Birdwatching delights, Atlantic to the Mediterranean
Beautiful and exotic birds can be seen from the coasts of Western Europe to the Mediterranean Sea!
Gorgeous forests and wetlands from the eastern Atlantic to the Mediterranean, offer fantastic viewing opportunities for birdwatching enthusiasts and nature lovers alike!
What could be more enchanting than a visit to the Formosa National Park! This protected nature reserve on the coast of Portugal is a wonderland dotted with blue lagoons, white beaches and green islands. It is a wetland wonderland that hosts over 20,000 species of birds.
The Canary Islands of Spain, located off the western coast of North Africa, are famed for the Island Canary Serinus canaria from which all domestic canaries originated. The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife, is home to the fabulous Teide National Park. Although there are only 16 species of native birds, this island is the largest (volcanic) mountain of Spain, and sports incredible views.
The Cyprus Island, located in the Mediterranean Sea, is home to the Paphos Forest which hosts over 380 bird species. That’s pretty spectacular when you realize that only 16% of the island is forested! Only about 15 birds are actually year round residents, most of the others are migratory birds with a few “accidental” visitors in the mix too. On the eastern side of the island is Cape Greco National Forest Park. This national park is renowned for its marvelous sea caves, but it also has over 80 species of birds, including some migratory species.
These are fascinating locations for birdwatching or to simply enjoy nature, and here’s a guide to help you find out more!
A Birdwatching Guide to the Algarve, Tenerife and Cyprus
By Contributing Author: Natalie Richardson
This southern part of Portugal, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, culminates in a unique natural habitat for more than 300 types of birds. Not only that, but a perennially pleasant climate makes the Algarve appealing for birds and watchers alike, at any time of the year.
The Ria Formosa National Park is in Eastern Algarve. This Ramsar Convention protected park is a coastal wetland that lies between land and sea, south of Faro. Green-blue lagoons surround grassy banks and sandy inlets which house an array of native, wintering and migrating birds.
It is here that you’ll find the likes of the resident Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio, an endangered bird with a distinctive indigo-coloured plumage and rosy-red bill.
This park is the is the Purple Swamphen’s chief breeding ground so it’s no wonder it’s the emblem for the park and definitely one for any twitcher’s checklist.
Another notable resident is the Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cooki. You won’t find this bird in the UK so, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a glance of its signature blue tail, soft brown body and glossy black crown.
Over 20,000 birds winter here, including a whole host of ducks and waders.
You’re sure to see some Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus wading through the salt marshes throughout these months. Head to the Forte do Rato at high tide for the greatest number of birds to observe.
The largest of the Canary Islands is famed for its popular beachside resorts and is home to millions of holiday makers every year. But thanks to its subtropical location off the west coast of Africa, and its diverse volcanic landscape, you’ll find it is home to a wide selection of birdlife too with over 70 known specimens.
The Island Canary Serinus canaria is unsurprisingly common to Tenerife given that the bird is actually named after the Canary Islands archipelago.
Head to the pretty pine forests at the foot of Mount Teide for a good glimpse of this beauty.
Don’t be looking for the bright yellow UK variety though, this little fella has a more subtle look with a mix of pale yellow and brown feathers, and you’ll often find it as part of a pair.
The Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea is another endemic bird synonymous with the island.
Look up to the treetops May to July, for this small bird characterised by its blue-grey plumage, and you’re likely to spot it nesting during this important breeding period.
This magnificent Mediterranean island has an enormous ecological diversity across its sand-swept coastlines, azure coloured waters and verdant, forested peaks.
Thanks to its location, Cyprus also forms part of the flight path for many migratory birds moving between northern Europe, Africa and Asia. Springtime is an exciting time to visit and see an abundance of fascinating species.
To the west of the Troodos mountain range is the Paphos Forests.
This densely forested area is full of pleasant walking trails and interesting flora and fauna. It’s also where the endangered raptor, the Bonelli’s Eagle Aquila fasciata, calls home.
Cape Greco National Park is on the eastern side of Cyprus.
It’s here where you can get close up and personal with the resident Cyprus Warbler Sylvia melanothorax when it flies in for the breeding season between April and June. You’ll find this passerine perching in the low vegetation and twittering away with its quirky fast-paced song. The males are particularly interesting with their fluffy black crowns and white ‘moustaches’.
For that coveted chance to spot a rare bird or study an unknown species, it’s well worth a visit to sunnier climes. Exploring another ecosystem will reveal a whole new world of biodiversity to discover. Southern Europe has some great places for birding, and with sun, sand and sea on the doorstep, you can make a holiday of it too. Whether you’re just starting out, or are a seasoned birder, our guide to some of Jet2holidays’ top destinations for birdwatching is well worth a look.
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