Nature lovers will be aware of the Algarve’s excellent reputation as the home to hundreds of different species of birds. Indeed, the region – which is the southernmost part of Portugal – is a paradise for twitchers and offers them the chance to admire all kinds of birds in a warm and mild climate.
The Parque Nacional de Ria Formosa
You won’t forget your experience at this extraordinary nature reserve in a hurry. The Ria de Formosa is made up of huge coastal lagoons, sand dune islands and vast plains that are the resting places of thousands of birds from northern Europe.
If you visit during the winter months, you might be lucky enough to catch sight of black-tailed Godwits, Little Stints and Ringed Plovers, as well as breeding birds such as the Purple Heron, Red-crested Pochard, Kentish Plover, European Bee-eater and Purple Swamp-hen.
This is because the park is a stop-off point in bird migration paths between Europe and Africa. It is also the only breeding ground of the Purple Gallinule, which is why the bird has been made the mascot of the reserve.
Near to the Guadiana River and just a 20-minute drive from the Portuguese city of Tavira is Castro Marim, a wetlands area made up of creeks and salt marshes that serves as shelter for non-breeding Eurasian Spoonbills and Greater Flamingos, among others.
You can count on spotting some extraordinary birds all year round at this reserve, including rare species such as the Lesser Short-toed Lark and Spectacled Warbler. Around 200 different kinds of birds flock to this park, making it a must-visit for any twitchers.
For an in-depth tour of the facility, take part in one of the many guided walks organised around Castro Marim, where you can also hear from top ornithologists.
Also known as Lagoa dos Salgados, this park is well-known for two main reasons: it is the only breeding ground in Portugal for the endangered Ferruginous Duck species, and it is a designated Important Bird Area, a title that was awarded to it by Birdlife International.
Pera Marsh is made up of a huge coastal lagoon protected from the ocean by the sand dunes of Praia Grande beach, making it very beautiful indeed. Some of the birds you can expect to see here include Purple Swamp Hens, Little Bitterns and Purple Herons, as well as swarms of swifts and hirundines.
The site is suitable for birdwatchers with varying levels of experience, and you can receive a full tour of the reserve led by trained experts. It is also a great way of getting to know other people who share your passion for rare and vulnerable wildlife and take some fantastic photographs to share with your loved ones back home.