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For the last two decades, Vilamoura has been an icon of luxury tourism
in the Algarve. Large areas of wetland were destroyed, in order to make
space for construction and the urban sprawl continues. Luckily, some
patches of reeds have survived. A little further to the west an
environmental park has been created.
The most interesting sites for the birdwatcher lie mainly to the west of the Vilamoura tourist complex.
follow the main avenue Engenheiro João Meireles and follow the signs to Praia da Falésia). Here it is
possible to see several species of waterbirds, like Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret,
Common Pochard, Eurasian Coot and Cetti’s Warbler. In the spring, Reed Warbler is often heard singing.
In winter, there are usually one or two here Marsh Harriers around (they can be seen moving back and forth
between this place and the neighbouring Environmental Park). This is also a good place to look for Penduline
The main avenues in the area have many trees and gardens, where it possible to see some common birds,
such as Goldfinch or Greenfinch, along with flocks of Azure-winged Magpies. Sometimes a Green
Woodpecker shows up.
Around Vilamoura there are several golf courses (mostly visible from the road) where it is usual to see flocks
of coots, Cattle Egrets and other water birds.
The “Parque Ambiental de Vilamoura” (Environmental Park) is located slightly to the west of the town. The
easiest way to find this spot is to follow the N125 until km 81.7. At this point, veer left to Praia da Oura. After
another kilometre, on reaching a place called Cerca da Areia, turn left again following signs to Quarteira.
Finally, at the Stork Inn / Vilamoura Equestrian Centre, look for roundabout number 2. From there, proceed on
a dirt road (flocks of Red-legged Partridges are sometimes seen along here) for 2.2 km - the last part is in
poor condition but can usually be traversed by car, except possibly after heavy rains. Finally a bird observatory
appears on the left – it’s a small hide made of wood, which has been built next to a pond. This pond has good
patches of reed and reedmace and holds several interesting birds. Regular species here include Little
Grebe, Moorhen, Purple Swamp Hen, and Kingfisher, as well as some passerines, such as Cetti’s Warbler;
in winter, there are usually Bluethroat, Chiffchaff and Penduline Tit. In the surrounding fields it is possible to
find several passerines, such as Northern Wheatear on autumn passage, or White Wagtail and Meadow Pipit
Best time: unknown
Where it is: on the southern coast of the Algarve, halfway between Faro and Albufeira, just a few kilometres
west of Quarteira. Access to Vilamoura is made by the A22, leaving on the exit signposted Quarteira and
Vilamoura. Alternatively one can follow the main N125 from Faro, Loulé and Albufeira.
If you want to know other places to watch birds in this region, we suggest:
|The Vilamoura reedbed as seen from the bridge on Praia da Falésia Avenue
Most interesting species:
Purple Swamp Hen, Crested Lark, Bluethroat, Penduline Tit, Azure-winged Magpie
Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, White Stork, Common Pochard,
Marsh Harrier, Red-legged Partridge, Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker,
Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Cetti’s Warbler, Zitting Cisticola,
Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff
Glaucous Gull, Moustached Warbler, Little Bunting