Spring nidification in Algarve
The Algarve is one of the most interesting and exciting regions in Southern Europe for birdwatching, mainly due to the diversity of habitats, presence of Iberian and Mediterranean species, fine weather all-year round, spectacular landscapes, and rather short distances between hotspots.
In Spring time, newly arrived African visitors join the resident birds and settle to breed. The wildflowers are in bloom and air is fresh with the scent of Life. Temperatures are rising, and in fields, forests, cliffs and wetlands it is time for color, songs and displays.
In this two-based trip we will explore the best hotspots of region in this time of year, dedicate one morning to go out at sea in a pelagic trip, and make a day trip to Alentejo for something else entirely.
Steppes of the Alentejo & Wetlands of the Algarve
We will be staying in upper Alentejo region, in the magnificent medieval town of Mértola, full of birds and history. We will have 3 days to try and get the most of the area. From here we will carefully explore the vast surrounding area of plains, fields and soft hills, the most preserved one of it´s kind in the country. We will do our best to cover the main local hotspots, and some of the birds we will aim at will be Griffon and Black Vultures, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Great and Little Bustards, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Great Spotted Cuckoo, European Roller and Calandra Lark.
We will visit Vale Gonçalinho, where LPN – a leading Portuguese NGO that has been working together with farmers for the protection of some of these vulnerable species. At the town of Castro Verde, a traditional lunch in a family home will also be one of the highlights. North of Mértola, the dramatic landscape of the Guadiana River will hopefully provide birds like Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush and Rock Bunting.
We will also visit some of the main wetlands of the Algarve with stops at Castro Marim Natural Reserve in the Spanish border, Ria Formosa Natural Park and Salgados Lagoon. We will visit hides and scrutinize these rich coastal oasis, looking for birds like Greater Flamingo, Eurasian Spoonbill, Purple Heron, Little Bittern, Purple Swamphen, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Kentish Plover, Audouin´s Gull and Little Tern. Spring migration is underway, so other birds are expected to be present in fluctuating numbers.
Species like Azure-winged Magpie, Hoopoe, Sardinian and Fan-tailed Warblers and Corn Bunting are regular presence.
Steppes of the Alentejo & Wetlands of the Algarve
We will move to Pedralva, a rebuilt village in the West Coast of the Algarve. From here, we will explore some hotspots in the Southwest of the country, starting with Sagres/Cape St. Vincent area – the SW tip of mainland Europe.
Besides local specialties like Pallid Swift, Chough, Spectacled Warbler or Black Redstart, Sagres is a very unique place, full of soul and history, and we will also pay attention to some of the local endemic wildflowers. Due to it’s strategic location, the peninsula can congregate some migrants blown form the Strait of Gibraltar in Easters winds. Weather permitting, we will take a pelagic trip for birds like Balearic Shearwater or Great Shearwater can occur, as well as other migrant seabirds and cetaceans.
Monchique is the roof of the Algarve, and a land of barren peaks, mixed and cork woods. Here we will explore the summit (rising to ~900 m.) and the lower slopes, aiming at finding forest birds like Iberian Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, or Crested Tit and another shot at birds like Dartford Warbler, Blue Rock Thrush and Rock Bunting.
Aljezur is a quiet and rich area just north of Pedralva, away from the main birding circuits, but still a land of great beauty and diversity. Here we will go through valleys and hills, admiring both birds and wildflowers (paying special attention to the orchids), exploring both woodlands and coastal cliffs. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, European Bee-eater, Turtle Dove, and singing Nightingales are some of the birds we will look for.
Birds will be our main target, but there is always time for exploring other natural values like wildflowers, butterflies and dragonflies.
Our local bird guide will also provide you with some insights on Portuguese and local culture and history.
Breakfast will be served at the accommodation; Lunch will be divided between local restaurants and picnics (traditional family home in Castro Verde day tour); Dinner will be mostly held at the accommodation.
Travelling between hotspots will be performed in a mini-bus with a driver. Each hotspot will be explored through short gentle walks which do not require special physical ability, however are not recommendable for someone with mobility issues.
Late March and early May in South Portugal are mild periods, generally sunny with temperatures between easily over 20º C. However showers and grey skies can happen, but they never stay for long. The nights however can be cooler, and the wind can blow moderately especially in the evenings and early mornings.
Driving through endless gold and green fields looking for Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Calandra Lark and Spanish Imperial Eagle.
Close views of some of Europe’s most striking birds like Collared Pratincole, Roller, Hoopoe and Bee-eater.
Dramatic landscape of the Guadiana River and the historic center of Mértola.
Scrutinizing calm coastal wetlands thriving with life, in search of scarce species like Purple Swamphen and Glossy Ibis.
Pelagic trip: Looking for dolphins and seabirds in their natural habitat.
A 360º view over Southern Portugal at it’s highest point.
Walking through magnificent coastal valleys away from the most traditional birding itineraries, to the sound of singing Nightingales.
Wildflowers: Enjoying the colors and details of the magnificent flora of Cape St Vincent, and looking for orchids or odd broomrapes throughout the trip.
Admiring cliff nesting birds inebriated by the mixed scents or sea, wildflowers and scrubland like the ever-present Gum Cistus.
Enjoying the local Southern European residents like White Stork, Sardinian Warbler, Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush, Crested Tit and Azure-winged Magpie.
7 nights accomodation in BB (a rebuilt country village and a 5* Hotel)
6 lunches (pic-nic boxes or lunch in a local restaurant)
Transport during stay
Transfer on arrival and departure
Professional Bird Guide
Personal accidents/liability insurance
This program is designed for late March to early May.
Price per person/package as from:
- Twin room (shared by 2 pax): 1330,00€
- Single: 1466,00€
- Dinner supplement: 185,00€
11th to 18th March 2018
8th to 15th April 2018
English guided Tour with a minimum of 6 participants. Flights not included. Transfer on arrival and departure from Faro Airport.
This project was born with the partnership of Domitur as a Destination Managment Company, Birdland as Birwatching specialist tour guide and the historical Aldeia da Pedralva a rural village that overcame from the ruins and became a tourism project by rebuilding more than 30 houses.
The intention of this partnership was to develop a new project that can offer birdwatching tours on the best moments of the year for individuals or group tourists. Anyone from anypart of the world can book these tours. Free of hassles and complicated processes for booking.
With the expertise of each partner, that knows Algarve in the several dimensions we created specifc iteneraries for birding tours.
The dates are set and you are more than welcome to join us!