BIRD-WATCHING IN THE ALGARVE
Best known for its mild climate and beautiful beaches, the Algarve has a lot more to offer, all year round.
With more than 300 birds of regular occurrence in the area, and a wide variety of habitats, the Algarve is a top quality destination for birdwatchers, as well as for all who want to relax and enjoy the natural wonders of the region.
Several wetlands like the Ria de Alvor, the Lagoa dos Salgados, the Ria Formosa, or Castro Marim harbour a large variety of nesting birds, such as the Red crested pochard, the Purple heron, the Western swamp-hen, the Audouin’s gull, and the Little tern. During the winter, these coastal havens become filled with thousands of wintering water-birds such as ducks and waders. And all these places are only a few km away from each other.
Mountainous areas like Monchique can be a refuge on hotter days. The habitat here is predominantly comprised of forest and high altitude bush-land, and some of the species typical in these parts include the Bonelli’s eagle, and the Dartford warbler. In the heart of the Algarve, the Serra do Caldeirão is a vast remote place where the Algarve’s “Barrocal” reaches its full splendour. Species like the Golden oriole and the scarcer Western orphean warbler are some of the iconic birds of such a unique habitat.
Towards the end of summer and autumn, the post-courtship migration is an ancient event that you don’t want to miss. The Sagres Peninsula in particular congregates hundreds of soaring birds, and millions of Passeriformes throughout the migration season, especially in September and October, but also during November. The Griffon vulture, the Short-toed snake eagle, the Booted-eagle, the Black kite, the Buzzard, and the Sparrow-hawk are the most abundant. However, all birds of prey sighted in Portugal to this day have also been spotted in Sagres during the migration season. Others scarcer species are also regulars, such as the Egyptian vulture, and the Black stork. The most abundant migrating Passeriformes are the several kinds of Old World warblers (including Redstarts, Sylviidae, and Flycatchers) and the Greenland wheatear. And it’s always worth keeping an eye out for the opportunity of recording a rarity…
The cliffs on the Western Algarve, alongside their majestic beauty, harbour species like the Peregrine falcon, the White stork, the Blue rock thrush, and the Chough.
The Algarve’s Coast is also a good vantage point for watching seabirds, and bird watching from places like the Cabo São Vicente can be an enticing experience. These waters are important for species like the Cory’s shearwater, the Balearic shearwater, the Great black-backed gull or the Great skua. The migration season is when the variety of seabirds is at its peak, with the regular presence of species like the Great shearwater and the Wilson’s petrel.
Even throughout winter, in the heart of the off-season, with deserted beaches, but still nice temperatures, the fields overflow with Pewits, Thrushes, Finches and, Corn buntings, and you can even find some scarcer and more localized visitors, such as the Richard’s pipit or the Caspian tern, in the right spots.
Other target species typical of Southern Europe, such as the Azure-winged magpie, the Bea-eater, the Hoopoe or the Red-rumped swallow are quite common here, as well as evenly distributed.
The Algarve sure is a region to explore for birdwatchers, where besides the ornithological potential, and short distances between bird watching spots, you can find a wide variety of flora and be carried away by the dazzling landscapes.