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SPEA is an Environmental not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support research and conservation of wild birds and their habitats, by promoting sustainable development for the benefit of future generations.
Home  > Where to watch > Ria Formosa
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Ria Formosa
Ria Formosa is the largest wetland in Southern Portugal. The wetland is created by a complex of barrier islands, which form a chain of dunes that protect it from the sea. Apart from dunes and mudflats, the main habitats are reedbeds, saltpans, ponds, scrubland and Pine woods. 
In the wintertime, Ria Formosa is a congregation area for thousands of wintering waders, such as Oystercatchers, Avocets, Dunlins, and Little Stint, amongst others. Species like Curlew Sandpiper, Red Knot or Ruff mostly pass through during the autumn migration. Wildfowl is also present in impressive numbers in the ponds and pools, and some of the most common species are Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail and Pochard. Other interesting birds to be found in the wintertime are Greater Flamingo, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black-winged Kite, Caspian Tern, Bluethroat, and the scarcer Penduline Tit. Slender-billed Gull has been regularly sighted in recent years. 
Breeding birds include Purple Swamphen, Little Bittern (these are best seen from Quinta do Lago observatory), Purple Heron, Collared Pratincole and Audouin’s Gull, which breeds regularly but in fluctuating numbers. The barrier islands hold the largest colonies of Little Tern in Portugal, regularly seen fishing in the shallow waters, as well as a small population of Eurasian Thick-knee. 
In the surrounding woodlands, species like Great Spotted Woodpecker, Woodchat Shrike and Golden Oriole are present. 
The area also holds a huge diversity of migrant landbirds, especially in September.
The area is integrated in Ria Formosa Natural Park.

Municipalities: Tavira, Faro, Olhão e Vila Real de Santo António




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