Saturday, 11 June 2011

Ria Formosa

Just today we’ve seen Tavira referred to again as ‘the most beautiful town in the Algarve’ and it’s not a description that we would want to argue with. Its location on the river, its attractive architecture (including 37 churches!), the wonderful beach and lots of historical interest going back 2,000 years are amongst the many reasons why people come here on holiday or, like us, for longer.

An added and major attraction for us was the town’s position adjacent to the Parque National da Ria Formosa. The Ria Formosa consists of coastal lagoons, vast areas of tidal flats, saltmarsh and saltpans that are enclosed by a belt of sand dune islands. It’s a really important wintering area for many birds from northern Europe and as a resting and feeding station for birds migrating between Africa and Europe.

Throughout the year, there are waders (shorebirds) here. Sometimes in late autumn and winter as many as 25 species can be found within easy walking distance from the town centre! Even now, as we approach the middle of June, we have seen in the last two or three days in the Ria Formosa almost half that number.

Kentish Plover

Black-winged Stilt

Breeding here in good numbers are Black-winged Stilts, Pied Avocets and Kentish Plovers plus a few Common Redshanks and Stone-curlews. But we also still have plenty of Dunlins and Sanderlings and small numbers of Eurasian Oystercatchers, Black-tailed Godwits, Ruddy Turnstones and Curlew Sandpipers. Although a great many of these birds are in something approaching full breeding plumage, presumably at this late stage, few of them are now going to try and head north to breed. Mostly they are likely to be birds in their first year or maybe some of them are birds that were just not fit enough to attempt migration. Whatever they are, we’re pleased to have them!


Curlew Sandpiper


Little Terns and Collared Pratincoles are also breeding; Greater Flamingos and a few Eurasian Spoonbills are still around and at least five species of gulls can be found.

Collared Pratincole

And that’s not the half of it...

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