PORTUGAL - Algarve and more!

Great-Bustard-by-Pedro-MarquesSaturday 06th May – Saturday 13th May 2017

Portugal possesses a fantastic diversity of habitats which in turn attract a wide variety of birds to a relatively small area. This will enable us to visit several species rich areas without needing to travel long distances. You will find that within half an hour’s drive from Lisbon city centre and its International Airport the Tagus Estuary and the Sado Estuary Nature Reserves. These two remarkable protected wetland areas have a huge list of birds. A further one hour’s drive takes you to the rolling plains of Castro Verde (the home of Great Bustard, Montagu's Harrier, Lesser Kestrel, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, European Roller, Calandra Lark, Rufous Bush Robin, Black-eared Wheatear, etc, and the bluffs and hills of the Guadiana Valley Nature Park, noted for species like Spanish Imperial, Golden and Bonelli's Eagles, Eurasian Black and Griffon Vultures, Black Stork, Eurasian Eagle Owl, White-rumped Swift, Eurasian Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Blue Rock Thrush and Rock Bunting. After exploring these Alentejo biotopes, a further one hour’s drive takes you to the Algarve, a Portuguese region rich in protected wetland areas situated on a major fly-way for migrants from Africa and notable in particular for waders and passerines. Some of the places you will visit, namely the Ria Formosa Nature Park and the Castro Marim Nature Reserve, are unique in Portugal as sites for rare and highly localized species, like Audouin’s and Slender-billed Gulls and Lesser Short-toed Lark. Other places you will experience are excellent spots for getting close views of scarce species like Purple Swamphen and Little Bittern. Great-spotted Cuckoo, Red-necked Nightjar, Azure-winged Magpie, Eurasian Hoopoe, European Bee-eater and Spectacled Warbler are particularly abundant here.


  • Great Bustard
  • Azure-winged Magpie
  • Rufous Bush Robin
  • Bonelli's Eagle
  • European Roller                     
  • White-rumped Swift
  • Spectacled Warbler
  • Golden Eagle
  • Rock Bunting
  • Iberian Grey Shrike
  • Little Bustard
  • Griffon Vulture
  • Spanish Imperial Eagle 
  • Red-necked Nightjar
  • Audouin's Gull
  • Black-bellied Sandgrouse
  • Great Spotted Cuckoo 
  • European Bee-eater   
  • Black Vulture
  • Eurasian Eagle Owl
  • Black-winged Kite
  • Greater Flamingo
  • Blue Rock Thrush
  • Spotless Starling
Glossy-Ibis by Steve BirdDay 1   Arrive Lisbon Airport 06th May
Today plan your flight to arrive in Lisbon between 09.00 and 11.00am. After checking through immigartion we will transfer towards our hotel the Quinta da Praia das Fontes (Alcochete). Along the way we will visit several areas and a variety of habitats within the Tagus Estuary Nature Reserve, including the inter-tidal mudflats and salt marshes of Hortas, the salt pans of Atalaya, Ribeira das Enguias and Samouco and the Barroca d’Alva rice fields and pastures. This Ramsar wetland site is of international importance, includes a wide Special Protection Zone (ZPE) and a Nature Reserve (RNET), of over 14.000 hectares, specifically created to protect wintering, passage and breeding populations of aquatic birds; however, because of the specific geography of the area, it abounds in a remarkable variety of non-wetland biotopes as well, including wooded slopes and extensive pastures.Target species for this first day include: Greater Flamingo, Eurasian Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Squacco and Purple Herons, Black-winged Kite, Pallid Swift, Short-toed Treecreeper, Iberian Magpie and Spotless Starling, and an excellent selection of ducks and waders including Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Red Knot, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Spotted Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, gulls and terns including Gull-billed Tern and Little Tern. Therre is also good chances of Red-knobbed Coot, plus three exotic species: Black-headed Weaver, Yellow-crowned Bishop and Common Waxbill.
Overnight stay at the Hotel Quinta da Praia das Fontes.
Day 2  Tagus Estuary 
Collared Pratincole by Steve BirdToday we will visit other interesting sites along the Tagus Estuary Nature Reserve, including the open fields, rice fields, inter-tidal mudflats and salt marshes of the Ponta da Erva area and the cork oak woodlands of Pancas. A visit to a spectacular heronry on the Tagus river should reveal a great selection as 7 species are known to breed including Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Squacco Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Grey Heron, Eurasian Spoonbill and Glossy Ibis. Other target species for this day may include Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Black Kite, Collared Pratincole, Short-toed and Crested Lark, Yellow Wagtail of the (Iberian race), Common Nightingale, Black Redstart, Sardinian Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Savi’s and Cetti’s Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff, Crested Tit, Rock Sparrow, European Serin and both Cirl and Corn Bunting.
Overnight stay at the Hotel Quinta da Praia das Fontes.
Day 3   Alentejo Regio
Today we will travel to the Hotel Museu (Mértola), in the Alentejo region. Our journey will take us to two remarkable areas of Castro Verde and Mértola, and includes habitats of stunning natural beauty. Parts of the areas we will visit are zones of special protection, including the bluffs and hills of the Guadiana Nature Park and Black-Stork by Steve Birdthe unique rolling plains of Castro Verde which are 0ne of the most important zones in Portugal for steppe bird conservation. Species like Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Griffon and Black Vulture, Iberian Imperial Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, Lesser Kestrel, Euuropean Bee-eater and Roller, can be confidently expected here. 
Our day will also include visits to the valley of the Guadiana and Pulo do Lobo, where the river has cut through ancient rock to form a dramatic gorge, providing us with great opportunities for some really spectacular species often associated with this craggy, mountainous landscape. Birds such as Black Stork, Golden Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Blue Rock Thrush and Rock Bunting all occur. Apart from being a delight from the historical perspective, Mértola is also an excellent place for Lesser Kestrel. The actual range of habitats includes open steppe land (some cultivated, some fallow), small dams and oak woods, as well as scrub and valley escarpments. Other species we can look for include Great Spotted Cuckoo, Stone Curlew, Little Owl, Calandra Lark and Spanish Sparrow. 
Overnight stay at the Hotel Museu.
Day 4   Guadiana Valley - Alvares
A visit to the bluffs and hills of the Guadiana Valley Nature Park, including the Mértola, Mina de São Domingos, Alcaria Ruiva and Alvares areas should reveal a wealth of wildlife. For this day, we expect to see the following species: Black Stork, Golden and Bonelli’s Eagle, Turtle Dove, Barn Owl, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Thekla Lark, Eurasian Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Black-eared Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Iberian Grey Shrike, Golden Oriole, Long-tailed Tit and Rock Bunting.
Overnight stay at the Hotel Museu.
Day 5   Castro Verde - Guadiana Valley
Continuing our visit to other interesting areas of the great Castro Verde rolling plains and the Guadiana valley we will look for a few species we may not have already seen such as Red-crested Pochard, White-rumped Swift, Dartford and Subalpine Warbler, Tawny Pipit and the localized Rufous Bush Robin.
Overnight stay at the Hotel Museu.
Day 6   The Algarve
Rufous-Bush-Robin-by-Pedro-We will travel to the Hotel Vila Galé Albacora (Tavira), in the Algarve region. The Ria Formosa is one of Portugal's most important protected wetlands, being a designated Ramsar site and a Zone of Special Protection, which covers an area of 14.000 hectares. The Park is on a major fly-way for migrants from Africa, being particularly rich in wader species and passerines. It is also a great place to see rare and localized species, such as Purple Swamphen and Little Bittern.
Protected by a complex web of sand barriers and dunes, the Ria extends along the Algarve coast for more than 60 kilometres and includes habitats such as dunes, open water, inter-tidal mudflats, salt marshes, salt pans, reed beds, lagoons and pine woods making it a haven for many species of wildlife. The Castro Marim area consists of a complex of canals, saline flats and salt pans (part natural and part commercial), running along the western side of the mouth of the Guadiana, near the town after which it is named. This protected area is also a Ramsar site and includes a Zone of Special Protection and the 2.000 hectares Nature Reserve Black-shouldered-Kite-by-Pedro Marquesof the Sapal de Castro Marime Vila Real de Santo António. The richness of this zone is in large part due to the number of waders, ducks, gulls and terns that winter, pass through on on passage, or breed. The population of other aquatic species, not least Greater Flamingo and Spoonbill, is also important. It is the only place in Portugal to find Lesser Short-toed Lark and is the best site for the beautiful Audouin's Gull and Slender-billed Gull. The area includes salt pans, inter-tidal mudflats, salt marshes, cultivated fields and pasture and Carob plantations. Our first day in the Algarve should produce some of the Mediterranean specialities such as Mediterranean and Yellow-legged Gull, Caspian Tern, Eurasian Hoopoe, European Bee-eater, Lesser Short-toed Lark and Spectacled Warbler, besides many waders.
Overnight stay at the Hotel Vila Galé Albacora.
Day 7  The Algarve
Today we will visit several habitats such as dunes, open water, inter-tidal mudflats, salt marshes, salt pans, reed beds, lagoons and pine woods of the Ria Formosa Nature Park. Here some of our target species will include Ferruginous Duck, Little Bittern, Purple Swamphen and Red-necked Nightjar. Sea watching at Faro island, will give us good chances for Scopoli's and Balearic Shearwaters, European Shag, possibly skuas, gulls and numerous Northern Gannets passing through.
Overnight stay at the Hotel Vila Galé Albacora.
Bee-eaters3Day 8   The Algarve - Lisbon - 13th May
We will make our way towards Lisbon visiting the Sado estuary along the way. This the second largest estuary in Portugal, is an area of enormous natural wealth and biodiversity. The area lies a little more than 30 minutes from Lisbon, and includes two Zones of Special Protection and a Nature Reserve which covers about 23.000 hectares. The Sado estuary is a Ramsar site of international importance and is recognised as an area of great importance as a wintering site and migration stop-off point. It also holds important breeding populations of Purple Heron, Marsh Harrier, Black-winged Stilt and Little Tern, and the Nature Reserve bird list includes more than 250 species. A visit to the Sado estuary is interesting at any time of the year. In winter the area holds thousands of wintering waders and ducks; and during the migration period the number of species increases and it is not unusual to observe more than 100 species in a day. In summer, due to the remarkable range of habitats, the breeding species may number close to 100. Finally we will cross the river Sado by ferry, with a good chance of seeing small pods of Bottle-nosed Dolphins, before arriving at Lisbon Airport, seeing at fitting end to our fabulous tour. 
Please note to arrange a departure no earlier than 18.00hrs.

Leader:  Joao Jara

Ground Price: £1650.00 - Lisbon / Lisbon  

Airfare: £50.00 - £250.00
depending on airline a route - UK / UK Zoothera tour prices explained
Single supplement: £225.00
Deposit: £500.00

Group size: Maximum 10.

Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, airport transfer to/from Lisbon airport, ground transport throughout in air-conditioned vehicle, all entrance fees to national parks and nature reserves, all meals from lunch on 06th to lunch on 13th and all services of leaders.

Not included: International airfare, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.

Accommodation: All accommodation are of a good standard and offer en-suite rooms. 


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