The night trip I talked about previously was only one part of The Sagres Birdwatching Festival. The Sagres Peninsula was the venue for the festival on the 4th to 6th October 2013. It is the only site in Portugal where the autumn migration of soaring birds can be observed.
The festival is the biggest birdwatching event in Portugal and plays host to a variety of different events and activities, all themed around the enjoyment of nature. Activities such as boat trips, scuba diving, horse riding, birdwatching trips, moth/ plant/ fungi courses, astronomical observations, bird ringing, nest box building, lectures, photography lessons, mountain bike riding and more are all on offer!The festival is organised by SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal) along with Almargem and is part of the rural development project 'Um Outro Algrave' (Another Algarve).
The boat trip I went on was highly enjoyable - after the initial disconcertion of going on a pelagic in what looked like a banana boat! It was a little windy when we were out so the bird watching didn’t go all that well, but views of Common Dolphin, Hammerhead Shark, Balearic and Cory’s Shearwater, lots of gulls and a Gannet diving near us made up for it!
Not only was the festival a great way for adults and children to interact with nature, but it’s also promoted the work of conservation organisations like SPEA.
A trip to Monte de Cabranosa provided superb views of soaring birds. But is also a bird monitoring session that the public can get involved in.
The soaring birds spot provided great views of raptors such as Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Black Kite, Hobby, Sparrowhawk plus lots of other birds including storks, a scorpion and a Swallow-tailed Butterfly that had me running along the ridge trying to get a picture…
A gorgeous Booted Eagle
Black Stork flying over Cabranosa
This scorpion was really amazing!
This butterfly had me running past birdwatchers looking up to try and get a picture – not the best of pictures but I’m happy!
Lagoa dos Salgados is a coastal lagoon that has been formed by the confluence of two rivers. The area is very urban and surrounded by a golf course and hotels, but yet provides a fantastic wildlife refuge.
It would have been great to explore the reserve fully but from our short walk we still saw Glossy Ibis, a melanistic Montagu's Harrier and a really interesting looking locust.
If I thought wandering around the golf course at Ria Formosa was odd, visiting the Vilamoura Reedbeds topped it… Standing, or in my case falling over, on a slope amongst the trees, overlooking a large water treatment works full of birds and plastic islands did feel odd, but it was stunning for wildlife!
Black-necked Grebe, Red-crested Pochard, and Black-winged Kite were my favourite sightings.
Our last birding spot was the Foz do Almargem, a small costal lagoon with waders and loads of gulls including Audouin's and Yellow-legged Gulls. It is a great place to wander round to look for wildlife.
All in all I had a wonderful visit to the Algarve. It’s a nice place to visit. The people are wonderful, the food is great and the birding is easy.
For me, if I return it would be an indication of how good a place has been – and yes, I would love to return to Portugal and explore it fully.
I would like to say a big thank you to my new friends, all of our guides, Ana Vargues and everyone at the Algarve Promotion Bureau for all the hard work organising this fantastic trip.
For more information on the Algarve visit: www.visitalgarve.pt and www.algarvepromotion.pt