This book describes the best places to watch birds around Tavira and Alcoutim, in the eastern part of the Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region.
For the visiting birdwatcher, there are clearly two distinct sectors: the coastal lowlands and the dry inland areas. The coastal locations lie all near the Ria Formosa. From the birdwatcher's perspective, they are very interesting because of the large numbers of waterbirds. Around Tavira, there are many sets of saltpans, which above all attract many waders and gulls. In late summer, Audouin's Gulls can gather in flocks of many hundred, while Slender-billed Gulls can be seen year-round. Kentish Plover, Avocet, and Black-winged Stilt are all regular. Other waterbirds regularly seen at the saltpans include Flamingo, Spoonbill and Caspian Tern. The surrounding fields hold several interesting land birds including Black-shouldered Kite, Hoopoe, Iberian Magpie, Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler and the ubiquitous Spotless Starling. The barrier islands deserve a special mention. They consist mostly of dunes and saltmarsh and they have their own distinct birdlife.
The variety of resident birds is not very large but includes some interesting birds such as including Stone Curlew, Crested and Lesser Short-toed Larks; they are, however, more interesting during passage periods, as they are often used as a resting area for passerines on migration. The inland locations are not so well known among birders, however, they hold an amazing variety of birds, including many species that are not easy to find in the Algarve. Deep valleys such as those of rivers Odeleite and Vascão are great locations to find the rare White-rumped Swift or the elusive Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, along with Red-rumped Swallow, Hawfinch, Rock Bunting and Golden Oriole. At some places, namely at Feiteira, Cachopo and Porto Carvalhoso, there are patches of Cork Oak where one can find various woodpeckers, tits, Nuthatch, Redstart and, with luck, Orphean Warbler. The hilly areas covered with scrub are excellent locations to see Black-eared Wheatear, Subalpine Warbler and Thekla Lark. And in the plateau west of Alcoutim, one can look for large birds of prey, along with Red-necked Nightjar, Short-toed Lark and even Black-bellied Sandgrouse.