Nature-lovers are once again looking forward to one of the Algarve’s most spectacular annual events, the Birdwatching & Nature Activities Festival in Sagres. The festival is not until 1 to 5 October, but registrations have now opened and the organisers recommend registering as soon as possible as every year activities sell out almost as soon as the program is announced.
The program for this year’s 12th edition includes more than 150 activities, many of them either free or offered at special discounted prices. They include birdwatching on land and at sea and the popular bird-ringing sessions – “a wealth of opportunities for nature-lovers to discover that the Algarve is much more than beaches”. Birdwatchers’ friends and family are also well catered for with walks, hikes, talks and “challenges” for children.
In October, thousands of birds fly over the Algarve region on their way to wintering grounds in Africa, “putting on a show worthy of a festival”. They include hundreds of seabirds, such as gannets and shearwaters, as well as vultures, eagles, storks and small songbirds on land and in trees and bushes as they rest before continuing on their journey south.
This year’s poster-bird is a festival regular, the Black Stork. They are more shy than White Storks, say the organisers, and are usually seen alone or in pairs (during breeding season). From August to September, however, when they migrate to Africa, they sometimes gather in flocks of up to 100 birds.
“This is when they are easiest to spot, and Sagres is a particularly good vantage point from which to do so, precisely around the festival’s dates. At this time, Black Storks from central Europe congregate here, in search of passage to Africa. Since they need thermals to soar, and these hot air currents only form over land, these birds tend to cross the Mediterranean at its narrowest point, at Gibraltar.“
The event is organised by the Câmara Municipal de Vila do Bispo, in partnership with the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA, BirdLife International’s partner in Portugal) and Associação Almargem.
After registering online for their chosen activities, participants can then collect their bracelets in Sagres “and enjoy all the festival has to offer”.
If you are planning to rent a car on arrival at Faro Airport to travel to Sagres and the festival, you will find some excellent offers here.