What A Difference A Year Makes – Audley Blogger Challenge

My regular readers of the blog will know we’ve been in Portugal just over a year already. It’s been a busy, hectic year with its ups and downs. And what a difference a year makes! From dreary wet and grey Wales to mostly sunny and dry Portugal, we’ve gone through big changes in the 14 months since we left the UK for our new life in the sun.

We’ve taken our time settling into the Portuguese way of life and, I must admit, it hasn’t all been easy. From trying to sort out getting our son into school, to fitting in family travel and waiting a long time to get registered with a doctor, we are slowly but surely getting there. We’re by no means completely settled, and still have some way to go to buying our home in the sun. But for now, big things are out of the way and we’re enjoying life as it comes.

One thing we were not expecting was the unseasonable weather we’ve had since March. We knew Portugal got some rain in the Spring time, but this year has been incredible. There were times we thought we were back on that mountain in the Brecon Beacons. Six weeks of non-stop rain and we were thinking “what on earth is going on?”. Everyone we spoke to felt the same way. Where was all this rain coming from?

And although the summer is well and truly here, the temperatures are still unseasonably low, not that we’re complaining. But it has meant there has been a big impact on nature and the wildlife here in the Algarve.

Spring was extremely colourful with lush green trees, wild meadows and colourful flowers everywhere. The rain had a positive impact on the flora of the Algarve and even now we can still see the impact with the growth in the farmers fields near our house. I do think they’re on for a bumper crop this summer and autumn. Even in our own little garden, the grass has been greener and plants I thought had no hope, have come back stronger than ever.


What A Difference A Year Makes - Audley Blogger Challenge


But while the flora has enjoyed the cooler temperatures and heavy rainfall, the fauna has not. By the start of June last year, we had seen plenty of lizards and geckos. Wasps were becoming a nuisance at dinner time, as were the flies. Fast forward to July of this year and we’ve seen one gecko outside our home and a significantly less number of flying insects.

But the biggest impact we’ve seen has been in the decrease in the number of migrating birds. Last May, when we were staying with my parents while our own home was being made ready for us, we saw so many Swifts and Swallows. There was one family of Swallows nesting in the field next to my parent’s house. The parents spent the whole day flying, catching insects and feeding their four babies who liked to perch on a wire fence just opposite their deck.


What A Difference A Year Makes - Audley Blogger Challenge


What A Difference A Year Makes - Audley Blogger Challenge


The parent Swallows would take turns flying off and would return with a cricket or fly to feed the chicks. One evening I got my camera out and sat very patiently on my parent’s deck, quietly waiting to capture one of the parents returning to the chicks. And my patience was rewarded with one of my pictures showing a parent feeding a chick up close, and in flight.


What A Difference A Year Makes - Audley Blogger Challenge


I felt so lucky to get that shot. All Spring my Mum has been saying I must bring my camera down when the Swallows return to see if I can get another shot like it. But the Swallows haven’t returned. One or two have been noticed around town but the numbers that were present last year have not returned.

And it is all down to the weather and seasons being out of kilter. Whether they have delayed their return north or have not stopped in the Algarve to nest this year, we don’t know. But it is noticeable how much the weather can impact flora and fauna on a large scale.

In the UK, and particularly Wales where it rained for most of the year, everything was lush and green all year round. Nothing really changed in terms of the landscape or the wildlife. But in one year we’ve seen a myriad of changes in our local environment. By July last year, flying insects were the bane of our lives, meadows and forest were dry and brown, and lizards and geckos were plentiful around our little patch of Portugal. 12 months later and it’s a different story.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be capturing another picture of a parent Swallow feeding a chick while in flight this year. It will certainly be interesting to see how the next 12 months play out where the weather and seasons are concerned. But for now, we’ll enjoy the ‘below average temperatures’ for July, albeit with some glorious sunshine to go with it!


This post is an entry in to the Trips100/Audley Travel blogger challenge. Please see this page for all terms and conditions. 

You could also be in with a chance to win an African Safari:

Win an African safari with Audley Travel by sharing your best wildlife photograph or video on your social media channels. To enter write #AudleySafari and @AudleyTravel on your Instagram or Twitter post or share directly on the Audley Travel Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/audleytravel/. To find out more or enter via the website, visit www.audleytravel.com/social.  Entries must be posted between 20th August – 23rd September.

What A Difference A Year Makes - Audley Blogger Challenge



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11 thoughts on “What A Difference A Year Makes – Audley Blogger Challenge

  1. I think it’s amazing that you’ve moved abroad! I don’t think I’d ever have the guts. And it’s incredible the impact that the weather has had on the birds and flies etc. Be interesting to see how the next few seasons are in terms of weather x

  2. I can’t believe you’ve been out there a year already! I guess the rain was trying to make you feel at home – I hope the summer gives you some better weather. The shot of the swallows feeding is wonderful! I love watching birds dart around, there’s something really calming about it. I hope you can manage to see them again next year.

  3. What an amazing thing to capture on challenge! I’m surprised to hear about the weather in Portugal but then I guess it gets cool winds from the Atlantic? Good luck with your submission Cath! x

  4. Oh wow, your photos of the birds are stunning. Wow, I would have thought the weather in Portugal would have been amazing at this time of year. We could do with some rain over here in the UK as the grass is all burnt from the usual weather we have been having.

  5. What a beautiful photo of the swallow feeding it’s young. It’s amazing to think that while you have been experiencing poor weather in Portugal, the UK has been basking in temperatures of 30C and above but I’m sure that we’re all looking forward to some rain!

  6. That is an absolutely amazing photo! I think you stand a very good chance of winning . I am hoping that it may stay on the cooler side for when we visit soon as I am not great when its really hot! Good luck lovely x

  7. That photo is so incredible, your timing was perfect and it’s not blurry at all considering the mummy bird was flying- amazing! How strange about he weather though, does anyone know what’s going on? We live in Wales and so far there has been almost no rain this summer, all the grass in our garden has died!xx

    1. We lived in Wales for over 10 years before moving to Portugal last year. Typical that the weather improves after we leave! And thank you. I do feel incredibly lucky to have caught that photo.

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