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  • Where to watch BIRDS and

  • other wildlife in the world
  • Photograph of Great Bustard

    A Great Bustard, the heaviest flying bird in the world (along with Kori Bustard), by Michael McKee.

    PORTUGAL

    Best Wildlife in Portugal

    Mammals
    A chance of Bottlenose (small resident pod, Sado Estuary) and Common Dolphins.

    Birds

  • This list is for the period April to September.

  • Specialities
    Greater Flamingo, Black-shouldered Kite, (Eurasian) Black Vulture, Spanish Eagle, Great and Little Bustards, Audouin's Gull, (Iberian) Azure-winged Magpie and Spotless Starling. Also a chance of Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Red-necked Nightjar and White-rumped Swift.

    Others
    Red-legged Partridge, Red-crested Pochard, herons, Little Bittern, (Eurasian) Spoonbill, White and Black Storks, (Eurasian) Griffon Vulture, Montagu's Harrier, Bonelli's, Booted, Golden and Short-toed Eagles, Lesser Kestrel, Purple Swamphen, Stone Curlew (Eurasian Thick-knee), Kentish Plover, (Pied) Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Collared Pratincole, Gull-billed Tern, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Alpine and Pallid Swifts, (European) Bee-eater, (European) Roller, Hoopoe, Iberian/Southern Grey and Woodchat Shrikes, (Red-billed) Chough, Calandra, Greater Short-toed and Thekla Larks, (Eurasian) Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Firecrest, Iberian Chiffchaff, Dartford, Sardinian, Spectacled and Subalpine Warblers, (Western) Black-eared Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting and Spanish Sparrow. Also a chance of Ferruginous Duck, Balearic, Cory’s, Great and Sooty Shearwaters, European and Wilson’s Storm Petrels, Caspian Tern, Slender-billed Gull, Lesser Short-toed Lark, (White-spotted) Bluethroat (in autumn), Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin (Rufous Bush Chat), Black Wheatear, Western Orphean Warbler, Alpine Accentor (winter) and Rock Sparrow.

    There are also six, breeding, non-native species present in Portugal: Crested Myna, Yellow-crowned Bishop, Black-headed Weaver, Common Waxbill, Red Avadavat and Black-headed Munia.

    Invertebrates
    A fine selection of butterflies including Spanish Festoon and Two-tailed Pasha.

    Plants
    The rich spring flora includes lots of lavenders, peonies and orchids, and many species present in the far southwest of the country, around Cape St. Vincent, are Lusitanian specialities; restricted to this corner of Portugal, and North Africa.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Portugal

    Best Times for Wildlife in Portugal

    The best time for spring flowers is late March when the best time for birding begins. Great and Little Bustards usually start displaying at this time, many spring passage migrant birds are moving through and even many summer visiting birds have arrived (a few, such as Roller, usually arrive later in the year). Spring/summer birding remains good until mid-May, arguably peaking in mid-April. The peak autumn migration period for birds is usually late September-early October and this is when the annual eight-day Sagres Birdwatching Festival takes place.

    Recommended Books etc. for Portugal

    Collins Bird Guide by L Svensson et al. Collins, 2010 (Second Edition).

    Birds of Europe by L Jonsson. Helm, 1999.

    A Birdwatchers' Guide to Portugal, the Azores and Madeira Archipelagos by C Moore et al. Prion, 2014 (Second Edition).

    Finding Birds in South Portugal by D Gosney. Easybirder, 2013 (Book and/or DVD).

    Collins Butterfly Guide by T Tolman and R Lewington. Collins, 2009 (Third Edition).

    Butterflies of Britain and Europe: A Photographic Guide by H Aarnio et al. A & C Black Publishers, 2009.

    Wild Flowers of the Mediterranean by M Blamey and C Grey-Wilson. A & C Black, 2004.

    Mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East by S Aulagnier et al. Helm, 2009.

    Mammals of Britain and Europe by D McDonald and P Barrett. Collins, 2005.


    Apps etc.

    Collins Bird Guide.

    Where to watch birds in Europe & Russia by N Wheatley. Helm, 2000.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Europe? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for Portugal

    Many trip reports, some for Portugal, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Portugal. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Portugal' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Portugal

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.


    Accommodation in Portugal


    Some Organized Tours to Portugal

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and they are popular with people with partners with different interests. Individuals, partners and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more for a custom tour than an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours to Portugal include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.