The area is arguably at its best for birding in late September and early October, with seabirds moving off the coast and waterfowl, waders, birds of prey and migrant passerines following the Atlantic shore South to Cape St Vincent and Ponta de Sagres. ‘Turning the corner’ here, they then head East along the coast of the Algarve, funnelling towards the Strait of Gibraltar and the shortest sea crossing between the two great continents.
Our autumn birdwatching tour to Portugal begins in Faro with an easy drive East to our first hotel. We spend three nights staying at an excellent four-star property close to the Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Taviria gives access to the best of the Algarve’s wetland reserves, the threatened Lagoa dos Salgados, Quinto do Lago and the barrier islands and inlets of the Ria Formosa itself. Greater Flamingo, Little Bittern, Audouin’s and Slender-billed Gulls, Bluethroat and Common Waxbill are regularly present in autumn, alongside Little and Western Cattle Egrets, Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover and many other wetland birds.
During our stay, we will also enjoy one longer day out, travelling inland to Mértola to sample the very different birdlife of Portugal’s fabulous Alentejo region. The Westernmost extension of Spain’s more famous Extremadura grasslands, the rolling Alentejo steppe is home to many Iberian specialities, including Great and Little Bustards, Black-winged Kite and Iberian Grey Shrike.
For the second part of our holiday, we head Westward to another excellent hotel at the extreme southwestern corner of mainland Europe.
In autumn, the magnificent cliffs of Cape St. Vincent are a magnet to migrants, and this is virtually on our doorstep. Blue Rock Thrush and Red-billed Chough are resident, and our past visits have really turned up trumps, seeing everything from Black Stork and Booted Eagle to Tawny Pipit and Rosy Starling. Our 2015 group even found a vagrant Booted Warbler – the first record for Portugal!
One special highlight of our recent tours has been a pelagic boat trip out from Sagres. Our 2019 trip produced Cory’s and Balearic Shearwaters, along with 12 European Storm Petrels, plunge-diving Gannets and Great, Arctic and Pomarine Skuas.
With its appealing winter climate, the Algarve has long been a popular destination with British holidaymakers and retirees but this trip that will take you behind the more familiar tourist façade to a land where White Storks, Western Swamphens and the endemic Iberian (Azure-winged) Magpie offer the prospect of a truly memorable birdwatching holiday.
Limosa has been operating birdwatching tours to Southern Portugal since 1996 and our 2022 trip will be our 21st visit.
Fernando Enrique lives near Seville in Southwest Spain, within easy drive of the Portuguese border so knows this region very well. Join him for a wonderful week of autumn birding on Portugal’s sunny South coast!
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