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A Report from

Portugal, Algarve and Alentejo, April 2000 (Last two weeks),

Alec Chaney

This was a family holiday (two young grandchildren) so birdwatching was a secondary consideration. We spent only one full and three half days visiting actual birding sights but saw plenty of interesting birds around our resort. We stayed at Jardin Do Vau Nr Praia do Rocha, which is next to the beach (Vau) and gave excellent cliff walks. Opposite the hotel were areas of rough ground of old olive trees and some cork oaks. The undergrowth was full of wild flowers and with the recent rains everywhere was green and colourful. A shepherd regularly crazed his sheep & goats and there were lots of cattle egrets & jackdaws on the ground (and on the animal's backs!)

The air was filled with Swallows (incl. red-rumped), Martins (house and sand), Swifts (pallid & alpine). There were numerous Hoopoes ,Serins and Sardinian warblers plus Little Owls and Bee-eaters. The whole effect was magical with the sounds and flower scents adding to the atmosphere .The weather was very disappointing with only the occasional clear day and temperatures often were only 15oC in the day! However I wore my shorts every day and only occasionally needed a sweater, and it did not keep us in except for the cool evenings.

Summary of Birds



Cattle Egret                             

Numerous at Vau with colony nesting on big rock near Headland

Little Egret

Few at Alvor Estuary

Grey Heron

Small numbers at Alvor& Pera Marshes

Purple Heron

Three gave good views at Pera Marshes

White Stork

Common overall with an amazing `Stork City` on Castro Verde /Mertola road NR large Landfill site. For a stretch of about 5 miles there seemed to be a nest on every telegraph pole!


Eight (juv) feeding at Pera Marsh. Many flying over at Quinta do Largo


Common on suitable waters


Some at Pera


Some at Pera

Black Kite

One NR Mertola

Montagu`s Harrier

Many males hunting on Santa Barbara de Padroes via Rola roads

Marsh Harrier

One female hunting over Pera Marshes


One overhead nr Mertola

Booted Eagle

One (dark phase) hunting over Alvor Estuary


One hawking insects over Vau headland

Red-legged Partridge

Three feeding in field nr Mertola


Many calling at Alvor and in Alentejo.One brief glimpse of a bird scurrying across the road

Water rail

Calling at Pera.and three seen flying over the reeds


Many at Alvor & Pera

Purple Gallinule

Six at Pera, many birds dancing on top of the reeds in a kind of `lek` display

Little Bustard

Four in Alentejo .close view of male flying then on the ground

Great Bustard

9 Altogether on Santa Barbara road nr Rola.  Distant scope views of birds on the ground, then excellent views of flying birds (two males flew low overhead) which was very spectacular

Black-winged Stilt

Many at Alvor & Pera

Collared Pratincole

One flying over in Alentejo (nr Bustards)

Kentish Plover

Many at Alvor & Pera

Grey Plover

One in full breeding plumage at Alvor


Flocks of 30/40 birds were seen daily mainly on the coast. Hundreds of birds must have been passing through



Red-rump Swallow

Many both on the coast and under bridges on the Alentejo

House martin


Crag Martin

Some under bridges on the Alentejo

Alpine Swifts

Many on the coast

Pallid Swift

Numerous on the coast


Some amongst the flocks


Heard in the Alentejo but not seen

Blue rock Thrush

One seen flying over Vau clifftop



Fan-Tailed Warbler



Heard but not seen

Sardinian Warbler

Were everywhere and they seemed to be nesting in every bush!

Blue Tit

Some in Storks nests

Great Tit

Some overall

Great grey Shrike

9 in the Alentejo

Woodchat Shrike

Many in coastal areas, some in Alentejo

Spotless Starling

Some in Alentejo

Azure-winged Magpie

Good but brief views of many flying birds in the pines NR Vau headland


Common in coastal region


Some on the coast


Common & numerous

Spanish Sparrow

Some amongst the Storks nests

Common Waxbill

Two confiding birds at Vau. Close views of others from the hide at A.Rocha (Alvor) 


Some in the Pines NR Hotel being harassed by a Little Owl


Common and males very visible on the wires





Corn Bunting

Numerous on the Alentejo

Sandwich Tern

Many on the Alvor estuary

Little Tern

Some at Pera Marsh

Whiskered Tern


Collared Dove


Rock Dove

Many on the headland at Vau


One heard in the Alentejo

Little Owl

Many perched on Buildings/Posts


One fishing at Pera


Common from day 1 but increased  in numbers by the second week


Common overall and very numerous around Vau giving us the best and closest views ever of these birds on the ground

Crested Lark

Many overall

Thekla Lark

Some in the Alentejo

Little Bittern

At least 4 present at Pera (but not seen by me!)

Yellow-legged Gull

Common on the coast

Black-headed Gull

Few at Alvor

Little Grebe

Several at Pera


One at Alvor

A Rocha cruzinha nr Alvor estuary

We received a very warm welcome at this field study centre, which is open to visitors, Thursday mornings 09.30-12.30

Outside the small hide were Waxbills and many coloured frogs. On the day we visited two snakes were in silent courtship just outside the hide!

The staff were very courteous and a good source of local bird info.

There is a board showing recent sightings at the entrance.


Trip reports by both Gruff Dodd and Colin Davies were very helpful and the formers excellent directions helped us to find the Bustards in the Alentejo

Special thanks to John Girdley for providing the website for us to share our experiences


A birdwatchers guide to the Algarve by Kevin & Christine Carlson

Birds of Europe by Lars Jonsson


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