Are you spending some time in Algarve and you would like to try some birdwatching?
If you are looking for a short birdwatching experience, or if you never did birdwatching before, we have the tour for you. Choose from a wide variety that can go from one morning or afternoon to one day long programme.
You can discover quite different spots in Algarve or Alentejo. This diversity reflects on the habitats and on the variety of birds you will be able to spot.
NOTE: these prices are calculated taking into consideration what we think to be the best length of time in order to allow the bird watchers to see as many species in that day as possible. However if you would prefer a shorter visit let us know and if your group is the only one participating in that day visit, the price can be reviewed downwards. Either request that on the booking form, in the observations box, or get in contact with us.
Also worth noticing that there are no extra costs (petrol or mileage)!
Day Tour Prices
|Locations||Day||Duration||Length walked (Km)||Difficulty|
|Sagres||Monday||8 hours||5 Km||Easy||€ 90.00|
|Monchique||Tuesday||8 hours||5 Km||Medium||€ 75.00|
|Abicada||Wednesday morning||4 hours||4 Km||Easy||€ 40.00|
|Alvor Dunes||Wednesday afternoon||4 hours||3 Km||Easy||€ 40.00|
|Abicada + Alvor Dunes||Wednesday||8 hours||7 Km||Easy||€ 70.00|
|Lagoa dos Salgados||Thursday||4 hours||1 Km||Easy||€ 47.50|
|Castro Verde (dinner included)||Friday||14 hours||3 Km||Easy||€160.00|
|Pelagic Boat Trip||Saturday||3 hours||€ 45.00|
|Ria de Alvor||Saturday||3 hours||5 Km||Easy||€ 25.00|
|Ria Formosa||Sunday||8 hours||4 Km||Easy||€100.00|
|Ria Formosa East||Sunday||4 hours||2 Km||Easy||€ 80.00|
|Ria Formosa West||Sunday||4 hours||2 Km||Easy||€ 70.00|
|Orchid tour||Any Day||3 hours||< 1 Km||Easy||€ 35.00|
Prices per person. IVA (VAT) included at current rate.
Payments are in Euros only.
What is included?
The guide, a bottle of water, a checklist, the loan of binoculars (if you do not have a pair), the use of field guides, a drink at the end or middle of the day and all the driving are included in the price. We can provide you with a packed lunch for a supplement of 5€.
Also, all taxes are already included in our prices. You just pay what is on the list.
Day Tour Programmes
The meeting point is always at the A ROCHA centre. Departure time to be arranged, as it changes throughout the year, because of sunrise time. You will be driven to the location in one of our vehicles.
We will spend the morning at a complex of saltpans and lagoons behind Faro airport. The saltpans are usually a good place to see Flamingos and Shelducks. In the reedbeds around, you can hear Cetti’s Warbler. On the trees, White Stork nests and, in winter, they are joined by Cormorants and sometimes Booted Eagles. In the lagoons, many ducks are present in winter: Mallards, Gadwalls, Teals, Shovelers, Wigeons, Pochards, Tufted Ducks and Red-crested Pochards. After looking at these lagoons, we will walk along a golf course on the way to a bird hide. The green is a good place to see Hoopoes, Azure-winged Magpies and Waxbills. The hide overlooks a lagoon where Purple Swamphen, Black-headed Weavers and Little Bitterns breed.
In the afternoon, we will drive near Tavira and spend a couple of hour’s birdwatching at the saltpans. This place is also part of the Ria Formosa Natural Park and is good for waders. Flamingos are often seen, feeding in the lagoons with Avocets and Black-winged Stilts. On the dykes between the lagoons, we usually see Kentish and Ringed Plovers, Dunlins, Sanderlings, Little Stints and Little Terns. Audouin’s Gulls are also regularly seen with Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. In the bushes along the track Sardinian Warblers breed. After looking at the lagoons we walk towards the canal and see Tavira Island.
We spend the day in the “Costa Vicentina and Sudoeste Alentejano” Natural Park, exploring the Sagres area. We are actually at the south-western tip of Europe. Our first stop is near Sagres fortress. The area has a few bushes where some migrants can be seen, although the area is better for migration in the autumn. Woodchat Shrike and Wheatears can be seen. Seawatching from the cliffs will provide Gannets and sometimes a Shearwater or a Great Skua. Black Redstart and Blue Rock Thrush can be seen along the cliffs.
We will then move to one of the best spots to watch raptor migration in the autumn. In spring, the area has many flowers and several species of warblers breed there and allow us to see them: Sardinian, Subalpine, Spectacled and Melodious Warblers. Local birds of prey include Short-toed Eagle and Kestrel, joined by Vultures (4 species), Kites (3 species), Eagles (5 species), Falcons (5 species), Harriers (3 species) and Buzzards (2 species) in the autumn. In spite of this abundance don’t expect to see them all on the same day!
The area is also surrounded by a small pinewood where Serins are common. We spend the morning there and have lunch in the shade of small pine trees looking for more birds, like finches or Thekla and Short-toed Larks. We spend the first part of the afternoon at Cape St Vincent, doing more seawatching and looking for more birds in bushes. It is also one of the only places where it is possible to see White Storks breeding on cliffs along the sea.
We finish the day exploring the area between Cape St Vincent and Vila do Bispo: Vale Santo. It is a regular breeding place for Little Bustards. As farming is extensive, many species can be seen. Quails are found in fields with a lot of vegetation. On ploughed fields, we usually see Black-eared Wheatears, Thekla Lark and Short-toed Lark and Tawny Pipit. It is also a usual place for Southern Grey Shrike.
As the Algarve is not limited to the coast, we explore the hills around Monchique. Unfortunately, a big part of the area has been planted with Eucalyptus but there are still some nice patches with Cork Oaks. We spend the morning exploring Foia, the highest point (902 m) and its surroundings. If the weather is clear, it is possible to see a big part of the coast. We will look for 3 species: Black Redstart, Blue Rock Thrush and Rock Bunting. The scrubby areas host Whitethroat, Sardinian, Dartford and Melodious Warblers. We usually explore another area, lower, with more trees and near a small stream. Surprisingly, Cetti’s Warbler is found in this habitat, as well as Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Short-toed Treecreeper and Jay. It is also a good habitat for Iberian Chiffchaff. In terms of birds of prey, Kestrel and Buzzard are the most common species. However, Sparrowhawk, Short-toed or Bonelli’s Eagle are found in the area.
We then go to Caldas de Monchique, a small spa village, for lunch, under the shade of big trees, listening to water running, Nuthatch, Great and Blue Tit and watching Grey Wagtails. We spend the afternoon walking around the place and enjoying it. Firecrest, Nightingale, Blackcap and Robin are usually spotted. We finish the day with a well deserved drink.
We start the day near a tidal lagoon near Alvor. If the tide is low, many waders can be seen on the mudflats: Oystercatchers, Whimbrels, Ringed and Grey Plovers, Dunlins, Redshanks, Bar-tailed Godwits, Turnstones. The path goes on the dykes, along this lagoon and a marsh. Coots are usually seen on the lagoon, sometimes with Flamingos and Spoonbills. On the marsh, depending on the water level, greater or fewer numbers of birds are present. Black-winged Stilts can be quite abundant, sometimes feeding in ponds with Mallards, Green Sandpipers and Avocets. Many Yellow Wagtails, Linnets, Stonechats and Zitting Cisticolas live in this habitat.
After walking on the dyke, we cross a farmland area with some typical trees: Carob, Fig and Almond trees. It is a good place to see Woodchat Shrikes and Red-legged Partridges. This path will lead us to a high point where we can look at a reedbed. From there, Cetti’s Warbler can be heard all year long and Nightingales and Reed Warblers sing in spring. We will walk a few more meters to the roman ruins of Abicada. Unfortunately, there is not much to see as the vegetation has invaded the ruins. From there, we also have a nice view of a small marsh. Marsh Harrier, Spoonbills and Black-winged Stilts are usually present. In winter, Glossy Ibis feed there and it is possible to see Little Ringed Plover, Ruff, Purple Heron and Avocet in Spring. Then, we come back to the car on the same track.
The afternoon is spent exploring the Alvor dunes from a boardwalk. A few passerines can be found in the vegetation: Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Goldfinch, and Greenfinch. If the tide is low, we can see the mudflats in the Ria de Alvor estuary and all the waders present: Oystercatchers, Sanderlings, Grey Plovers, Dunlins, Whimbrels. In spring, a few species use the dunes to breed, like Short-toed Larks, Kentish Plovers and Little Terns. We may see Kentish Plovers families or displaying Little Terns.
The walk back to the car will be on the beach, and it is always possible to stop for a swim. Then, we will walk along the Ria de Alvor marsh, looking for more waders or Bluethroats in winter. We finish the day with a drink or an ice cream near the sea.
Lagoa dos Salgados
This tour only happens in the afternoon as Thursday morning is visitor’s day at Cruzinha (A ROCHA Portugal field study centre) which you are welcome to join. Also light is better in the afternoon at Lagoa dos Salgados.
This wetland is one of the best places in the Algarve to see a good variety of birds but is still threatened as it has no legal protection status. There are still developments projects (i.e. hotels) planned around this lagoon.
Some works have recently been made in the lagoon to improve the habitat for the birds and they seem to work. We do most of the observation from a single point but it is possible to walk a bit along the lagoon on a boardwalk to have a different view and see more birds. It is a good place to see Flamingos and they even attempted to breed there a few years ago (2 nests found) and Glossy Ibis are becoming more regular. Many ducks can be seen in winter: Mallards, Pochards, Gadwalls, Teal and Shovelers and quite a few waders are usually present. Kentish Plovers, Black-winged Stilts, Avocets and Collared Pratincoles breed in this place. Purple Swamphen is common in this place and in spring the reedbeds host Purple Heron and Little Bittern. Audouin’s Gull and Caspian Tern are also regular at this place. It is rare to go to Lagoa dos Salgados without seeing a Marsh Harrier flying over the lagoon and flushing all the birds, generally allowing us to see species hidden in the vegetation.
This tour starts very early as we have a long drive (1h30) to reach Castro Verde in the Alentejo. This region has a completely different landscape from the Algarve, also meaning different bird species. We usually see the first birds of the day on the way: Storks on nests, Buzzard, Cattle Egret. We drive on an old road leading to Vale Gonçalinho, a property owned by the LPN (Liga para a Proteção da Natureza), so we can stop wherever and whenever we want to look for birds.
We usually have seen quite a lot of species before arriving at Vale Gonçalinho, like Great and Little Bustards, Montagu’s Harrier, Black and Red Kite, Great Spotted Cuckoo. Vale Gonçalinho is a good place to see Rollers and Lesser Kestrels in spring as buildings have been arranged for these species to breed. Calandra Larks are abundant in winter and Black-bellied Sandgrouse is a regular sighting. The morning is spent in this property.
In the afternoon, we drive between various localities on small roads, allowing us to stop regularly. One of these tracks passes near a lagoon, sometimes busy, where we can see Little and Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Spoonbills, Coots, Moorhens, Collared Pratincoles, Little Ringed Plovers, Common Sandpipers and Black-winged Stilts. We also have more opportunities to see Bustards, Sandgrouse and Harriers in the fields around. At São Marcos da Ataboeira, we look at all the Stork nests along the road as we can usually spot Spanish Sparrows. From there, we drive to a “high” spot from where we have an excellent overview of the surrounding landscape. From there, we can see Cranes in winter and it is a good place to see birds of prey such as Griffon and Black Vultures, Short-toed Eagles, Spanish Imperial and Bonelli’s Eagles.
We finish the day enjoying nice food in a restaurant in Castro Verde before travelling back home.
(includes dinner in a restaurant in Castro Verde)
Pelagic Boat Trip
This tour is done in partnership with Beachut Water Sports and leaves from Praia da Luz or Lagos. We will be at sea in Lagos bay and try to see species hard to see from the coast. They will be attracted by bait prepared previously. It will be possible to see Gannets, various species of Shearwaters, Storm-Petrels, Gulls, Skuas and Phalaropes. This trip will also provide nice views of the coast and maybe dolphins!
Pelagic Boat Trip
Minimum number of participants: 7
Ria de Alvor
This small walk starts at Cruzinha (A ROCHA field study centre) and goes to the Ria de Alvor marsh. The track to the marsh goes between fields used for grazing or with old orchards, so it is possible to see species such as Cattle Egret, Azure-winged Magpie, Little Owl, Woodchat Shrike and Bee-Eater in spring. By the marsh, Stonechats and Crested Larks can be seen perched on fences. Black-winged Stilts are usually present in the marsh and they are very loud in spring when they have chicks.
At this time of the year, Kentish Plovers and Little Terns also nest in the marsh. If the tide is low, waders are feeding in the mudflats while people are collecting clams and cockles. If the tide is high, most of the waders are resting in the marsh: Dunlins, Sanderlings, Redshanks, Greenshanks, Whimbrels, Bar and Black-tailed Godwits, Ringed and Kentish Plovers. In winter, a few Caspian Terns can be seen with the Gulls. Early in the morning, a Black-winged Kite can be seen hunting and in the evening in winter, it is a Short-eared Owl.
Abandoned salt pans can be busy with waders and gulls if the water level is right. The last bit around the marsh is good to see passerines such as Corn Bunting, Zitting Cisticola, Linnet, Yellow Wagtail, Crested and Short-toed Lark, Stonechat and Chiffchaff. We walk back to Cruzinha on the same path as we came.
The period between early March and mid-April is usually a good time to see orchids in the Algarve. It is possible to see about 10 species in a half-day tour without having to drive too much! Species such as Yellow Bee, Mirror, Woodcock or Small-flowered Tongue Orchids can be seen in big number. Of course there is always the possibility to look for birds and maybe see the first Bee-eaters of the year!
This tour is only available between March 1st and April 15th. However, due to the weather conditions, flexible dates are possible.
This post is also available in: French