The Aveiro Lagoon “Ria de Aveiro” is one of the most important wetlands in Portugal. From the Atlantic coast, through the dunes, salt-pans and reed bed areas up to the first woods you will discover different habitats with a rich and varied birdlife. The Lagoon has the status of Important Bird Area (IBA) and Special Protection Area (SPA).
The “Ria” conquered Aveiro and it became its heart. It is what identifies the city, gives it brightness and life and it has permanently marked local traditions. In Aveiro, everything happens around its 47 kilometres of water next to the sea. The Aveiro Lagoon, a silver mirror, which reflects the colour of the moliceiro boats and the Art Nouveau houses; it is what makes Aveiro so seductive and unique.
The Aveiro Lagoon began to form during the 15th century, when the shore line moved back and left behind sandpits along an area of eleven thousand hectares which created a lagoon. Nowadays, it has become a real network of canals and islands which has made Aveiro earn the title of “Portuguese Venice”. The water shelters many species such as lamprey clams, storks, herons and some birds of prey or mammals like genettas and otters. Its wealth is so exceptional that the Lagoon has been classified as a protected area.
The "Ria de Aveiro" is the ideal spot for birdwatching activities, as well as a privileged destination for birdwatchers worldwide due to the excellence of its natural habitats for protected species, such as the purple heron (Ardea purpurea).
It is the greatest wet zone in the half north of Center of Portugal region and a paradise for birdwatching aficionados! Classified as Special Protected Zone, its salt-marshes and marine meadows are very important habitats for estuaries. The habitats are especially relevant for nesting of aquatic birds, mostly salt ponds, lagoon systems and dunes. There are several different spots for birdwatching.
The site holds 20,000 or more wintering waterbirds on a regular basis, with important congregations of sea-duck offshore (Melanitta nigra) and waders on the intertidal flats (notably the dunlin, Calidris alpina). The freshwater marshes and estuarine areas support important breeding numbers of several waterbirds.