HOTSPOT FACTSHEET: TAVIRA SALTPANS
Location: Tavira, Eastern Algarve | Coordinates: Please see below | Code: TV1/TV2/TV3 | Completion Time: up to 6 hours, in aggregate | Best Time for Birdwatching: autumn, winter and spring | Activities: birding; nature walks/hiking; cycling, running & other outdoor activities; sightseeing;
Code: TV1 | Coordinates: 7º37’15.25’’W, 37º7’19.5’’N
This is a quite patterned area delimited by saltpans, dunes, farmland, scrubland and saltmarshes along one of Ria Formosa’s largest channels. There’s also the crumbling, eerie ruins of a 16th fort (Forte do Rato). Here, low tide exposes a vast area of mudflats where waders and long-legged birds feed throughout the year; among many others, species seen here include Spoonbill, Kentish Plover, Greater Flamingo, Little Stint, Greenshank, Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, Caspian Tern, Little Tern, Bluethroat and (very sporadically), Slender-billed Gull. High tide usually pushes these birds into the saltpans. In order to properly explore these varied coastal habitats, visitors are advised to stop at various points along the road that runs from Tavira to the Vila Galé Albacora Hotel (please check map above). The area surrounding Forte do Rato can be quite rewarding as well. There are no signposted walking trails, but this birding site is easily reached from Tavira proper; visitors can also obtain more information on the surroundings at the hotel.
Code: TV2 | Coordinates: 7º37’51.1’’W, 37º7’3.36’’N
Located on the area where the mouth of River Gilão flows into Ria Formosa and the ocean, this birding site includes mudflats, water channels, sparse scrubland and artisanal salt evaporation ponds. This is a good place to observe Bluethroat, Little Stint, Black-winged Stilt, Black-tailed Godwit, Spoonbill, Caspian Tern, Pied Avocet and Audouin’s Gull. The road connecting Tavira proper to the Ilha de Tavira boarding pier runs across this extensive area, providing good opportunities to park the car (or bicycle) and scan the area; however, visitors should also veer right to the saltpans along a dirt track located a few meters before the quay. There are no signposted walking trails in this area, but it is easily reached from Tavira’s centre. Here, visitors can also take the ferry boat and visit Tavira Island during the spring migration, notably in March and April. Its wooded areas and vegetated dunes are a staging post for migrating passerines like the Western Orphean Warbler, the Spotted Flycatcher, the Pied Flycatcher and the Whinchat. Species like the Melodious Warbler (April-September), the Redstart (March-October) and the Sardinian Warbler (resident) can also be seen on the island.
Code: TV3 | Coordinates: 7º38’48.6’’W, 37º6’13.99’’N
The Santa Luzia saltpans are located between the village of Santa Luzia proper and the mouth of River Gilão; this area is bordered by marshland at the eastern and western ends, and by orchards and farmland to the north and northeast. These saltpans are private property – visitors are advised to secure authorization from Sopursal S.A. (the owner: see contacts here) in order to visit them. Santa Luzia provides good opportunities to observe Spoonbill, Gray Plover, Spotted Redshank, Sanderling, Black-winged Stilt, Little Tern, Greenshank, Pied Avocet, Caspian Tern, Greater Flamingo and (especially) Audouin’s Gull. Uncommon birds like the Slender-billed Gull, the Curlew Sandpiper and the Western Reef Heron are occasional visitors to Santa Luzia; with luck, visitors will also have a chance to observe Stone Curlew (resident) and Spanish Sparrow (in September and October). Visitors can follow the road from Tavira to Santa Luzia and then choose one of several dirt tracks leading onto the saltpans; park your vehicle nearby and then explore the area on foot. The stretches of terrain immediately to the south and west of Tavira’s public Health Centre (‘Centro de Saúde de Tavira’) are suitable starting points. Late afternoon is the best time to visit the saltpans. There are no signposted trails and no information boards across this extensive area; there is however a trail leading to Praia do Barril (Barril Beach) that also provides good opportunities to observe waders and long-legged species; the Barril trail can be walked on foot (it takes about 15 minutes to reach the beach) or by mini railway train during high season.
Greater Short-toed Lark
Winter | Rare
Apr. & Sep. | Rare
Iberian Azure-winged Magpie
Apr. & Sep.