The southern edge of Quinta do Lago is one of the major birding hotspots in the whole of the Algarve. This site is located at the westernmost boundary of the thriving Ria Formosa Natural Park, just a few miles to the west of Faro. In concert with such privileged location, its fresh and brackish water lakes and lagoons attract a significant number of migrant and resident birds. There’s no other place in the country where Purple Swamphens, Red-crested Pochards, Black-headed Weavers and Tufted Ducks are so effortlessly observed.


Location:  Quinta do Lago, Almancil, Loulé municipality, Central Algarve | Coordinates (Quinta do Lago Beach paid car park): 37° 1′ 42.8196″ N, -8° 1′ 15.8232″ W (Lat/Long); 37.028561 N, -8.021062 W (decimal degrees) |Code: LL1 | Completion Time: up to 3 hours | Best Time for Birdwatching: all year round | Activities: birding; nature walks/hiking; cycling, running & other outdoor activities; sightseeing;

[PLEASE CHECK QUINTA DO LAGO’S BIRD SPECIALITIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE] A spacious bird hide overlooking the main freshwater lake at Quinta do Lago is one of the best places to see the varied waterfowl (please verify the map above). This relatively large lake is bordered by abundant reed beds and by the São Lourenço golf course. There is a very diverse range of natural and man-made habitats surrounding it within a few miles radius – from lush gardens to thick pinewood, and from tidal lagoons to saltpans, dunes, the ocean, islets, marshes and scrubland. Here, many birds large and small are able to find the ecological niche that suits them better. A few of the local specialities include Little Bittern – present year-round – and small numbers of Purple Heron and Glossy Ibis. Scarcer but not necessarily rare species include Black-necked Grebe, Squacco Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron and Ferruginous Duck. The Great Reed Warbler is only seen during migration. Much rarer indeed is the Red-knobbed Coot, a species particularly hard to detect anyhow, since it tends to intermingle with the usually abundant Common Coots present at the lagoons. Cattle Egrets, Black-winged Stilts and the Snipe hang about the reedy banks, a place where they are escorted by passerines like the Zitting Cisticola, the Waxbill and the occasional wintering Penduline Tit.

Commoner waterbirds include Great Crested Grebe (more abundant in winter), Little Grebe, Shoveler, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard and Moorhen. The larger birds are very accustomed to talkative humans brandishing clubs and silent ones brandishing cameras, and are not easily scared away. Along the São Lourenço Trail it is almost certain that birders will observe Iberian Azure-winged Magpies, White Storks, Serins, Sardinian Warblers, Collared Doves and Hoopoes aplenty. The absolute best time to see these species during summer is about 45 minutes before sunset. At dusk, Purple Swamphens also abandon the lake to graze on the lawn, making their observation a bit easier than during the day. This is also the best time to look for the Mistle Thrush and the first Red-necked Nightjars of the ensuing night. In autumn, no matter where you glance through the area, you are bound to observe many birds, including sometimes migrating Tawny Pipits and several warblers, notably Willow and Melodious Warblers. The pinewoods and gardens throughout the area are good for Iberian Green Woodpecker, Crested Tit, Wryneck, Short-toed Treecreeper and Cetti’s Warbler. The Quinta do Lago area has been a magnet to an impressive array of rarities and scarcities like the African Sacred Ibis, Little Crake, Wood and Dusky Warblers, Baillon’s Crake, Barnacle Goose, Ruddy and White-headed Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, White-winged Tern, Ring-billed Gull and Red-necked Phalarope.


A visit to Quinta do Lago and neighbouring Ludo requires plenty of time, a willingness to walk and proper equipment, including sturdy and comfortable 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 Lago early in the morning or before sunset. During summer, when visiting Quinta do Lago at dusk visitors should use mosquito repellent.


faro-airport-trail-aQuinta do Lago and Ludo are contiguous areas. Ludo is partially within the Ria Formosa Natural Park and is largely composed of saline water habitats inhabited by long-legged and marine birds. Towards Faro, the marshland and surrounding woodland matrix is interrupted by the presence of the regional 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 altered 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. 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 track. The trail 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.

. Anthus campestris Anthus campestris
Tawny Pipit
Sep.-Oct.| Rare
Apus pallidus Algarve Apus pallidus
Pallid Swift
Ardea purpurea Purple Heron Algarve Ardea purpurea
Purple Heron
Ardeola ralloides Squacco Heron Algarve BirdsArdeola ralloides
Squacco Heron
Summer/Autumn | Rare
Aythya nyroca Ferruginous Duck AlgarveAythya nyroca
Ferruginous Duck
Spring/Winter | Rare
Bubulcus ibis Cattle Egret AlgarveBubulcus ibis
Cattle Egret
Calandrella brachydactyla Greater Short-toed Lark AlgarveCalandrella brachydactyla
Greater Short-toed Lark
Caprimulgus-ruficollis-Red-necked-Nightjar-AlgarveCaprimulgus ruficollis
Red-necked Nightjar
Cecropis-daurica-Red-rumped-Swallow-AlgarveCecropis daurica
Red-rumped Swallow
Short-Toed-Treecreeper-Certhia-brachydactyla-AlgarveCerthia brachydactyla
Short-toed Treecreeper
Charadrius alexandrinus Kentish Plover Algarve Charadrius alexandrinus
Kentish Plover
Chlidonias hybridus Whiskered Tern AlgarveChlidonias hybridus
Whiskered Tern
Apr. & Sep. | Rare
Chlidonias niger Black Tern Algarve Chlidonias niger
Black Tern
Ciconia ciconia Algarve Ciconia ciconia
White Stork
Cisticola juncidis Algarve Cisticola juncidis
Zitting Cisticola
Cyanopica cooki Iberian Azure-winged Magpie Algarve Cyanopica cooki
Iberian Azure-winged Magpie
Estrilda astrild Waxbill Algarve Estrilda astrild
Fulica cristata Red-knobbed Coot AlgarveFulica cristata
Red-knobbed Coot
Winter | Rare
Galerida cristata Crested Lark Algarve Galerida cristata
Crested Lark
Himantopus himantopus Black-winged Stilt Algarve Himantopus himantopus
Black-winged Stilt
Melodious Warbler Hippolais polyglotta AlgarveHippolais polyglotta
Melodious Warbler
Apr. & Sep.
Ixobrychus minutus Little bittern AlgarveIxobrychus minutus
Little Bittern
Wryneck-Jynx-torquilla-AlgarveJynx torquilla
Crested-Tit-Lophophanes-cristatus-AlgarveLophophanes cristatus
Crested Tit
Netta rufina Red-crested Pochard AlgarveNetta rufina
Red-crested Pochard
Nycticorax nycticorax Black-crowned Night Heron AlgarveNycticorax nycticorax
Black-crowned Night Heron
Picus-sharpei-iberian-green-woodpecker-algarve Picus sharpei
Iberian Green Woodpecker
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus AlgarvePlegadis falcinellus
Glossy Ibis
Sep.-Mar. | Rare
Ploceus melanocephalus - Black-headed Weaver AlgarvePloceus melanocephalus
Black-headed Weaver
Porphyrio porphyrio Purple Swamphen galinulle AlgarvePorphyrio porphyrio
Purple Swamphen
Porzana porzana Spotted Crake AlgarvePorzana porzana
Spotted Crake
Ptyonoprogne rupestris AlgarvePtyonoprogne rupestris
Crag Martin
Remiz-pendulinus-penduline-tit-algarve Remiz pendulinus
Penduline Tit
Serin-Serinus-serinus-AlgarveSerinus serinus
Sturnus unicolor Algarve Sturnus unicolor
Spotless Starling
Sylvia melanocephala Algarve Sylvia melanocephala
Sardinian Warbler
Tachymarptis melba Algarve Tachymarptis melba
Alpine Swift
Upupa epops Algarve Upupa epops