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Castro Verde Steppes

bustards and rollers

This is one of the areas in southern Portugal that deserve to be highlighted for its scenery and rich bird community. It includes the cereal steppes of Castro Verde, in the Alentejo Dourada Plains and the patches of Mediterranean forest in the southern Baixo Alentejo, and offers quiet farming villages or towns of haunting beauty such as the medieval town of Mértola.

It is especially important for its rich community of steppe birds, being considered the best preserved in Portugal, with good populations of great bustard, little bustard, black-bellied sandgrouse, lesser kestrel, calandra lark and short-toed lark. The high availability of prey (rabbit, partridge, pigeon, dead livestock) make it also an important dispersal area for juvenile bigger birds of prey such as spanish imperial, golden and bonelli’s eagles and griffon vultures and wintering kites .

There are also a few breeding pairs of large eagles and other large raptors such as black kites, booted eagle, short-toed eagle, kestrel, eagle owl and marsh harrier.

In winter other raptors like peregrine falcon, hen harrier, merlin, black-winged kite or marsh harrier occur here. Moreover, the existence of some rivers and streams, ponds and small reservoirs favors the appearance of some waterfowl as greenshank, snipe, grey heron, little egret, moorhen and mallard. In the steppes large flocks of golden plover, lapwing and skylark feed, where it is also possible to observe the very scarce crow in the South West peninsular which being sheltered by cliffs has blue rock thrush and rock bunting.

All these factors turn the area of Castro Verde-Mértola into into a premier bird destination in the Iberian southwest.


Featured species: imperial eagle, golden eagle, bonelli’s eagle, short-toed eagle, red kite, black kite, marsh harrier, montagu’s harrier, hen harrier, black-winged kite, lesser kestrel, merlin, great bustard, little bustard, black-bellied sandgrouse crane, roller, great-spotted cuckoo, calandra and short-toed larks.

  • Recommended season

    Spring, winter

  • Duration

    1 or 2 full day tours

  • Price

    Check with us
    Extra costs: accommodation and meals

  • Type of vehicle

    Our 4×4 vehicle or your own car

  • Included

    4×4 vehicle, driver-guide,
    telescope, field book

  • Starting time

    Agreed with you
    Recommended before sunrise

  • Starting point

    Your hotel in El Rocío
    Our offices in El Rocío

male great bustard
Male great bustard
water stream through steppe land
Water stream through steppe land
flower meadow with oak
Flower meadow with oak
panoramic of the Castro Verde area
Panoramic of the Castro Verde area
male pintail sandgrouse
Male pintail sandgrouse
roller perched on a bush
Roller perched on a bush

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