Portugal is among Europe's top destinations to watch birds in their natural habitat.
The north is rich in scenarios that allow direct contact with nature and tranquility.
Arriving in Porto, visit the city and get to know the Local Nature Reserve of Douro Estuary, a protected area that has already registered more than 200 bird species and where you can see half of the bird species of continental Portugal.
In the heart of north-eastern area, do not miss the chance to see eagles in the Azibo lagoon, a protected landscape based on a plain bordered by the Mountain Ranges of Bornes in the south and Nogueira in the north.
From Trás-os-Montes to Douro is a short way. And if prey birds fascinate you, know that the cliffs of the Douro International Natural Park are the primary national shrine for these specimens, some endangered species.
Indifferent to the bustle and hustle of the city
Start the ornithology route in Porto, that's right, in the city. On the south bank of the Douro, where the river empties into the Atlantic, find the local Nature Reserve of the Douro estuary, a small natural haven created in 2007. The reserve's main purpose is to protect the birds and the local landscape.
The fact that it registered its 200th bird species - a Woodcock, a bird more difficult to detect and little known in the winter of 2011 is proof what they have been able to do.
Throughout the year, one also see kingfishers, flocks of cormorants and herons, white herons and Pope-rats, the torch-rock-and sea-turtle doves, plovers, knots and gulls of several species, among many other birds.
The birds take care of this magical place - make the experience here to watch the sunset, indifferent to the bustle of the city. From the reserve, the view reaches Arrábida Bridge, where daily pass more than 130 000 cars - and the people who run, walk or ride the bike almost 6 km linking the fishing port of Afurada to the Marbelo beach.
The bay of São Paio, as it is also known locally, is a place of choice for bird watchers and nature photographers and the reserve even has its own facilities for bird watching and observation of nature.
The Biological Park of Gaia organizes guided tours and observations of wild birds in place on the first Sunday of each month between 10 and 12am. The activity is free and does not require reservation. Just turn up and join the technicians.
Nearby - you can walk - in the fishing community of Afurada, you will find good fish restaurants and modest cafes where there is fado singing.
From Afurada you can cross to the north shore by boat. The crossing is a unique experience and the ticket is cheap. The connection was essential a few years ago when there were fewer cars and public transport network serving the fishing area. Today, it mainly transports people crossing the Douro River for leisure.
Northeastern Region of Trás-os-Montes
Integrated in the Natura 2000 network, the Protected Landscape of the Azibo lagoon, founded in 1999 and an area of more than 3000 hectares, is located Macedo de Cavaleiros and Bragança, close to the hot lands of the Sabor basin and offers a considerable wealth of birdlife.
The geography of the site, generating a great diversity of flora and habitats, created excellent conditions for birdwatching. In addition to the resident species, you can see in the Azibo lagoon , summer and wintering birds, and during the migratory seasons, different species in transit.
Here, in the heart of the northeastern region of Trás-os-Montes, as the birds inhabit-crested grebe, mallard ducks, snipe, the heron, the cattle-egret, the eagle-sidewalk, the short-toed eagle, the harrier- hunter, the black kite, plus more than 40 species of passerines.
Find out if there is any organized activity on the days you plan to visit the lake and treat of lunch before heading out into this world. If you visit the lagoon in the summer, do not forget the bikini or trunks, as this protected landscape hides the delightful beaches of Ribeira and Fraga da Pegada.
In this corner of Portugal, there are several tourist facilities in rural areas where you can stay overnight.
The Douro offers the best conditions to practice birdwatching in Portugal. Its mountainous terrain and the nature of the Mediterranean climate favors the biological diversity they will encounter while visiting the oldest demarcated wine region in the world.
The Natural Park, created in 1998, has over 85 000 hectares and includes the municipalities of Miranda do Douro, Mogadouro and Freixo de Espada à Cinta and Figueira de Castelo Rodirgo in district of Guarda.
In the cliffs of the International Douro, one can see endangered prey birds, as in the case of Bonelli eagle, the golden eagle, -Egyptian vulture, black stork and the griffin.
If you follow the course of the river Douro, you will see that in places where human presence is more intense, now dominate the eagles wing-round, also known as buzzards, the kites and an endless variety of birds such as the orioles, the catch-blue or the goldfinches.
There are several wine farms in the Douro that promote birdwatching
How to get there
To Porto, there are low cost flights, for example from: London (Stansted and Gatwick), Paris (Beauvais, Orly and Charles de Gaulle Vatry), Marseille, Lille, Tours, St. Etienne, Bologna, Bordeaux, Lyon, Toulouse, Madrid, Barcelona El Prat , Tenerife, Valencia and Palma de Mallorca.
In the summer, they are flying from Liverpool, Las Palmas, Carcassonne, Rodez and Nantes.
With normal rates, there are flight connections from London - Gatwick, Madrid, Barcelona and Paris - Orly.
From the International Airport Francisco Sá Carneiro, the best way to reach the city center of Porto is by metro. The trip takes about 30 minutes.
To Douro, follow the national road 108 to Entre-os-Rios and continue along the river Douro to the Ruler - alternatively, you can go by IP4, which connects the districts of Porto, Vila Real and Bragança, and then continue for national and municipal roads.
The Protected Landscape of the Azibo Lagoon is 2 km from the town of Macedo de Cavaleiros and 30 km from Bragança. The best way to Macedo de Cavaleiros is through IP4 and IP2, or plane through the Aerodrome of Bragança.