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Pedro´s Rookie Year

pedro maia

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I´m not a birder, nor a bird photographer, nor even an amateur photographer, I don´t have any technical knowledge about photography.


Although I´m here for quite a while, I don´t participate much, I think I never wrote anything in any thread of the birding sub-forum and until recently I didn´t even read the Big Year threads.


I finally got curious and started lurking here, and found that it must be fun, although  there are some hard-core birders and real good photographers posting here, but I also started to think why not, maybe I should have a go, and yesterday I went on my first birding expedition, which occurred in Lisbon :D, I had a couple of hours to spare in the morning so I went to the gardens of the Gulbenkian Foundation, where I sometimes take a stroll during lunch time and where I know there are many birds, it seemed like a good place to start and then see if I go until the end of the year.


My goals? Mainly to enjoy myself, I will compete against myself for the last place which I have already assured B). In terms of numbers, if I achieve 60 different birds it will be acceptable, 80 would be great and 100, which seems quite difficult in a year I don´t have any big trip planned (but one never knows), would make me change the name of the thread to Pedro´s Rookie Big Year.


For starters I´m not going to buy any book, so I will struggle with some ID´s, but I count on the help of those here that have the knowledge I lack.


And, who knows, I may be lucky and get a bird that never showed up here, which can only happen for geographical reasons.


And also hope I learn a little about birds and about photography,  yesterday´s first lesson is that many birds aren´t going to help me :lol:.


Alea jacta est...

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As I say in my previous post, yesterday I spent a couple of hours trying to photograph birds, I was using for the first time my new bridge camera, Canon PowerShot SX540 HS, all pictures were taken in auto mode and the location was Lisboa, Jardim Gulbenkian.


In other occasions I may also use a Canon EOS 1200D with a 100-300 lens or a Lumix DMC-G3K, also with a 100-300 lens (Tamron).


Unless otherwise stated the pictured posted in this thread are taken with the Canon PowerShot SX540 HS, which was a good surprise, I like the colours and the zoom is good, although for me it´s a bit difficult to keep the camera steady with maximum zoom, because of my lack of skills but also because it´s quite a lightweight camera.

The following pictures weren´t edited because Imgur has the editing tools disabled for the time being.


#1 White Wagtail, 2/2 Lisboa, Jardim da Gulbenkian





#2 Grey Wagtail, 2/2 Lisboa, Jardim da Gulbenkian



#3 Common Blackbird, 2/2 Lisboa, Jardim da Gulbenkian







#4 Mallard, 2/2 Lisboa, Jardim da Gulbenkian














#5 Common Shelduck, 2/2 Lisboa, Jardim da Gulbenkian


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#6 Common Moorhen, 2/2 Lisboa, Jardim da Gulbenkian







I like this one a lot, it´s just a pity that there´s too much water in the bottom part, but I didn´t want to edit the format.



#7 Egyptian Goose, 2/2 Lisboa, Jardim da Gulbenkian







Quite a bully, he didn´t want to share the grass with the mallards and chased them away





#8 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2/2 Lisboa, Jardim da Gulbenkian



A couple of in flight attempts




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#9 Common Kingfisher, 2/2 Lisboa, Jardim da Gulbenkian

I wasn´t expecting to see a kingfisher in Lisbon, let alone getting a picture, it isn´t a good one but he was quite far, I couldn´t even see it properly without the zoom, and didn´t stay for long



#10, Great Cormoran 2/2 Lisboa, Jardim da Gulbenkian

It was the star of the show for me, so I post a few pictures





















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#11, Rock Dove, 2/2 Lisboa, Jardim da Gulbenkian



Then I have these pigeons which I don´t know if they are different species, I could use some help here (and I will also appreciate any corrections of the Id´s of the other birds):







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@pedro maia  Welcome aboard. The whole aim of the BIg Year is to enjoy yoursef!

You are off to a great start with a good selection of birds and have taken some lovely photos with your new camera.

The cormorant sequence is lovely.

I think your pigeons are all the same species, the different colours are because they will be descendents of domestic birds (I don't know if pigeon racing was popular in Portugal, but it was in the UK)

I think your "Shelduck" is probably and escaped Domestic Duck (probably descended from Mallard)

Here is a link to pictures of Shelduck



It will be interesting to see the birds you post from Portugal.

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Welcome to the Big Year @pedro maia!

As you are already noticing, there are actually a lot of birds around in most environments, which we miss purely because our attention is elsewhere.


I am pretty sure you will need to change the title...


That cormorant caught a HUGE fish!

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Welcome to the club from a fellow leopard. You will find it fun and anybody who can come up with a Kingfisher to start his count has got to be one to watch. Well done.

OK. as others, your multiple pigeons are just feral 'town' pigeons bred originally for food and show purposes hence the variety of plumage colour.

The last one would be called a "Mealy chequer" in England.

The white duck is an oddity. If free winged it will be what hunters refer to as a "Call duck" which were bred to call in Mallard and other wildfowl to a lake for shooting. They were white so they were better seen by the shooter in the dusk and thus not shot by mistake.

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Dave Williams
20 hours ago, pedro maia said:

I´m not a birder, nor a bird photographer, nor even an amateur photographer, I don´t have any technical knowledge about photography.


@pedro maia I'm afraid you have misinformed us here. You are certainly now confirmed as both a birder and a photographer! Some excellent images and technically we are all amateurs but hopefully improving as time goes on.

You won't be the first to find out it's an addictive pastime, get's you out and about and hopefully will give you much pleasure.

Welcome to the game!


PS Don't worry about getting the identities wrong for some species, we all do sometimes. The B.Y. helps you learn too.

Edited by Dave Williams
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Welcome @pedro maia - great start! As others have said you'll be surprised how many different species you can find, even in an urban environment

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@TonyQ Thanks for the correction, so I´m down in one species and the Rock Dove is now #10, I must say I had some doubts because in wikipedia the Common Shelduck wasn´t all white but that´s what I hope to find here, help with my ID mistakes and also with those I can´t ID, and that will happen a lot.

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@Peter Connan it would be great to change the post title but I´ll have to take it step by step, it will be easier if I go to Africa, South America or Asia but right now I´m not sure if that willbe possible so my best chance is the country side, I´ll have to make the most of that during the year.

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@Galana The kingfisher was a huge surprise, I saw it pass flying by the pond and I needed the camera to see it stayed still in some branches, if I had a tripod or a monopod with my I would have a better picture, but I really can´t complain.


About the white duck, it was the only one that could be seen in the garden, if it was a "call duck" it´s strange that it end up in Lisbon ;).


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@Dave Williams Thanks for your comments but although I find them most encouraging I haven´t misinformed you, I arranged for an easy start in a city garden where I know birds are used to people and many of them not only don´t even budge when you pass by them but also move in your direction because they think you are going to feed them (not all of them, of course).


I´ll go to other city parks but yesterday I went to a place where birds are totally wild and it was a reallity check, they actively avoided us and I could never get close enough to take a close up picture, next batch of photos will be quite different to the first one, but I take it as a learning process.


I also don´t mind getting IDs wrong, I know it will happen a lot, but I will definitely need help, for instance yesterday there are 3 or 4 species I just can´t ID, and the distance also doesn´t help.


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@lmSA84 Thanks for the wellcome, even where I live, about 15km from Lisbon, I´ll have my chances to get some birds, I have a (very) small garden and I´m sure at least a common sparrow will add to my count :lol:.

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@pedro maia




There is a free bird app that may help in identifying birds.



There is an ios version and an android version, and I think a windows version.

Once you have downloaded the app, you can download "bird packs" that cover particular areas. There is a "Western Europe" and an "Europe: Iberian Peninsula" that might be useful to you. (all free)


Within the app there is an "Explore birds option" - some information about each bird and a number of photos of each species, usually showing male and female

There is a "photo id" section where the app will attempt to identify a photograph (eg on my ipad it can be a photo taken with the ipad - of a bird or of a photo of a bird, or a photo imported) If it is not sure, it will give you a short list of possibles. It is not 100% accurate, but it does give you a start.


Within the settings, you can set the language to Portuguese (default is English US, so I set English UK). It shows the common names of the birds in Portuguese but the rest of the text is still in English


So it may be worth looking, and if you do not like it, it doesn't cost anything!




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As I said before, yesterday I went to a different place to try and find more birds, I went with my wife to Salinas do Samouco, in Alcochete, in the south river bank of the Tejo river estuary, right across the Vasco da Gama bridge that comes from Lisbon.


According to what I was told there, the best time of the year for birds in the Salinas is end of August/September, I´ll try yo return there by then but still we saw some birds, but after taking the first picture my bridge camera went out if battery (I checked or so I thought), fortunately I took also the Canon EOS 1200D to try some in flight photos , that saved the trip, but there the birds didn´t want our presence and always flew away whenever we got to close for their confort, and it wasn´t close enough to the 100-300 lens.


Some pictures of the birds I (think) could ID until know:


#11, Black-winged Stilt, 3-2 Salinas do Samouco 









#12, Pied Avocet, 3-2 Salinas do Samouco





#13, Snowy Egret, 3-2 Salinas do Samouco









The bridge and Lisbon as background




Strange light effects




#13, Black-tailed Godwit, 3-2 Salinas do Samouco






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@pedro maia

Great pictures so far.

Please check your bird books again for the snowy egret and check if it is not rather Little Egret.

I believe Snowy Egret will be very rare in Portugal with most sightings taking place in Madeira and the Azores.

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Good to see you doing so well. It is addictive.

AS @mvecht says your Egrets are Little rather than the Americano Snowy which does appear from time to time as a vagrant but not in the numbers you are seeing.

But we all can get it wrong and often do.

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@Galana As you say itá addictive and I´m only starting. And I hope I make lots of mistake, it will only happen if I take pictures of many different species, and I have a few to post that for the moment i don´t even have a clue.

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In order to avoid confusions (to myself) this is my account so far with the corrections of the shelduck and the egret and the numbers (I had 2 birds as #13):


#1 White Wagtail

#2 Grey Wagtail 

#3 Common Blackbird 

#4 Mallard 

#5 Common Moorhen

#6 Egyptian Goose

#7 Lesser Black-backed Gull

#8 Common Kingfisher

#9, Great Cormoran

#10, Rock Dove

#11, Black-winged Stilt 

#12, Pied Avocet 

#13, Little Egret

#14, Black-tailed Godwit

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