The Sado estuary, the second largest estuary in Portugal, is an area of enormous natural wealth and biodiversity.
The area lies a little more than 30 minutes from Lisbon, and includes two Zones of Special Protection and a Nature Reserve (RNES), which area is about 23.000 hectares. The Sado estuary is a Ramsar site of international importance.
Though the wetland area has great importance as a wintering site and migration stop-off point, it also holds important breeding populations of Purple Heron, Marsh Harrier, Black-winged Stilt and Little Tern. The Nature Reserve bird list includes more than 250 species.
A visit to the Sado estuary is interesting at any time of the year. In winter the area holds thousands of wintering waders and ducks; during migration, the number of species increases and it is not unusual to observe more than 100 species in a day; in summer, due to the remarkable range of habitats, the breeding species may number close to 100.
The richness of biotopes is responsible for this prolific avifaunal diversity, not just amongst aquatic species, but also birds associated with hills and woodland. The estuary incorporate a number of different habitats, ranging from inter-tidal mudflats, salt marshes, salt pans, rice fields, reed beds and river beaches, to sand-dunes, small dams and slopes covered in cork and pine.
Some of the areas of major interest include: Gâmbia, Zambujal, Pinheiro, Monte Novo de Palma, Batalha, Cachopos, Carrasqueira and Comporta.
During the breeding season, visits to breeding colonies of herons are possible; great care is taken to minimise disturbance.
The estuary holds a small and unique population of Bottle-nosed Dolphins; individuals and small pods are frequently seen.
As previously mentioned, each guided tour has an itinerary that is tailor-made to capitalise on tide, weather light and participants special requirements. Recent reports of interesting species are available to optimize each trip.
Because of its proximity to Lisbon, Birds & Nature
runs half day (morning or afternoon), as well as full day guided tours to the Sado estuary.Main Species
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 Sado estuary area, and include Black-necked Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Purple Heron, White Stork, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Red-breasted Merganser, Osprey, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Black Kite, Black-shouldered Kite, Marsh Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Water Rail, Purple Swamp-hen, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Mediterranean Gull, Little Tern, Caspian Tern, Black Tern, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Short-eared Owl, Red-necked Nightjar, Pallid Swift, Hoopoe, Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Woodlark, Short-toed 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, Crested Tit, Penduline Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Southern Grey Shrike, Azure-winged Magpie, Spotless Starling, Rock Sparrow, Serin, Reed Bunting and Cirl Bunting.Exotic Species
In some parts of the estuary, small colonies of exotic species may be found: Common Waxbill, Black-headed Weaver, Yellow-crowned Bishop, Red Munia and Chestnut Munia.Rare or Accidental Species
In recent years, many species that are considered major rarities in Portugal have been seen in the Sado estuary area, including Lesser Flamingo, Ruddy Shelduck, Green-winged Teal, Long-tailed Duck, Surf Scooter, Red-knobbed Coot, Lesser Sand Plover, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper, Iceland Gull and Red-throated Pipit. Prices
Half Day Private Tour
1 person – 120 euros
2 persons – 160 euros
3 persons – 200 euros
4 persons – 240 euros
(+ 40 euros per additional person)
Full Day Private Tour
1 person – 190 euros
2 persons – 250 euros
3 persons – 310 euros
4 persons – 370 euros
(+ 60 euros per additional person)
Contact us now for reservations or further details (click here
Birds & Nature Tours is a registered tourism company (RNAAT nº 25/2008 - Turismo de Portugal I.P.)