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Bioria is the best place in Europe to see Purple Heron. The reserve is located at the fringes of the Aveiro lagoon in the central coast of Portugal.
Bioria Nature Reserve is very well hidden behind the town of Estarreja. It is an endlessly connected series of wetlands with large reed fields and small-scale wet farmers' fields. Hundreds of White Stork and thousands of water birds live here. And more than 200 pairs of Purple Heron. It is the largest colony of Purple Heron in Portugal. Nowhere else in Europe you can see and photograph these birds from this close and this easy. Even outside the birdwatching hides. Cycling and hiking trails have been laid out and there is a visitor center. Yet the area is still hardly known because it has only been a protected area for a few years. Almost 200 different bird species have been recorded. The Purple Heron are really everywhere you look in the small rice fields and other wet fields. They seem less shy than in other places. Black-tailed Godwit, Spoonbill and countless other waders can also be found here during migration. And Red-rumped Swallow, European Bee-eater, Hoopoe and Black-winged Kite make it a typical southern European bird mecca.
Bioria Nature Reserve is located to the west of the town of Estarreja. Click on the P in the map to get directions to the parking of the reserve next to the Interpretation Center. Best way to see the Purple Heron, is to walk or cycle the "Salreu" path. This is the route you see on the map below. Path Salreu is circular, and starts and ends at the Interpretation Center. It has a length of about 8 kilometers and can be done on foot or by bicycle. It is a route that crosses rice fields, marshes, reed beds and rushes. By foot the walk takes about two and a half hours.
A telescope can be very useful, because you also pass the lagoon where the birds are very far away. But the Salreu is a rather long walk, so maybe you should think twice :-)
There are also three other birdwalks you can do in the area. Path Rio Jardim ( 2 km), Path Bocage (3,6 km) and Path Rio Antuã (5,7 km). For more information see the Bioria-website, click on the link below.