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Bird Watching Highlights by Season in the Algarve

Jan 16, 2019 | Discover Algarve

There’s no question that there is a lot to see in the Algarve and it is also known as one popular destination for birdwatchers.

But what makes the Algarve such as a good place for birdwatching?

  • Features a regular presence of more than 250 birds during the entire year;
  • It’s the mainland region in Portugal that registers more occurrences of rare birds that come from the northern Europe, North America, and Africa;
  • It includes a wide range of different landscapes that include dense cork oak forests, reedbeds, coastal lagoons, estuaries, beaches, mountains, the open sea, farmland, coastal cliffs, Mediterranean scrub forest, among others;
  • About 40% of the region is protected and it includes 1 Nature Reserve and 2 Natural Parks;
  • It features 10 Important Bird Areas;
  • It’s incredibly easy to visit the best birdwatch sites because the area is small;
  • The climate is very pleasant during the entire year;
  • It contains the main Raptors migration corridor in Portugal – the Sagres Peninsula.

Each year, 20 different species pass on this route including vultures, falcons, and eagles. One of the best things about the Algarve depending on the season you choose to visit the Algarve region for bird watching, you will be able to see different species.


#1: Winter Months:

In the Winter, you will be able to see a lot of birds, namely, waterfowl that are congregated in Ria Formosa or Castro Marim, two coastal wetlands.

Ria Formosa is the home of more than 20,000 birds only during this season. These include ducks like the Northern Shoveller, Eurasian Wigeon, and the Eurasian Teal; waders like the Common Redshank, Grey Plover, Common Ringed Plover, and the Dunlin.

In some grasslands like the ones surrounding the Sagres Peninsula such as the Lagoa dos Salgados and the Caniçal de Vilamoura, you’ll also be able to watch a lot of Winter birds. These include the Eurasian Skylark, the Eurasian Golden Plover, and the Northern Lapwing

In case you are lucky, you might be able to see Alpine Accentor, the Ring Ouzel, the Richard’s Pipit, the Black-shouldered Kite, and the Osprey.


#2: Autumn Months:

Autumn months is one of the best periods to visit the Algarve for bird watching. Between September and November, you’ll see the main migration corridor for more than 4,000 Raptors from over 20 different species overfly this area. These include harriers, sparrowhawks, kites, vultures, falcons, and eagles. The most common ones are the Short-toed Eagle, the Sparrowhawk, the Common Buzzard, the Booted Eagle, and the Eurasian Griffon Vulture. The most occasional ones are the Black Stork, the Montagu’s Harrier, the Egyptian Vulture, the European Honey Buzzard and the Black Kite.

Every year, in the Sagres Peninsula there are always some rare birds that appear, usually include the Red-footed Falcon, the Eurasian Griffon Vulture, the Rueppell’s Griffon Vulture, and the Lesser Spotted Eagle. These last two have been spotted regularly in this area for the last years.  In case you like to bird watching at night as well, you can be sure that you’ll see a lot of Long-eared Owls. In what concerns with watching seabirds is one of the best places in the region because of the huge coastline bordered with the Atlantic, also the fact that it’s just at the Mediterranean entrance and in the zone of passage to the African continent makes it simply perfect. From here, you’ll be able to spot thousands of migrating birds, especially the Northern Gannet. However, there are many others including the Arctic Tern, the Cory’s Shearwater, the Wilson’s Storm Petrel, the Great Skua, the Sooty Shearwater, and the Balearic Shearwater.

But there are also other places that you can visit to watch this migration. The best areas are Castro Marim and Ria Formosa.


#3: Spring Months:

The Spring months are perfect to see modification. You’ll start to see the first birds appearing by as early as February and until mid-April. Some of the species that you’ll be able to watch include the Iberian Chiffchaff, the Spectacled Warbler, and the Short-toed Eagle. However, breeding season may start sooner for some of the resident birds like the Stonechats and the Hoopoes.

Between April and June is a period where you can see more diversity of species such as the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, the Hawfinch, the Golden Oriole and the Nightingales.

One of the best places for bird watching during this time of the year is the Sagres Peninsula and you can be prepared to see large numbers of the Common Swift, the Alpine Swifts and the Pallid.

In case you want to head to the grassland, around Castro Marim, for example, you’ll be able to see Little Bustards, Stone Curlews, Red-billed Choughs, Dartford Warblers, Spectacled, Tawny Pipit, Short-toed Lark and Thekla.

As you can see, bird watching in the Algarve can really be something special. With such a wide variety of birds, beautiful landscapes and the great weather, you can be sure you’re going to love it.


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