Groups accepted with a minimum of 6 pax.
The Algarve is rightly famed for its golden sandy beaches, golf courses and wonderful year round climate but is still a secret destination for great birding. The region has a wonderful variety of birds and many places where you can go and find them. At almost any time of the year there is something of interest to see.
This is a birding tour based in the Ria Formosa Natural Park (RFNP) and is designed to help you see as much of the avifauna and flora as possible. We’ll also take you to several wetland areas west of the RFNP, Ludo and Quinta do Lago, and to East Castro Marim Natural Reserve.
The RFNP covers an area of around 16,000-hectares stretching from Manta Rota in the east to Ancão beach 60km west. The Ria consists of coastal lagoons, vast areas of tidal flats, saltmarsh and saltpans that are enclosed by a belt of sand dune islands and peninsulas. It is of particular importance as a wintering area for many birds from northern Europe and as a resting and feeding station for birds migrating between Africa and Europe. Classified as Nature Reserve in the 70s, this protection status was elevated to a Natural Park in 1987. The Ria Formosa is also classified under the Ramsar Convention as a Wetland of International Importance and as a Special Protection Area under the EU Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds.
Amongst those occurring in notable numbers are Black-tailed Godwits, Ringed Plovers and Little Stints. There is also a diverse population of breeding birds that includes Little Bittern, Purple Swamp-hen, Purple Heron, Red-crested Pochard, Collared Pratincole, Kentish Plover, European Bee-eater, Red-necked Nightjar, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes and Little Tern. Marsh Harriers are resident as are a small number of Booted Eagles, now a regular sight in winter. To the west is the largest area of reed beds in the Algarve, where in season, Ferruginous Duck, Purple Heron, Black-winged Kite, Penduline Tits and Black-headed Weaver can be found.
Day 1 – Arrival
Arrival to Tavira. Free time until evening meeting (the Tour Guide will give a preview of next day’s programme) and dinner.
Day 2 – Tavira Ria Formosa
Tavira is located in the heart of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, a wetland area of international importance which is recognized under the Ramsar Convention. Salinas and saltmarsh attract a wide range of birds according to season. In autumn and winter bring Spoonbills, hundreds of Greater Flamingos, Audouin’s Gulls and Slender-billed Gulls and as many as 20 species of wading birds, including Stone-curlews. In spring/summer, local breeding species include European Bee-eaters, Red-necked Nightjar, Little Terns, Avocets and Kentish Plovers.
Part of the day will be spent exploring the area on foot; we will also take a boat trip in the Ria Formosa.
Day 3 – Ludo and Quinta do Lago
Ludo Farm and Quinta do Lago are located west of Faro near to the airport and between them have an excellent mix of habitats including salinas, woodland, reedbeds, and saltmarsh. The lake at Quinta do Lago is well-known as one of the best places in the Algarve to see Purple Swamp-hens but at any time the area is home to an excellent variety of species and in winter thousands of wildfowl and waders are usually present.
Day 4 – Castro Marim
A day visiting the local Reserva Natural do Sapal de Castro Marim e Vila Real de Santo Antonio, an enormous area of wetland, saltmarsh and saltpans at the eastern end of the Algarve which is home to a wealth of birdlife. Among the attractions here are Greater Flamingos at least some of which can be found all the year round. As many as 1000 of them may be seen in the winter months. A varied selection of gulls, wildfowl and wading birds can be expected in spring, autumn and winter.
Day 5 – Departure
Free time until departure.
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