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  • Writer's pictureMichael Heinz

Extended weekend in the Tejo river Delta nearby Lisbon

I was blessed getting the chance to visit the Tejo river delta natural reserve nearby Lisbon in Portugal in early March. Discovering the beauty of this landscape as well as the variety of nature and different species was truly an outstanding experience!

I was mainly visiting 2 spots in the the Tejo river delta (Reserva Natural do Estuary do Tejo): 1. the Tagus Estuary Birdwatching and Conversation Area (EVOA), located in the north of the delta, and 2. the Liberia das Enguias, located in south of the area. I will describe both spots in some more details further down below.

Tagus Estuary Birdwatching and Conversation Area (EVOA)

An outstanding job was done here in this conservation area, in which three freshwater wetlands have been integrated into the area, in total of 70ha, and been made accessible to visitors. The lagoons are very important for birdlife and a welcome refuge and nesting area for them. To not disturb the birds, but still making the place accessible to visitors, four observatories, 2 photographic hides, several viewpoints and a visitor centre have been created. You can find examples of the visitor centre, the observatories and photographic hides in the pictures below. The places have been created very carefully, the visitor centre offers a great view over the area, provides coffee and snacks, and overall, it makes for a really great experience to discover the area and its wildlife.

I personally found the holes for the cameras in the photographic hides to be located a bit too high over the ground, making it hard or rather impossible to get down to eye level with the animals. This is pretty much the only concern I had with the area. The amount of birds I could watch here are really quite incredible, among them some new species that I had not seen elsewhere before. A really welcome change from the species one would usually see in west central Europe. Among the species, to give you a tase, are: Purple Swamphen, Kentish Plover, Black-winged Kite, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Common Waxbill, Corn Bunting, White Spoonbill and very obviously and common here, the Greater Flamingo.

While the variety of species was breathtaking, I must admit it was hard to catch a great photo. Birds have often been rather distant from the hides, and if they came close, the above eye level location of the hides made it hard to get a perfect shot. I still like some of the images I could take (and at least one made its way to my portfolio), find below my favorite images from the EVOA area.

Liberia das Enguias

This place located in the south of the river delta certainly is very different from the EVOA area. While the latter was created to make the birdlife accessible to visitors, this place feels less "artificial" in a way. It rather appears to be an agricultural area, which birds seem to like given the habitat it provides. There is no dependency on hides and observatories, hence it is easier to photograph birds from the ground, and natural objects can be used to hide and get close to wildlife. I had really such a joy photographing in this area, which was especially great for Greater Flamingos, Great-stilt walkers, and Stonechats, which are quite common in this area.

I was spending 2 out of 3 days in this area, and would have loved to stay here for many more days. There had been plenty of picture ideas I could not realize yet, and I would love to come back one day to give it a try!


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