The Algarve guided bird tours created by Birds & Nature are focused essentially on two protected areas of great natural beauty and phenomenal birding potential: the Ria Formosa and Castro Marim. Both sites are within easy reach of Faro Airport and a two and a half hour drive from Lisbon.
The Ria Formosa is one of Portugal's most important protected wetlands, being a designated Ramsar site and a Zone of Special Protection, that includes the Nature Park of the Ria Formosa, which covers an area of 14.000 hectares.
The Park is on a major fly-way for migrants from Africa, being particularly rich in wader species and passerines. It is also a great place to see rare and localized species, like Purple Swamp-hen and Little Bittern.
Protected by a complex web of sand barriers and dunes, the Ria extends along the Algarve coast for more than 60 kilometres and includes habitats such as dunes, open water, inter-tidal mudflats, salt marshes, salt pans, reed beds, lagoons and pine woods.
Places visited include Quinta do Lago, Ludo and the Tavira salt pans.
The Castro Marim area included in these Algarve tours consists of a complex of canals, saline flats and salt pans (part natural and part commercial), running along the western side of the mouth of the Guadiana, near the town after which it is named.
This protected area is also a Ramsar site and includes a Zone of Special Protection and the 2.000 hectares Nature Reserve of the Sapal de Castro Marim e Vila Real de Santo António.
The richness of the zone is in large part due to the number of waders, ducks, gulls and terns that winter, are on passage, or breed. The population of other aquatic species, not least Greater Flamingo and Spoonbill, is also important. It is the only place in Portugal to find Lesser Short-toed Lark and is the best site for Audouin's Gull and Slender-billed Gull.
The area includes salt pans, inter-tidal mudflats, salt marshes, cultivated fields and pasture and Carob plantations.
Some of the locations visited include the Cerro do Bufo salt pans, Castro Marim salt pans and the Venta Moinhos salt marshes.
Some notable species, which are scarce elsewhere or difficult to see, or are essentially Mediterranean species (not occurring much further north), have significant populations in these areas, and include Black-necked Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Little Bittern, Little Egret, Purple Heron, White Stork, Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Shelduck, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Osprey, Purple Swamp-hen, Little Bustard, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Stone-curlew, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Temminck’s Stint, Slender-billed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Audouin’s Gull, Little Tern, Caspian Tern, Black Tern, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Red-necked Nightjar, Pallid Swift, Hoopoe, Kingfisher, Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Short-toed Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Red-rumped Swallow, Yellow Wagtail (iberian race), Bluethroat, Sardinian Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Cetti’s Warbler, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Golden Oriole and Serin.
Rare or Accidental Species
In both areas included in the Algarve package, many rarities have been discovered in recent years, including Reef Egret, Lesser Flamingo, Marbled Duck, Long-tailed Duck, White-headed Duck, Red-knobbed Coot, Marsh Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Wilson’s Phalarope, Pectoral Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Royal Tern, Forster’s Tern and White-winged Tern.
Half Day Private Tour
1 person – 100 euros
2 persons – 140 euros
3 persons – 180 euros
4 persons – 220 euros
(+ 40 euros per additional person)
Full Day Private Tour
1 person – 160 euros
2 persons – 220 euros
3 persons – 280 euros
4 persons – 340 euros
(+ 60 euros per additional person)
Contact us now for reservations or further details (click here
Photo: R. Tipper
Birds & Nature Tours is a registered tourism company (RNAAT nº 25/2008 - Turismo de Portugal I.P.)