Birding in Tavira

An 8 days birdwatching tour in the Algarve and Alentejo with excursions in search of southern Portugal’s resident and migrant birds. This tour has been specifically chosen to give you the chance of enjoying the very best of the bird life in the South of Portugal.

Includes visits to Cape St Vincent, Alentejo, Castro Marim Nature Reserve and a boat trip in the Ria Formosa Natural Reserve.

You'll be lodged at Hotel Porta Nova****, perched on the highest point in Tavira, overlooking the historic town, the saltpans and the sea. At night, dinners will be in traditional restaurants.

The program will include:

Day 1

Arrival to Hotel Porta Nova, Tavira. Free time until evening meeting (the Tour Guide will give a preview of next day's programme.) and dinner.

Day 2

Visit to 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 or visit Quinta de Marim, headquarters of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.

Day 3

This morning we drive out to Cape St Vincent, the most south-westerly point of mainland Europe where the coastline is formed mainly by rocky cliffs. The landscape here is fairly barren with low bushy vegetation that includes plant species that are endemic to the area. In autumn large numbers of migrant raptors can often be seen, notably Booted Eagles, Short-toed Eagles and Honey-buzzards; large flocks of Griffon Vultures also regularly occur at this time. From the cliff top Gannets can regularly be seen and other seabirds passing off-shore may include Cory's Shearwaters. There is often a small flock of Red-billed Choughs in the area, Blue Rock Thrush and Black Redstart are commonly seen and we would expect to see Thekla Larks.

Day 4

Free day - we can book you an excursion for another birding site, a walking or sigthseeing tour.

Day 5

Today we visit the Castro Verde area where among our targets will be the Great Bustard, one of the world's heaviest flying birds. These birds inhabit a huge area of uniform countryside in the Baixo Alentejo and can sometimes be difficult to see unless you know where to look. Other species that can be found include (according to season) Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Calandra Lark, Lesser Kestrel, European Roller, Griffon Vulture, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Red Kite, Black Kite, Montagu's Harrier, Common Crane and Little Bustard. It is also an important breeding area for White Storks. In spring, large areas are carpeted with multi-coloured wildflowers – a truly memorable sight.

Day 6

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 7

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 8

Free time until departure.

Traditional Saltpans
Numerous tanks, channels, creeks and drainage ditches form the Salinas where salt is manually harvested. In autumn and winter the large tanks attract large numbers of waterfowl and are a popular high tide roost for waders and gulls, and Greater Flamingos can usually be found.
Except in high summer the most numerous species are usually Avocets, Dunlin, Sanderling and Black-tailed Godwits. But look carefully as it was in this area that a rare long-billed Dowitcher was once found. Slender-billed, Mediterranean and Audouin’s Gulls can often be found amongst the countless Lesser Black-backs. This is also a good place to find one or two Caspian Terns roosting and in the breeding season Little Terns should also be here.
Ria Formosa Natural Park
The park is an area of approximately 40 hectares comprising salt marsh, saltpans, Mediterranean scrub and pine forest, freshwater lagoons, beaches and mudflats. With such a range of habitats it is possible to see a wide range of bird species. If you are visiting in the spring look out for orchids in the wooded areas and in the summer months look out for Mediterranean Chameleon.
Castro Marim
Reserva Natural do Sapal de Castro Marim e Vila Real de Santo Antonio is 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 1,000 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.
Special Protection Area Castro Verde
A vast area of rolling steppe land, that throughout the year is enchanting, both for the birds species and the outstanding scenery, coated with wildflowers in the winter and spring. This is one of the most important areas in Europe for sought after species like Lesser Kestrel, Great and Little Bustards and Black-bellied Sandgrouse. The area also supports a great diversity and high density of raptors.
Cape St. Vicent
Cape St. Vincent is one of the key points for migration routes, with a large concentration of soaring birds and migratory passerines. It is also the only place in Europe where the White Stork nests in cliffs and rocky islets.
Bird photography
Oppotunity to take excellent photos of the birds, flora and of the stunning scenic views.

The tour includes

Airport transfers.

Excursions leaded by professional birders to exquisite birding spots

Comfortable 4-star accommodation, next to the Ria Formosa and the sea, in the very heart of the Ria Formosa Natural Park.

Boat tour on the Ria Formosa Natural Park

Breakfast at the hotel and dinners at local restaurants for enjoyable sociable evenings

Possibility of halfboard and single supplement

Minimum group of only 4 participants per tour. Maximum of 14 participants plus leader(s)

Flights are not included

Photo Gallery


A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which I enjoy with my whole heart. I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot, which was created for the bliss of souls like mine.

I am so happy, my dear friend, so absorbed in the exquisite sense of mere tranquil existence, that I neglect my talents. I should be incapable of drawing a single stroke at the present moment; and yet I feel that I never was a greater artist than now.

When, while the lovely valley teems with vapour around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable foliage of my trees, and but a few stray gleams steal into the inner sanctuary, I throw myself down among the tall grass by the trickling stream; and, as I lie close to the earth, a thousand unknown plants are noticed by me: when I hear the buzz of the little world among the stalks, and grow familiar with the countless indescribable forms of the insects and flies, then I feel the presence of the Almighty, who formed us in his own image.

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