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I had the pleasure of spending the last few days of 2016 on the Estoril coast near Lisbon, Portugal. It was my first time to the region and I was really looking forward to exploring this beautiful part of the world. I was traveling with friends, one of whom had organised a busy program of yoga, sport and outdoor activities. And as we were only staying for a few days I wasn’t sure whether I would have much time to record. But I took my portable recorder with me in case any opportunities arose.

This region of Portugal has a spectacular coastline and is a popular destination for surfers. Numerous sand beaches can be found nested between rock outcrops and a combination of strong easterly winds and large swells make for a somewhat noisy shoreline. I was hoping to record the waves but found in most locations conditions were very tricky – lots of wind and wide band sound from the intense wave breaks.

One afternoon we walked along Guincho Beach (Praia do Guincho) located about 5 km from the town of Cascais. Conditions here were quite windy and the beach is fairly exposed. But I managed to find a protected cove at the northern end of the beach and sat down to record the waves breaking on to the nearby rocks.

The following day we decided to head out to find a local seafood restaurant which had been recommended to us. We’d been told it was situated on Adraga Beach (Praia da Adraga) near the town of Almoçageme, Sintra. After a picturesque car journey along the coastline, we arrived at our destination. The beach was stunning! High cliffs protected it entirely from any wind, jagged rock out crops and golden sand enticed us to head down to the shoreline.

At first I spent some time just listening to the waves as the broke onto the shoreline. To the left of the beach was a large cove that had been hollowed out over the years by the Atlantic Ocean so I headed inside and positioned my portable recorder on a small rock ledge. I’d brought my Gorilla Pod with me so it was easy to bend the feet to make sure the recorder was stable. I hit record and then walked away. I also captured a quick recording slightly closer to the shoreline before we headed to the restaurant for some delicious grilled octopus!

Our home during these few days was at an Air BnB apartment in the town of Monte Estoril. It was located in a typical complex of apartments that during the summer would no doubt be jam packed with people, but in winter it was deserted. In the centre of the complex was a beautiful garden area and each morning we would wake up to the sound of birdsong. On the last day of 2016, before heading off to a yoga session, I planted my recorder outside and captured the dawn chorus. A fitting way to end the year.