Newsletter September 2023



Summer is almost gone!

Have you look around? It´s a great chance to see migrant birds!


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.

Serra da Estrela Natural Park

The Serra da Estrela Natural Park is located in the western point of Sistema Central (together with Serra da Lousã and Serra do Açor) a plateau with the highest point of Continental Portugal (1993 metres high); comprises the parishes of Celorico da Beira, Covilhã, Gouveia, Guarda, Seia and Manteigas. This Park extends to an area of 89 132,21 hectares.

The morphology of the area is particular and the top part has suffered the influence of the Quaternary Ice Age. Here it is possible to find large variety of habitats, including natural values related with altitude, endemic flora and habitats prior to conservation. This area is the only place in Portugal where you can find the Iberian Rock Lizard (Iberolacerta monticola), an endemic species of Iberia Peninsula. The park is part of 3 important water basins (Douro, Tagus and Mondego) and it has well preserved water courses, important for the Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra), the Iberian Emerald Lizard (Lacerta schreiberi) and the Gold-striped Salamander (Chioglossa lusitanica), these last 2 endemic of Iberia Peninsula. Among with this species, the area is rich in biodiversity, including plants, various bird species and other invertebrates, some of them Endangered (EN) or Vulnerable (Vu).

The Natural Park was created in 1976 aiming to protect the wild life refuges and endemic flora of national importance and in 1997 the limits of the Park were extended. The symbol of the Park is an Ice crystal, referring to the climatic characteristics of the area and the glacial origin of the mountain.


Eastern Alchymist (Aedia leucomelas, Linnaeus, 1758)

Family: Erebidae

Wingspan: 38 mm

Habitat: Open and semi-open habitats, warm and humid.

Flight period: Abril to July and September to October

Distribution: Europe, Asia and some African countries

Notes: The hostplants are grasses from Convolvulaceae Family. Hibernates within the pupation cocoon.

Tweet… Tweet…

Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus, Linnaeus, 1766)

Photo by Guillhaume Réthoré

Family: Accipitridae

Size: 45 to 55 cm Wingspan: 97 to 118 cm

Habitat: Bogs, marshes and shallow lakes, also on moors, grasslands and low shrub lands. Prefers open country landscapes.

Status: Summer breeder and winter migrant

Distribution: Holarctic distribution (America and Eurasia). In Portugal breeds only on a small range in the north on the border with Spain.

Notes: This species builds its nest on the ground. The hunt strategy is similar to other species of harriers: slow flight close to the ground. In Portugal this species has the status of Vulnerable, the main threats are the agriculture intensification and the use of pesticides, the rural fires and the destruction of wetlands.


  • September is just around the corner, and as usual, we are going to celebrate the international coast clean-up day, cleaning the interior beach of Alvor. The meeting point, is as usual, the car park in front of the municipal swimming pool at 9:00. Please, if you want to join us send us your first and last name (for insurance purposes), send email to You don’t need to bring anything just joy and energy to clean! 16th of September, meeting point: car park near the swimming pool in Alvor at 9:00.
  • On the 23rd of September A Rocha will celebrate its 40th Anniversary! And everything started here in Cruzinha. Congratulations to everyone which made possible this 40 years! Staff, directors, volunteers, visitors and donors!
  • Birds are arriving! Some of the birds seen in Ria de Alvor: Melodious warbler (Hippolais pollyglota), Black Kite (Milvus migrans), Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea), Eastern Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Eurasian Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus), Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator), Ruff (Calidris pugnax), Ringed Plover (Caradrius hiaticula) and much more!


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….

Ginkgo Tree (Ginkgo biloba, L.)

Family: Ginkgoaceae

Type of plant: deciduous tree

Size: 35 metres

Distribution: Native from Southeast China

Flower bloom time: March to April

Curiosity: This species is one of the oldest living tree species in the world, fossils were found dating them 200 million years old and it’s known as “Living fossil”. The tree belongs to the gymnosperms (group of plants with naked-seeds) same as pine trees. This species is used as ornamental for many centuries in China and Japan. Despite being a common species in parks and gardens around the world, in the wild it is an endangered species.


Family: Plantaginaceae

Plant type: herbaceous

Flower bloom time: May to November

Habitat: Roadsides, fallow lands and farmlands

Distribution: Mediterranean Region

Notes: This is a very variable species in the size of the leaves and position of flowers; can be erect or prostrate. Naturalized in many parts of the temperate world. The Latin name “lanigera” refers to the small and abundant hairs which cover stems and leaves.

Wooly Toadflax (Kickxia lanigera (Desfontaines) Handel-Mazzetti)


7th, 14th, 21st and 28th September – Cruzinha Bird ringing display & Moth Talk (10 to 12 am). requires a pre booking. Book here

15th September – Moth Monitoring at 07:30 pm, in Sítio das Fontes, Estômbar. International Ecology Day

16th September – International coastal cleaning day. Beach cleaning Alvor, 09:00 am, meeting point at the car park next to Alvor swimming pool. This activity has a duration of approximately 1 and a half hours. For more information email:

16th September – Discovering the biodiversity of Meia Praia. Meeting point behind the restaurant “A Barrigada” Lagos 5 pm. For more information email:

22nd September – Autumn equinox. Beginning of Autumn

23rd September – 40th Anniversary of A Rocha

25th September – National Sustainability Day

Sagres Bird watching Festival from 5th to 8th October. More information here

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 

“Buy less, choose well.”– Vivienne Westwood (1941-2022), English Fashion Designer


How to live a sustainable life

Sustainability: means to be aware and use in a conscious way our natural resources without compromising their availability to the future generations.

To have a sustainable life means to have a daily routine that is planet friendly, reducing the impact on the environment

What to do?

  • Recycle: recycle all the items you can (plastic, metal, glass)
  • Ecobags: use your own bags for shopping instead of plastic ones
  • Compost: sort out the organic remains and start to compost
  • Save water: reduce the time you spend in the bath or shower
  • Save electricity: choose economic electric devices and turn them off when you are not using them
  • Consume conscious: choose environment friendly products and buy locally
  • Reduce meat: there is no need to become a vegetarian or vegan, but reducing the number of meals with meat would make a big change for the planet.


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

Purple Sea Urchin (Paracentrotus lividus)

Photo from OMARE

Phylum: Echinodermata

Class: Echinoidea

Size: up to 7 cm across

Lifespan: 6 to 9 years

Distribution: Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea

Habitat: Benthic. Lower rocky shore, infralittoral and sublittoral zone up to 30 metres deep

Behaviour: Lives attached to rocks, stones or calcareous algae often self-covered by shell remains. Can bore with its spines a hole, large enough to hide. Gonochoric (organisms with separated sexes), but males and females are alike.

Food habits: Herbivorous, feeds on algae, sea weeds and sponges

Ecological importance: It is considered a key organism in benthic ecosystems, modulating the macro algae community and allowing other organisms with a slow rate development to occupy the substrate and increasing biodiversity.

Notes: The development of this species is indirect (passes through different stages before becoming adult), the larvae are free living (planktotrophic). This species it’s the most common sea urchin on the Portuguese coast. The gonads (sexual organs) of the males are a much appreciated delicacy in some Mediterranean countries.

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.

Sparkle: Greener Sustainable Solution

Hetal and Chirag Verani, Co-founders of Sparkle, have created sanitary products that are not only better for the environment, but also healthier and accessible for women everywhere.

Unlike Conventional sanitary products, which are made from synthetic materials and plastics, Sparkle products are made from 100% biodegradable materials such as bamboo. These natural fabrics allow for improved breathability and comfort while reducing the risk of contact dermatitis, a condition that is often associated with prolonged exposure to artificial fragrances or synthetic superabsorbents found in conventional products.

They are also free from harmful chemicals and additives like BPA and dioxin. This ensures that women using these products are not exposed to dangerous toxins that can have negative impacts on their health and well-being.

In addition to protecting the health and safety of women everywhere, Sparkle’s sustainable and environmentally-friendly products are also better for the planet, as they break down naturally over time rather than contributing to the growing problem of plastic pollution.

Birdwatching in Sagres: registration opens 5 September

Registration for the Birdwatching & Nature Activities Festival open 5 September, when the programme for this 14th edition of the festival will also be announced. Among this year’s novelties is the chance to explore rockpools, go on a moonlit walk, and play nature-themed tabletop games.

The event, which will run from 5 to 8 October, is organised once more by Câmara Municipal de Vila do Bispo, in partnership with the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA) and Almargem.

More information:

Check the website for dates for organised tours  

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Guillaume Réthoré (Gui)- My life with birds: Late Summer waders

July and August are usually quiet months for birdwatching: it is quite hot and few birds are around. However, from August, some waders start appearing in the Algarve and at this time of the year, since they just left the breeding grounds, most of them are still in breeding plumage! It makes their identification easier (they are all grey or brown in winter). This Curlew Sandpiper has a lot of orange feathers on the underparts and a few on the back. In a few weeks, it will be mostly grey!

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!