Newsletter December 2022



Merry Christmas!

May peace, joy and love for nature be with you this holiday season!

Helen & Filipa


Henry David Thoreau

American writer, poet, naturalist, researcher and philosopher

Born: 12th July 1817, USA

Died: 6th May, 1862, USA

Henry David Thoreau was born in Massachusetts, USA; his parents had a pencil factory, where he was working for some time. Both his parents were abolitionists and nature lovers and influenced him in this field. He graduated at Harvard University in 1837, after he had a teaching job at a grammar school in Concord, but he didn’t adapt and left.  In 1842, his brother John died, and it was a very big loss for him; in his honour he decided to write “A week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers” about their travels.

In 1845, at the age of 27, Henry decided to change his life and live a simple and deprived life according to his believes; he built a small wooden hut, near a small glacial lake in Walden Pond. He was growing his own food and fishing; spent long hours observing and recording the flora and fauna, writing and much of the time he spent in meditation. During this period he starts to write his second book “Walden”, just published in 1854. He had a deep friendship with the known philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, also his mentor.

During his life, Henry Thoreau wrote poems, essays and articles to newspapers; he wrote about natural history, philosophy, ecology and environment. For his contemporaries, he was just a minor philosopher and he was just recognized after his death. After 100 years, Thoreau is considered a giant in America Literature, most of his books were published after his death.

IFO’s – Identified Flying Objects…

Photo by Guillaume Réthoré

Tree Graying

(Hipparchia statilinus, Hufnagel, 1766)

Morphology: It is a medium butterfly from the Nymphalidae Family, with a wingspan between 44 and 50 mm. The upper side of the wings are dark brown with white marks in the marginal area and white fimbria; on the forewings has 2 discrete eyespots and a very small one on the hindwings. The underside of the wings is marbled with brown ground colour, the forewing has 2 large eyespots, ringed yellow, the upper one has a white pupil, and the hindwings have one small black eyespot. Females are larger and lighter. One generation per year (univoltine). Adults fly from May to October (depending on the location).

Habitat: Dry open pinewoods, often rocky, dry shrubby areas, grasslands and abandoned areas.

Distribution: Central and Southern Europe, North Africa and Southwestern Asia. In Portugal it is more common in the north part of the country.

Notes: The larvae feeds mainly on grasses of Poaceae family (Brachypodium phoenicoides, Deschampsia caespitosa, Festuca ovina ou Gramineae spp). This species hibernates as a caterpillar. The population is decreasing due to isolation and fragmentation of suitable habitats.

Tweet… Tweet…

Photo by Ben Porter

Common Firecrest

(Regulus ignicapilla, Temminck, 1820)

Identification: It is a small chubby passerine from the Regulidae Family, with approximately 10 cm in length and wingspan between 13 and 16 cm. The back is greenish and the underparts are grey whitish; has a tiny pointed bill and dark legs. The pattern of the head is very distinctive, with a black eye stripe a white long line over the eye and a yellow crest (females) or orange (males). Juveniles don’t have a streaky head.

Habitat and Ecology: Inhabits woodlands, pine forest, coniferous and deciduous forest or gardens. The diet consists mostly of small invertebrates, like spiders and insects, sometimes can also eat fruits. The nest has a bowl shape and it is built on top of the trees.

Distribution: Temperate Europe and North Africa. In Portugal it is more common in the north. This species is a resident and a wintering bird.

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 stable. The Common Firecrest is one of the smallest birds of Europe.


  • This year at our ringing station we caught a control (a bird ringed in another ringing station) from Hungary! A Robin (Erithacus rubecula) ringed in July was caught in Cruzinha in November! Birds don’t stop surprising us!
  • On the 19th and 20th of November A Rocha Portugal held a Forum with the board and some of the team members to plan and discuss the next year.

What a lovely morning and lunch at the Friends Event on the 23rd November, the last event for 2022.

Elisabete Freitas gave another incredible session on how to create amazing angels, stars, wreathes and many Christmas decorations with recycled paper, toilet paper cardboard tubes, bottle tops, pine cones, buttons and more.

Thank you Elisabete & thank you Violinda for the delicious lunch.


Common Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes, Mart.)

Photograph by flora-on

Clade: Spermatophyta

Class: Monocotyledonae

Order: Pontederiales

Family: Pontederiaceae

Origin: Tropical South America

Size: very variable in size (can reach 1 m in height)

The Common Water Hyacinth is a floating fresh water perennial herbaceous plant. The first leaves are elongated and strap-like; the following leaves have spathulate form, are thick, glossy and aerial.  The plant system consists of individual shoots with up to ten leaves arranged spirally; roots develop at the base of each leaf and form a dense mass. Axillary buds, develop as stolons, growing horizontal and origin daughter plats. The inflorescence is a spike with several blue/purple flowers; the fruit, a capsule, has numerous small seeds (up to 450).

Photograph by wikipedia

This species is native to tropical South America growing in freshwater lakes or rivers, enriched with plant nutrients, can also grow in flooded rice fields; can tolerate short periods at freezing but the optimum temperature of growing is 25° to 30° C. Grows extremely rapidly and can double its population size in 6 to 18 days. Has been widely introduced in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand where it is considered an invasive species.

The Common Water Hyacinth has been widely planted as ‘ornamental’ around the world, grows and reproduces quickly and competes with native aquatic plants; can absorb large amounts of heavy metals and after death will rot and sink to the bottom of the water causing secondary pollution. This species can completely cover water surfaces and cause it to dry out, it also affects human activities, like fishing and water transport.


Family: Asteraceae

Identification: It is a perennial herbaceous plant, can grow up to 45 cm in height. The leaves are smooth, slightly fleshy, oblong, entire or pinnately-lobed, and light green colour. The flower head is yellow and solitary; the flower bracts are small and ovate. The fruit is an achene, after seeds have dropped, remains a small shiny disk until the following year. Flowers from November to March.

Habitat and distribution: Fallow lands, shrub land clearings, roadsides, coastal cliffs and rocky slopes, dry and limestone soils. Native from the Mediterranean Region.

Notes: The leaves have anti-oxidant properties and are used for salads in many countries. The small fruits look like a fuzzy ball when dried and seeds are spread by the wind.

Common Brighteyes (Reichardia picroides, L.(Roth))


1st December – Restoration of Independence/Public Holiday

1st, 8th  and 15th – Cruzinha Bird ringing display & Moth Talk (10 am to 12 am). Book here

8th December – Day of the Immaculate Conceição/ Religious holiday

9th to 11th December – Christmas Market in the churchyard of Mexilhoeira Grande

11th December – Day of the city of Portimão/ Local Holiday

25th December – Christmas/ Public Holiday

Cruzinha is closed from 21stDecember 2022 to 3rdof January 2023; on Thursday 22ndand 29thDecember there is no Open Day

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

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 

“What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on.”—Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862, American writer, poet, naturalist, researcher and philosopher)


Recycling symbols- Plastic Resin Codes

  • Identifies the type of plastic used to make the item. Provides a “Resin Identification Code”
  • It is represented by a “chasing arrow” surrounding a number from 1 to 7 that defines the resin used
  • 1 – PET, used for drinks bottles and some food packaging. Widely recycled
  • 2 – HDPE, used for cleaning product bottles, milk cartons….Widely recycled
  • 3 – PVC, used for car parts, window fittings….Not easily recyclable
  • 4 – LDPE, used for plastic bags and wrapping….Recycle at specialist points
  • 5 – PP, used for some tubs and trays….Widely recycled
  • 6 – PS, used for takeaway boxes, disposable cutlery…..Not easily recyclable
  • 7 – Other, used for crisp packets, rice packets….Recycle at specialist points


The state of birds of Portugal

A report about the state of the birds in Portugal was published recently, with information collected in 23 bird monitoring programs taking place in Portugal. These programs include long-term monitoring projects for breeding populations, migratory and wintering populations. All these programs had the participation of several organizations and numerous volunteers (disclosing the importance of volunteers in citizen science). A Rocha (volunteers) contributed to some of these long-term monitoring programs.

This report reveals the decline of some bird species of agro-forestry environment (Woodchat Shrike, Turtle Dove), of agriculture environment (Barn Swallow, Goldfinch, Serin) and nocturnal birds also from agricultural habitats (Barn Owl and Little Owl). For the wintering period, some species because of extensive agriculture are also in decline like the Little Bustard, Lapwing and Jackdaw. On the wetlands, species such as the Cattle Egret. Kentish Plover or Redshank are also in decline; although some species are increasing like the Glossy Ibis or the Great Cormorant. In the marine environment, species such as the Great Skua, the Mediterranean Gull, the Sandwich Tern and the Balearic Shearwater (critically endangered species) are also in decline. The breeding population of Egyptian Vulture had a decline of 10% and the Griffon Vultures increased 5 times comparing with the last census (20 years ago).

Conservation actions need to be taken to protect our farmland birds, they are important for the maintenance of healthy habitats.

Climate change- State of the Global Climate 2022 report

“The past eight years are on track to be the eight warmest on record.”

“The rate of sea level rise has doubled since 1993 (risen by nearly 10 mm since January 2020).”

“The Greenland ice sheet lost mass for the 26th consecutive year and it rained (rather than snowed) there for the first time in September.”

“Ocean heat was at record levels in 2021.”

“Average thickness losses of between 3 and over 4 metres were measured throughout the Alps (more than in the previous record year 2003).”

“In Switzerland, 6% of the glacier ice volume was lost between 2021 and 2022.”

“In East Africa, rainfall has been below average in four consecutive wet seasons, the longest in 40 years, with indications that the current season could also be dry.”

“Record breaking rain in July and August led to extensive flooding in Pakistan. There were at least 1 700 deaths and 33 million people affected. 7.9 million people were displaced.”

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.

Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard gives up company to make the plane ‘Earth’ its only shareholder to help fight the climate crisis.

Rather than selling the company or taking it public, Mr Chouinard, his wife and two adult children have transferred their ownership of Patagonia, valued at 3 billion US dollars, to a specially designed trust and a non-profit organisation. These were created to preserve the company’s independence and ensure that all of its profits – some 100 million US dollars a year – are used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land around the globe.

The Trust, which will be overseen by members of the family and their closest advisers, is intended to ensure that Patagonia makes good on its commitment to run a socially responsible business and give away profits.

For the Chouinard family, it resolves the question of what happened to Patagonia after its founder is gone, ensuring that the company’s profits will always be used to protect the planet.

SPEA has a new gift for family members

SPEA has just launched a children’s activity book, which is gifted for free, along with a pin-badge of one of the book’s characters, to all who sign up as family members. Take this opportunity to enjoy discounts, exclusive offers and activities, as well as a little something for the little ones. Available only in Portuguese, the book is also on sale at SPEA’s shop.

More info (in Portuguese) here temos-um-novo-brinde-para-socios-familiares

Check the website for dates for organised tours  

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Guillaume Réthoré (Gui)- My Life with Birds: Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata)

We started the year with a bird of prey and we will finish it with another, both taken at the same place, Cabranosa (Sagres), the best place in Portugal to see the migration of raptors.

This juvenile Bonelli’s Eagle was seen on the first day of the migration survey in 2022, a nice way to start the year! This juvenile can be the offspring of a local pair wandering in the area or a bird born further away and exploring the area, maybe already looking for a territory.

Bonelli’s Eagle are rare in France (my mother country) and localised, I have never seen any there. Back at high school, I did a research project on that species, hoping, one day I would be able to see one. I had never imagined that I would be able to see this species almost daily several years later, and have even been able to study them and see them breeding.

Text and photo 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!