Birdwatching Guide to the Algarve[ALGARVE BIRDWATCHING: PLEASE SELECT BIRD HOTSPOTS BELOW OR CHECK MARKERS ON THE MAP ABOVE] The Algarve is the Portuguese region with the greatest diversity of avian species – in total, about 400 different bird species have already been observed within the region’s boundaries. That amount increases a few notches every year. Such biodiversity within the European context is explained by several factors. The first is Algarve’s environmental diversity: the region has a wide array of different habitats, including mountains, saltpans, farmland, shrubland, grassland, dunes, cork oak forests, tidal flats, lagoons, marshes, and karrenfelds (among many others); within the Algarve there are also two major protected parks – Ria Formosa and Costa Vicentina – as well as a wealth of protected landscapes and reserves, like Rocha da Pena, the Alvor Estuary, and the Castro Marim Nature Reserve. The third factor is Algarve’s privileged location, right at the confluence of three distinct bioregions (North African, Mediterranean and North Atlantic), and in close proximity to Andalusia (where Doñana National Park is located) and to the Alentejo. Both the Alentejo and Doñana are prime habitat for many migrating and wandering species that may stop in the Algarve along the way. And finally, the Algarve lacks a true industrial sector (it has a service-based economy devoted to tourism), and therefore it has very little, if any, industrial infrastructure or pollution. Add to all that its main agricultural practices – mostly family-based, organic and traditional – and the Algarve ends up with a very favourable environment for many resident and migratory bird species (and for their respective birders).
The contents of the following pages have benefited from the precious help provided by Guillaume Réthoré. A birdwatching guide with ample knowledge and experience, Guillaume has been working for A Rocha Life Portugal since 2010. He is a licensed bird ringer in Portugal and occasionally works for an environmental consultancy company (mainly focusing on raptor migration). Guillaume is also a regional reviewer for ebird (Brittany and part of the Algarve) and a regional coordinator for the Common Bird Census.