Birdwatching, the activity of watching, spotting, following, photographing birds or another definition is Birdwatching or birding is the observation of birds as a recreational activity. Twitching is a British term used to mean “the pursuit of a previously-located rare bird.” In North America it is more often called “chasing”, though the British usage is starting to catch on there, especially among younger birders.
Why is this important in Tavira and in this part of the Algarve as a whole. The Ria Formosa is one of the most beautiful and important wetlands of Portugal, featuring an extensive string of sandy barrier islands parallel to the coast protecting the interior of the ria from the sea and creating environmental conditions similar to an estuary. This system extends for almost 60 km between Ancão beach and Cacela Velha, with a very special biodiversity in which birds are of particular importance.
The result of this is the existence of numerous different types of habitats, such as reefs and sandbanks, saltmarshes and saltpans,various watercourses and fresh and brackish water lagoons, reedbeds, woodland and farmland. More than 300 bird species have been recorded here, some of them very rare and others recognised internationally as endangered, such as the Purple Swamphen – the symbol of the Natural Park – and Audouin’s Gull.
Every year more than 30,000 birds use theRia Formosa during their migrations and in winter, making this wetland among the three most important wetlands in Portugal. Some species are of European importance because of their important breeding populations, including the Little Tern, the Pied Avocet and Audouin’s Gull. The wide diversity of habitats here leads to the occurrence of a great number of species, one of the highest in Portugal, especially waterfowl, including waders and ducks in particular and, in lesser numbers, herons.The Ria Formosa is also noted for the highest numbers of wintering Eurasian Wigeon and breeding Red-crested Pochard in Portugal. On the land areas several species of woodland passerines occur, as well as various raptors.
So from the above you can see that the presence of the Ria Formosa attracts the birdlife and the birdlife attracts the birdwatchers. There are tours available for those that are interested and we have listed a number of useful websites below.
Birds & Nature Tour
Birding in Portugal
Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves