Quinta do Ludo and Quinta do Lago are two distinct but contiguous areas. One fittingly complements the other: while the latter is richer in freshwater species – like the Purple Swamphen or the Little Bittern – the former holds an abundance of waders and long-legged bird species that prefer brackish and saline water bodies. A beautiful corner of the Ria Formosa Natural Park, Quinta do Ludo is one of the most rewarding sites for bird watching in Algarve. Without a doubt, it is also one of the best places in the region to observe birds like the Greater Flamingo, the Booted Eagle or the Spoonbill, among many others.

HOTSPOT FACTSHEET: QUINTA DO LUDO

Location:  Quinta do Ludo, Faro, Central Algarve | Coordinates (Quinta do Ludo | Access via Faro Beach Road, M527-1): 37° 1′ 0.6744″ N, -7° 59′ 17.934″ W (Lat/Long); 37.016854 N, -7.988315 W (decimal degrees) |Code: LL1 | Completion Time: up to 5 hours | Best Time for Birdwatching: all year round | Activities: birding; nature walks/hiking; cycling, running & other outdoor activities; sightseeing;

[PLEASE CHECK LUDO’S BIRD SPECIALITIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE] Quinta do Ludo contains a wide variety of wetland and farmland habitats, as well as some Mediterranean scrubland and woodland. Its brackish and saltwater lagoons are bordered by active saltpans and saltmarshes that attract large numbers of Greater Flamingos. These majestic birds are present all year round in Quinta do Ludo, but the greatest concentrations occur between late Summer and early Spring. The remarkable beak of the Spoonbill can also be seen throughout the year probing the mudflats and shallow lagoons. Their numbers increase between the summer and the autumn. This is a somewhat shy species that is best observed with a good pair of binoculars, since Spoonbills tend to occupy the farthest areas of the lagoons. That won’t be a problem with most of the waders. Kentish Plovers and Black-winged Stilts are particularly abundant. Overall, the best time to observe waders in Ludo is during the migratory periods, in spring and autumn, when most of the European species can be seen all over the area. They are accompanied by significant numbers of Avocets, White Storks and Cattle Egrets. Other notable sightings include Audouin’s Gulls, Bluethroats, the Caspian Tern, the Little Tern and the Black Tern. Visitors should also inspect the reedbeds to the east and north, as well as the wooded areas of Pontal (see map). The reedbeds and adjacent areas are good places to observe Penduline Tits, Waxbills, Black-headed Weavers and the Great Reed Warbler.

Beautifully forested with Umbrella Pines (Pinus pinea) and with a remarkable variety of rare and fragrant Mediterranean shrubbery (best seen in spring, but definitely not in summer), the Pontal Forest is inhabited by species like the Red-necked Nightjar, the Short-toed Treecreeper, the Azure-winged Magpie and the Iberian Green Woodpecker. In summer, its clearings are also overflown by the colourful Bee-eater. One particular clearing (see map) is one of the best places in the region to observe this garrulous bird, and if you are careful and attentive, you will surely find the holes that serve as its nest (we are not disclosing its exact location to prevent unwanted attention). Do not be afraid to explore the forested area, as it is usually calm and very secure. The possible routes are not signposted. Birds of prey roaming the Quinta do Ludo area include Osprey (occasionaly), Scops Owl, Black-shouldered Kite and wintering Booted Eagle. Ludo has been repeatedly visited by scarcities like the Red-necked Phalarope, the Sociable Lapwing, the American Coot, the Cream-coloured Courser, the Upland Sandpiper and the Marbled Duck.
 
 
 

IMPORTANT TIPS & SUGGESTIONS

A visit to Quinta do Ludo and neighbouring Quinta do lago requires plenty of time, a willingness to walk and proper equipment, including sturdy footwear and suitable cameras or binoculars with powerful lenses. Visitors should also carry plenty of water with them when temperatures are higher. Visit Quinta do Ludo early in the morning and/or before sunset. Visitors are advised to use mosquito repellent when visiting Quinta do Lugo at dusk during summer. Also, the trails can be quite dusty in summer (but not at all unpleasant); visitors should protect their eyes with proper sunglasses.

PLACES OF INTEREST NEARBY

Apart neighbouring Quinta do Lago, there are several places of interest nearby. To the east of Ludo, the marshland is interrupted by the presence of the airport, whose construction predates the creation of the Natural Park. There is a trail that skirts the south side of the airstrip, bordering a large area of marshes and old saltpans. If you don’t mind roaring jets blasting in the distance, and a subtle smell of aviation fuel, this location is particularly good for Black-winged Stilt, Audouin’s Gull, Greater Flamingo (late in the day), Red-necked Nightjar (at dusk) and Crested Lark, among other species. In fact, at dusk, this trail provides one of the best places in the Algarve to observe the elusive Red-necked Nightjar. This bird likes to rest right on the middle of the trail, spoiling its natural mimetic properties. The bird’s dark shape contrasts vividly with the light-coloured dusty trail. To get there, instead of entering Ludo from the east, just veer left at a very small roundabout a couple of metres before the last bend on the road to Praia de Faro (see map above). Park your car at the end of the asphalted road and proceed on foot along the main trail. The track closely follows the airport fences. The Airport Trail is an ‘out and back’ route that extends for approximately 4.3 kilometres / 2.65 miles, one way.
 
You can also visit Praia de Faro. Located there is the municipal Centro Náutico (literally, ‘Nautical Centre’) where you can rent a kayak and paddle your way into the neighbouring saltmarhes on the other margin. If you’re lucky, you’ll observe many waterbirds, some of them difficult to spot in any other way. See its location on the map above by moving the viewpoint to the southeast. A kayak trip only costs about 2 euros, and you’ll be given a proper lifejacket and all the equipment you need apart from footwear. If you´re inexperienced, you’ll even get a free lesson on how to handle the kayak (it is easy). The Nautical Centre is closed on public holidays (opens 8.30am-12.30 | 2pm-5.30pm).
 
 
 

BIRD SPECIALITIES: QUINTA DO LUDO | FARO | WESTERN RIA FORMOSA BIRDING HOTSPOTS

 

Acrocephalus-arundinaceus-great-reed-warbler-algarveAcrocephalus arundinaceus
Great Reed Warbler
Mar.-Aug. | Infrequent
. Anthus campestris Anthus campestris
Tawny Pipit
Sep.-Oct.| Rare
Aquila pennata Algarve
Aquila pennata
Booted Eagle
Sep.-Oct.
Apus pallidus Algarve Apus pallidus
Pallid Swift
Mar.-Oct.
Ardea purpurea Purple Heron Algarve Ardea purpurea
Purple Heron
Mar.-Sep.
Bubulcus ibis Cattle Egret AlgarveBubulcus ibis
Cattle Egret
Resident
Calandrella brachydactyla Greater Short-toed Lark AlgarveCalandrella brachydactyla
Greater Short-toed Lark
Resident
Calidris ferruginea Curlew Sandpiper AlgarveCalidris ferruginea
Curlew Sandpiper
Winter | Rare
Calidris minuta Little Stint Algarve Calidris minuta
Little Stint
Autumn-Winter
Caprimulgus-ruficollis-Red-necked-Nightjar-AlgarveCaprimulgus ruficollis
Red-necked Nightjar
Apr.-Sep.
Cecropis-daurica-Red-rumped-Swallow-AlgarveCecropis daurica
Red-rumped Swallow
Mar.-Oct.
Short-Toed-Treecreeper-Certhia-brachydactyla-AlgarveCerthia brachydactyla
Short-toed Treecreeper
Resident
Charadrius alexandrinus Kentish Plover Algarve Charadrius alexandrinus
Kentish Plover
Resident
Chlidonias hybridus Whiskered Tern AlgarveChlidonias hybridus
Whiskered Tern
Apr. & Sep. | Rare
Chlidonias niger Black Tern Algarve Chlidonias niger
Black Tern
May-Jun./Aug.-Sep.
Ciconia ciconia Algarve Ciconia ciconia
White Stork
Resident
Cisticola juncidis Algarve Cisticola juncidis
Zitting Cisticola
Resident
Cyanopica cooki Iberian Azure-winged Magpie Algarve Cyanopica cooki
Iberian Azure-winged Magpie
Resident
Elanus caeruleus Algarve
Elanus caeruleus
Black-shouldered Kite
Erratic
Estrilda astrild Waxbill Algarve Estrilda astrild
Waxbill
Resident
Fulica cristata Red-knobbed Coot AlgarveFulica cristata
Red-knobbed Coot
Winter | Rare
Galerida cristata Crested Lark Algarve Galerida cristata
Crested Lark
Resident
Haematopus ostralegus Oystercatcher Algarve Haematopus ostralegus
Oystercatcher
Winter
Larus audouinii Algarve Larus audouinii
Audouin’s Gull
May-March
Luscinia svecica Bluethroat Algarve Luscinia svecica
Bluethroat
Jan.-Mar./Aug.-Dec
Himantopus himantopus Black-winged Stilt Algarve Himantopus himantopus
Black-winged Stilt
Resident
Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta AlgarveHippolais polyglotta
Melodious Warbler
Apr. & Sep.
Wryneck-Jynx-torquilla-AlgarveJynx torquilla
Wryneck
Apr.-Oct.
Lanius meridionalis Algarve
Lanius meridionalis
Southern Grey Shrike
Resident
Crested-Tit-Lophophanes-cristatus-AlgarveLophophanes cristatus
Crested Tit
Resident
Merops apiaster Algarve
Merops apiaster
Bee-eater
Apr.-Sep.
Milvus migrans Black Kite Algarve Milvus migrans
Black Kite
Mar.-Aug.
.
Oriolus oriolus Algarve
Oriolus oriolus
Golden Oriole
Apr.-Sep.
Otus scops Algarve
Otus scops
Scops Owl
Sep.-Oct.
.
.
Pandion haliaetus Algarve
Pandion haliaetus
Osprey
Erratic
Platalea leucorodiaPlatalea leucorodia
Eurasian Spoonbill
Resident
Phoenicopterus roseus Greater Flamingo Algarve Phoenicopterus roseus
Greater Flamingo
Resident
Picus-sharpei-iberian-green-woodpecker-algarve Picus sharpei
Iberian Green Woodpecker
Resident
Ploceus melanocephalus - Black-headed Weaver AlgarvePloceus melanocephalus
Black-headed Weaver
Resident
Ptyonoprogne rupestris AlgarvePtyonoprogne rupestris
Crag Martin
Autumn-Winter
Recurvirostra avosetta Pied Avocet Algarve Recurvirostra avosetta
Avocet
Oct.-Mar.
Sterna caspia Caspian Tern Algarve Sterna caspia
Caspian Tern
Aug.-Mar.
Remiz-pendulinus-penduline-tit-algarve Remiz pendulinus
Penduline Tit
Oct.-Mar.
Serin-Serinus-serinus-AlgarveSerinus serinus
Serin
Resident
Sturnus unicolor Algarve Sturnus unicolor
Spotless Starling
Resident
Sylvia melanocephala Algarve Sylvia melanocephala
Sardinian Warbler
Resident
Tachymarptis melba Algarve Tachymarptis melba
Alpine Swift
Mar.-Sep.
Upupa epops Algarve Upupa epops
Hoopoe
Resident