|Tagus Estuary Tours|
Lisbon is the only European capital located near such a rich Bird & Nature hotspot – the Tagus estuary.
This estuary is the most important Portuguese wetland area and one of the most important ones in Europe.
The Tagus estuary, a Ramsar wetland site of international importance, includes a wide Special Protection Zone (ZPE) and a Nature Reserve (RNET), of over 14.000 hectares, specifically created to protect wintering, passage and breeding populations of aquatic birds; however, because of the specific geography of the area, it abounds in a remarkable variety of non-wetland biotopes as well, including wooded slopes and extensive pastures. Put together, the greater Tagus estuary contains a quite extraordinary range of birds, from Greater Flamingo to Black-shouldered Kite and Squacco Heron to Little Bustard.
The area bird list includes more than 250 species.
Visiting the Tagus estuary is a fantastic experience at all times of the year.
In winter, it holds over 120.000 waders, waterfowl and other aquatic birds; during migratory periods, the bird diversity is at its maximum, and it is not unusual to observe more than 100 species in a single day; during the summer, the estuary is alive with breeding species more usually associated with the Mediterranean.
Nature seems especially close here, because of the unique age-old relationship between agriculture and the land. Enormous, powerful black bulls abound, lazing under cork oaks, while the ecological balance created over the centuries has ensured a wide biodiversity.
The range of lichens on cork is both unique and remarkable. Many wild mammals are common, especially the Egyptian Mangoose, which is regularly seen, moving in family groups.
The places visited include special habitats: inter-tidal mudflats, salt marshes, salt pans, rice fields, reed beds, cork oak woodlands and wide steppe-like pastures.
Some of the most interesting locations visited in the estuary include the port of Hortas, Samouco, Barroca d’Alva, Ribeira das Enguias, Pancas and Ponta da Erva.
In the breeding season it is possible, amongst many other activities, to visit a thriving heronry where 7 species breed; great care is taken not to disturb these birds.
Each field trip to this protected area is carefully planned to capitalise on tide, weather light, as well as the customer´s target species. Recent reports of interesting species are available to optimize each trip.
Given the closeness of Lisbon to the Tagus estuary, Birds & Nature has half day (morning or afternoon) and full day guided tours to the area.
Some notable species, which are scarce elsewhere or difficult to see, or are essentially Mediterranean species (not occurring much further north), have significant populations in the Tagus estuary area, and include Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Purple Heron, White Stork, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Red-crested Pochard, Osprey, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle, Black Kite, Black-shouldered Kite, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Water Rail, Purple Swamp-hen, Little Bustard, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Stone-curlew, Collared Pratincole, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Mediterranean Gull, Little Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Black Tern, Whiskered Tern, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Red-necked Nightjar, Pallid Swift, Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Woodlark, Short-toed Lark, Calandra Lark, Red-rumped Swallow, Water Pipit, Yellow Wagtail (iberian race), Bluethroat, Sardinian Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Savi’s Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Bonelli’s Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff, Penduline Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Spotless Starling, Golden Oriole, Spanish Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Serin, Reed Bunting and Cirl Bunting.
In certain areas of the estuary there are breeding populations of exotic species, these include: Common Waxbill, Black-headed Weaver, Yellow-crowned Bishop and Red Munia.
Rare or Accidental Species
Because of the diversity of habitat and the importance of the site for migrants, allied to its geographical position at about 38º N, the Tagus estuary has hosted recently some remarkable Portuguese rarities, including Reef Egret, Lesser Flamingo, Ruddy Shelduck, Marbled Duck, Green-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Long-tailed Duck, White-headed Duck, (Greater) Spotted Eagle, Red-knobbed Coot, Pacific Golden Plover, American Golden Plover, Sociable Lapwing, Terek Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Great Snipe, Wilson’s Phalarope, Pectoral Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitcher, Franklin’s Gull, White-winged Tern and Red-throated Pipit.
Birds & Nature Tours is a registered tourism company (RNAAT nº 25/2008 - Turismo de Portugal I.P.)
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