Newsletter January 2022

Welcome to our January Newsletter

A New Year is coming and with it a hope for a sustainable and bright future 🙂

Happy New Year!!

Helen & Filipa

We would like to remind you that our GIVING 2022 Campaign is still active, if you would consider supporting us.. Despite all our wishes it seems we will have another difficult year due to Covid19, and your help would be very much appreciated. Thank’s


António Egas Moniz

Portuguese Neurologist

Nobel Prize of Medicine in 1949

Born: 28th November, 1874, Estarreja

Died: 13th December, 1955, Lisbon

António Egas Moniz was born in Avanca (Estarreja), on the 29th of November of 1874, in a rural family; he suffered from gout from an early age, which caused him problems with his limbs. He studied Medicine in Coimbra’s University and finished his PhD in 1902. In 1903 he became a professor in Coimbra’s University (Anatomy, Physiology and later General Pathology), but his main interest was Neurology. After his studies he spent some time in France studying Neurology with some of the top Neurologists of the time. In 1911, he started to work has a Neurology professor at the Medical School of Lisbon’s University.

During his life he was a writer, medical doctor, researcher, politician and was well known in all the areas he dedicated his life to. In 1917 he was one of the founders of the Central party and was deputy for several years during the first Portuguese Republic (Portuguese Ministry in Madrid, Foreigner Affairs Ministry). He gave up politics when the government became fascist.

In 1927 he invented the Cerebral Angiography, a new innovated method to see the brain blood vessels; after that he was interested in mental diseases and in 1935 he did the first prefrontal leucotomy (surgery to cut the prefrontal lobes of the brain, latter called lobotomy). This procedure could help to minimize the severe symptoms of mental diseases.

In 1949, Egas Moniz received the Nobel Prize of Physiology and Medicine, for his important discoveries. He was the first Portuguese person to receive a Nobel Prize and the only one in sciences.

References: z

IFO’s – Identified Flying Objects…

Garden Carpet

(Xanthorhoe fluctuata, Linnaeus, 1758)

Photo by Filipa Bragança

Morphology: It is a macro moth from the Geometridae Family, with a wingspan between 18 and 25 mm. The forewings have whitish grey background with three large irregular black patches along the costa (the biggest in the middle), sometimes can occur in darker forms. Two or three generations per year (bivoltine or trivoltine). The adults can fly from May to October (even longer depending on the geographic location).

Habitat: Large variety of habitats, seems to prefer suburban areas, like gardens and parks; also in shrublands or mixed forests.

Distribution: Holarctic distribution: Europe, temperate Asia and North America.

Notes: It is one of the most common and widespread Geometridae. The adult flies at dawn and during the day it doesn’t hide and it is possible to see it resting in walls, trunks or leaves. The larvae feeds in plants from Brassicaceae Family wild or cultivated.


Tweet… Tweet…

Grey Plover

(Pluvialis squatarola, Linnaeus, 1758)

Photos by Guillaume Réthoré

Identification: It is a medium sized wader from the Charadriidae Family, with a wingspan between 56 and 63 cm and 26 to 29 cm in length. Sturdy bird, with long legs, short and heavy bill; two different plumages: in winter spotted grey above and pale underneath, in summer more exuberant with dark mask, extending to the breast and belly and spotted black above with white flanks. In flight shows whitish rump, white wing bar and distinctive black axillaries. In females the summer plumage has white intermixed.

Habitat and Ecology: Breeds in high Arctic (upland and valley) and tundra (marshes, river banks, gravel beaches); outside the breeding season the species can occur in intertidal mudflats, saltmarshes, beaches, estuaries, lakes or grasslands. The diet is varied and depending on the habitat: larvae and adult insects (Diptera), plant matter, marine worms, molluscs and crustaceans.

Distribution: This is a migrant species which breeds in the Arctic tundra of Eurasia and North America; Siberian populations winter on a large area from North Sea to South Africa. In Portugal it is a common winter and passage migrant, can be seen along the coastline in marshlands and estuaries.

Threats and Notes: Least Concern (LC) in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The population trend in Europe is unknown and the overall trend population is decreasing. The main threats are climate change and habitat disturbance from urban and industrial development.

Svensson, Lars, 2009, Collins bird guide, 2nd Edition, Harper Collins Publishers Lda
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Pluvialis squatarola. Downloaded from on 09/11/2021.


  • On the 11th of December A Rocha organized another beach clean at Praia da Luz. Volunteers collected a lot of rubbish yet again.

  • Winter is here! Birds have already gon to their winter grounds and bird movements are now much less, although storms and cold winds can push birds in different directions; it is a nice period to watch sea birds.
  • Some of the birds seen at Ria de Alvor, Nature 2000: Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus), Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), Booted Eagle


    (Aquila pennata), Iberian Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis), Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis), Peregrine Falcon (Falcus peregrinus), Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo), Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) and Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus).

  • A recent study from Leeds University put together the top things we can do as individuals to reduce our carbon footprint: the most impactful thing is to live car-free and fly less. Switch to renewable energy for your home (heating and energy consumption at home are a big part of our footprint). Switch to a plant-based diet as meat consumption is a huge source of carbon emissions, and by switching to plant-based foods you will significantly reduce your contribution to CO2.

Start your NEW Year with this Friends Event

‘ The Joy of Laughter’ with Christine Weltzien

It will take place at A Rocha on Wednesday 19th January 2022

Starting at 10.30am and will finish around 14.30pm

This is a workshop to get you relaxed, happy and laughing, followed by a delicious lunch at Cruzinha.

Ticket Price €20.00 Friends         €25.00 NON Friends

Booking is essential so please use the link below, book early so you are not disappointed

NOTE: This event may be cancelled due to any new pandemic restrictions (hopefully not).

Book here


Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca, Linnaeus, 1766)

Phyllum: Chordata

Photo by Guillaume Réthoré

Class: Aves

Family: Anatidae

Origin: Africa (South of Sahara and Nile Valley)

Size: 68 to 78 cm long

The Egyptian Goose it is a large aquatic bird (larger than a duck). The plumage is greyish-brown with a distinctive broad brown band around the eye, the wings are reddish-brown with white panels (usually not visible), and the legs are pinkish. Males and females are alike, but males are usually slightly larger.

This species is native from Africa, occurs mainly in the South of Sahara and Nile Valley. Inhabits a wide range of freshwater areas, like dams, reservoirs, lakes, rivers, marshes and estuaries, it is absent from dense forests and deserts. It is a sedentary bird but can make seasonal movements related to water availability. The breeding season varies geographically and does not depend on rainfall patterns. The diet consists of vegetable matter: seeds, leaves and stems of grasses.

In XVIII century, the Egyptian Goose was introduced in Great Britain and nowadays is naturalized with self-sustained populations; as well, non-native populations have established in other parts of the world: The Netherlands (breeding since 1967), Belgium, Germany, New Zealand and some parts of USA. In Portugal this species has been seen frequently and it’s expanding, especially in the Alentejo Region.

The Egyptian Goose has proved to be successful has a non-native species; large groups can cause physical damage to habitats through grazing and can compete for food and territory with other native species. Since 2017, this species is listed in the List of Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern and subject of restrictions and measures; the restrictions include importing, keeping, selling, breeding and growing.



Family: Ranunculaceae

Identification: It is a perennial herbaceous plant with tuberous rhizome, up to 45 cm (usually less); the stem is dark brown, erect and usually not branched. The basal leaves are rounded with long petiole, dark green above and reddish underneath. The flowers are yellow, lonely, and grown at the top of the stems. Flowers from January to May.

Habitat and distribution: Open areas of scrublands, woodland edges, grasslands and meadows, prefers moister soils. This species is native from the West Mediterranean Region and has a restricted area, it is common in Portugal, Spain and South of France.

Notes: The name “Anemone” comes from Greek, meaning “daughter of the wind” and “palmata”, meaning “palm of the hand” due to the shape of its leaves. This species can also have white flowers.


Yellow Anemone

(Anemone palmata, L.)

Photos by Filipa Bragança


1st of January – New Year’s Day/Public Holiday

6th of January – Kings Day (Twelfth Night, down come the decorations)

13th, 20th, 27st January    Cruzinha Birdringing display & Moth Talk (10am to 12:30 am). Book here

19th January – Beach Clean at Praia de 3 Irmãos, Alvor. Meeting point at 09:00 o’clock at the parking place. More information contact:

19th January – Friends Event: The Joy of Laughter (10:30 to 14:30)

Thank you for supporting the Friends of A Rocha Portugal

Dr Roy Rodrigues
Av. Do Brasil, Qta das Palmeiras, Lt P2, R/c A, 8500-299 Portimão
(+351) 282180683

Urbanização Marachique, Lt 1, Loja B, 8500-045 Alvor
(+351) 919191941/ 282482409

Sítio da Amoreira, Lote 12,
Alvor, 8500-045 Portimão
(+351) 282412562/ 925433047

Urbanização Mar e Serra n° 47, Alvor
8500 – 783 Portimão

(+351) 911597735

Physiotherapy, Massages (relaxation, sports, therapeutic)

Other therapies

Beauty (manicure, pedicure, hair removal, facials)

Open Monday to Friday

What a nice Birthday present! A Gift Friendship for the Friends of A Rocha Portugal!!


Gift Friendship

Thought of the month 

“I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things we could use.”—Mother Teresa de Calcutta (1910-1997, Albanian/Indian Missionary, Nobel Peace Prize in 1979)


Fast Fashion

  • Fast fashion: “inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers that copy the latest catwalk styles and get pumped quickly through stores in order to maximise on current trends

  • Fast design, production, distribution and marketing (more fashion products available at low prices- more consumption and short-lived garment)
  • Started in the beginning of the 1990’s and it is an expanding business (Eg: Zara, H&M)
  • More waste, more water consumed, more CO2 emissions: 92 million tons of waste produce per year; 79 trillion litres of water consumed; 8-10% of global CO2 emissions
  • More water pollution (textile factories produce toxic wastewaters released directly into the rivers, this harms the health of millions of people and wildlife)
  • More soil degradation (overgrazing pastures by cashmere goats of wool sheep’s; soil contamination by chemicals to produce cotton; deforestation to produce fibres, like rayon and viscose): 70 million trees are cut down to produce our clothes.
  • Choose wisely, consume less.


Article of Dr Paula Banza

The article “Short-term positive effects of wildfire on diurnal insects and pollen transport in a Mediterranean ecosystem” (see reference below) was recently published as an outcome of Paula Banza PhD’ research. The aim of the study was to investigate the effects of wildfire on diurnal insects and the movement of pollen, over two years following a large fire that occurred in S. Brás de Alportel (Faro) in 2012. The researcher compared samples collected at three burned sites and three adjacent unburned sites to determine the effects of burning on the abundance and species richness of diurnal insects across seasons and the pollen being transported by those insects. The main conclusions were that the abundance and species richness of insects increased over time at both burned and unburned sites, most notably each spring. The amount of pollen transported by the insects was significantly higher and more diverse (i.e. pollen from a greater number of plants) in burned sites than in unburned sites but only in the first spring. These results suggest that fire affects pollen transport by diurnal insects soon after the event, with positive effects on both pollen load and insect diversity in the short term.


Banza, P.; Evans, D. M.; Medeiros, M.; Macgregor, C. J. and Belo; A. D. F. (2021) Short-term positive effects of wildfire on diurnal insects and pollen transport in a Mediterranean ecosystem. Ecological Entomology, DOI: 10.1111/een.13082

Climate change – Greenhouse Gases

Climate changes are variations in global climate which can last decades or more. Since the early Earth history, climate has changed; there have been several cycles of glacial advance and retreat. These climate changes are due to natural causes, external factors which caused small variations in Earth’s orbit, changing the amount of solar energy our planet receives. Although in the past decades, there has been a current warming trend due to human action. Scientists using new technology advances, collected over several years data of our planet, which reveals signs of a changing climate and this is happening at a very fast rate.

The major cause of Global warming is the increase of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere; these gases (Carbon dioxide-CO2, Methane-CH4, Nitrous oxide-N2O) work out as heat-trapping and affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere. (See Graphic)

Since 1750 the increase of the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is caused by human activities. In 2019, the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere were higher than at any time in the last 2 million years! (Since 1750 increased 48%). The concentrations of CH4 and N2O were the highest in the last 800 000 years!

Main causes of the increase of greenhouse gases

  • Burning of coal, petrol and gas: produces CO2 and N2O (around 87% of all emissions)
  • Deforestation: trees absorb CO2, when they are cut the CO2 is released into the atmosphere
  • Increase of livestock production: the food digestion of cows and sheep produces large amounts of CH4
  • Agriculture fertilizers with nitrogen: produce N2O

In Europe the most of greenhouse emissions are for Energy (cars, industries, heating) (see Figure 1). The biggest greenhouse producer in the world is China (see Figure 2).

Figure 1 – Greenhouse emissions in Europe

Figure 2 – Biggest greenhouse producers


Sustainability Champions

Sustainability Champions from around the World– Looking at ways to curb pollution and waste management.

We would like to thank Daniel Hartz, the founder of Sustainability Champions for giving us the permission to share this information.

Zsofia Kollar is from Amsterdam and founded HUMAN Material LOOP, a company that collects and processes waste human hair, and is on a mission to revolutionize the textile and fashion industries by demonstrating the importance of recycling discarded human hair from salons.

Human hair is produced in Europe at a rate of 72 million kilos a year, this hair clogs up drainage systems or ends up in landfills. Human hair is a readily available and locally manufactured substance. Its also a material that is non-toxic, non-irritant, and anti-allergenic. It has a similar strength-to-weight ratio as steel can stretch up to one-and-a-half times its original length before breaking.

The company collects and processes waste human hair which they later spin into yarn and use to develop various textile pieces. By doing this her company lowers the waste generated in cities and also reduces the amount of harmful materials currently used in textile production.

By using locally sourced materials, Zsofia aims to reduce the fossil fuels and associated pollutants including greenhouse gas emissions required for shipping. Small scale local production helps to eliminate the waste of unneeded products made to to adhere to oversees minimums, reduce emissions and energy usage. It also pushes for accountable, ethical production labour, where the environmental impacts directly affect the consumers.

Currently the development phase focuses on the waste management of hair salons, but they aim to create a system where each individual can dispose of their hair waste and contribute to a closed-loop system.

Check the website here

Check the website for dates for organised tours  

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Guillaume Réthoré (Gui)- My life with birds: Rüpell’s Vulture

For this first picture of the series, I chose the one I have on my computer desktop. The Rüppell’s Vulture is a an endangered species in Africa but the number of sightings of this species has increased in Europe these last few years. Young birds usually join the flocks of Griffon Vultures on their way north. When the vultures appear in Sagres, it is always like « Where is Wally » trying to find a different vulture among the Griffons. The Rüppell’s Vulture is one of those species I never imagined I would see so often, even though it is always a special moment when you find or see one.

This picture was taken at Cabranosa, in Sagres, in October 2021, while guiding a group. There were about 300 Griffon Vultures in the air, very low due to the wind conditions and this Rüppell’s Vulture flew right above our heads !

Text and photos by Guillaume Réthoré

Editor: Filipa Bragança

English proof reading: Helen Rodda

Portuguese proof reading: Lena Soares

Production controller: Helen Rodda


Thank you for supporting us!
Hope to see you soon!