Birding Under Blue Skyes: The Great Bustard Adventure – 3201S

Self-Drive Birdwatching

From 495.00 pp

Duration: 8 Days / 7 Nights

Availability: January - December

Birding Under Blue Skies: The Great Bustard Adventure is a Self-Drive Birdwatching Tour, designed by professional local birders to help you see as much of the avifauna and flora as possible, including the enigmatic Great Bustard! In order to fully enjoy this personalised tour, you’ll be lodged in the heart of Monte Gordo, with easy access to a wealth of bird observation settings, beyond any birder’s life list!

Highlights

  • The opportunity to observe the Great Bustard in one of the few places in Europe where they live and breed in large flocks.
  • Traditional Saltpans with numerous tanks, channels, creeks, and drainage ditches, where salt is manually harvested.
  • Spectacular birding in the Ria Formosa Natural Park
  • Visit the Castro Marim Natural Reserve
  • A fantastic itinerary developed and perfected by professional local birders
  • Abundant species: Oystercatchers, Avocets, Dunlins, Little Stint, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail, Pochard, Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black-winged Kite, Caspian Tern, Bluethroat, Penduline Tit, Purple Swamphen, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Collared Pratincole, Audouin’s Gull, Little Tern, Eurasian Thick-knee, Little Bustard, Pallid Swift, Spectacled Warbler, European Bee-eater and Black-eared Wheatear.
  • The amazing Portuguese gastronomy and wines
  • Includes all the information and services you need, from detailed route notes to a 24h hotline

Birding Under Blue Skies: The Great Bustard Adventure is a Self-Drive Birdwatching Tour, designed by professional local birders to help you see as much of the avifauna and flora as possible, including the enigmatic Great Bustard! To fully enjoy this personalised tour, you’ll be lodged in the heart of Monte Gordo, with easy access to a wealth of bird observation settings, beyond any birder’s life list!

Between the sandy beaches of the east coast and the Guadiana River, lies a small fisherman’s village. Monte Gordo with its warm weather, traditional roads and shops, sand dunes, pine woods and famous fresh seafood is a great base for our birdwatching holidays.

Its privileged location near the Guadiana estuary is blessed with special and diverse natural ecosystems, being home for hundreds of bird species, some of them endemic and typical of the Mediterranean habitats.

Based in some important wetlands areas in the Algarve, including the Ria Formosa Natural Park, the Guadiana Estuary, and the Castro Marim Natural Reserve, this birding tour counts with an excursion to the Alentejo, to observe the elusive Great Bustard, one of the world’s heaviest birds, and also a free day, to give you the opportunity to explore.

The Ria Formosa Natural Park is of particular importance as a wintering area for many birds from northern Europe and as a resting and feeding station for birds migrating between Africa and Europe. The area is classified under the Ramsar Convention as a Wetland of International Importance and as a Special Protection Area under the EU Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds.

Amongst other species, you can encounter Black-tailed Godwits, Ringed Plovers, Little Stints, Little Bittern, Purple Swamp-hen, Purple Heron, Red-crested Pochard, Collared Pratincole, Kentish Plover, European Bee-eater, Red-necked Nightjar, Woodchat and Southern Grey Shrikes, and Little Tern. Marsh Harriers are resident as are a small number of Booted Eagles, now a regular sight in winter. Where in season, Ferruginous Duck, Purple Heron, Black-winged Kite, Penduline Tits and Blackheaded Weaver can be found.

Born in the Spanish hills, the Guadiana River marks the border between Portugal and Spain, and winds its way through hills swathed with rockrose, olive, carob and almond tree, and the traditional schist houses. The area provides shelter for countless species of fauna and flora.

East of Monte Gordo, the Castro Marim Natural Reserve presents the visitors with glimpses of European Goldfinches, Short-toed Tree Creepers, and Sardinian warblers, just to name a few. At the saltpans it is possible to watch several species of water birds, including the Audouin’s Gull, Little Tern, Collared Pratincole and Yellow Wagtail (spring/summer); Shelduck, Shoveler, Black-necked Grebe and Caspian Tern.

All year round it is possible to find Flamingos, Black-winged Stilts, Spoonbills, Greenshanks and Avocets. Kingfisher is regular at this location and, during migration times, Black Tern often turns up.

This self-guided birdwatching tour will allow you to take your time and engage in the activities of your preference, from the simple pleasure of observing birds in their natural habitats; nature photography in general and bird photography in particular; painting and illustration; scientific research; the pursuit of rarities (twitching), etc.

The observation of and contact with nature are a true balm with countless benefits!

The route notes are designed to be a simple, easy to use field guide for all who enjoy watching birds in their natural habitat. Each itinerary is accompanied by a map and a description on how to get there, the most interesting species to be found there and various tips about the best way to visit.

We’ll make sure you have an unforgettable experience, with no time consuming search for places to stay, no research on the best birding sites – our tours are complete and most of all perfectly thought through and organised! The tour is designed to be enjoyed no matter your level of birding ability and expertise.

Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrival at Faro Airport and rent-a-car pick up

Individual arrival to Faro Airport and rent-a-car vehicle pick up. Drive to Monte Gordo.

 

Day 2 – Guadiana Estuary & Castro Marim Natural Reserve

Born in the Spanish hills, the Guadiana River extends over 810km until it reaches the sea and marks the border between Vila Real De Santo António and Ayamonte.
The river winds its way through hills swathed with rockrose, olive, carob and almond tree and the traditional schist houses. The area provides shelter for countless species of fauna and flora.
East of Monte Gordo, in the National Forest of the Maritime Dunes of Vila Real de Santo António, the tranquillity of the green “3 Pauzinhos” Trail presents the visitors with glimpses of European Goldfinches, Short-toed Tree Creepers and Sardinian warblers, just to name a few.
At the “Cerro do Bufo” saltpans it is possible to watch several species of water birds, including the Audouin’s Gull, Little Tern, Collared Pratincole and Yellow Wagtail (spring/summer); Shelduck, Shoveler, Black-necked Grebe and Caspian Tern.
All year round it is possible to find Flamingos, Black-winged Stilts, Spoonbills, Greenshanks and Avocets. Kingfisher is regular at this location and, during migration times, Black Tern often turns up.
The saltmarsh and the salt-pans are located near the Interpretative Centre/Headquarters for the Castro Marim Nature Reserve and are the best place to observe Caspian Tern, Common Redshank and Black-winged Stilt. According to registered observations, there have been recent sightings of Red-necked Phalarope in this area.

 

Day 3 – Lagoa de São Lourenço & Ludo

The Lagoa de São Lourenço is a body of water which is largely surrounded by a golf course. The Lagoa is rich in aquatic vegetation, edged by reeds and bulrushes and thus is rich in avifauna. In winter large numbers of ducks including: Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Teal, Common Pochard, Eurasian Wigeon and Tufted Duck gather. However, there are many special birds which make their homes here all year round including Red-crested Pochard, Little Bittern, Purple Swamp-hen, Black-headed Weaver and Great Crested Grebe. They are joined in summer by Little Terns, hirundines and swifts.
At the southern end of the lake are the channels, salt marsh, lagoons and sandy barrier islands of the Ria Formosa which, depending on the tide and the season, can be teeming with waders, gulls, herons and egrets. To the east of the golf course is an area of pines which open onto Ludo, a busy salt producing farm where it is possible to see Greater Flamingo, Eurasian Spoonbill, Booted Eagles and many nesting White Storks.

 

Day 4 – Tavira  and Olhão

There are many paths to explore around the Salinas and birds can be found on any of the pans depending on the state of the tide and the season.
Except in high summer the most numerous species are usually Avocets, Dunlin, Sanderling and Black-tailed Godwits. But look carefully as it was in this area that a rare long-billed Dowitcher was once found. Slender-billed, Mediterranean and Audouin’s Gulls can often be found amongst the countless Lesser Black-backs. This is also a good place to find one or two Caspian Terns roosting and in the breeding season Little Terns should also be here.
Except for a few weeks in late summer you should see White Storks on or around their nests which are easy to spot atop the tall chimneys.
The Quinta de Marim is an area of approximately 40 hectares comprising salt marsh, saltpans, Mediterranean scrub and pine forest, freshwater lagoons, beaches and mudflats.
With such a range of habitats it is possible to see a wide range of bird species.
If you are visiting in the spring look out for orchids in the wooded areas and in the summer months look out for Mediterranean Chameleon.
Forte do Rato is a good place from which to watch birds on the muddy channel at low tide. The Salinas are best visited at high tide when waders and gulls move from the channels which are inundated by the tide.
The Santa Luzia salt-pans and saltmarshes attract a wide range of birds according to season. Autumn and winter bring Spoonbills, hundreds of Greater Flamingos, Audouin’s Gulls and Slender-billed Gulls and as many as 20 species of wading birds, including Stone-curlews. In spring/summer, local breeding species include European Bee-eaters, Red-necked Nightjars, Little Terns, Avocets and Kentish Plovers.
Notes: Should you be interested, an optional 1h30m bird watching boat trip is offered on this day at 10h45am (costs not included).

 

Day 5 – Free Day

This is an ideal opportunity to relax and enjoy the attractions of the Algarve. You can walk/tour independently, or visit local places of interest. From Faro there is a wide variety of sightseeing available (we can advise and/or recommend options according to your interests). For birdwatching you may wish to visit Sagres to the West or Vila Real de Santo António to the East.

 

Day 6 – Isla Cristina Marshes Nature Reserve – Ayamonte, Spain

The Marismas of Isla Cristina (Isla Cristina Marshes Nature Reserve) is a system of beaches, sandbanks, tidal channels, fish farms and pinewoods, creeks and disused salt pans. Scattered across an area of 2.1 square km, the marshland nature reserve spreads between the Carreras estuary to the east and Ayamonte and the Guadiana estuary to the west.
Around the shores of the marshes, colonized by glasswort, are sand dunes covered by pine and juniper trees.
The marismas are full of a good variety of waders, terns and gulls all year round, although winter is the best time to see them. Storks, Spoonbills, Flamingo, Black-winged stilts and Marsh Harriers are among the birds that can be spotted. Breeding birds include Montagu’s Harriers, Bee-eaters and Hoopoes.
In the middle of the Isla Cristina Marshes Nature Reserve there’s a recently rehabilitated saltwater tide mill. In the past it used the technology of hydraulic mills and harnessed the force of the tides to move its mill wheels.
Today, the “El Pintado Mill” is a visitor centre equipped with different areas, including a nature reserve room and a mill room. Outside, along with the views, the visitors can also enjoy the picnic area.
According to the sightings in this area the resident bird population includes Marsh Harrier, Spoonbill, Little Egret, Flamingo, Yellow-legged Gull, Hoopoe, Kentish Plover and Black-winged Stilt. Migration periods of the year may bring Knot, Spotted Redshank, Common Tern, Arctic Tern and Black Tern.

 

Day 7 – Castro Verde

In Castro Verde the main target is the Great Bustard, one of the world’s heaviest birds. It inhabits a huge area of uniform countryside in the Baixo Alentejo and can sometimes be difficult to see. Other species that can be found include (according to season) Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Calandra Lark, Lesser Kestrel, European Roller, Griffon Vulture, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Red Kite, Black Kite, Montagu’s Harrier, Common Crane and Little Bustard. It is also an important breeding area for White Storks. In spring, large areas are carpeted with multi-coloured wildflowers – a truly memorable sight.

 

Day 8 – Individual departure or extra days (on request)

Info

Hotel Baia de Monte Gordo

Hotel Baia de Monte Gordo

Hotel

Hotel Baia de Monte Gordo (3***) or similar

In the centre of the beautiful Monte Gordo village, 200m away from the sea, the modern Hotel Baía de Monte Gordo*** offers simply decorated rooms with balconies, air conditioning, LCD TV with satellite channels, electronic locks, safe, Wi-Fi in all rooms, telephone with outside line and equipped bathroom with tub and hairdryer.
The top floor of the hotel features an outdoor pool with a retractable roof surrounded by a breath taking panoramic view.
The hotel’s restaurant provides typical local dishes as well as international cuisine, served with a wide range of drinks, including local wines.

What's included

Accommodation

  • 7 nights in a twin room for two pax (3 stars hotel)
  • Single supplement available with a surcharge
  • Extra nights available on request

Meals

  • 7 buffet breakfasts at the Hotel
  • Half-board available with surcharge (buffet dinner at the hotel without drinks)

Transport

  • Rental car vehicle (class A with ABS, 4 seats and 3 doors)
    Your car rental includes unlimited mileage, insurance (except Excess and TWL), and 24h Travelling Assistance
  • Rental car upgrade and extras available on request, with extra costs

Your information pack includes

  • Accommodation vouchers
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • General information about your holiday
  • List of species more common and where to find them
  • List of hotel(s)
  • Directions for arriving at your first hotel, if applicable
  • Detailed maps and route notes in your own mobile with App Routes & Maps (or detailed travel documents 1x per room)
  • Foreign Office Travel Advice
  • Assistance 24/7

Exclusions

Any services not listed as included

  • Flights to and from Portugal
  • Meals, tips/gratuities, baggage or personal insurance (except as outlined)
  • Admission fees to castles & attractions or events (except as outlined)
  • Personal expenses
  • Supplements

Insurance

You must be adequately insured to join our Guided and Self-Guided holidays. We do not insist that you insure with us but we require that you are adequately insured for the nature of your holiday.

BeCool Travel has partnered with WorldNomads.com to keep you travelling safely. WorldNomads.com Travel Insurance is designed for independent and adventurous travellers, with coverage for overseas medical expenses, cancellation, baggage, and other expenses.

Please consult our Travel Insurance page, where you’ll be able to get more detailed info about insurance requirements and an immediate quote for your trip.