Newsletter July 2023



Happy holiday time!

The fields are dry but here and there, it is still possible to see some flowers, some birds and some dragonflies!



Natural Parks in Portugal 

Natural parks are “areas which contain predominantly natural or semi-natural ecosystems, where the long-term preservation of biodiversity may depend on human activity, ensuring a sustainable flow of natural products and services”. In Portugal there are 13 Natural Parks.

Serras d’Aire and Candeeiros Natural Park

The Serras d’Aire and Candeeiros Natural Park is located in the Estremadura Limestone massif, and comprises the parishes of Leiria, Torres Vedras, Rio Maior and Tomar. The mountain area ranges from an altitude of 100 to 200 metres with a total area of 38 392,91 hectares.

The limestone presence is the main characteristic of the park and through the millions of years the landscape has been modelled in amazing geomorphologic features like caves, lapias fields and karst fields. Here it is possible to find non marine saltpans. The water runs mostly underground, being one of the biggest underwater reservoirs of Portugal. The most important habitats are the aquatic, rocky and limestone grasslands. Here it is possible to find a large biodiversity, including several species of bats, butterflies and birds. In the area you can find more than 600 species of plants, some endemic of the region, not found in any other place. In 2020, a new species of plant was discovered in this park, a Large-flowered sandwort (Arenaria grandiflora), which grows in the rock cracks. One of the highlights of the Park are the dinosaur footprints found in 1994.

The Natural Park was created in 1979 aiming to protect the biggest limestone formation in Portugal. The symbol of the Park is a bat, because here it is possible to find 18 species of bats.


Eupalet skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma, Burmeister, 1839)

Family: Libellulidae

Total body lenght: 38 to 48 mm

Habitat: Rivers of moderate size and flow, also in dams. Breeds in swamps, marshes and ditches.

Flight period: April to October

Distribution: Mediterranean basin (from Portugal to Turkey and North Africa)

Notes: This is one of the more common species in the Algarve. Whitish characteristic band in the side of thorax. Males have blue bodies and females yellow-brownish bodies. Males are very territorial.

Tweet… Tweet…

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax, Linnaeus, 1758)

Photo by Guillaume Réthoré

Family: Ardeidae

Size: 58 to 65 cm Wingspan: 90 to 100 cm

Habitat: Marshes, ponds, river sides with some trees

Status: Summer breeder

Distribution: Southwestern, Central and Eastern Europe and Southern Asia. Winters south of Sahara.

Notes: This heron has twilight and night behaviour, it is possible to be seen at the end of the day when it’s moving to the feeding grounds. During the day, usually rests in trees. This species is considered Endangered (EN) in Portugal according to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).


  • This year, as usual, A Rocha is taking part in “CiênciaViva no Verão” (Life Science in Summer), with Bird Ringing and Moth Monitoring. The activities will start on the 15th of July. Check the website here for more information.
  • Ringing at this time of the year is an adventure. Juveniles just fledged and are discovering the world! One of our “visitors” in June was a Short-toed treecreeper (Certhiabrachydactyla).
  • Definitely, this is the time for moths! In June, Paula, also caught some unusual visitors! It Is worth to take a second look at these!
Short-toed treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla)
Photo by Filipa Bragança
Tawny Prominent (Harpyia  milhauseri )
Photo by Isabel Soares
Leopard Moth (Zeuzera pyrina)
Photo by Luís Lopes
  • A Rocha is worldwide! Visit the website here and discover the work of A Rocha around the world.

Ornamental trees

In our parks and gardens it is possible to see amazing trees, although most of them are exotic! Plants native from other parts of the world used as ornamental. Maybe you have seen some of them….

Judas Tree (Cercis siliquastrum, L.)

Family: Fabaceae

Type of plant: Deciduous tree

Size: 6 to 15 metres

Distribution: Native from Southeast Europe and Southwest Asia

Flower bloom time: February to April

Curiosity: This species is also called the Love-tree due to the shape of its leaves. The common name Judas tree is in reference to the claim that Judas hung himself from this species of tree. The fruit has a similar shape to the Carob tree fruit. This tree is used as ornamental since the XVI century, and it’s resistant to drought.


Family: Apiaceae

Plant type: Herbaceous perennial

Flower bloom time: April to September

Habitat: Fallow land, grassland, shrubland clearings, road sides and farmlands

Distribution: Europe, West and Central Asia, North Africa and Macaronesia

Notes: The stems are covered in small hairs. The flowers are together in dense and flattened umbels; the central flower is dark purple and sterile and the surrounding flowers are small and white. This species is ancestral of the cultivated carrot.

Wild Carot (Daucus carota subsp. carota, L.)
Photo by Filipa Bragança


3trd July – International day of NO plastic bag usage

6th, 13th, 20th and 27th July- Cruzinha Bird ringing display & Moth Talk (10.15am to 12 am). Book here

28th July – Nature Conservation Day

30th July – International Friend’s 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 

“Each one of us matters, has a role to play, and makes a difference. Each one of us must take responsibility for our own lives, and above all, show respect and love for living things around us, especially each other.” – Jane Goodall (1934) – English anthropologist and primatologist, considered one of the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees.



  • Composting is a natural way to recycle organic matter. This process creates compost or rich soil. Statistics suggest that on average, regular composting can help you remove 500 pounds of organic matter every year. This directly benefits the environment by diverting the waste from landfills.
  • Recycled household waste – Composting organic waste is known to reduce garbage waste by 30%.
  • Condition soil – Composting helps to condition the soil by creating nutrient-rich tonic for garden use.
  • Protect the environment – Natural composting can help enrich landscaping without using chemical fertilizers.
  • Saves money by reducing water loss – One direct benefit is the ability to improve the soil’s water-holding capacity reducing water loss.


Sea life

The sea is a big part of our planet and we still have a lot to discover! It is also threatened by human activity – pollution! Like the micro-plastics, very small particles of plastic floating in the water column ending inside the most of the sea animals… some of them are struggling to survive and some end up on our plates. Let’s find them

Common Cuttlefish (Sepia officinallis)

Phylum: Mollusca

Class: Cephalopoda

Size: 15 to 20 cm (maximum length 50 cm)

Lifespan: 2 years

Distribution: Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea.


Habitat: Sub-tidal zone. Benthic in sandy or muddy substrates, until 200 metres depth

Behaviour: Oviparous. The males perform a display to attract females for copulation. Females lay the eggs in dark capsules, attached in grape-like clusters to seaweeds.

Food habits: Predator of small molluscs (bivalves and gastropods), crabs, shrimps, other cuttlefishes and small fishes.

Ecological importance: Dominant role in marine food chains.

Notes: This species can tolerate brackish waters. Undergoes seasonal migrations between inshore waters and shelf grounds. The cuttlebone is used to adjust buoyancy. The cuttlebone is commonly found on beaches. The cuttlefish uses its camouflage ability to deceive its predators. Considered one of the most commercially important cephalopod species.

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.

REUZEit: Diverting Up To 4.6 Million Pounds Weight of Equipment from Going to Landfills.

REUZEIT is an innovative company on a mission to help businesses give their unwanted assets a second life. Founded by brothers Ryan and Justin Andrews*, REUZEIT is helping companies in the life sciences sector (such as medical labs) reduce waste and cut costs by finding a new home for their unused equipment.

*Ryan and Justin launched REUZEIT with a shared vision of creating a circular economic surplus asset management program. As Chief Executive Officer, Justin is responsible for building and delivering key strategies and software visions while Ryan, as Chief Innovation Officer, is focused on driving problem-solving solutions to empower organizations in all capital asset industries.

REUZEIT is committed to helping companies keep their equipment operational, minimize their carbon footprint and reduce the amount of equipment sent to landfills. To date, it has diverted millions of pounds of equipment from going to landfills. By creating a safe and secure asset recycling platform, businesses are able to increase their ROI while reducing the environmental impact of these assets.

The goal is to make a positive impact on the planet by reducing waste, creating economic opportunities, and empowering organizations to think more sustainably. They are committed to building an ecosystem of trust and collaboration to enable a sustainable and circular economy.

Future of Nature in Europe in the hands of the European Parliament

On 12th July, the European Parliament has the opportunity to adopt a strong and ambitious Nature Restoration Law – if MEPs put the future of European citizens ahead of party fights. The Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee of the European Parliament, which on 15th June had (barely) resisted the European Popular Party’s attempts to extinguish the Nature Restoration Law, defended biodiversity once again on 27th June, by a hair’s breadth. Adoption (or not) of the law, and in what form, will now depend on the discussion among the more than 700 MEPs in the European Parliament’s plenary session.

More information here

Check the website for dates for organised tours  

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Guillaume Réthoré (Gui)- My life with birds: The bully being bullied

This spring, again, I had the chance of guiding in Orkney. While visiting a Great Skua colony, we saw an interesting interaction between this species and a Raven. Ravens are known to mob and harass any species, even bigger ones (I have seen them going after Spanish Imperial Eagles in the Alentejo!). Skuas, on the other hand, are known as “pirate birds”. They go after the other one to either steal their food or make them regurgitate what they just had and then eat it. On that day, this Raven was attacked by the Great Skua (the bird with white wing patches on the wing, behind the Raven), as it was defending its nest. That Raven was also attacked by Common Gulls when it landed in the middle of their colony and finally mobbed by an Arctic Skua as it flew away.

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!