This trail runs across a peninsula in the heart of the estuarine-lagoon system of the Ria de Alvor. The place is generally called Quinta da Rocha, because the peninsula ends in a small limestone (rocha calcária) promontory. The trail is very interesting for observing aquatic birds, birds of prey and passerines, particularly during migrations and in the winter months.
More significant here, though seen everywhere along the trail, are the typical fields of the Algarve. They are old Arabianinspired dryland orchards, where even today grow carob trees, almond trees, fig trees and olive trees; along with newer citrus orchards.
Here you’ll come across an old hunting reserve, a tapada, and salt evaporation ponds being ecologically restored. The marsh vegetation that colonises these spaces is important because of its high biological productivity and the ability to purify the water. Many species of waders, such as the black-winged stilt, the common redshank, or different species of sandpiper or plover, feed or rest in these environments.
At the top of the promontory of Quinta da Rocha, formed by calcareous rocks of the Miocene period, you’ll be able to spot fossils and shells of bivalves. This formation creates diversity in a landscape dominated by the shallow line of the lagoon with its banks of marsh and sand. The crest of the cliff is covered by stone pinewood and the Mediterranean scrubland typical of these places, including broom, whiteleaved rockroses, kermes oak, mastic and the southernmost distribution of Thymus camphoratus.
A large agricultural property displays a mosaic of habitats which sustains diverse fauna: pastures, uncultivated fields, stone pinewood, and, at lower levels, banks of salt marsh and saline fields.
The Centre for the Study and Observation of Nature, founded in 1983 by the NGO A Rocha, has been responsible for several studies in the Ria de Alvor and for regular bird ringing and environmental education activities.