We explored a small section of the saltpans in the Rio Formosa Natural Park. The Park, which covers a very large area (18,000 ha apparently) and extends back to Faro, is a wetland with a series of canals and saltpans and lots of birds. It’s unique habitat in both low and high tide conditions make it ideal for nesting and migratory birds. According to the “Birdwatching Guide to the Algarve” produced by Portugal Tourism, over 30,000 migrating birds utilize the Rio Formosa in winter.
On our walk we viewed a variety of birds, unfortunately I can’t name them all, but those I can identify include cormorants, a pair of picos, and flamingos. Unlike the plastic birds that are found in front yards of those turning 50 or other significant year, these graceful birds were more whitish with a hint of soft pink. Only when they spread their wings did you see any colour.
We ventured further into the Park and caught the ferry to the Isle of Tavira. The short ferry trip provides access to spectacular beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. There are a handful of ‘summer’ cottages, a small campground (not open for the season yet) another handful of restaurants, of which only one two were open, and miles and miles of beach.
It was noticeable on the ferry, few where travelling to the beach for sunbathing, I think the hiking boots and pants with zip off legs suggested a more touristy crowd. We may not have temperatures to support spending hours laying on the beach, but who can refuse a sunny day of beach walking?
When it was time for lunch, we ventured into the sand dunes, out of the wind for a picnic. We watched the fishing boats and beach walkers pass by while we ate sandwiches and fruit.
We strolled back toward the ferry examining beach art (beached whale?) and other finds along the way. Having developed quite a thirst after the hard work of meandering along the beach, we headed to one of the restaurants for a bit of shade and a cold cervaja.
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