appearance of our latest visitors, bats! These little guys are incredible, they move so accurately and so quickly it's unbelievable. At first it's hard to realize where they coming from they moved so fast. It seemed they were emanating from the house; impossible as the doors were closed and we'd probably have noticed a roost... Anyway, they're incredible: They chase each other round like fighter place and as I sat at the table watching them, saw that the would fly in to the terrace, momentarily grab on to the railway sleeper that makes the support for the balcony above, and fly off again. The only time you can see anything other than a black flash is that moment they perch on the sleeper briefly before flying off... Blind a bat?! Those things see far more clearly than any human could.

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