Musings and photos of wild and everyday life

Ria Formosa, Algarve

Garrao Beach, Faro, AlgarveGolden beaches, blue skies, warm weather and good food and wine – sounds like an ideal holiday location.

Add in fantastic bird life and you have a hell of a location!   The Ria Formosa lagoon is a designated Natural Park in Portugal’s Algarve, that stretches from Faro to past Tavira in the East.  It is a mixture of lagoons, salt pans and islands that attracts hundreds of thousands of birds, especially during migration.

In early Spring, we had the pleasure of a great week in Tavira and the neighbourhood.  Tavira itself is lovely and there is a wide variation of sights, habitations and things to do nearby.

Cormorant European race sinensis calling Algarve
White Stork mounting mate on Chimney nest Castro MarimReasonably common are Cormorants of the European race, Sinsensis, which have brilliant white head gear, in breeding plumage.

White Storks take most of the vantage posts, waiting on their sites for their returning mates to join them from Africa or building nests together, accompanied by loud, far carrying ‘clacking’ as they greet each other with their beaks.

The birds can be seen and heard in most of the towns and on old factory chimneys elsewhere.Curlew Sandpiper walking in inlet W of Tavira Algarve
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In the salt Pans themselves a wide range of waders and larger birds can be found.  These include Curlew Sandpipers, Greater Flamingos, Kentish Plover and the speciality species, the Spoonbill.

Kentish Plover spring Cabanas Algarve

This unusual bird with a long, strong beak equipped with a spoon-like tip, is hard to miss.

Greater Flamingo and juv salt pan Fuzeta AlgarveSpoonbill feeding in Environmental Education Centre of Marim National Park of Ria Formosa Olhao

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Black-winged Stilt imm salt pans Tavira.

Common in the pans are Whimbrel, Redshanks, Greenshanks, Little Egrets and Black-winged Stilts.Black-winged Stilt & reflection beak open salt pans Tavira

Golden Plover W walking in Gilao river TaviraAlso to be found are Golden Plover, extravagant Hoopoes and skulking Water Rails.Hoopoe with grub in tree Isla da Tavira AlgarveWater Rail in inlet W of Tavira Algarve

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Stone Curlew flying Isla da Tavira AlgarveMore remote areas such as on the islands, can throw up Stone Curlews.
Bluethroat M Quinta do Lago Algarve
Gadwall M&F in pool in EECM National Park of Ria Formosa OlhaoSurrounded by oppulent golf clubs, lakes and ponds host many birds that are often easily seen reasonably close. This includes the beautiful Bluethroat, large birds such as Flamingos, Spoonbills and Glossy Ibis as well as ducks such as Gadwall and Red-crested Pochard.Red-crested Pochard M&F Vale de Lobo AlgarveGlossy Ibis at Vale de Lobo Algarve
Crested Lark Vale de Lobo AlgarveSandwich Tern flying Vila Real AlgarveCrested Larks are quite common.Bonelli's Eagle Fl flying Mertola Algarve

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Of course there are also plenty of Gulls – particularly Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed as well as terns, particularly Sandwich Terns.

Shrub birds such as Serin, Zitting Cisticola and Waxbills can be seen near the towns while further inland you can see a good range of raptors.  We saw Kestrels, Lesser Kestrels, Marsh Harriers and Bonnelli’s Eagles.

.Sun declining over Tavira & 4 Aquas

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A beautiful place and a nature paradise.

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