7 DAYS OF BIRDWATCHING IN THE SOUTH OF PORTUGAL

WE WILL TRAVEL THROUGH THE SOUTHERN REGION OF PORTUGAL AND VISIT DIFFERENT PLACES TO OBSERVE THE DIFFERENT SPECIES THAT LIVE AND NEST HERE, SOME OF THEM RARE AND ENDANGERED!

A trail thought and designed to discover the most amazing and dazzling species of birds that exist in the south of Portugal!

This birdwatching program was created for people interested in observing species that only appear in this region of Europe. Portugal has a great diversity of habitats in a short space of time, allowing you to visit many different habitats without the need to travel long distances. 

Some of the endangered species are Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), Bonelli’s eagle (Aquila fasciata), Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), Red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator), Red-knobbed coot (Fulica cristata), among others.

Comfort level : 3 / 5 (Hotel de charme)

Difficulty level : 1 / 5 (Easy)

Suggested itinerary

(fully customisable in length, experiences, accommodation, …)

Vila Franca de Xira: In this region, we will be able to see many different species, including the Water pipit (Anthus spinoletta), the Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus), common snipe (Gallinago gallinago), the Eurasian Redshank (Tringa erythropus) Mediterranean gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus), Gull-billed tern (Gelochelidon nilotica), Squacco heron (Ardeola ralloides), Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), Black-winged kite (Elanus caeruleus), among others.

 

Tagus Estuary Nature Reserve: The Tagus River is the largest river in Portugal. It starts in Spain and flows into Lisbon, with a length of over 1 000 km. 

The Tagus Estuary Nature Reserve is the most extensive wetland in the country and one of the ten most important in Europe. It has been granted the status of a nature reserve to protect the migratory waterbirds that can be found here. In peak seasons, the Estuary can host over 120,000 birds!

Being such an important area for birdlife, it is a very important part of our route!

EVOA: The EVOA or Birdwatching and Visitation Space, is inserted in the Tagus Estuary and is a point where visitors can observe birds calmly while enjoying all the surroundings of this space.

 

It involves a 5 km walk in flat areas.

 

For the night, we will still search for nocturnal birds, such as the Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus), the Little Owl (Athene noctua), the Red-necked Nightjar (Caprimulgus ruficollis), the Barn Owl (Tyto alba), among others.

 

Lodging and dinner in Lisbon

Water-bird Watching in Dams in the Beja Region

 

Odivelas Dam: This dam, made on the Odivelas stream, is one of the largest dams in Lower Alentejo. This place is a reference point for observing birds and their habitats.

Birds in focus: cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis), azure-winged magpie (Cyanopica cyanus), gadwall  (Mareca strepera), great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus), common sandpiper, (Actitis hypoleucos), little egret, (Egretta garzetta), booted eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus).

 

Lagoa dos Patos: Although it is known as “Lagoa dos Patos” (ducks lagoon), it is actually a reservoir.

It is not a large lake, but it is where the largest number of ducks in the whole Baixo Alentejo is concentrated and its geographical location, the proximity to the extensive rice fields, make it a place where numerous aquatic birds can be seen.

Birds in focus: mute swan (Cygnus olor), northern shoveler (Spatula clypeata), gadwall  (Mareca strepera), Eurasian teal (Anas crecca), ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca), tufted duck (Aythya fuligula), Eurasian hoopoe (Upupa epops), corn bunting (Emberiza calandra)

 

Beringel Dam: a recent dam, which is part of the largest artificial lake in Europe, Alqueva. In this place, once agricultural fields, you can witness the fantastic adaptability of nature.

Birds in focus: northern shoveler (Spatula clypeata), gadwall (Mareca strepera), red-crested pochard (Netta rufina), great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus), European bee-eater (Merops apiaster), booted eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus), among others.

 

On this day the focus is on observing water birds.

 

Lodging and dinner in Mértola

Today, after a quick breakfast, we will visit a hill in the middle of the Alentejo plain. Each species has its habits and behaviour. Therefore, we can expect to see some birds of prey, such as the imperial eagle, by this morning.

 

Alcaria Ruiva: Alcaria Ruiva belongs to Mértola. Its landscape is predominantly made up of plains and holm oak groves. It is here that we can find the tree of the year 2019, a large Holm Oak, a tree over 150 years old!

Alcaria Ruiva is also known for being a reference point for birdwatching, due to its unusual geological characteristics, a hill in the middle of the Alentejo plain, forms rising thermal currents that birds of prey regularly use to move around the region.

It involves a 3 km hike with a pronounced climb.

 

Lunch in Mértola

 

Guadiana: The Guadiana is said to be the most navigable river in the Iberian Peninsula. It originates in Spain and flows south of Portugal into the Atlantic Ocean. In its Portuguese course, we can find the Alqueva Dam, in the Alentejo region, which allowed the creation of the largest artificial lake in Europe. This river is navigable to the area of Mértola, a place we visited in the first days.

The Guadiana Valley is also marked by its vast geological diversity, being an important landmark for the knowledge of this heritage.

 

Observation of birds of prey, such as the Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), the blue rock thrush (Monticola solitarius) and the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), and also the black-bellied sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis) and the Calandra lark (Melanocorypha calandra), among others, along the Guadiana river.

 

Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António Salt-marsh Nature Reserve: The Castro Marim salt marsh is one of Portugal’s most important wetland areas and was the first reserve created in Portugal. Located in the most south-eastern part of Portugal, near the mouth of the river Guadiana. It has several habitats, making it one of the areas with the greatest ornithological interest.  

 

Observation of aquatic birds, such as the gadwall (Mareca strepera), the common shelduck (Tadorna tadorna), the black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa), the greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus), the pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta), among others.

 

Lodging and Dinner in Faro

Breakfast at the hotel before sunrise.

 

Faro: Faro has been the capital of the Algarve since 1756 and is famous for its beaches and plenty of sunshine. Apart from these fine sandy beaches and countless cliffs, it is also a city full of history, where we can find many signs of the Arab presence in this region, and a strong connection to nature, thanks to the beautiful Ria Formosa.

 

Quinta do Lago: A beautiful and enormous farm, with a privileged view of the Ria Formosa. Its location makes it a great place for bird watching.

In this place, we can see species like the purple western swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio), the great spotted cuckoo (Clamator glandarius), the azure-winged magpie (Cyanopica cyanus), the Eurasian crag martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris), the Eurasian wigeon (Mareca penelope), the tufted duck (Aythya fuligula), great crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus), and the rare red-knobbed coot (Fulica cristata) among many others.

 

It involves a 5.5 km walk over flat terrain.

 

During the afternoon we will explore new places trying to find different species from the ones we have observed. One of the highlights is the Salgados Lagoon in the Armação de Pêra area.

 

Lagoa dos Salgados has recently become a very interesting place for birdwatching. Its conditions are extraordinary for the nesting of many different species. These conditions are due to their different water levels and vegetation.

In this place, you can expect to find species such as the garganey  (Spatula querquedula), the common pochard (Aythya ferina), the water rail (Rallus aquaticus), the Eurasian oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus), the grey plover (Pluvialis squatarola), and the bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica).

 

It involves a 3 km walk in flat areas.

 

Overnight and dinner in Faro 

Breakfast at the hotel before sunrise.

 

Castro Verde: Castro Verde contains the largest Special Protection Area (SPA), with over 84,000 hectares of protected area. This designation arises because this is a region with a high predominance of important and relevant wild bird habitats, whose protection is central and a priority. It is estimated that around 200 species of birds have been sighted and identified in this area. In Castro Verde, we will be able to see more steppe bird species.

In this place, we can find cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus), common quail (Coturnix coturnix), black-bellied sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis), great bustard (Otis tarda), little bustard (Tetrax tetrax), red-rumped swallow (Hirundo daurica), thekla lark (Galerida theklae), among many others. In the winter, we may also observe the Common Crane (Grus grus).

 

Lunch at Castro Verde

 

We will continue our exploration of the Castro Verde region, visiting important steppe bird nesting sites. We will observe the lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni), the Eurasian Roller (Coracias garrulus) and the European bee-eater (Merops apiaster).

After dinner, we will have the opportunity to go out to observe nocturnal birds such as the tawny owl (Strix aluco), the little owl (Athene noctua), also possibly the scops owl (Otus scops), among others. 

 

Lodging and Dinner at Castro Verde

Sado Estuary Nature Reserve: The Sado river begins near Beja, in the Serra da Vigia, and flows into Setúbal. This estuary is formed near Alcácer do Sal, a very rich and fertile wetland where more than 200 species of birds seek the Sado Estuary. This reserve is another protected area.

 

In this place, we will be able to observe birds such as the purple sandpiper (Calidris maritima), the common snipe (Gallinago gallinago), the caspian tern (Hydroprogne caspia), the red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator), the black-necked grebe (Podiceps nigricollis), among many others.

 

Overnight and dinner in Lisbon

Transfer to Lisbon airport for the return home

It includes

– 6 nights in a charming hotel in a double room with breakfast included

– 6 breakfasts

– Entrance to EVOA

– Transport during the whole programme, as well as roundtrip transfer to and from Lisbon airport

– Accompaniment by a guide (Portuguese, English) who is a biologist and passionate about nature and very experienced in birdwatching

Does not include

– The airline ticket

– Travel/medical insurance/repatriation

– Food (lunches and dinners)

– Extras / tips / personal expenses

– Cancellation/interruption of stay/lost luggage insurance and assistance

– All that is not in the topic “includes”

You can privatise this trip on the dates of your choice, just for you and your travel companions. For a private trip, the price depends on the number of participants, the choice of hotels, the desired date and the duration. In this case, we recommend that you contact us directly and we will be happy to discuss your wishes with you.

In high season, our guides and hotels may not be available. If you would like the guarantee of a guide and the hotels of your choice, we recommend that you advance your programme booking as soon as possible.

Points of interest:

Tejo Estuary Nature Reserve, EVOA – Birdwatching and Visitation Space, Beja, Guadiana Valley Nature Park, Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António Marshland Nature Reserve, Faro, Castro Verde, Sado Estuary Nature Reserve

Birds of interest:

Spanish imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti), cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus), griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus), little bustard (Tetrax tetrax), great bustard (Otis tarda), European roller (Coracias garrulus), European bee-eater (Merops apiaster), crested lark (Galerida cristata), western swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio), Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis), Bonelli’s eagle (Aquila fasciata), Eurasian stone-curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus), red-necked nightjar (Caprimulgus ruficollis), Iberian magpie (Cyanopica cooki), black-winged kite (Elanus caeruleus)

Activities:

Photography, birdwatching, visiting nature reserves

Accommodation:

6 nights in charm hotels and rural tourism

Transportation:

9 seat van

The Guide:

Diogo is a biologist and professional photographer specializing in wildlife, macro photography and landscapes. With Diogo, you will get to observe dozens of birds, but you will also learn more about their behaviors, songs and also about the conservation of these species.

Price for this itinerary:
1 057 € per person

on a 6-person basis:

– 6 nights and 7 days

– Double room

– Accommodation in charming hotels, rural houses

– Transport to and from the hotel

– Breakfasts included

– Accompaniment by a guide throughout the trip

7 DAYS OF BIRDWATCHING IN THE SOUTH OF PORTUGAL | SóPraSi