Would you like to explore the Vale do Guadiana Nature Park and the Alentejo plains, territories of excellence for birdwatching, with a diversity of landscapes and habitats that are home to a wide variety of birds?

The Guadiana River has a preponderant presence in the area, with a strong influence on the territory’s landscape, history and culture. The high rocky cliffs on its sides roost to a fascinating population of birds. The Spanish Eagle (Aquila adalberti) is one of its iconic inhabitants.

In this tour, we will explore the: Guadiana River and its rocky sides; the Cork and Holm oak forests; Cistus scrublands; vast undulating plains; the steppes, and some high points of the territory. Some examples of the birds that inhabit these areas, depending on the time of year, that can be observed are:
Hoopoe, Grey Shrike, Red-legged Partridge, Black –bellied Sandgrouse, Cattle Egret, Purple Heron, Black Stork, Golden Eagle, Spanish Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Booted Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, Hen Harrier, Goshawk, Black-winged Kite, Black Kite, Red Kite, Merlin, Kestrel, Lesser Kestrel, Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Crane, Griffon Vulture, Black Vulture, Stone-curlew, Wryneck, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Blue Rock Thrush, Black-eared Wheatear, Spectacled Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Melodius Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Orphean Warbler, Spanish Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, Sky Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Calandra Lark, Rock Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Yellow Wagtail, Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Golden Oriole, Iberian Magpie, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Cuckoo, Turtle Dove, Scops Owl, Little Owl, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Eagle Owl, Red-necked Nightjar, White-rumped Swift, Roller, Kingfisher, Bee-eater, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Iberian Green Woodpecker,  Short-toed Treecreeper, etc.

Photo credit: gilgit2 on Visualhunt

Photo credit: Vlaskop on VisualHunt

Photo credit: Bernard DUPONT on Visualhunt

Photo credit: gilgit2 on Visualhunt

Located in the southeast area of Baixo Alentejo in southern Portugal, it features the Guadiana River, which has a variable flow of water. This river is undoubtedly the main element of this region as it shapes the landscape and the territory. North of Mértola, the river meanders between rocky cliffs.

Around the river stretches an undulating plain only interrupted by the low elevations of the Serra de Alcaria, roosts of Griffon Vultures and Black Vultures, and the Serra de São Barão. This territory is covered by the Special Protected Area (SPA) – Vale do Guadiana of the Natura 2000 Network and classified as a Natural Park of the Vale do Guadiana since 1995.

In the wide plains of so-called steppic land, where grazing activities and cereal production helped to shape a treeless landscape, Little Bustard, Great Bustard and Crane found a safe habitat. Because a vast area of these steppes is covered by the SPA- Castro Verde of the Natura 2000 Network.

The climate in this region is characterized by hot, dry summers and cold winters with little rainfall. Especially in the summer, the aridity of this place is very evident, and the local fauna and flora show a surprising capacity for adaptation.

Photo credit: Andrej Chudy on Visualhunt.com

Photo credit: Luiz Lapa on Visualhunt

Rio Guadiana

In addition to being a region of excellence for birdwatching, this is also a region of great historical richness, which ends up enhancing the visit to this territory.

In this region there was a strong human presence since Neolithic times, the city of Mértola, was a very important commercial hub frequented by Phoenicians and Carthaginians due to its strategic location next to the navigable Guadiana River that functioned as an artery and gateway to the territory for the peoples from the Mediterranean and the Maghreb coast.

This region was an important metal production area of the Roman Empire and the Ancient World. Gold and copper from the mines of Aljustrel were exported through the river port of Mértola, as well as silver and copper from the mountains of the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula. During the 3rd and 4th centuries, the powerful Roman political-military machine gave an increased dynamic to this territory, which meant that the city of Myrtillis, present-day Mértola, has known days of glory in the imperial period.

The collapse of the Roman Empire seems not to have affected the commercial activity of the city, as it continued between the 5th and 8th centuries, during the Visigoth’s reign, demonstrating an intense port activity.

Then, with the arrival of the Arabs in the 8th century, a new period of progress and development began, where Martulhan was the epicentre of the region. There are still numerous testimonies of those times, the evidence of that prosperity can be found in the Museum of Islamic Art in Mértola.

The Igreja Matriz (main church), formerly a mosque, displays unusual architecture, the walls of the Muslim Castle of Mértola and the traditional Arab houses with central patios are a historical and cultural heritage of the Arab period. Mértola was conquered by the Portuguese crown in 1238 during the reign of D. Sancho II.

Photo credit: yusufyi on VisualHunt

Photo credit: Luiz Lapa on Visualhunt.com

Photo credit: Portuguese_eyes on Visualhunt.com

  • Duration: Full day

  • Price: 80€/pax

Includes :

  • Birdwatching guide

  • Binoculars

  • Telescope

  • Birds Field guide

  • Fauna and Flora Field guides

  • Transport

  • Insurances

  • Taxes

Timing recommendation:
All year round, but less recommendable in July and August.

This activity is suitable for visitors staying in Olhão / Faro area. Visitors staying outside of this area, an alternative meeting point will be arranged.