Watching birds, walking on wooden footbridges and doing some small activities
Birdwatching has never been one of my great passions and ornithology, either as a hobby or a profession, seemed about as fascinating to me as the tinkering of a mechanic or the activities of a fanatic coin collector. I grew up in the country and was always a passionate animal observer, and because I really dislike animal enclosures, I have been looking for wild animals in nature for years, and I enjoy showing them to our two daughters.
The lake gurgles under the observation cottage. A bumblebee hums as it passes by. Nearby, there are ducks chattering, and the occasional seagull screams from a distance.
Unfortunately, small children tend to only look in the right direction when the fox has long since disappeared into the thicket. But watching birds from a distance is something even the youngest kids can do, even though this activity doesn’t exactly fascinate them.
Therefore, during our second visit to the birdwatching area Espaço Interpretativo da Lagoa Pequena, we brought a pair of binoculars, Lia’s children’s camera, painting utensils and some delicious ingredients for a small picnic.
The entrance to the birdwatching area is barely visible and can easily be overlooked on the road to Praia do Meco. In the little house at the entrance, we repeatedly met a nice young woman who lent our children discovery kits for one euro each. The kits consisted of a researcher’s backpack with binoculars, magnifying lenses, pens and a few activities that they could do on our hike. From this moment on, they were both enthusiastic about it.
The discovery tour started unspectacularly with a path along a dense thicket of reed, over which you can get a hint of the nearby Lagoa de Albufera – but you can barely spot it. Shortly afterwards, the path branched off to the various observation huts and stands, and we crossed bridges and wooden walkways over swampy areas until we reached the individual observation huts.
On the way we already make our first small discoveries, which are no less spectacular for our children than the expected distant birds on the small lake. We see pretty butterflies and a very big black beetle.
The first observation post lead to some climbing, a first look over the reed belt at the birds on the lake and, when it started to rain a bit, painting and a small picnic snack.
Then our daughters started to do some of the activities. These are smaller games, puzzles and a list of birds and plants on which they could to mark the ones they had already seen. This was a very motivating task for all of us to take a closer look at our surroundings, because at first sight, we could only see a few black ducks.
As the rain eased, we leisurely walked to a small hut in the middle of the lake. At the last, here in this cosy house, I understood the inconspicuous charm of bird watching. Our children were also fascinated by the peace that surrounded us, by the splashing of the water around us, by the sounds of a few birds, and by the quiet rain pattering on the roof. Of course, you shouldn’t expect your children to enjoy this peace without some level of disruption, but deeply involved in drawing nature and, from time to time, in observing some quite active cormorants, again and again our children allowed their parents some precious minutes of relaxation and peace.
At the end of another recently built, long wooden walkway, we reached a final, very new little hut that was even more comfortable than the first two, and there we lingered for a few hours. We also secretly hoped to see an otter, but in the end we could only see the conspicuous excrements he left in a rowboat.
When we returned to the information centre at the entrance, we were received once again by the park attendant, and Lia and Laura were allowed to report about their discoveries. They got a small certificate for the skills they passed. Directly beside the entrance, there were also some tables in the shade, which would be very suitable for a nice picnic when the weather is better.
Espaço Interpretativo da Lagoa Pequena Sesimbra
Phone: +351 93 998 22 92
Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun: 9-13 o’clock and 14-17 o’clock
Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun: 10-12:30 o’clock and 14-18:30 o’clock
Last admission 1 hour before closing.
Closed on public holidays.
Location: 38.522121, -9.143344
Directions: Only possible by car
Otter, bittern, pochard, garganey, oystercatcher, purple heron, coot, cormorant, Mediterranean gull, gadwall, stork, etc. (Detailed list)
On the road:
Very good and varied on foot, also suitable for smaller children. Accessible by pram as far as possible.