Newsletter October 2022



This month discover the pink flowered bush and the results of last bird breeding season of our garden birds!

Helen & Filipa


Aldo Leopold

American author, ecologist and forest conservationist

Born: 11th January, 1887, USA

Died: 21st April, 1948, USA

Aldo Leopold was born in Burlington, in Iowa, USA; he was the oldest of four sons. His grandfather was a German immigrant and a famous landscape architect. From a young age he was an enthusiast of nature and graduated in 1909 from the Yale Forest School; soon after he started a career in the US Forest Service in Arizona and New Mexico.

Since 1915 he had an important role in nature conservation, writing articles to newsletters and helping to found conservation associations. He was the supervisor of the Carson National Forest. In 1933 he published his first article in the field of wildlife management and started to teach game management at the Wisconsin University. In 1935 he became one of the founders of the Wilderness Society and together with his family initiated their own ecological restoration experiment on their farm, planting thousands of pine trees; the changes of flora and fauna he documented, inspired him in his writing.

Aldo Leopold wrote many articles and finally a general book about the human relationship with the world of nature. His book “A Sand County Almanac”, was published after his death and was a big success, selling 2 million copies and becoming one of the most respected books about the environment ever published.

IFO’s – Identified Flying Objects…

Red-underwing Skipper

(Spialia sertorius, Hoffmannsegg, 1804)

Morphology: It is a small butterfly from the Hesperiidae Family, with a wingspan between 22 and 26 mm. The underside of the wings is reddish to cinnamon-red with white spots; the upper side of the wings is dark brown with white marks. The forewing has small distinctively white spots in the sub marginal bandage which do a regular flat curve to the front edge; the four spots of the post-discal region are on a row. Two generations per year. Adults fly from April to September (depending on the location).

Habitat: Hot, dry, grassy and scrubby hillsides, dry stream beds, open woodlands and edges of road and tracks.

Distribution: Southwestern and Central Europe and North Africa.

Notes: The larvae feeds of Burnets (Sanguisorba spp), Brumbles (Rubus spp) and Potentilla spp. This species is regionally endangered and decreasing due to abandonment of grazing in grasslands (shrubs grow higher and the vegetation becomes more dense).

Tweet… Tweet…

Northern Gannet

(Morus bassanus, Linnaeus, 1758)

Photos by Guillaume Réthoré

Identification: It is a large marine bird from the Suliidae Family, it is 87 to 100 cm long and has a wingspan between 170 and 180 cm. The body is slim, the neck is long and the wings are long and slender. The plumage is entirely white with the edge of the wings black; has a buff yellowish tinge on the nape and head (more visible during breeding). The bill is long and pointed, blue-grey contrasting with black bare skin around the face (eyes and bill). Juveniles have dark brown plumage and become whiter with age (around 5 years to reach maturity). Females and males are alike.

Habitat and Ecology: Breeds in colonies on offshore islands with cliffs in the Atlantic North. Spends most part of its life at sea (just comes to land to breed). The diet consists of pelagic fishes (Horse mackerel, Sardines, Gar fish,…).  The feeding method consists in plunge-diving from large heights, alone or in groups.

Distribution: Atlantic North, mainly in the northeast Europe. In Portugal is a common migrant, can be seen all year by the sea (continental platform).

Threats and Notes: Least Concern (LC) according to the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The population appears to be increasing. This is the species most frequently killed as bycatch in fisheries assessed in Portuguese Atlantic waters. This species is hunted for food in some places (eg: Sula Sgeir north-west Scotland).


  • The winter birds are back! And there is a lot of movement around! Some of the birds are on their way to Africa but others will stay around for the winter; some of the birds seen in Ria de Alvor: Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica), Eurasian Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata), Pied Flycathcer (Ficedula hypoleuca), Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus), Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin), Eurasian Blackcap (Curruca atricapilla) and European Robin (Erithacus rubecula).
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
  • On the 17th of September A Rocha took part in the World Cleaning Day at Praia de Alvor; where 13,15 kg of plastic and 6 kg other rubbish in total were collected. The good news is that it was much less than the previous year. Thank you to the 27 volunteers who joined in this important event!
  • On the 17th afternoon, A Rocha guided a butterfly walk in biodiversity station in Bravura, for the Lagos Council; was a lovely walk with a lot of butterflies: Monarch, Two-tailed Pacha, Small white, Meadow Brown and some more!
  • The Butterfly Walk Friends Event was another enjoyable outing & luckily the sun shone after the stormy weather we had encountered on the previous day. Due to the damp weather conditions we didn’t see an abundance of butterflies but we did catch some, as well as micro & other moths. Thank you Paula & Bebe for an informative & fun morning. Thank you Violinda for our delicious lunch back at Cruzinha.
  • A Rocha was invited to take part in the event day “A cultura sai à rua” (Culture comes outside) in Mexilhoeira Grande, on the 24th of September. It was an excellent opportunity to publicize the work of A Rocha to the local community!

  • Sagres Bird Festival is here!!! Come to visit us on our stand at Forte do Beliche in Sagres. See here the full program.

Friends Event – 23rd November: Recycling Craft Event with Christmas in mind

More information in our November Newsletter


Purple Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum, (Forssk.) Chiov)

Clade: Angiosperms

Order: Poales

Family: Poaceae

Origin: Northern and Eastern Africa and South-western Asia

Size: up 150 cm in height

The Purple Fountain Grass is a perennial grass and can grow up to 150 cm in height.  Grows as a clump, with long, slender and arching leaves often hairy; the flowers grow as dense, long, cylindrical, bristly panicles, the colour varies from light-green (immature) to buff (mature), under dry or sunny conditions can be pink to purple. The fruit is an oblong caryopsis with many seeds. Flowers from March to September. The common name “Fountain Grass” comes from the appearance of the leaves and flower heads forming a spray from the base of the plant.

This species is native from North and East Africa and Southwest Asia, favours arid and semi-arid environments, although, can grow in a wide variety of habitats: roadsides, grasslands, deserts, river banks, shrub lands, coastal areas, dunes, woodlands and disturbed areas. Prefers mild winters and moist summers, and sunny places, can grow in different types of soils, and cannot tolerate freezing temperatures.

Fountain Grass was introduced in USA in the late 1800’s as ornamental, in Australia in 1930, in New Zealand in 1940 and it is listed as an invasive species in South Africa, Australia and USA. Recently it has been registered in some areas in Europe, where it is considered as invasive (Canary Islands, Sicily and Portugal). The species can cause ecological changes in the soils where it grows, competing with native plant, also the dry biomass increases fire frequency and spread by increasing fuel loads.


Family: Apocynaceae

Identification: It is a perennial shrub, can grow from 2 to 4 metres in height. Grows from many shoots from the root and makes a wide canopy. The leaves are narrow lanceolate, dark green, thick and leathery. The flowers grow in clusters, whitish to pink, at the end of the branches. The fruit is a long pair of follicles, red-brown. Flowers from May to September.

Habitat and distribution: Scrublands, stony river beds and stream beds; can tolerate long periods of drought and inundation. Native from the Mediterranean Region (Northwest Africa, Iberian Peninsula, Arabian Peninsula).

Oleander (Nerium olendaer, Linnaeus) 

Notes: This plant is very toxic for humans and other animals (all parts of the plant). The species is cultivated worldwide as ornamental.


6th, 13th, 20st and 27th October – Cruzinha Bird ringing display & Moth Talk (10 to 12 am) Book here

1st to 5th October – Birdwatching Festival Sagres

5th of October – Implantation of the Republic, Public Holiday

8 to 9th October – BliP (we have a stand this year) Portimão Arena

30th of October – change to wintertime (Clocks go BACK 1 hour)

31st of October – Halloween

Thank you for supporting the Friends of A Rocha Portugal

Physiotherapy, Massages (relaxation, sports, therapeutic)

Other therapies

Beauty (manicure, pedicure, hair removal, facials)

Open Monday to Friday

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

Bike Rent and Guide Tours

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

(+351) 911597735

What makes a good Birthday present?

Sustainability, Innovation, Discover!

You can find all of that in the Gift Friendship for the Friends of A Rocha Portugal!!


Gift Friendship

Thought of the month 

“Like music and art, love of nature is a common language that can transcend political or social boundaries.”—Jimmy Carter (1924), politician and the 39th President of USA


Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to power a light bulb for 4 hours.

  • A glass bottle take a million years to decompose.
  • Glass requires a huge amount of energy to be created. It is made from melting raw materials, sand, soda ash and limestone at very high temperatures. However, glass is easily and indefinitely recyclable.
  • When the glass is taken to a recycling plant, it is broken up into smaller pieces called cullet’s. The broken pieces are crushed, sorted, cleaned, and prepared to be mixed with other raw materials like soda ash and sand. The raw materials and glass pics are melted in a furnace and then shaped into moulds to make new bottles of different colours and sizes.
  • Compared to making glass from raw materials for the first time, cullet melts at a lower temperature.
  • Glass produced from recycled glass reduces related air pollution by 20% and water related pollution by 50%. In addition, recycling glass reduces the space in landfills that would otherwise be taken up by bottles and jars.

So always remember, glass is easily, widely, and indefinitely recyclable.



PEEC- Constant Effort Site

The ringing station at Cruzinha collects data for different kinds of projects. Between 25th of March and 25th of July the data collected gives information about the breeding season. This year 114 birds (including retraps), were captured, it was also possible to sex some of the adult birds: 16 males and 20 females. In total 50 juveniles were captured. Comparing with the same period last year (2021), the numbers were lower, 193 birds in total (50 males and 60 females) and 72 juveniles. The results for the last 3 years are not encouraging… the number of birds have been decreasing (see table).

In 2022 were caught 20 different species, including some migrants (spring migration). The severe drought the area is facing may be responsible for some of the results.

Climate change-soil

Climate change (global warming) is causing the decline of soil moisture, this can increase the need for irrigation in agriculture leading to a decrease in production and even desertification. The expected population growth leads an increase for food production as well the growing demand for biofuels (to replace fossil fuels), makes it hard to maintain healthy soils and sustainable agriculture.

The other impact of climate change on soil are related with erosion, accelerated by extreme weather events such as heavy rain, droughts, heat waves and storms. The rising of sea levels can also change the soil, losing coastal areas and bringing contaminants, including salt. Mainly in the southern regions of Europe, agriculture areas will be unusable and less productive; it is expected a loss of 16% in agriculture income in Europe by 2050 due to climate change.

Although, the biggest concern at the moment, is the melting of the permafrost (soil from the boreal areas which is no longer “permanent frost”); this thawing cause the organic material to disintegrate and releases huge amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere (mainly methane, a much worse greenhouse gas that the Carbon Dioxide).

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.

Thomas Dambo is a Danish artist who works with recycled materials. Mainly using 600 old pallets, an old wooden shed, a fence and whatever else he was able to scavenge. He has help from local volunteers and each piece is named after one of the volunteers.

He has made 6 hidden giants in his home town of Copenhagen. The exciting part is, these sculptures are found in some of the artists favourite places around the city – places where people don’t go too often because they are off the beaten track.

The sculptures can only be found by using a treasure map or a poem engraved on a stone near each sculpture that gives hints on how to find the other giants.

Check the website for dates for organised tours  

Follow us:  

Guillaume Réthoré (Gui)- My life with birds: German/Danish Sandwich Tern (Sterna sandvicencis)

As a bird ringer, I also spend some time in the field reading plastic rings on birds. While it is quite easy to read the code on a Flamingo or Spoonbill ring with a telescope, smaller species (and with smaller legs) are more challenging.

So far, I had never managed to read a ring on a Sandwich Tern, always too far. However, this spring and summer, many have been present at Ria de Alvor and usually rest with the gulls in the marsh at high tide. This bird with the yellow ring L0L was the first one I managed to read and it has an interesting story. It was ringed as a chick in Germany in June 2020 (a metal ring was put on the bird). Two months later, it was caught in Denmark and the yellow L0L ring was put on it. It had never been spotted again before being seen at Ria de Alvor this August.

The unusual high numbers of Sandwich Tern (and also Common Tern (Sterna hirundo), much in smaller number) are probably due to the bird flu epidemic which affected many colonies this year.

Text and photo by Guillaume Réthoré

Editor: Filipa Bragança

English proof reading: Helen Rodda

Portuguese proof reading: Lena Soares

Production controller: Helen Rodda


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Hope to see you soon!