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Flamingos in the Tagus Estuary Natural Reserve in Lisbon

Endless flocks of pink flamingos occupy the wetland for the winter season

Best time: October–November

Flamingos in the Tagus Estuary Natural Reserve
Flamingos in the Tagus Estuary Natural Reserve

The Reserva Natural do Estuário do Tejo or the Tagus Estuary is one of the 10 biggest wetlands in Europe and the largest one in Portugal. It's located a 20-minute drive from Lisbon, around the Tagus River. Due to its enormous biodiversity and its climate, the place is a perfect spot for birdwatching and for exploring the local nature.

On 14 hectares of the estuary, hundreds of species live permanently. But the international fame and importance were brought to the area by migrating birds—flocks of ducks, Mediterranean gulls, curlew sandpipers, common redshanks, etc. In general, over 120,000 birds find shelter in the Tagus Estuary during the migration period.

But the most famous and impressive guests are flamingos. They usually nest in France and Spain and stop in Portugal for some time in the wet places, like this estuary. It is possible to see flamingos in the area all year round but their concentration grows significantly in October–November. Occasionally the number of flamingos near the Tagus River reaches over a thousand birds. By March, their population declines as the majority of birds come back to their nests.

Aside from birdwatching, you may enjoy other activities in the estuary—visit salterns, watch the harvesting of grapes or take photos of the so-called “sea of green”—the rice fields.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit the Tagus Estuary Natural Reserve in Lisbon?

To see the Flamingos at their highest concentration, it is recommended to visit the Tagus Estuary Natural Reserve in Lisbon between October and November. Opportunities to spot flamingos occur year-round, but March usually ends the season as the flamingos leave. Show more

Where is the Tagus Estuary Natural Reserve located?

Found near the Tagus River and driving distance from Lisbon, the Tagus Estuary Natural Reserve is one of Europe's largest wetlands and is considered the most prominent one in Portugal. The Reserve extends over 14 hectares of the estuary and is ideal for bird watching and exploration of local wildlife. Show more

What other bird species, aside from flamingos, can be seen in the reserve?

One unique feature of the Tagus Estuary Natural Reserve is the variety of bird species to see. Over 120,000 birds consisting of ducks, Mediterranean gulls, curlew sandpipers, and common redshanks migrate through the area. Additionally, multiple bird species live in the region due to diverse biodiversity and weather. Show more

What other activities can be done in the reserve aside from bird watching?

For outdoor and nature enthusiasts, visiting salterns, rice fields, and photographing the greenery are favored activities. Furthermore, watching grape harvests is a popular option. Other than birdwatching, the Reserve guarantees other fun activities that guarantee an enjoyable experience. Show more

Is it possible to see a thousand flamingos at once in the Tagus Estuary?

Although it is not guaranteed, the Tagus Estuary Natural Reserve flaunts the ability to display up to a thousand flamingos simultaneously. While the peak migration period for the best chance to observe flamingos is October to November, the Reserve is home to a variety of bird species that make it attractive to birdwatchers year-round. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin