Iberian Wildlife Tours - Wildlife Holidays in Spain and Portugal
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Eastern reaches: forests of Pinheiro and the northern salinas

Much of the eastern part of the estuary lies within a private estate (Herdade de Pinheiro), although the track signposted 'Pinheiro' (west off the N-5) runs for several kilometres through sparse cork oak and pine forest before reaching the gates. Cistus crispus © Teresa Farino Cistus crispus © Teresa Farino An understorey of sage-leaved and gum cistuses, Cistus psilosepalus, C. crispus, Halimium lasianthum ssp. lasianthum and Phillyrea latifolia provides cover for Eurasian badger, western polecat, Egyptian mongoose and Iberian hare, with sunny glades dotted with palmate anemone, Linaria spartea, three-leaved snowflake and Scilla monophyllos in spring. Little, long-eared, tawny and barn owls, hoopoe, lesser spotted woodpecker, woodlark, crested tit, azure-winged magpie, rock sparrow and cirl bunting can be seen here all year round, joined by short-toed and booted eagles, bee-eater, wryneck and woodchat shrike in summer and woodcock and firecrest in winter.

The northern shores of the estuary are much more humanised, with minor roads south off the N-10 to the east of Setúbal giving access to the waterside settlements of Mitrena, Praias do Sado, Gāmbia and Zambujal. At Praias do Sado, the tracks running between the salinas and Black-winged Stilt © John Muddeman Black-winged Stilt
Himantopus himantopus
© John Muddeman
fish-ponds are worth exploring at high tide in winter, when you should come across greater flamingo, black-winged stilt, grey and Kentish plovers and black-tailed godwit, as well as marsh harrier and bluethroat. A little further on, the tip of the Mitrena peninsula combines saltmarsh, brackish pools and creeks on one side with Mediterranean pinewoods on the other, and is a noted haunt of osprey in winter.

The salinas adjacent to the Ribeira de Marateca near Zambujal are also worth a visit, for close-up views of avocet, black-winged stilt, redshank, little stint, ruff, greenshank and grey plover during the winter, with common gulls sometimes putting in an appearance. The surrounding marshy fields support good numbers of little egrets, white storks and marsh harriers at this time of year. The reedbeds and scrub along the margins of the fields are patrolled by vociferous groups of waxbills, while the few trees of the area provide suitable habitat for tree sparrows.

Sado estuary, western Portugal
The Sado estuary - an introduction
The Tróia sand-spit
Carrasqueira and Murta
[Pinheiro and the northern salinas]
Scientific names of plants

Reports of other wildlife trips to Portugal:

BSBI Botanical Tour in Western Portugal - Trip Report 2006

Related information:

Wildlife of western Portugal - Serra da Arrábida
Read about Teresa Farino
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