TRAIL FACTSHEET: PERA MARSH | SALGADOS LAGOON
Location: Salgados, Pera/Praia Grande; Silves and Albufeira Municipalities, Central Algarve | Coordinates: 37° 5′ 41.8086″ N, -8° 20′ 5.6076″ W (Lat/Long); 37.094947 N, -8.334891 W (decimal degrees) | Grade: Easy/Moderate | Type: Linear Trail (Out & Back) | Length: about 5500 meters (3.4 miles) | Average Completion Time: up to 2-3 hours | Best Time to Visit: all year-round | Best Time for Birdwatching: Spring, Autumn and Winter; all seasons offer good birding opportunities | Activities: birding; nature walks; cycling, running & other outdoor activities; sightseeing; water sports; extreme sports;
Very rich in plankton and bordered by dense vegetation, the area’s waterbodies are right at the core of these distinct habitats. Such interfacing situation makes them a true magnet for a wide array of terrestrial and aquatic birds: indeed, Pera Marsh is one of the best places in the Algarve to observe beautiful species like the Glossy Ibis, the Red-crested Pochard and the Purple Heron (pictured above). Among others, scarcer birds like the Ferruginous Duck and the Squacco Heron may also inhabit Pera Marsh at different seasons of the year. [Aerial View by A Terceira Dimensão]
Starting at a parking site just in front of the dunes, there’s a boardwalk that immediately bifurcates into two diverging routes. To the east, the boardwalk follows the seaward margins of the lagoon; to the south, it heads directly to the wide beach. Here, the flowers add colour and perfume to the environment, mainly when the Curry Plant and the rare Spiny Thrift are in full bloom. An uncommon and striking species of spoonwing, the Thread-winged Antlion can be easily spotted flying over these flowers when the warm weather arrives. Already on the beach, it is possible to observe the 12.5 million years-old fossils of oysters, sea urchins, and shark’s teeth covering the rocky outcrops scattered across the sand.
Heading west from the parking site, there is also a dirt trail that runs parallel to the sea before inflecting first towards Praia Grande beach, and then towards the saltmarsh. Meadows and scattered orchards occupy the space situated between the Salgados lagoon and the small river’s mouth. Spiny Rush, Bulrush, and Reeds grow beside the freshwater stream, whereas Mastic, Dwarf Palm, and wild Thyme occupy the drier areas. Fig, Almond, and Carob trees are also sparsely dispersed throughout the smoothly undulated landscape. This is a good area to observe birds like Cetti’s Warbler, Hoopoe, Zitting Cisticola, Cattle Egret, Western Marsh Harrier, and Kestrel. The trail proceeds to the northwest, crossing pastures, Almond groves, and a patch of Umbrella Pines implanted on a weathered cliff. It finally ends near the ruins of old granaries and mills. Enjoy!