The European flamingo is a regular guest to the Algarve and can be spotted from November to March throughout the region. Portugal provided them with a stopover as they would migrate from France to Spain, but, perhaps following tourism trends, the fabulous flamingoes began to flock to the Algarve in greater numbers each year.
Their arrival to Salgados played an important part in the protection of the wetlands, which is perhaps to be expected, because in the tales of many cultures, the flamingo often acts as a saviour to other animals because they were equally at home on land, sea, or air. Some legends even went so far as to say that they began life as men before taking flight.
They certainly are a unique bird. Standing on one leg to keep warm in the water, with white plumage dyed pink from their crustacean-based diet and a long, winding neck, they are easy to spot from the wooden walkways of Salgados. It is an incredible sight to see hundreds of them up close.
A few years ago, something even more extraordinary happened. From one of the hides along the Salgados trail, a keen-eyed birdwatcher spotted a nest among the reeds. The large heap of mud sheltered a single egg from which the Algarve’s first born flamingo would emerge. It seemed the flamingos were developing a special bond to Salgados.
Every spring and autumn thousands of them now return, with further sightings of nests each year, so there is every chance of spotting another Portuguese flamingo. Indeed, birdwatchers return year after year to follow the flight of these spectacular birds.
The Salgados Reserve, adjacent to one of the most beautiful beaches in Albufeira and bordering our Villa Hibiscus Beach House, offers a fantastic opportunity to see these and hundreds of other rare and protected species in the wild, and it’s a great excuse to get off the beaten track and try something little different.
After all, as the saying goes, in a flock of pigeons, it’s best to be a flamingo.