Lagoa dos Salgados

In late September, along with Ava and my Mum and Dad, we set off very early one morning, bound for Liverpool Airport to catch the 7am EasyJet flight to Faro, Portugal for a week of sun (and a spot of birding if I could get away with it!). For a number of reasons, it was my parents first trip abroad for six years and they saw this trip as a tester for possible future international travel.

This was also the first overseas trip I’d been on since starting this blog and was also the first where I intended to go out of my way to keep a record of all of the flora and fauna that I came across with a view to including it in an article.

My telescope and tripod (together ‘scope’) are too large, heavy and unwieldy to pack for a trip where luggage space is at a premium and it was therefore just the binoculars (bins) that found their way into my baggage.

The fight left on time and in just over two hours we were safely on the tarmac at Aeroporto de Faro / Gaga Coutinho – I had to look this up myself and discovered that Gaga Coutinho was a Portuguese Navigator and Admiral who in 1922, together with Aviator Sacadura Cabral, accomplished the first aerial crossing of the South Atlantic in the Seaplane ‘Lusitania‘, itself the Roman name for what would eventually become Portugal! (every day’s a school day!).

Luggage reclaimed and we quickly found our taxi transfer and just forty-five minutes later we were at the reception and checking in to the very beautiful Eden Resort We were transported by buggy to our villa and I have to say our immediate rection when entering was ‘wow’. The accommodation was simply stunning – spotlessly clean and almost as if it were brand new – the resort was actually thirteen years old but you’d never know. We were positioned at the back of the resort, still only a five minute walk from the restaurant / bar areas but the best part for me was that our balcony looked into / over a valley of oak and pine Scrub and I could happily sit there and watch the world (and the birds) go by without even leaving our room. To follow are some photos from the Hotel and of it’s surroundings.

I immediately unpacked the ‘bins’ and set about having a quick scan for any birds in view but as it was approaching 1pm and with the temperature reaching a lovely 28 degrees, most birds were doing the sensible thing and keeping cool somewhere. However, as you’d possibly expect, a good number of Swifts, Swallows and Martins were wheeling around overhead but were very high up and evaded a positive ID at this point.

My 15 minute scan complete, it was time to go explore the hotel grounds and go and grab ourselves a sunbed at the adult only pool – this became our ‘go to’ pool over the course of the week and, as the country as a whole was in the middle of serious and prolonged drought (they’d had no rain for over five months), the pool was quite literally an oasis for the birds, insects and even amphibians who all popped in to slake their thirst or bathe themselves in its water over the course of the week. A nice feature of the hotel was also a man-made watercourse that ran from a ‘waterfall’ adjacent to the adult only pool and ran all the way through the hotel grounds to a central point where a very large koi pool was situated with around 100 koi, providing a kaleidoscope of colour and they came in a whole range of sizes; dragonflies, butterflies and amphibians all made use of this water feature and it also allowed me to add some unexpected species to my list.

Sunrise was at a respectable 07:20am and therefore I didn’t need to get up too early to try and catch the first birds of the day – dusk was also at a very convenient 19:15 which meant I could scan the scrub / valley outside our bedroom as birds were coming in to roost and whilst everyone else was getting ready for the evening – couldn’t have been better timings! I’d also discovered that there was a local nature reserve, the Lagoa dos Salgados, which looked like it was a delightful mix of lagoon, wetland, reedbed, dunes and dry scrub – Checking the site on the brilliant eBird app wetted my appetite for a visit when it highlighted the recent and historic observation data for the reserve which showed me that there had been over 250 species of bird observed at the site, of which 140 has been observed in the last 14 days and quite a number of them were species I’d not seen – as you can probably expect, plans were immediately hatched for an early morning visit….more of that later.

To follow are some pictures I was able to take with my phone of the plants, insects and birds seen on the trip and following that is a full list of everything observed and identified – common English names are used in the list and only those species that were new to me are listed in BOLD and also include their scientific name and a ink to some additional resources – there are quite a few on the list so just imagine how many there might have been if I’d dedicated the full week to observation rather than being sociable 🙂

Species List

Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis

Collared Dove

Turtle Dove

Yellow Legged Gull Larus michahellis

Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild


Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor



Red-rumpled swallow Cecropis daurica

House Martin


Feral pigeon


Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia

Hummingbird Hawk-moth

Small Blue Butterfly

Eurasian Nightjar Caprimulgus europaeus

Perez’ Water Frog Pelophylax perezi


Little Egret


Azure Winged / Iberian Magpie Cyanopica cooki

Violet Carpenter Bee Xylocopa violacea


Sardinian Warbler

Red-legged Partridge

Great Tit

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros


Glossy Ibis


Western Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava

Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops

Spotted Flycatcher


Lesser Black-backed Gull

Grey Wagtail

Pallid Swift Apus pallidus

Green-veined White Pieris napi

Thekla’s Lark Galerida theklae

Crested Lark Galerida cristata

Cettis Warbler

Sedge Warbler

Reed warbler


Little Ringed plover

Ringed Plover

Little Egret

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus


Grey Heron



Bluethroat Luscinia svecica




Mediterranean Gull





Green Winged Teal Anas crecca

Little Grebe

Black-winged Stilt

Common Sandpiper

Black headed Gull

Alpine Swift Apus melba

White Stork Ciconia ciconia


Egyptian Goose

Red-legged Partridge

Broad Scarlet Dragonfly Crocothemis erythraea

Several dragonflies – unable to ID

Several butterflies and moths – unable to ID

Lagoa dos Solgados Nature Reserve

As mentioned earlier, I identified a local nature reserve that was only a 15 minute dive from our hotel, Lagoa dos Salgados – An Uber was duly booked and 9 Euro trip delivered me to the car park at the entrance to the reserve just before dawn. The moment I got out of the taxi it was clear that I was going to have an enjoyable visit as a Kingfisher and at least two Cettis Warblers were having a ‘sing-off’ within metres of me. I decided to take in the sound of the reserve and waited on the bridge for around 30 minutes and until the sun showed its face for the day – the lagoon was connected directly to the sea over a sand bar and whilst the tide was low, a backing track to the birdsong was the repeated and relentless lapping of gentle waves onto the beach that lay just over the dunes; a more relaxing meditation track you would struggle to find.

Once morning had broken, I set off along the magnificent boardwalk, elevated around 2m above ground level and affording great views of the lagoons and reedbeds that we laid out all along my left and with the very different dune landscape to the right.

It really was a feast for the senses and of the list of birds above, forty three were observed at the reserve in a period of just two hours – I’d loved to have stayed longer but to do so would have been rude – so, with ‘ticks’ on my list numbering nine (that’s nine species I’d seen for the first time ever in just one location!) , it was time to head back to the hotel and to bask in the sun and bask in the delight of new things – always a good day 🙂
To follow are some photographs from the reserve and if you are ever in Albufeira, I’d definitely recommend spending a few hours here – your certainly won’t regret it.

All in all it was a great holiday and the balance between family / relaxing time and birding was just about right – a list of firsts is also great and as mentioned earlier, the hotel, the people, the weather and the company were all first class; however, all good things come to and end and whilst we had a late flight home, it all went like clockwork and on returning home, I had all of 18 hours before I set off on a 100 Mile Charity Hike around the Isle of Man. More about that later….

Road Trip to Albufeira, Portugal

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