Birding in Tavira and Ria Formosa: Your Nemesis Bird Destination is a 5 days Self-Drive Birdwatching Tour based in one of the most typical and quaint towns in the Algarve, Tavira. The Algarve region is a famous summer resort, but is also an amazing site for nature observation, being home to hundreds of endemic bird species, and a wintering and feeding station for many others, which thrive in its rich wetlands, salt marshes, saltpans, and woods.
This professionally designed birding tour aims to show you the best of the diverse wildlife and flora in the Ria Formosa Natural Park, with detailed instructions and route notes.
The Ria Formosa Natural Park covers an area of around 16,000-hectares stretching from Manta Rota in the east to Ancão beach 60km west. The Ria consists of coastal lagoons, vast areas of tidal flats, saltmarsh, and saltpans that are enclosed by a belt of sand dune islands and peninsulas.
It is of particular importance as a wintering area for many birds from northern Europe and as a resting and feeding station for birds migrating between Africa and Europe.
Classified as Nature Reserve in the 70s, this protection status was elevated to a Natural Park in 1987. The Ria Formosa is also classified under the Ramsar Convention as a Wetland of International Importance and as a Special Protection Area under the EU Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds.
Winter brings wintering waders, such as Oystercatchers, Avocets, Dunlins, Little Stint, and Black-winged Stilts, amongst others. Species like Curlew Sandpiper, Red Knot, or Ruff mostly pass through during the autumn migration. Wildfowl is also present in impressive numbers in the ponds and pools, and some of the most common species are Wigeon, Sholever, Pintail, and Pochard. Other interesting birds to be found are Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black-winged Kite, Caspian Tern, Bluethroat, and the scarcer Penduline Tit. Slender-billed Gull has been regularly sighted in recent years.
Breeding birds include Purple Swamphen, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Collared Pratincole, and Audouin’s Gull, which breeds regularly but in fluctuating numbers. The site has also the particular aspect of being the only one in Portugal where Lesser Short-toed Lark occurs. The barrier islands hold the largest colonies of Little Tern in Portugal, regularly seen fishing in the shallow waters, as well as a small population of Eurasian Thick-knee and Little Bustard. Interesting breeding birds also include Pallid Swift, Spectacled Warbler, European Bee-eater, and Black-eared Wheatear.
In the surrounding woodlands, species like Great Spotted Woodpecker, Woodchat Shrike, and Golden Oriole are present.
This self-guided birdwatching tour is great for nature photography in general and bird photography in particular; painting and illustration; scientific research; the pursuit of rarities (twitching), etc. Find with us an escape from the frantic daily life!
The route notes are designed to be a simple, easy-to-use field guide for all who enjoy watching birds in their natural habitat. Each itinerary is accompanied by a map and a description of how to get there, the most interesting species to be found there, and various tips about the best way to visit.
We’ll make sure you have an unforgettable experience, with no time-consuming search for places to stay, no research on the best birding sites – our tours are complete and most of all perfectly thought through and organized! The tour is designed to be enjoyed no matter your level of birding ability and expertise.
And in order to fully enjoy all the wonders of this tour, you’ll be roosting in the centre of Tavira, just 2km away from the closest bird observation spot!