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Sado Estuary hosts first international birdwatching fair

By Chris Graeme [email protected]

The Sado estuary is one of only 20 places in Europe where it is possible to see 100 species of birds in one day.

That is why birdwatchers from all over Portugal and further afield in Europe flock to Setúbal to see pink flamingos, Eurasian curlews, Dunlin waders, spoonbills, herons, snowy egrets, cormorants and a wide variety of gulls.

Because of its unique micro-climate, protected from the Serra da Arrábida hills, and its rich flora and marine fauna, the estuary is a favoured spot for migrating birds escaping the harsh winters of northern Europe as well as being a “refuelling station” for birds on their way to Africa for the winter. 

On October 17 and 18, making the most of the one of the busiest migratory times of the year when millions of birds head south between August and October, the Sado Estuary played host to the first ever National Bird Observation Fair (Observa Natura) organised by the Institute of Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (ICNB) in conjunction with the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA).

There were also guided walks, photography exhibitions and bird-spotting courses where amateur aficionados could learn how to build nesting boxes.

“Our idea is to turn bird-watching, which has a very low environmental impact in terms of damage, into a more popular activity,” said Rui Costa for the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve.

“We had about 800 visitors, which wasn’t bad for the first time, although there are around 3,000 birdwatchers in Portugal,” he added.