Indian PittaLarge Grey BabblerPainted StorkGreat Thick-kneeRiver TernWhite-throated KingfisherRufous-tailed ShrikeOrange-headed Thrush
BUBO home   photos   species   trips   misc

Holiday to Monte Gordo, the eastern Algarve, Southern Portugal

Sunday July 28th until Sunday August 4th 2002


Vasco de Gama Hotel Monte Gordo


  1. Finding Birds in Southern Portugal – Dave Gosney

  2. A Birdwatching Guide to the Algarve – K &C Carson

  3. AA guide to the Algarve

  4. Avis Mapa da Estradas

Weather hot and sunny all week.

Sunday July 28 2002

Flight – Monarch airways to Faro scheduled to leave at 0700 finally departed about 0800; long delays gathering baggage at Fara. Taxi connection (organised by Cosmos) to the hotel (40 minutes) but no room ready!! Most of day spent in hotel grounds and pool.

Monday July 29 2002

Brief early morning stroll around town and into national nature reserve just a few hundred yards east of the hotel. Morning @ hotel and arranging for car hire. Afternoon trip to Reserva Natural do Sapal at Castro Marim; trip up to the barrage at Beiche and brief sortee into Spain over the new bridge. Needed to return to hotel by 5o/c for planned (but hopeless) meeting with holiday representative.

Tuesday July 30 2002

Early morning outing with Robert to the western portion of the Sapal reserve (Site 5 in Gosney); very cold north wind and unpleasant trying to watch in these conditions (especially as sun in eyes for most of the better areas at this site in early am). Later in day trip and look around Tavira, initially the town and later the canal on west side and saltpans on east side (East side site considerably better and easily viewed from small road to beach and new hotel – sites as described in Carson for west side not found). Return to M.Gordo in late pm.

Wednesday July 31 202

Early morning again in Sapal reserve – initially stopping at site by road just outside Vila Real de St Antonio then looking along muddy track leading into saltpans near Castro Marim and finally in more detail at site on last page of Gosney. Excellent morning.  After usual swim etc took trip into mountains – took N122 northwards along Rio Giadiana stopping at various points until reaching Alcoutim. Stopped here for refreshment overlooking the river. Drove westward to Martim Longo then south to Vaquieros. Stopped at gorge described in Carson – most unimpressive but Blue Rock Thrush there! Drove back on mountain road via Bentos, Alcarios, Fortim and Alto Nova to Azinahl and return to M.Gordo.

Thursday 1st August 2002

Morning excursion just JAN exploring the site described in Carson near Azinhal – difficult to find and rough road; no signposting in Azinhal. Area rather disappointing but at least some additional cover here. Late morning spent around hotel site then went to Quinta de Marim at Olhao; an environmental education centre for the Natural Park of Rio Formosa. This was difficult to find and was nearer Olhao than the AA guide suggested. A good walk with hides, and superb areas for birds. Returned to M. Gordo for evening – hotel 42nd birthday celebration with entertainment; bar-b-q and firework display laid on (freely) by the hotel for friends and guests.

Friday 2nd August 2002

No morning excursion but a brief seawatch from the apartment balcony. After lunch went to Parque Mineiro Cova dos Mouros near Vaquieros – thus drive through mountains; called off at Azinahl en-route to show RAN and DDN the town and “birding” site there. Drove back via Cachopo and Tavira. Evening in hotel.

Saturday 3rd August 2002

Morning excursion as Wednesday (not so good and fewer birds on most saltpans). Car returned late morning; and most of day then spent about M.Gordo. Mid pm (in thehet) I went for 2 hour walk in the pine woods just east of the hotel and in the reserve. 

Sunday 4th August 2002

Left hotel at 0800 to return from Fara on a 1055 flight – needless to say 2 hours delay and eventually got back to Gatwick about 1530.

 Birds seen:- those in bold not seen by RAN

Little Grebe

Easily found near Vila Real and in Sapal reserve; up to 6 in parties.


7 seen offshore  (long way) during only sea-watch

Cattle Egret

About 12 in Sapal reserve – often on grassland with cattle

Little Egret

Commonly encountered with large numbers in most wetland habitats – perhaps best views at Quinta de Marim.  Even found fishing puddles in dried up river valleys in the mountains

Grey Heron

Several in wetland reserves

White Stork

Nests and lots seen especially near Castro Marim


About 10 seen in saltpans of Sapal

Greater Flamingo

Various aged birds seen in Sapal reserve – 50+


Only duck encountered – small number in wetland habitats

Montagu’s Harrier

Two males – one hunting over Sapal on 31/7 the other sitting on road near Azinhal

Marsh Harrier

Single male flew over pine wood at M. Gordo on 3/8

Bonelli’s Eagle

One thought to be this species flew over road just south of Cachopo

Booted Eagle

A distant view over Castro Marim on 30/7

Red-legged Partridge

Single bird flushed from mountain road; covey of 40 near Azinhal

Water Rail

One watched stalking along edge of reeds near Vila Real


Small numbers at Quinta de Marim


As above but also seen on pool by main IP1 road near M.Gordo


Single bird seen out on mudflats at Qunita de Marim

Black-winged Stilt

Abundant bird in the saltpans – with young at the Sapal


Ca 40 at Sapal in a single flock + other smaller numbers on other saltpans (including Tavira and Quinta de Marim)

Collared Pratincole

Single bird in flight over pools and river at Vila Real

Ringed Plover

Several in salt pans (drier ones)

Little Ringed Plover

As above (more numerous) + one on pool in river at Martim Longa

Kentish Plover

Fairly common around saltpans

Grey Plover

Single bird in lagoon at Quinta de MArim


3-4 in same lagoon as Grey Plover

Curlew Sandpiper

Small parties – up to 6 seen on saltpans – some still in sp; mostly near Castro Marim on 31/7


Commonest small wader in saltpans

Little Stint

As Curlew Sandpiper – some young amongst adults


4-5 birds seen mainly at Quinta de Marim

Black-tailed Godwit

Numerous in saltpans

Bar-tailed Godwit

2-3 seen mainly in tidal areas


Most numerous and certainly most noisy wader in Sapal and Quinta de Marim reserves


A few seen most days

Green Sandpiper

Single bird in pools on dried river at Martim Longa

Common Sandpiper

Several on edges of saltpans

Mediterranean Gull

Two adults (both moulting) at Quinta de Marim

Black-headed Gull


Yellow-legged Gull


Lesser-Black-backed Gull

Notably less than Herring Gull

Sandwich Tern

Two seen offshore on 2/8

Little Tern

Common fishing on river and offshore especially at Sapal

Feral dove/pigeon

Regular (cheating adding this) – no Woodpigeons seen

Collared Dove

Plentiful about hotel and in pinewoods

Turtle Dove

Two near Azinhal and calling near Vaquieros

Pallid Swift

Few over Monte Gordo with common swift for comparison


Numerous in towns and over mashes


Singles seen at Alcoutim and on river at Martim Longa


Numerous especially in hills; party 40 flew south over Sapal on 30/7


One or  two seen most days – often just in flight; best views in pinewood on 3/8 & hotel

Green Woodpecker

Heard calling pinewoods on 3/8

Crested Lark

Several around saltpans

Thekla Lark

Several in bushes in hills especially in gorge near Martim Longa

Short-toed Lark

Few seen on tracks in Sapal

Crag Martin

Two –three seen near Alcoutim

Sand Martin

Two seen from car with other hirundines in hills

Red-rumped Swallow

Common in hills; some seen over Sapal



House Martin


White Wagtail

Two seen; @ Quinta de Marim and in gorge near Martim Longa

Yellow Wagtail

Several in saltpans


One calling – low growl from thick cover near Azinhal


Numerous and obvious

Black-eared Wheatear

Several seen but only in rocky areas in mountains

Blue Rock Thrush

Single bird in gorge as described by Carsons


Few seen  where suitable cover

Fan-tailed Warbler

Lots in saltpan areas

Sardinian Warbler

Commonest warbler in shrubby areas


One seen well with Sardinian W near Azinhal; note NO other warblers seen (or identified)

Spotted Flycatcher

Plentiful in pine woods – one in hotel garden

Crested Tit

Few in pinewood near M. Gordo

Blue Tit

Just one near Azinhal

Great Tit

Pair at Azinhal and several in pinewoods

Long-tailed Tit

Party at Alcoutim

Short-toed Treecreeper

Several in pine woods near Alcoutim

Great Grey Shrike

Widespread and fairly numerous

Woodchat Shrike

Widespread and fairly numerous

Spotless Starling

Widespread and fairly numerous

Golden Oriole

Several encountered near Alcoutim and Azinhal


Singles at Azinhal (with Azure winged Magpie) and near Cachopo

Azure-winged Magpie

Several parties seen on most days; some excellent views


Four near gorge at Matim Longa

House Sparrow

Widespread and fairly numerous


Only one seen (and heard) in hotel grounds


Widespread and fairly numerous


Widespread and fairly numerous


Few near Azinhal

Corn Bunting

Just one near Vaquieros

JAN 5th August 2002