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“Bird Watching Trip to Portugal - April 22 - 27, 2013”

Birds & Nature Tours
Ranked #7 of 213 Outdoor Activities in Lisbon
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Birds & Nature Tours is the first Portuguese company specifically dedicated to birds and birding tours.We offer you a wide variety of programmes, including guided birding tours, photographic tours, bird-dedicated courses and birding trips outside Portugal
Reviewed May 9, 2013

Portugal is less than three hours flight time from most UK starting points and might not at first seem to be the most adventurous of destinations for a bird watching break. But think again! My six-day visit exceeded all expectations. Having chosen Joao Jara's BIRD AND NATURE TOURS the visit was divided between three vastly contrasting habitats:- Algarve Salt Pans and Lagoons, the Alentejo and the Tagus estuary.
Barely an hour after landing we were watching a Little Owl, Sardinian Warbler, Black-Winged Stilts, Bee-eater, Audobin's Gulls and scores of waders at nearby Tavira. On the Formosa Lagoon close to the runway of Faro airport, Purple Swamp-Hen, Little Bittern, Serin, Azure-Winged Magpie, Hoopoe and others were soon seen. The last destination before heading for the Alentejo was Castro Marim by the Spanish border where Flamingo and Woodchat Shrike were added.

The Alentejo was colonised by the Romans and is a complete contrast to the commercial Algarve. A delightful blend of vast grasslands, eucalyptus trees, small whitewashed villages and hilltop chapels. We were based at Mertola on the Guadiana river for two nights and within 24 hours had discovered 5 species of Eagle, 2 species of Vulture, Lesser Kestrel, Great and Little Bustard, Black Stork, Blue Rock Thrush, Golden Oriole, Black-Eared Wheatear, Roller, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Black-Bellied Sandgrouse, Crag Martin, Rock Bunting, Calandra Lark, Stone Curlew, Southern Grey Shrike. Quite simply, I have not enjoyed my bird watching more anywhere!

With some sadness we moved on to the Tagus estuary and spent the final two nights at Alcochete overlooking Lisbon and the Vasco da Gama Bridge. Through carefully developed relationships and co-operation with a number of local landowners, Joao has striven to conserve habitats for a number of prime species. New species for the trip included Melodious Warbler, Black & Black-Winged Kites, Purple & Squacco Herons, Cuckoo, Collared Pratincole and Gull-Billed Terns. A final highlight was a visit to a massive heronry on an island on the Tagus where species of Ibis, egret and heron were seen

Joao Jara was Chairman of the Portuguese (Bird) Rarities Committee as recently as 2011 and is a superb guide and was great company throughout. His bird identification skills are flawless, either visual or by call. Try testing him on their Latin names!

The hotel accommodation was well chosen, agreeable and suitably located. The restaurants were all welcoming with interesting local dishes and splendid red wines at reasonable prices.

Richard Draper, West Wickham, Kent. UK

3  Thank 613RichardD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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239 - 243 of 267 reviews

Reviewed May 8, 2013

Through a friend of a friend we were able at short notice to fix a day's birding in the Alentejo with Joao Jara. He is a superb guide, and a delightful person, with the knack of spotting birds out of the many corners of his eyes, which we alone would never have seen. He took us to a variety of habitats and at the end of a long day, with one break for a delicious lunch in a non-touristy restaurant, we had achieved the whole target list from Iberian Imperial Eagle to Blue Rock Thrush. And with time to look properly at each bird, not just "Tick" and on to the next. Joao provides a comfortable 4x4 car, a superb Zarowski telescope, and fluent English. Only later did we discover that he is the lead guide for one of the top UK birding holiday firms and probably Portugal's No 1.

3  Thank RHRichardson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 21, 2013

I spent a day in April 2013 with Bernardo, exploring four or five different sites and habitats on the Reserva Natural do Estuario do Tojo. Despite the day being very misty to begin with, we had hardly parked at the first stop (the Hortas site just outside Alcochete where I was staying) when we saw a Whimbrel - and the day just got better. Bernardo is both excellent company and a very skilled ornithologist who was able to identify everything we saw. I am an enthusiastic amateur but need help to tell my Sandpipers apart or to spot the one Knot in a mass of Dunlin. Bernardo does that - and more. The highlights for me were a Montagu's Harrier, a Black-Winged Kite, a pair of Booted Eagles and the Purple Heron. Mention should also be made of the Hoopes, the Red-Knobbed Coot and so many Marsh Harriers they became almost commonplace. Ibises, Spoonbills, Stilts and Flamingos - as well as a Black-Faced Weaver. It was day not to forget. I went back the next day with my partner and added the Azure-Winged Magpie (where Bernardo said it should be!) and a Woodcaht Shrike to my list of "firsts". I unreservedly recommend this trip to any keen ornitholigist - the Tagus estuary is a magnificent place to visit.

3  Thank Chris A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 28, 2013

Perfect February half-day out birding with Jaoa Jara (JJ). Picked up from appartment and taken to a number of outstanding spots, often on private land where JJ knows the landowners. JJ is a professional birder and naturalist so everywhere we went we had outstanding views of many different species - highlights included Squacco Heron, Red-knobbed Coot and a fleeting glimpse of Azure-winged Magpie. We ended the day at dusk watching returning Glossy Ibis and Spoonbill silhouetted against the setting sun!! A trully great half-day which I would strongly recommend.

3  Thank Ian C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 31, 2013

We had two unforgettable days of birdwatching in Portugal with a lot of beautiful, magnificent, majestic, interesting …… birds.
We are very happy with the tours and with Joao Jara as a perfect guide.
Independent if you are new to the game or a very experiienced birdwatcher our belief is that a tour with JJ will give a much greater experience and more birds than if you go by yourself - a guided tour is worth the money.

3  Thank Svante S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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