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Between August and November, Sagres Peninsula becomes a bird hotspot where many species of Western European raptors congregate in their thousands. Both the rising coastal plateau and the main coastal valleys funnel incoming birds towards Cape St. Vincent; knowledgeable birders will be waiting for them on the top of Monte da Cabranosa, the finest of the viewing points to watch low-flying birds of prey during their postnuptial migration. From Monte da Cabranosa, one can expect to observe both rare and more frequent species of vultures, eagles, hawks, harriers and falcons.

HOTSPOT FACTSHEET: MONTE DA CABRANOSA

Location: Monte da Cabranosa hill; Vila do Bispo municipality, Western Algarve | Coordinates: 37° 2′ 8.235″, -8° 57′ 14.8674″ (Lat/Long); 37.035621 N, -8.954130 W (decimal degrees) | Code: VB1 (Cabranosa is normally known as ‘P1’) | Completion Time: up to 12-16 hours, for the three Sagres Peninsula hotspots and adjacent areas | Best Time for Birdwatching: September-November is the best period; Spring migration is also worthwhile; all seasons offer birding opportunities; however, there’s a lower number of birds and bird species during summer | Protection Status: Natural Park; Biogenetic Reserve; Important Bird Area (IBA); Special Protection Area & Special Area of Conservation  (Natura 2000) | Activities: birding; nature walks; cycling, running & other outdoor activities; sightseeing; cultural travelling; extreme sports;

[PLEASE CHECK CABRANOSA’S BIRD SPECIALITIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE] The absolute best period to observe recurring species – such as Black Kite, Egyptian Vulture or Booted and Short-toed Eagles – runs from late September to early October, except in the case of the Griffon Vulture, a species that tends to arrive in late October and early November; a spectacle not to be missed, the mass arrival of these impressive vultures is an iconic event at the natural park. A higher proportion of uncommon, or regular but erratic species (like Cinereous Vulture, Iberian Imperial Eagle, Eleonora’s Falcon and Black-shouldered Kite) also tend to show up between late October and the first days of November. A large part of these birds are immatures on their very first crossing. However, birds of prey do not cross to the Maghreb directly from Sagres; instead, most of the birds redirect their flight to the southeast, towards the Straits of Gibraltar. After nesting in rugged river valleys throughout some of the most remote regions in Iberia (and elsewhere in Europe west of Germany), a few Black Storks usually turn up between mid-October and mid-November. These magnificent soaring birds can be accompanied by rarities such as Rüppell’s Griffon Vultures (which usually share the airspace with the large gatherings of Griffon Vultures), Lesser Spotted Eagles, Red-footed and Lanner Falcons, or Pallid Harriers. Sagres also recorded Europe’s first White-backed Vulture.

 

IMPORTANT TIPS & SUGGESTIONS
Monte da Cabranosa is located 2.0km / 1.25 miles northeast of Praia do Beliche. Depending on the season, the patch of land between these two landmarks provides good chances to observe Pipits (including Richard’s Pipit), Crested Tits, Redstarts, Shrikes, and a variety of Warblers and Flycatchers. To spot those birds on the way to Cabranosa, just follow one of the two parallel trails heading north along the pine hedge. This is the now (reasonably) famous “Sagres Hedge”, a privileged location for observing smaller species of birds like Ortolan Bunting or Woodchat Shrike. These rough trails merge at the end of the hedge; at that point, turn right heading east along the edge of the woods located to the left. Monte da Cabranosa is the small hill topped by a conspicuous trig point. Breeding Spectacled Warbler can also be found in the vicinity between March and November, and the pinewoods located further north are often populated by passing Western Bonelli’s Warbler. Start your journey early in the morning in order to take advantage of the available time, lighting conditions and bird activity. Bring along good binoculars and/or a telescope. Wide-angle lens are needed as much as a good zoom. During autumn and winter, strong winds (and sometimes gale-force winds) might blow throughout the peninsula. Wearing warm clothes is therefore highly advisable.

 

PLACES OF INTEREST NEARBY
Porto da Baleeira: Despite being slightly rundown and quite busy at times, Porto da Baleeira (Sagres’ small fishing harbour) might still be a valuable location to observe seabirds. Apart from the most common seagull species, local rarities such as the Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus) and the Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides) have been recorded at this location in the recent past. Purple Sandpipers (Calidris maritima) are regular during winter and Rock Pipit is an annual visitor (1-2 birds, recently). Boat trip operators offering cetacean- and seabird-watching are based on this harbour. Nearby, but reachable only from the town, Ponta da Atalaia is yet another good location to watch seabirds.

Martinhal Lagoon (Lagoa do Martinhal): Located in the scenic Martinhal beach, this is a seasonal and quite small wetland where it is possible to observe several waterbird species in autumn and winter (especially after a rainfall). Despite its size, the lagoon acts as a magnet for wandering waterfowl: species like the White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis) and the Grey Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius) have been found at Martinhal recently, whereas frequent finds at this location include White Stork (Ciconia ciconia), Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis), Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) and Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus).

Beliche Beach (Praia do Beliche): This is the beach to visit if you’re in Sagres on a windy day. It is smaller than others in the vicinity of the town, boasting a nice little bay and – generally – calmer waters; to reach the sandy bottom you’ll have to negotiate a steep and long stairway. It is located between the Cape and Sagres.

 

BIRD SPECIALITIES: MONTE DA CABRANOSA | SAGRES PENINSULA BIRDING HOTSPOTS
Aegypius monachus
Aegypius monachus
Cinereous Vulture
Oct.-Nov.
Anthus campestris
Anthus campestris
Tawny Pipit
Sep.-Oct.
Anthus richardi
Anthus richardi
Richard’s Pipit
Oct.-Dec.
Apus pallidus Algarve
Apus pallidus
Pallid Swift
Mar.-Oct.
Aquila adalberti AlgarveAquila adalberti
Iberian Imperial Eagle
Oct.-Feb.
Aquila chrysaetos Algarve
Aquila chrysaetos
Golden Eagle
Erratic
Aquila pennata Algarve
Aquila pennata
Booted Eagle
Sep.-Oct.
Calandrella brachydactyla Algarve
Calandrella brachydactyla
Greater Short-toed Lark
Mar.-Sep.
Ciconia ciconia AlgarveCiconia ciconia
White Stork
Resident
Ciconia nigra AlgarveCiconia nigra
Black Stork
Sep.-Oct.
Circus aeruginosus
Western Marsh Harrier
Sept.-Oct.
Circaetus gallicus AlgarveCircaetus gallicus
Short-toed Eagle
Sep.-Oct.
Cisticola juncidis Algarve
Cisticola juncidis
Zitting Cisticola
Resident
Coracias garrulus Algarve
Coracias garrulus
Roller
Aug.-Sep.
Elanus caeruleus Algarve
Elanus caeruleus
Black-shouldered Kite
Erratic
Falco eleonorae Algarve
Falco eleonorae
Eleonora’s Falcon
Sep.-Oct.
Falco naumanni Algarve
Falco naumanni
Lesser Kestrel
Jul.-Aug.
Galerida theklae Algarve
Galerida theklae
Thekla Lark
Resident
Gyps fulvus AlgarveGyps fulvus
Griffon Vulture
Sep.-Nov.
.
Hippolais polyglotta Algarve
Hippolais polyglotta
Melodious Warbler
Apr.-Sep.
.
Jynx torquilla Algarve
Jynx torquilla
Wryneck
Sep.-Nov.
Lanius meridionalis Algarve
Lanius meridionalis
Southern Grey Shrike
Resident
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator AlgarveLanius senator
Woodchat Shrike
Mar.-Sep.
Merops apiaster Algarve
Merops apiaster
Bee-eater
Apr.-Sep.
Milvus migrans Algarve
Milvus migrans
Black Kite
Aug.-Sep.
Monticola solitarius Algarve
Monticola solitarius
Blue Rock-thrush
Resident
Neophron percnopterus Algarve
Neophron percnopterus
Egyptian Vulture
Sep.-Oct.
.
Oenanthe hispanica Algarve
Oenanthe hispanica
Black-eared Wheatear
Mar.-Sep.
.
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
.
Phylloscopus bonelli Algarve
Phylloscopus bonelli
Western Bonelli’s Warbler
Aug.-Sep.
Ptyonoprogne rupestris AlgarvePtyonoprogne rupestris
Crag Martin
Autumn-Winter
.
Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax Algarve
Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Red-billed Chough
Resident
Sturnus unicolor Algarve
Sturnus unicolor
Spotless Starling
Resident
Sylvia cantillans Algarve
Sylvia cantillans
Subalpine Warbler
Sep.-Oct.
Sylvia conspicillata Algarve
Sylvia conspicillata
Spectacled Warbler
Mar.-Nov.
Sylvia melanocephala Algarve
Sylvia melanocephala
Sardinian Warbler
Resident
Sylvia undata Algarve
Sylvia undata
Dartford Warbler
Resident
Tachymarptis melba AlgarveTachymarptis melba
Alpine Swift
Mar.-Sep.
Turdus torquatus Algarve
Turdus torquatus
Ring Ouzel
Oct.-Apr.
Upupa epops AlgarveUpupa epops
Hoopoe
Resident