Winter Birds in Algarve
The Algarve is one of the most interesting and exiting 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.
Now in Wintertime, when it is freezing cold in most of Europe, South Portugal still has rather sunny days above 15ºC, and a walk on the beach is not out of question! Besides, apart from all the local specialties, the area is full of wintering and dispersive birds from further North, making it alive with diversity and abundance. Some wildflowers are still in bloom, it is low season, and all is green, calm and quiet.
In this two-based trip we will explore the best hotspots of region in this time of year, take some time to get the feeling of this special place, and make a day trip to Alentejo for something else entirely.
Sagres peninsula and the West Coast of Algarve
We will start to visit and explore Sagres/Cape St. Vincent area – the SW tip of mainland Europe – the most iconic hotspot in Portugal for migrating and dispersing soaring birds, and one of the most spectacular for seawatching.
In November most of the transaharian migrants are already in Africa, but a lot of birds are still arriving at the peninsula, fleeing from the lack of food resources up North. Some are just late migrants. Concerning raptors, these are mainly Griffon Vultures, Short-toed Eagles, Common Buzzards, Hen Harriers and Red Kites. In February, some early migrants may already be around. Flocks of Thrushes, Finches and Corn Buntings roam around the area. Black Redstarts are everywhere, and odd birds include Alpine Accentor and Richard’s Pipit. At sea, Northern Gannets cruise the rough seas by the thousands.
We will also pay attention to the resident species in the area like Little Bustard, Chough, Blue Rock Thrush, Thekla Lark, Black Redstart, Sardinian and Dartford Warblers.
We will stay relatively local for 3 days, mainly exploring the peninsula and taking small tours in nearby hotspots, like Aljezur area.
Wetlands of the Algarve; Castro Verde day trip
We will then move to Eastern Algarve where we shall visit several wetlands, namely Salgados lagoon, Ria Formosa Natural Park and Castro Marim Nature Reserve.
Some of the places visited are unique in Portugal as sites for highly localized species, like Purple Shamphen, Audouin’s and Slender-billed Gulls, and excellent spots for obtaining close views of species like Greater Flamingo, Black-winged Stilt or Glossy Ibis; All are packed with waders and wildfowl. Species like Azure-winged Magpie, Hoopoe, Sardinian and Fan-tailed Warblers and Corn Bunting are regular presence.
Salgados Lagoon is an endangered oasis for birds, where we will spend one afternoon scrutinizing the place for waterbirds, both resident and wintering. It is one of the best locations in Portugal for birdwatching for one can get a great diversity of species in a relatively small area. Ria Formosa and Castro Marim are the two main wetlands of the Algarve, gathering a vast myriad of coastal habitats like lagoons, saltpans and tidal mudflats.
A further 60 minute drive takes us to the steppes of the Alentejo region between Castro Verde and Mértola, for a glimpse of other complementary biotopes and consequently new bird species. This is a vast 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 Spanish Imperial Eagle, Great and Little Bustards, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Calandra Lark. At the town of Castro Verde, a traditional lunch in a family home will also be one of the day´s highlights.
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.
November and February in South Portugal are mild moths, generally sunny with temperatures between 15-20º C. Showers and grey skies can happen, but they never stay for long. It can be however cold, especially at night or in open areas.
Seawatching in the cliffs of Cape St. Vincent, the mythical Southwest tip of mainland Europe.
Scanning the skies for migrant Eagles and Vultures, form the most iconic vantage point in Portuguese Ornithology.
Roaming around the quiet SW Portugal searching for migrant and wintering birds.
Walking through magnificent coastal valleys away from the most traditional birding itineraries, and paying attention to wildflowers and passerines.
Scrutinizing calm coastal wetlands thriving with life, in search of scarce species like Purple Swamphen and Glossy Ibis.
Driving through endless gold and green fields looking for Great Bustard – the heaviest flying bird in the world – Little Bustard, Calandra Lark and Spanish Imperial Eagle.
Enjoying the local Southern European residents like White Stork, Hoopoe, Sardinian, Dartford and Fan-tailed Warblers, 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 November to February.
Price per person/package as from:
- Twin room (shared by 2 pax): 1250€
- Twin Room with Sea view in Real Marina: 1285€
- Single Room: 1465€
- Single Room with sea view in Real Marina: 1585€
- Dinners: 180€
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!