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Santo Andre Lagoon - BirdForum Opus



This large and brackish coastal wetland to the south of Lisbon covers more than 800ha during the winter but water levels vary considerably throughout the year.

The coastal location and variation of habitats make this one of the most interesting birding sites in this part of Portugal. The lake, which varies seasonally in salinity as well as depth, is separated from the sea by a narrow band of sand-dunes that have a good covering of scrub and woods of Maritime Pine.

Fringing the lake itself are extensive reedbeds and willow scrub and inland there are more pinewoods and Cork Oak groves.


Notable Species

Breeding birds include a range of wetland birds such as Little Bittern and Purple Heron, Marsh Harrier and Black-shouldered Kite, Baillon's Crake, Black-winged Stilt and Little Tern.

Reedbed passerines are common and include Savi's Warbler, Reed Warbler and Great Reed Warbler and Common Waxbill, introduced from Africa, is a common resident.

The pinewoods and oak groves hold Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Red-necked Nightjar and Great Spotted Cuckoo, Crested Tit and Hawfinch and the farmland and scrub surrounding the lake is home to Crested Lark, European Bee-eater and Northern Hobby.

The wetland and its associated areas are of great importance for birds out of the breeding season with many species of waterfowl and waders either wintering here or visiting on passage. Amongst the commoner ducks Garganey is a regular spring migrant and Red-crested Pochard winters here in numbers that can reach 500-1,000 birds and also breeds in small numbers. Eurasian Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis and Greater Flamingo also occur on passage as well as small numbers of Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern and Black Tern.

Passerine migrants are varied and abundant and include Greater Short-toed Lark, Red-rumped Swallow and Woodchat Shrike as well as large numbers of warblers such as Melodious Warbler, Western Subalpine Warbler and Western Bonelli's Warbler. Water Pipit, Penduline Tit and Bluethroat are regular winter visitors to the reedbeds.

Yellow-legged Gull is common offshore throughout the year and Great Skua and Pomarine Skua are scarce passage visitors. Eurasian Coot is an abundant passage and wintering bird and amongst the 10,000 that may occur the occasional Crested Coot has appeared in recent years.


Rarities recorded in this area have included Audouin's Gull and White-winged Tern, Red-necked Phalarope and Roller. Recent ringing programmes have revealed Santo Andre Lagoon to be something of a rarity hotspot with regard to passerine migrants. Richard's Pipit, Little Bunting and most surprising of all, Pallas's Reed Bunting have all been recorded and no doubt a great many more vagrants remain to be discovered.


Birds you can see here include:

Black-necked Grebe, Great Cormorant, Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Purple Heron, White Stork, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, (small numbers Su), Short-toed Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, Black Kite, Western Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Booted Eagle, Osprey, Northern Hobby, Peregrine Falcon, Common Quail, Water Rail, Baillon's Crake, Eurasian Coot, Crested Coot, Little Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Stone-curlew, Collared Pratincole, Northern Lapwing, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Eurasian Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Red Knot, Sanderling, Little Stint, Temminck's Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Pomarine Skua, Great Skua, Mediterranean Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Sandwich Tern, Little Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Short-eared Owl, European Nightjar, Red-necked Nightjar, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, European Bee-eater, Eurasian Hoopoe, (rare in W), Eurasian Wryneck, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Wood Lark, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Tawny Pipit, Water Pipit, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Bluethroat, Whinchat, European Stonechat, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Savi's Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Common Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Western Subalpine Warbler, Western Bonelli's Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Common Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher, European Pied Flycatcher, Short-toed Treecreeper, Penduline Tit, Crested Tit, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Iberian Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Carrion Crow, Spotless Starling, Common Waxbill, European Serin, Hawfinch, Cirl Bunting, Ortolan Bunting

Other Wildlife

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Site Information

History and Use

The area suffers heavily from shooting and increasingly in recent years from tourist pressure but remains an excellent birding site at any time of year although the greatest variety occurs during passage periods.

Areas of Interest

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Access and Facilities

The Santo Andre Lagoon can be reached easily by road from Lisbon on the A2 via Setubal. From Setubal follow signs to the port and take the Troia ferry, continuing southwards through Comporta then turning west towards Melides.

A few km past this village is the signed turn-off for the lagoon. Various tracks can be used to explore the lake and its surroundings from the road south of Brescos village.

Most of the towns and larger villages in the area can provide pension or hotel accommodation.

Contact Details

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External Links

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Content and images originally posted by Steve