|European bee-eaters—freshly arrived spring migrants —n southern Portugal following a winter in Africa.|
|João Jara at our first birding stop, a cork oak grove on a farm along the Tagus Estuary.ã|
We birded three main regions in southern Portugal: The Tagus Estuary, the Alentejo, and the Algarve. We started with the Tagus Estuary, which is just a 30-minute drive across the river from Lisbon. The Tagus is one of Europe's most important bird habitats, lying as it does, along the primary Eurasia-to-Africa migratory flyway. We saw huge flocks of greater flamingos, all manner of shorebirds, ducks, and wading birds such as storks, herons, egrets, ibises, and bitterns.
|View of the Tagus Estuary at dawn from Alcochete.|
|Mixed habitats along the Tagus include farm fields, riparian areas, and salt pans with a rich variety of birds.|
|Great bustard habitat in the Alentejo. The white dots are displaying males.|
|Male great bustard.|
|Our breakfast most days was some fantastic baked pastry and a serious cup of coffee.|
|Fresh-caught fish on display for dinner in Mértola.|
|Small fried fingerling fish, a delicious appetizer in Tavira.|
|A view of Mértola.|
|Walking up the road to the church in Mértola.|
Our lodging near Tavira in the Algarve, was in a former tuna-canning factory now transformed into a luxury hotel. The hotel was surrounded by salt pans and a small tidal river basin with both working and pleasure boats swaying in the tide.
Alas, we soon had to head back north to Lisbon for my return trip home. João treated me to a short city tour of Lisbon the morning of my flight, further impressing me with the rich history and culture of his native country. I was only in southern Portugal for a week, but those days were ample time to land this country on a short list of places I am eager to visit again.
Here are a few other images and birds from Portugal...
|Birding the mountains outside Mértola.|
|The hoopoe is the one bird most of João's clients wish to see.|
|Little bittern in a wetland complex in the Algarve.|
|The landscape in Portugal is incredibly alluring. This is from the Alentejo.|
|Blue rock thrush digiscoped at the Wolf's Leap near Mértola.|
|BT3 and João Jara, along the Guadiana River, near Mértola.|