Newsletter January 2024



A toast to new beginnings in 2024!

The project “Friends of A Rocha Portugal” started in November 2017. Throughout these six years, we’ve been sharing this monthly newsletter with all our Friends, spreading scientific knowledge and captivating stories about people, birds, moths, butterflies, insects, plants and wonderful wild places.

We believe 2024 is the right moment to start making some changes on our newsletter, in order to bring you even more relevant and appealing content. The logo was the first change we made. Not because of calendar or opportunity but to harmonize the visual language within the A ROCHA brand. But before we do anything else, we want to hear you – after all, improving the communication with you is the reason why we keep doing this. Please help us improve by answering this short questionnaire in all honesty.

Thank you and have a  healthy and peaceful year of 2024!

Marcial Felgueiras


Protected Areas in Portugal 

Regional Natural Park of Vale do Tua

The Regional Natural Park of Vale do Tua is located on the low River Tua within the County of Bragança and Vila Real, with a total area of 25 000 hectares.  It is possible to find different protected areas (Natural Park of International Douro, Natural Park of Alvão and Natural Park of Montesinho). The geomorphology of the area is diverse with deep valleys, steep slopes, plateaus and rivers (Duro, Tua and Tinhela).  Part is within the Wine Region of Alto Douro (Unesco Heritage). The region is rich in biodiversity, with around 1000 plants species some of them important to preserve and 943 fauna species identified up to now, including some endangered species, like the Brook Lamprey (Lampetra planeri) or the Black Weatear (Oenanthe leucura) or the Pyrenean Desman (Galemys pyrenaicus). It is worth a visit!


Spanish Dung Beetle (Copris hispanus, Linnaeus, 1764)

 Order: Coleoptera

Family: Scarabaeidae

Size: 18 to 28 mm (adult)

Habitat: Wide variety of habitats, woodlands, shrublands, grasslands and pastures

When to see: nearly all year long (absent in summer)

Distribution: Western Mediterranean Region

Notes: This species is more active at dawn and night. Feeds on cattle excrements, mainly cow and sheep, but also horse – coprophagus. They play an important role in pasture ecosystems, recycling organic matter.

Tweet… Tweet…

Meadow Pippit (Anthus pratensis, Linnaeus, 1758)

Photo from ebird

Family: Motacillidae

Lenght: 14 to 15,5 cm

Habitat: Grasslands, pastures, meadows, open country

Status: Winter migrant

Distribution: Breeds in Northern Europe and Asia; winters in South of Europe, North Africa and Southern Asia

Notes: This species feeds mainly on insects. The bill is long and pointed. The claw of the back tooth is larger than the tooth and from the other claws. It spends most of its time on the ground. The population trend worldwide is declining due to agricultural intensification.


Lily Anderson

Hi, my name is Lily Anderson and I am an intern from Cardiff University. I am studying zoology, specifically with an interest in bird conservation, so A Rocha was the perfect choice for my professional training year. This year I am hoping to gain experience in the work A Rocha do here, learning bird ringing and wader bird identification. The project planning and field skills I hope to learn here will be invaluable when I return to Cardiff to finish my degree next year.

Matthew Eichhoff

Matthew Eichhoff is an 11th grade student at Gil Eanes Secondary School. Matthew has trisomy 21, but that doesn’t stop him from dancing; practicing roller field hockey; doing gymnastics, among many other activities. Matthew loves books, painting and animals, so when we thought about his ITP (individual transition plan), we took his interests and aspirations into account. The “A Rocha” Association opened its doors to us wholeheartedly and our student has been developing this plan since September. The main objective is to make the transition from school to society (working life). At the “A Rocha” Association, the student carries out the following activities: picking up litter on the beaches; helping to ring the birds; communicating with the “A Rocha” Association volunteers; fetching eggs from the hen house; making cakes; helping with cleaning/tidying up; among others. At school, the student is building a portfolio about the birds he observes at the Association.

A big congratulations to the “A Rocha” Association for welcoming our student Matthew so well and allowing him to develop skills other than his academic ones. Special Education Teacher, Marisa Peça

Photo by Shirleen Horley

On the 2nd of December A Rocha organized a clean-up of Praia da Luz. Around 27 people took part and helped collect some data for the Coastwatch project. Many thanks to everyone who took part.

“Dear friends of A Rocha, we would like to start this new year by inviting you to take part in the February without Plastic project. The aim is very simple: during the month of February, try to reduce the amount of plastic we use every day by changing some of our habits. You can also share some of the changes you’ve made with us. Send us a photo or video to share on our social networks. And remember “Change Begins With Me”.”  Isabel Soares (Director of the Environmental Education Programme of A Rocha Portugal)


Family: Plantaginaceae

Plant type: herbaceous

Flower bloom time: February to August

Habitat: Rock cracks, old walls in urban areas and woods, usually in shadow places

Distribution: Adriatic Region

Ivy-leaved Toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis muralis)

Notes: This species is not native to Portugal, it is naturalised through Europe. The introduction dates from the middle XVII century in some places. Cultivated as ornamental, the fruit develops in long stalks which grow in the direction of light, when the fruit is mature the stalks recurve towards the growing substrate allowing the seeds to fall in the cracks where they can germinate.


1st of January – New Year’s Day/Public Holiday

6th of January – Kings Day (Twelfth Night, down come the decorations)

4th, 11th, 18th, 25th January – Cruzinha Birdringing display & Moth Talk (10am to 12:30 am). Book 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 

“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” – Anne Marie Bonneau (author of the cookbook The Zero-Waste Chef)


Ban the plastics

  • Refuse single used plastics (plastic shopping bags, plastic utensils, cups and glasses)
  • Ban the plastic bottle (don’t buy water bottles or other refrigerate drinks)
  • Shop in local markets and buy local products


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.


David Even, the Co-Founder of PRIMAL Soles, a company that specialises in making circular cork insoles which are endlessly reusable.

According to Circular Online, 23 billion pairs of shoes are made each year and 22 billion pairs are thrown into landfill. With sneakerhead and trainer consumption only growing every year – more of what goes into our shoes is just ending up in landfills. Shoes are one thing, but shoe insoles themselves are contaminating the environment by emitting chemicals into the soil and groundwater.

PRIMAL Soles are CO2 negative and endlessly recyclable high performance cork insoles. The bottom of each insole is made from recycled cork and footwear waste. Made for a lifetime of maximum comfort without the environmental footprint. A small change with such a huge impact!

Check the website for dates for organised tours  

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Guillaume Réthoré (Gui)- My life with birds: Seawatching

Seawatching can be quite difficult or boring. If the weather conditions are bad, it is challenging but usually rewarding. However, birds usually pass quite far which can be frustrating. This year, unlike other years, I had few opportunities to look at birds at sea. One of the December bank holidays allowed me to spend a few hours looking at birds flying south along the coast of the Algarve. On that day, several hundreds of Puffins (Fratercula artica) and Razorbills (Alca torda) flew past. Several Common Guillemots (a species new to me in Portugal), Common Scoters (Melanitta nigra), Skuas (Stercorarius sp) and Shearwaters also passed on that day, with the usual Gannets (Morus bassanus).

That picture shows a group of Puffins flying along the coast on that day (one of the closest groups I saw). These birds don’t have their bright coloured bills since they are in winter plumage.

Text and photo by Guillaume Réthoré

Editor: Filipa Bragança

English proof reading: Helen Rodda

Portuguese proof reading: Rui Lino Ramalho

Production controller: Marcial Felgueiras and Rui Lino Ramalho


Thank you for supporting us!
Hope to see you soon!