Best Alternative Birdwatching destination

Azores is already considered one od the best bird watching destinations. What about S. Jorge?

This is not our quote. It is from SPEA – Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds, when talking about birds observation in S. Jorge. Although the Azores are already a reference in the world of bird watching, S. Jorge is still relatively unknown to bird watchers. Being one of the islands in a wilder and more natural state, S. Jorge has, in addition to the best natural landscapes, a set of bird species that are different from the other islands. The nesting birds that we can often see are the Milhafre (Round Wing Eagle), the Azorean Wood Pigeon, the Chaffinch, the Red-bellied Pisco and the Sparta Spare among others. In the page of the ornithological tourism in Portugal can consult the best places of observation.

The Azorean Cory’s Shearwater (Cagarro)

Cory’s Shearwater (Cagarro) is almost an icon of St. Jorge and a night on this island would not be complete without listening to them during dinner. Click here to listen to the night activity of the Cagarros in S. Jorge.

Corys’ Shearwater is a sea bird that is 50 centimeters long on average and has a wingspan of one meter and 25 centimeters. It nests in the Berlengas, Azores, Madeira and Canaries islands, in natural cavities and rocky crevices in the cliffs. During February to November the Azorean islands become the most important place for this species, housing 74% of the world population, to mate and nest. Envied by many Hollywood couples, this bird is monogamous and chooses a partner for the rest of its life. In October, the parents leave the nests, in a trans-equatorial migration, to regions as far away as Brazil or Uruguay, where they spend the winter.

The emancipated juveniles first leave the nest heading for the sea looking for food (fish, squid and crustaceans). Then they will travel with their parents in this adventure towards the warm lands of the south.

However the Cory’s Shearwater takes serious risks. According to Joaquim Teodósio, coordinator of Spea in the Azores, it is important to make people aware.

Migratory Species

The lagoons of the Fajãs dos Cubres and Caldeira de St. Cristo are also stop points for migratory birds, mainly during autumn and winter. In the summer, another migratory bird arrives in the Azores that we commonly watch while swimming in a fajã: Terns diving into the water to catch small mackerels.

Being a small island, it’s fast to reach different observation spots to watch different species in different habitats. We can go from the top of the mountain to coastal cliffs in few minutes.

But it is best to visit the Birds of the Azores website, which contains the most recent bird records on the various islands of the Azores.

Don’t forget to bring:

  • Practical and discreet clothing
  • Appropriate hiking shoes
  • A waterproof poncho (it may rain suddenly)
  • Binoculars
  • Pocket book to jot the observations
  • Bird guide
  • Camera (with long lens)
  • Biscuits for energy (we recommend Maria Alice cookies from Calheta)
  • Water
  • Sun screen