On this tour we go birdwatching in one of the most interesting sites of the Ria Formosa: Quinta do Lago and Ludo. The Ria Formosa is one of the most important wetlands for aquatic birds in Portugal hosting on a regular basis more than 20.000 birds during Winter. This is one of the reasons why it's considered a IBA (Important Bird Area). All this protected site area corresponds to a coastal lagoon that extends along 60 km (38 miles) with a huge diversity of habitats. This coastal lagoon is protected from the sea by five barrier islands and two peninsulas.
Birdwatching with a nature tour guide/biologist, use of telescope, binoculars and field guide. On this tour we explore the pine woodlands of Pontal were we encounter species like the Azure-winged Magpie (Cyanopica cyanus), Great Tit (Parus major) and the Red-necked Nightjar (Caprimulgus ruficollis). In the surrounding reedbeds one can easily find the Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus), Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) and the Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus). Further ahead we explore an interesting complex of saltpans where are Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta), Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) and the colourful Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) are common. This is also a important breeding site for the elegant Little Tern (Sterna albifrons) and the lovely Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus). When we approach the stream of São Lourenço, our first sighting are the ever present Coot (Fulica atra). A closer look allow to observe birds like the Gadwall (Anas strepera), Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata), Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope), Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus), Common Pochard (Aythya ferina), Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) and the Garganey (Anas querquedula). On the surrounding eucalyptus trees one has great views of the White Stork (Ciconia ciconia). On this tour sightings of the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and the Black Kite (Milvus migrans) are frequent during winter and with luck one may have great views of the Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus). Our tour ends at the bird hide at Quinta do Lago. This is an extraordinary site for bird watching rare species in Portugal. Here we have excellent opportunities to observe rare birds like the Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) which is the symbol of this Natural Park, Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus), Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina), the Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) and the Kingfisher (Alcedo attis).
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