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Birdwatching

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Detailled itinerary   

Day 1:  Arrival to Lisbon.
Overnight: Hotel 4*
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Once you arrive in Lisbon, take a taxi to your hotel. The rest of the day is free.

 
Day 2:  Évora.
Overnight: Hotel 2*
Meals: Breakfast
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In the morning, the Guide will meet the group at the hotel at 8:30am. After checking out, we will start our trip to Évora, that will take was 1h to get there.
Historic City of Portugal, known as World Heritage by Unesco due to it’s monuments. Évora is also surrounded by numerous areas of ornithological interest, in particular for the observation of steppe birds or waterfowl. The fallow land and cereal fields surrounded by cork oak forests are frequented throughout the year by the White Stork, the Black-shouldered Kite, the Little Bustard and the Corn Bunting. In summer time others species like the Booted Eagle, the Montagu’s Harrier, the Black Kite or the Lesser Kestrel join this community. In winter we could still see the Red Kite and Crane, being very common, flocks of Skylark, Lapwing and Golden Plover. Distributed throughout the region are also numerous dams, busy throughout the year by a diverse community of grebes, herons and ducks. Other birds of interest include, in the spring and summer, the Pratincole and the Great-spotted Cuckoo.
 
 

 
Day 3:  Mourão - Moura - Barrancos.
Overnight: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast
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Being close to the border with Spain, Mourão is rich in culture and tradition. There are a number of observation spots located on the ancient towers and castles. Apart from the incredible views from these vantage points, there is a good selection of birds that use the ruins, like the Blue Rock Trush, Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Pallid Swift, Serin, Hoopoe, among others.
This area is famous for its fine selection of steppe birds. The cereal fields harbour important populations of the Great and Little bustards, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Stone Curlew, Black-shouldered Kite and Calandra Lark. During the spring and summer the Montagu’s Harrier is one of the most common birds, and species like the Black Kite, Common Quail and Gull-billed Tern are very abundant here. In the winter, the region is the stronghold for the Crane. Winter is also the best time to see the Golden Plover, Lapwing, Red Kite, Hen Harrier and Stock Dove.
Moving to the oak woodlands, we will reach Barrancos. Here the inhabitants speak a local dialect which sounds like a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish. The beautiful woodlands are crossed by rivers and streams that run along deep valleys and gentle plains. Barrancos is famous for its birds of prey. Here Griffon and Black vultures search for dead carcasses. This is also one of the best places in Portugal to spot the rare Iberian Imperial Eagle. The Golden Eagle occurs all year-round. During the hottest months many other species like the Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Black Stork, Woodchat Shrike and also the rare Orphean Warbler can be found. The Holm Oak woodland is also an important habitat for resident species like the Azure-winged Magpie and Rock Sparrow.
 

 
Day 4:  Castro Verde Plains and Mértola.
Overnight: Hotel 3*
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This day will be spent around Castro Verde. The cereal fields around this village are the stronghold for steppe birds in Portugal. The dry and poor soils of these vast plains support internationally important numbers of threatened birds. Here we will have a second chance to spot some of these specialities, including some summer visitors like the Lesser Kestrel, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Roller and Collared Pratincole. The plough fields are also worth for Short-toed larks and Tawny pipits. The region is important for the rare Iberian Imperial Eagle, as some immature birds are regularly spotted here.
Around Mértola, a beautiful ancient Mourish village bordered by the Guadiana river, Spanish sparrows are easily found on the telephone wires. During the summer, European bee-eaters also abound and often perch on the roadsides. At this time of the year, in the remote areas, the riverside vegetation support localised species like the Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin. Here, Melodious and Subalpine warblers are not difficult to find. In the dense thickets Iberian chiffchaffs nest.
 

 
Day 5:  Guadiana Valley and Estuary.
Overnight: Hotel 4*
Meals: Breakfast - Picnic
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The Guadiana is the largest river of southern Portugal. On its lower part, it makes the border with Spain. The river ends in a beautiful estuary, home of a superb selection of birds. Before it reaches the ocean the river crosses unique landscapes. Its rocky margins are home of resident species like the Rock Bunting and the Blue Rock Thrush. Black-eared wheatears and Black storks can also be found along the river during the breeding season. The mosaic of woodlands and cereal plots are the favourite ground for species like the Red-legged Partridge or the Thekla Lark.
The wetlands near Castro Marim constitute a key area in the southern Portugal for breeding, migrating and wintering aquatic birds. The artisanal saltpans produce the famous salt in Portugal. Here Black-winged stilts abound along many other species of waders and waterfowl. The deepest tanks are good for the Greater Flamingo, Eurasian Spoonbill and the rare Slender-billed Gull. During the winter, small groups of Black-necked grebes can also be found regularly, alongside other aquatic birds like the Spotted Redshank and the Caspian Tern. White storks are always present, being much more abundant during the summer. The dry marshes formerly used to cereal production, support the single population of Lesser Short-toed Lark that can be found in the country.
 

 
Day 6:  Ria Formosa Natural Park.
Overnight: Hotel
Meals: Breakfast
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Ria Formosa is an internationally important wetland for aquatic birds, in particular for waders, and is also vital for an increasing demanding tourist industry. Stretching 60 km along the coast it is the largest wetland of southern Portugal. This fragile ecosystem is maintained by an extensive network of barrier islands that protects the lagoon from the sea waters. The old saltpans are the stronghold for the breeding Kentish Plover, Avocet and Little Tern in Portugal. Unlike the Little Tern, the Audouin’s Gull can be found all year round, with the highest abundances recorded in the summer, when a small breeding population and numerous migrants can be found. Waders, gulls and ducks are abundant, among many other species.
The freshwater lagoons in the park used to be the single area in the country for the Purple Gallinule, although the species is much more widespread today. Here, there is a good selection of aquatic birds, like the Water Rail, Little Bittern and Red-Crested Pochard. The very rare Crested Coot has been recorded together with the much more abundant Common Coot. The adjacent woodlands support good populations of Little Owl, Red-necked Nightjar, Hoopoe and Azure-winged Magpie.
 

 
Day 7:  Sagres and the Southwest coast.
Overnight: Hotel 4*
Meals: Breakfast
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Before heading to Lisbon, we will spend the day on the south-western corner of Europe. It was from the village of Sagres that the early sailors left in the XV century to discover new land and establish the earlier Portuguese overseas territories. At that time, the outstanding cliffs facing the turbulent ocean close to the Cape S. Vincent, may have looked as beautiful as they are today. Peregrine falcons, Red-billed Chough, Eurasian Jackdaw and Yellow-legged gulls regularly patrol the cliffs and the fields searching for food. During the southward migration seabirds are abundant. Regular species include Cory’s and Balearic shearwaters, Northern Gannet and Great Skua, to mention just a few.
Sagres is the best area of the country for migrating soaring birds. During autumn migration up to 25 species of raptors can be seen. In the end of summer, the Egyptian Vulture, Honey-buzzard, Black Stork and Raven are a regular sight. Several hundred birds of prey can be seen together with Booted and Short-toed eagles, and the Black Kite being the most abundant. On the pine woods is possible to spot Eurasian Hobby, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Bonelli’s Warbler. Rare but regular species include the Eleonora’s Falcon. The scrubs hold Sardinian and Dartford warblers all year round.
 

 
Day 8:  Tagus Estuary - Lisbon.
Overnight: Hotel 4*
Meals: Breakfast
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Less than 30 minutes outside Lisbon is situated the estuary of the Tagus river.
Situated on its mouth, the city has flourished in part due to its navigable waters, abundance of resources (e.g. fish and shellfish), and the highly productive agricultural lands that border the estuary. Such abundance and vastness also attract several bird species, in particular, waders, ducks, gulls, herons, raptors and many passerines, making this key wetland of international importance for conservation. With over 250 species recorded, this natural reserve deserves at least a day to explore its rich avifauna.
The extensive network of channels and the rice fields support interesting birds like the Squacco and Purple herons, Great Egret, Glossy Ibis, Whiskered and Gull-billed terns. Over the last 20 years, a diverse community of exotic introduced species successfully colonised the area and species like the Yellow-crowned Bishop, Black-headed Weaver and Red-billed Quelea are not difficult to find. The reeds support good numbers of the Reed Bunting, Penduline Tit and Bluethroat, mostly during winter, although the species are also present on migration. Marbled duck has been recorded regularly over the last year in a few different spots.
The huge intertidal area provides food for many thousands of Greater flamingos. Shelduck and Eurasian Spoonbill also forage on the shallow waters, together with tens of thousands of aquatic birds, like dunlins, Grey plovers and Black-tailed godwits. With adverse sea conditions, Mediterranean and Little gulls often choose the protection of the estuarine waters to rest. The woodlands have a rich community of passerines and the Short-toed treecreepers and the Spotless starlings are among the most common species. A pair of Bonelli’s Eagle also breeds in the woodlands and forages regularly in the plains.
 

 
Day 9:  Departure from Lisbon.
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The day is free.
Those with a return flight scheduled for this day should be at the airport at least two hours before the time scheduled for departure (in Europe) or three hours (Intercontinental flights).
 
 

 
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