Newsletter August 2023



Enjoy summer time!

Have you seen this beautiful red-billed gull and this amazing shrub with red berries?!



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.

Tagus International Natural Park

The Tagus International Natural Park is located in an area where the Tagus River forms a natural border between Portugal and Spain, and comprises the parishes of Castelo Branco. Idanha-a-Nova and Vila Velha de Ródão. This Park extends to the Spanish territory but has different administrations. The valley within the Portuguese Administration has a total area of 26 484 hectares. This area it is considered a Cross-border Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

The cliffs and the “montado” of cork oak and holm oak are the main characteristics of the area; alongside with the water courses, the low demographic pressure and the agriculture system. The Tagus River it’s a border between the arid and dry climate from the south and the humid and mild climate from the north. In this area it is possible to find 17 kinds of habitats, 3 of them prior to conservation: still waters, dry grasslands and temperate forests. Here were identified 610 species of plants, which 51 are endemic and 200 species of vertebrates, like the Wild cat (Felis silvestris), the Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), the Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) and the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos.).

The Natural Park was created in 2000 aiming to protect the high natural values, including some endangered fauna species. The symbol of the Park is a Black Stork, an endangered species with a very localized distribution in Portugal.


Devonshire Wainscot (Leucania putrescens, Hübner, 1824)

Photo by Isabel Soares

Family: Noctuidae

Wingspan: 32 to 36 mm

Habitat: Grassy habitats in open landscapes and cliffs near the coast or alongside rivers and lakes.

Flight period: July to November

Distribution: Southern Europe, Northern Africa and Western Asia.

Notes: The hostplants are grasses from Poaceae Family. This species can undertake small migrations.

Tweet… Tweet…

Audouin’s Gull (Ichthyaetus audouinii, Payraudeau, 1826)

Photo by Filipa Bragança

Family: Laridae

Size: 44 to 52 cm Wingspan: 117 to 128 cm

Habitat: Rocky and sandy protected bays, small rocky islands, marshes and salt pans

Status: Summer breeder, winter migrant, resident

Distribution: Mediterranean Region, winters in Atlantic Africa

Notes: Until recently this was one of the rarest gulls of the Mediterranean and a rare species in Portugal. In the last decades the population increased in the south of the country. This species was nesting in Ria Formosa and Castro Marim. Nowadays it’s much more common and it’s possible to see it in Ria de Alvor all year round.


Ellie and Alaster Miatt

  • We are in the dry season, and you might already notice that things are really dry… Do you have a terrace or small garden? Maybe you can put some water in small pots, with a stone in the middle and help birds and insects. They will appreciate it!
  • This summer, Cruzinha, the centre of A Rocha Portugal, will receive an English couple as volunteers for house sitting: Ellie and Alaster Miatt. During this period they will do some house maintenance as well, apart from the usual housekeeping. We appreciate your help 🙂

  • Red Fox

    We had an unusual visitor at our centre! It doesn’t seem to be worried with our presence! A juvenile Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)!

  • Time flies! In august birds start to move around, maybe you can spot some nice ones! Be aware, look around 🙂

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….

Silky Oak (Grevillea robusta, A. Cunn)

Family: Proteaceae

Type of plant: Perennial tree

Size: 20 to 30 metres

Distribution: Native from East Coast of Australia

Flower bloom time: May to July

Where to see:

Curiosity: The generic name “Grevillea” is in honour of the English botanist of the XVIII century C.F. Greville. The wood of this species is similar to oaks but they are not related. The inflorescent is yellow to bright orange, very showy. This tree is used widely as ornamental and as a windbreak, but its wood was used in the past for furniture and external windows.


Family: Santalaceae

Plant type: Perennial shrub

Flower bloom time: March to July

Habitat: Dry shrublands, hedgerows, woodland edges, olive tree woods, fallow lands.

Distribution: Southwest of Europe, North Africa and Southwest Asia

Notes: This is a hemiparasitic (partially parasitic) species and uses a special structure in the roots – haustoria to connect with the roots of other plants and extracts their sap. The fruit is a small, red drupe.

Poet’s Cassia (Osyris alba, L.) 


3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st August – Cruzinha Bird ringing display & Moth Talk (9 to 12 am) – Ciência Viva no Verão. Book here

There will be no Moth Monitoring on the  17th and 24th August

15th August – Public Holiday – Nossa Sra da Assunção (Religious Festival)

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 

“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”– Native American Proverb


Buy Local, Organic Food and Grow Your Own

  • Buying locally grown and organic food not only reduces the transportation pollution (and saves money!), but also supports farmers who use sustainable growing practices that protect wildlife habitats, conserve water, and prevent soil erosion.
  • You can plant your own vegetables even in small pots on your terrace!

Prepare Your Own Meals at Home

  • By cutting out restaurant or takeout meals, you can significantly reduce your food waste and packaging usage, and also save money in the process.
  • At home, you can use reusable containers to store food and leftovers, choose environmentally friendly cooking methods like using a pressure cooker or an air fryer instead of an oven, and buy fresh produce that has been locally sourced whenever possible.


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

Sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca)

Phylum: Chlorophyta

Class: Ulvophyceae

Size: up to 18 cm in length and 30 cm across

Lifespan: unknown

Distribution: Mediterranean Sea, North and Baltic Sea and Atlantic Ocean

Habitat: Inter tidal rocky shores; shallow, brackish and salty waters, attached to rocks or other hard surface.

Behaviour: Fast growing multi-cellular green seaweed. Usually grows attached to hard surfaces but also can grow in a free-floating, non-attached form.

Food habits: Photosynthetic.

Ecological importance: Primary producer, high photosynthetic rate (production of oxygen) and food source for fish, sea urchins and other invertebrates and larger herbivorous like the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas).

Notes: This species has a higher rate of nutrients absorption and can be used to clean contaminated waters. The common name “Sea lettuce” is related to the form of the talus which resembles the leaves of lettuce. The Sea lettuce has been accidentally introduced in many parts of the world. In many countries it is used as food source and in cosmetics.

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.

PupPouch: Reducing Environmental Impact

PupPouch was created in April 2021 by Emma, a dog lover from Halifax, West Yorkshire. Emma came up with the idea when she was working as a dog walker and got fed up with having to carry around stinky bags of poop.

‍The PupPouch is a smell-containing, reusable bag that you can attach to your belt or backpack to make walking your dog a little bit easier (and less smelly). The best part is that it’ s totally discreet, so you don’t have to worry about looking like a crazy person walking around with a bag of poop in your pocket! They’re made from a durable PCV material which can easily be washed, but for daily use all you need is to leave them open to air out after use. If you’ve ever had a poop bag split on you, you’ll probably agree that having a safe place to store those poop parcels while on the move is a blessing! It also means they make a great partner for biodegradable poop bags – which are better for the environment.

Save the Date – The Birdwatching Festival is back from  5th to 8th  October

The biggest nature event in Portugal is back in Sagres! Take a few days to enjoy the best that nature has to offer. Field trips, boat trips, thematic mini-courses, dolphin watching, hikes, environmental education workshops, ringing sessions, photography courses are some of the proposals. Participate in activities for free and/or pay discounted festival attendee prices with our local partners.

Full programme available soon.

Visit our website here

Check the website for dates for organised tours  

Follow us:  

Guillaume Réthoré (Gui)- My life with birds: Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin (Cercotrichas galactotes)

The first time I saw this species, it took a lot of work. A good friend and me had to walk along a small river in the Alentejo, in the sun, in summer but we managed to have nice views of this species. On that day, we even saw two. I now know a regular place, easier to access, to see this bird. For the last few years, it has not failed. At least one bird is usually around, sometimes singing.

The Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin is one of those iconic species many people look for in the Alentejo. However, it has been decreasing a great deal without anybody noticing since it is a discrete species. In Spain, the population decreases about 95% since 2004. Although there are no figures for Portugal, the situation is very likely to be the same.

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!