BirdwatchingTourBirdwatching in Algarve

From €24
Looking for a relaxing and educative activity in nature? Go birdwatching!

Are you spending some time in Algarve and you would like to try some birdwatching?

Whether you are looking for a short birdwatching experience, or you have never done birdwatching before, there is a perfect tour for you.

You can discover quite different spots in Algarve or Alentejo. This diversity reflects on the habitats and on the variety of birds you will be able to spot.

See below the different tour options:

Ria Formosa
We will spend the morning at a complex of saltpans and lagoons behind Faro airport. The saltpans are usually a good place to see Flamingos and Shelducks. In the reedbeds around, you can hear Cetti’s Warbler. In the lagoons, many ducks are present in winter: Mallards, Gadwalls, Teals, Shovelers, Wigeons, Pochards, Tufted Ducks and Red-crested Pochards. After looking at these lagoons, we will walk along a golf course on the way to a bird hide. The green is a good place to see Hoopoes, Azure-winged Magpies and Waxbills. The hide overlooks a lagoon where Purple Swamphen, Black-headed Weavers and Little Bitterns breed.
In the afternoon, we will drive near Tavira and spend a couple of hour’s birdwatching at the saltpans. This place is also part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park and is good for waders. Flamingos are often seen, feeding in the lagoons with Avocets and Black-winged Stilts. On the dykes between the lagoons, we usually see Kentish and Ringed Plovers, Dunlins, Sanderlings, Little Stints and Little Terns. Audouin’s Gulls are also regularly seen with Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
Other wildlfe may include: Fidler Crab, dragonflies, Spanish Pond Turtle, European Pond Turtle, Otter, Water Vole

We spend the day in the “Costa Vicentina and Sudoeste Alentejano” Natural Park, exploring the Sagres area. We are actually at the south-western tip of Europe. Our first stop is near Sagres fortress. The area has a few bushes where some migrants can be seen, although the area is better for migration in the autumn. Woodchat Shrike and Wheatears can be seen. Seawatching from the cliffs will provide Gannets and sometimes a Shearwater or a Great Skua. Black Redstart and Blue Rock Thrush can be seen along the cliffs.
We will then move to one of the best spots to watch raptor migration in the autumn. In spring, the area has many flowers and several species of warblers breed there and allow us to see them. Local birds of prey include Short-toed Eagle and Kestrel, joined by Vultures, Kites, Eagles, Falcons, Harriers and Buzzards in the autumn. In spite of this abundance don’t expect to see them all on the same day!
The area is also surrounded by a small pinewood where Serins are common. We spend the morning there and have lunch in the shade of small pine trees looking for more birds, like finches or Thekla Larks. We spend the first part of the afternoon at Cape St Vincent. It is also one of the only places where it is possible to see White Storks breeding on cliffs along the sea.We finish the day exploring the area between Cape St Vincent and Vila do Bispo: Vale Santo. It is a regular breeding place for Little Bustards. As farming is extensive, many species can be seen. Quails are found in fields with a lot of vegetation. It is also a usual place for Southern Grey Shrike.
Other wildlife may include: Dolphins, Mangoose, orchids (spring), dragonflies, Death Head Hawkmoth caterpillars (October), butterflies

As the Algarve is not limited to the coast, we explore the hills around Monchique. Unfortunately, a big part of the area has been planted with Eucalyptus but there are still some nice patches with Cork Oaks. We spend the morning exploring Foia, the highest point (902 m) and its surroundings. If the weather is clear, it is possible to see a big part of the coast. We will look for 3 species: Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush and Rock Bunting. The scrubby areas host Whitethroat, Sardinian, Dartford and Melodious Warblers. We usually explore another area, lower, with more trees. There we can see Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Short-toed Treecreeper and Jay. In terms of birds of prey, Kestrel and Buzzard are the most common species. However, Sparrowhawk, Short-toed or Bonelli’s Eagle are found in the area.

We then go to Caldas de Monchique, a small spa village, for lunch, under the shade of big trees, listening to water running, Nuthatch, Great and Blue Tit and watching Grey Wagtails. We spend the afternoon walking around the place and enjoying it. Firecrest, Nightingale, Blackcap and Robin are usually spotted. We finish the day with a well deserved drink.

Other wildlife may include: Cork Oak, Tongue Orchids (spring), butterflies, dragonflies

We start the day by a tidal lagoon. Many waders can be seen on the mudflats: Oystercatchers, Whimbrels, Ringed and Grey Plovers, Dunlins, Redshanks, Bar-tailed Godwits, Turnstones. The path goes on the dykes, along this lagoon and a marsh. Coots are usually seen on the lagoon, sometimes with Flamingos and Spoonbills. On the marsh, depending on the water level, greater or fewer numbers of birds are present. Black-winged Stilts can be quite abundant.
After walking on the dyke, we cross a farmland area with some typical trees: Carob, Fig and Almond trees. It is a good place to see Woodchat Shrikes and Red-legged Partridges. This path will lead us to the roman ruins of Abicada. Unfortunately, there is not much to see as the vegetation has invaded the ruins. From there, we also have a nice view of a small marsh. Marsh Harrier, Spoonbills and Black-winged Stilts are usually present. It is possible to see Little Ringed Plover, Ruff, Purple Heron and Avocet in Spring. Then, we come back to the car on the same track.
Other wildlife may include: Otter, Mongoose, dragonflies

Alvor Dunes
The afternoon is spent exploring the Alvor dunes from a boardwalk. A few passerines can be found in the vegetation: Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Goldfinch, and Greenfinch. If the tide is low, we can see the mudflats in the Ria de Alvor estuary and all the waders present: Oystercatchers, Sanderlings, Grey Plovers, Dunlins, Whimbrels. In spring, a few species use the dunes to breed, like Short-toed Larks, Kentish Plovers and Little Terns. We may see Kentish Plovers families or displaying Little Terns.
The walk back to the car will be on the beach, and it is always possible to stop for a swim. Then, we will walk along the Ria de Alvor marsh, looking for more waders or Bluethroats in winter. We finish the day with a drink or an ice cream near the sea.
Other wildlife may include: Cistanche phelypaea (spring), Fidler Crab, dunes vegetation

Lagoa Dos Salgados
This tour only happens in the afternoon as Thursday morning is visitor’s day at Cruzinha (A ROCHA Portugal field study centre) which you are welcome to join. Also light is better in the afternoon at Lagoa dos Salgados.
This wetland is one of the best places in the Algarve to see a good variety of birds but is still threatened as it has no legal protection status. There are still developments projects (i.e. hotels) planned around this lagoon.
Some works have recently been made in the lagoon to improve the habitat for the birds and they seem to work. We do most of the observation from a single point but it is possible to walk a bit along the lagoon on a boardwalk to have a different view and see more birds. Flamingos attempted to breed there a few years ago (2 nests found) and Glossy Ibis are now regular. Many ducks can be seen in winter: Mallards, Pochards, Gadwalls, Teal and Shovelers and quite a few waders are usually present. Kentish Plovers, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets and Collared Pratincoles breed in this place. Purple Swamphen is common in this place and in spring the reedbeds host Purple Heron and Little Bittern. Audouin’s Gull and Caspian Tern are also regular at this place. It is rare to go to Lagoa dos Salgados without seeing a Marsh Harrier flying over the lagoon and flushing all the birds, generally allowing us to see species hidden in the vegetation.
Other wildlife may include dragonflies, Water Vole, Spanish Pond Turtle and dunes vegetation

Castro Verde
This tour starts very early as we have a long drive (1h30) to reach Castro Verde in the Alentejo. This region has a completely different landscape from the Algarve, also meaning different bird species. We usually see the first birds of the day on the way: Storks on nests, Buzzard, Cattle Egret. We drive on an old road leading to Vale Gonçalinho, a property owned by the LPN (Liga para a Proteção da Natureza), so we can stop wherever and whenever we want to look for birds.
Vale Gonçalinho is a good place to see Rollers and Lesser Kestrels in spring as buildings have been arranged for these species to breed. Calandra Larks are abundant in winter and Black-bellied Sandgrouse is a regular sighting. The morning is spent in this property.
In the afternoon, we drive between various localities on small roads, allowing us to stop regularly. We have more opportunities to see Bustards, Sandgrouse and Harriers in the fields around. We go to a vantage point from where we have an excellent overview of the surrounding landscape. From there, we can see Cranes in winter and it is a good place to see big birds of prey.
Other wildlife may include: dragonflies, butteflies, Camel Spider, Spanish Pond Turtle
We finish the day enjoying nice food in a restaurant in Castro Verde before travelling back home.
(includes dinner in a restaurant in Castro Verde)

Ria De Alvor
This small walk starts at Cruzinha (A ROCHA field study centre) and goes to the Ria de Alvor marsh. The track to the marsh goes between fields used for grazing or with old orchards, so it is possible to see species such as Cattle Egret, Azure-winged Magpie, Little Owl, Woodchat Shrike and Bee-Eater in spring. By the marsh, Stonechats and Crested Larks can be seen perched on fences.If the tide is low, waders are feeding in the mudflats while people are collecting clams and cockles. In winter, a few Caspian Terns can be seen with the Gulls. Early in the morning, a Black-winged Kite can be seen hunting and in the evening in winter, it is a Short-eared Owl.
We walk back to Cruzinha on the same path as we came.
Other wildlife seen can include Fidler Crab, Cistanche phelypaea (spring) and other marshland plants and butterflies.

All the activities led by A Rocha Life Portugal aim to have an ecological footprint that is as small as possible. All their tours are carbon neutral.
Their profits are 100% reinvested in nature conservation and environmental education, through A Rocha Portugal conservation and education programmes.

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