Tour At A Glance





Single Room Supplement:


Tour Code:

Fairly relaxed with some early morning starts

Group Size:

Seven plus Leader

Booted Eagle Cory's Shearwater Bonelli's Eagle White Stork Purple Swamp Hen Great Shearwater

Southern Portugal - Sagres, Steppes & Seabirds

Date: 19th - 24th September 2020 (CANCELLED - Returning 2021)
Leaders: David Gosney



Fly UK/Faro 
Our flight will arrive in the afternoon but there will still be enough time to make a brief visit to the best wetland site in Southern Portugal, the Lagoa de Salgados. At this time of day the light should be perfect for studying the hundreds of ducks and waders that can be found here. There will be great opportunities for photography and also for picking out a rarer species amongst the flocks of birds. The site is also good for flamingos, herons and ibis and is one of the best sites for seeing Purple Swamp-hen. 
Overnight Sagres
The Sagres Peninsula is a real hotspot for migrants including raptors, seabirds, passerines and, unusually, owls. We’ll spend a day sampling all these different groups, starting at 09.00 with a pelagic trip into the waters off Cape St Vincent. This often produces an extraordinary variety of seabirds including lots of Cory’s and Balearic Shearwaters and smaller numbers of Sooty, Manx and Great Shearwaters, European Storm and possibly Wilson’s Petrels and skuas [potentially all four European species]. These birds usually concentrate around fishing fleets but we will pull them close to our boat by ‘chumming’ [adding fish offal to the water to create a slick of fish oil on the surface]. In calm conditions, there are likely to be rafts of at least the commoner shearwaters sitting on the sea and we’ll be able to glide right up to them in our boat – fantastic for photographers. In the afternoon we’ll join the raptor counters at the most productive spot on the Sagres peninsula. Between September and November, this represents the main migration corridor for raptors in mainland Portugal, where every year all the species occurring in Portugal can be seen, as well as other, rarer species from eastern Europe or North Africa. Among the most abundant are the Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Short-toed Eagle, which pass in numbers of the order of several hundreds. Besides these, Black Kite, European Honey Buzzard, Egyptian Vulture, Montagu’s Harriers and Black Storks pass in smaller numbers. Other annual visitors include Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Black Vulture, Red Kite, Osprey, Black-shouldered Kite, Eurasian Hobby and Eleonora's Falcon and the flocks of Griffon Vultures are often joined by one or two Ruppell’s Vultures.  Other raptors seen here in the past have included Long-legged Buzzard, Pallid Harrier, Lanner Falcon and Lesser Spotted Eagle. We’ll also explore the nearby bushes and woodlands for migrant passerines and should see a comprehensive range of chats, starts, flycatchers and warblers including, possibly, species such as Subalpine, Spectacled and Western Bonelli’s Warblers. Lastly we’ll make an evening trip to witness the unlikely spectacle of Long-eared and Short-eared Owls leaving their daytime roosts, not to begin hunting but to rise high into the sky to set off on the next leg of their migration.
Overnight Sagres 
We’ll begin by exploring the headlands around Sagres for more migrants before searching a little further inland for birds such as Red-billed Chough, Spectacled Warbler, Tawny Pipit, Short-toed Lark and Ortolan Bunting. There’s a chance of Little Bustard in this area too. In the afternoon we’ll make a return visit to the Lagoa de Salgados, giving us a bit more time to check the water birds and also search the reed beds for Little Bittern, Bluethroat, Common Waxbill and Black-headed Weaver.
Overnight Alte
Following breakfast we will make the second of our two boat trips. This will enable us to get close to the best birds in the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, a wetland of international importance. Gliding through estuarine waters we will see a range of typical gulls, terns and waders which is likely to include Caspian Tern, Mediterranean Gull and possibly Audouin’s Gull. Next, we’ll move on to visit two of the Algarve’s most famous birding spots. Ludo Farm and Quinta do Lago offer a variety of habitats from pine woodland to coastal salt marsh but the highlights are the two pools, the Lagoa de São Lourenço and the Ribeira de São Lourenço. These are only small in size but can be packed with birds, especially ducks. The Lagoa is especially popular with birders because it is blessed with a terrific hide from which you will certainly get great views of Purple Swamp-hen and possibly Little Bittern, Glossy Ibis and Black-headed Weaver too. The surrounding area has a rich diversity of species including Azure-winged Magpie, Common Waxbill, Pied Avocet, Greater Flamingo, Bluethroat, Caspian Tern, Black-shouldered Kite and Booted Eagle. 
Overnight Alte
An early breakfast is followed by a visit to one of the most important steppe areas in Portugal. If you have never seen Great Bustard and Little Bustard, you will have that opportunity in the Castro Verde Special Protection Area! At this time of year the bustards can be surprisingly difficult to spot but we should get views of both species. Other steppe birds to look for will include Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Black-shouldered Kite, while Crested, Thekla and Calandra Larks, Little Owl, Red Kite, Common Buzzard, White Stork and Northern Wheatear should also be present. In recent years this area has become more important for feeding vultures and eagles and we’ll be scanning from the most productive vantage points in the hope of spotting birds such as Spanish Imperial Eagle, Black Vulture and Bonelli’s Eagle. 
Overnight at Alte
After breakfast, we'll take a look at one or more of Portugal’s other wetland areas, starting at Vilamoura. Birds seen regularly here on previous visits have included Black-shouldered Kite, Black-necked Grebe, Purple Heron, Purple Swamp-hen, Common Waxbill and Booted Eagle. It can also be surprisingly good for passage migrants, especially flycatchers, chats and warblers. We’ll probably have time to visit another wetland that can be superb for waders, depending on the water levels before heading back to Faro airport for the onward flight home. 
The tour will conclude upon our return to the UK.


Additional Information


Return flights UK/Faro, five nights accommodation, meals from lunch on day one to breakfast on the final day, transport in Portugal, weather dependant pelagic boat trip, Rio Formosa boat trip, services of leaders and reserve entrance fees.

Transport to/from UK airport and any overnight stay that might be involved, travel insurance, drinks and any items of a purely personal nature.



Visas are not required by UK nationals. Passports must have 6 months validity beyond the return travel date. Standard health and innoculation requirements apply for UK nationals, visit to check these and if necessary, download a free health brief to take to a travel appointment at your local medical practice. 


Tour Reports


2014    2015   2017   2018




" I really enjoyed this holiday very much and Dave was an excellent leader" C B Oxford


" We had a really wonderful time with some great birds and a very happy group. Dave was really outstanding and stopped at nothing to get sightings for us. We really enjoyed ourselves - the small group size and the ggod pace of the holiday as well as the excellent guiding place your company ahead of others I have previously been with. I shall definitely use you again!!!" E L Hampshire


" Just wanted to say thank you again for getting the trip off the ground. I had an amazing time and the birds that we got to see were amazing.I will send you some pictures when I sort through them, think I may have a few better shearwater pictures for the cover of the list ;-).I would also like to say how great Dave made my trip also you were not wrong he worked so hard for us and I got to learn a few things from him. I just wanted to let you know how great everything was personally and I will definitely book a trip with oriole again. It really was amazing, the variety of birds and the company made it the best birdwatching holiday I have been on. So I thank you and Dave again," J E Northern Ireland


"Just to say what a fantastic trip I had to Portugal with your company. I would like to say a big thank you to David Gosney for being an outstanding tour leader. A great bloke and a pleasure to bird with. I had 22 lifers and the total of birds seen was 155. The Great Bustards were top of my list but the pelagic trip was outstanding. Spanish Imperial Eagle and Griffon Vulture top birds. I cannot put into words how much I enjoyed this trip" N E Norfolk