Kestrel in Portugal, video


This 16 October 2016 video is about a male kestrel; near Alvor, in the Algarve in Portugal.

Teaching Portuguese children about birds


This video says about itself:

Birds in Portugal, Moms feeding babies, Canon crop movie

Algarve, Quinta do lago, Maio de 2011

Crias de Galeirão, Fulica atra, Eurasian Coot.

Galinha-de-Água, Gallinula chloropus, Common Moorhen.

e Galinha-sultana, Porphyrio porphyrio, Purple Gallinule.

Música: Return to Innocence, Enigma.

From BirdLife:

Crowdfunding campaign raises funds to enable Portuguese children to learn about next door nature

By Elodie Cantaloube, Tue, 13/05/2014 – 15:20

A crowdfunding campaign by SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal) will run until the 20th of May to raise funds to re-connect children with their natural environment through the project “Birds of the Alentejo“.

This environmental education project aims to show the importance of wildlife to children from the Portuguese region of Alentejo, with a specific focus on wild birds. The importance of birds as part of their ecosystem will be explained, as well as the challenges caused by intensive agriculture – such as habitat destruction, habitat degradation and their effect on nature conservation.

Supported by Fundação +, the crowdfunding initiative set itself the objective to raise € 4,000 by May 20th. This budget will allow SPEA to visit up to 50 schools and engage with about 1000 students. You can help us reach this amount by making a donation.

According to Carlos Cruz, the ambassador and teacher of this project “What we want to transmit is that it is possible to reconcile agriculture and rural development with nature conservation. These children are our ambassadors and will engage their parents by explaining to them the importance of preventing the extinction of species and preserving our natural heritage.”

The final amount raised will determine the number of schools that will be visited. Actions have already been undertaken in some schools in the municipality of Évora (Alentejo, Portugal).

Support this initiative!

Caspian tern in Portugal, video


This video is about a Caspian tern in Alvor, Algarve province, Portugal.

Portuguese birdwatching festival


This video is about birdwatching in southern Portugal.

From BirdLife:

2013 Sagres Birdwatching Festival celebrates bird migration

Thu, Sep 19, 2013

The Sagres Peninsula, which is the only place in Portugal where the autumn migration of soaring birds can be observed, will host the fourth edition of the Birdwatching Festival from 4th to 6th October 2013.

The event is the biggest in Portugal devoted to birds and will include a range of activities with the aim to complement birdwatching with the enjoyment of nature, meeting the needs of both children and adults. The festival is organised by SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal) and the association Almargem, and is part of the rural development project “Um Outro Algarve” (Another Algarve).

Although birds will be the event’s main attraction, this year there will also be fieldtrips and mini-courses on topics such as astronomy, mushrooms, nocturnal butterflies or sharks. “This diversification of activities aims to make the most of, and familiarise people with, the region’s natural heritage, focusing on the development of nature tourism”, states Nuno Barros, Marine Program Assistant at SPEA.

During the festival it will also be possible to take part in dolphin watching activities, or even to go horse riding accompanied by pack donkeys. Local businesses are offering special prices on accommodation, tourist activities and restaurants.

Sagres, in the municipality of Vila do Bispo, is one of the most important areas for birdlife in Portugal. The area is home to unique species in the region of Algarve: from August to November, it becomes the main migratory corridor in the country for storks, eagles, vultures, hawks and falcons, and almost all the species of soaring birds found in Portugal can be seen here, as well as a number of rarities.

The programme and the registration procedure can be found at the official website of the 4th Sagres Birdwatching Festival.

For more information: please contact Nuno Barros, Marine Program Assistant at SPEA.

Recently, the independent record label Second Language released the third volume of its compilation, Music & Migration III. The CD celebrates migratory birds and it includes exclusive contributions from international artists, such as Chris Watson, Mark Fry and Colleen. The third volume follows the success of previous releases in 2010 and 2011 and is dedicated to BirdLife International on its 20th Anniversary and particularly celebrates its global work for migratory birds. Read more here.

Bird migration in Zeeland, the Netherlands: here.

USA: The growing popularity of birding received several shots of affirmation over the past week, highlighted by national media reports of a birding landmark, and the launching of a new young birders club in Northeast Ohio: here.

Liebster Award, thank you Barbara!


Liebster Award

Barbara of the blog Common Sense in an uncommon world has been so kind to award Dear Kitty. Some blog the Liebster Award! Thank you so much Barbara, and all the best for you and your blog!

Here are the rules for the Liebster Award:

Section 1. Add the award logo to your blog.

Section 2. Answer the eleven questions.

Section 3. Pass the award on to 11 other blogs, link to them and let them know. Ask them eleven new questions.

Barbara’s eleven questions for her nominees are:

1. What is your idea of the coolest pen name? At the moment, my Internet pen name is petrel41. Petrel because of the beautiful snow petrel which I was privileged to see near Antarctica. And 41 because of a number in a street where I used to live, but don’t live any more.

2. If you were King/Queen… I would abdicate and abolish the monarchy. I don’t believe in monarchies.

3. What was the coolest decade for being a teen? 1960s. All sorts of new music rising … standards of living rising for many people, not just for a minority of billionaires, like now.

4. If you made the laws, how would you stop child abuse? Child abuse and how to stop it are really complex issues. One cannot stop it by better laws only. The questions then would still remain: will these laws be put into practice? And: will the child abuse become known soon; or will it be like with British child abuser Sir Jimmy Savile, who died and got a luxurious tombstone with an inscription in golden letters? Only removed later when the truth came out?

Briefly, too briefly: quite some people think of typical child abusers as mysterious unknown people, lurking in bushes, waiting for children unknown to them. That is not true. The great majority of child abusers know their victims; and are often in some position of authority over the children. That often makes it harder for children, or their parents, to denounce the culprits. Sir Jimmy Savile was a “celebrity” with a “good” reputation; and with links to government and other establishment people. If a child rapist is a priest, then there is the idea that denouncing that rapist would be against the church, against God Himself. So, the truth about little Marietje Kessels only comes out now, over a century after she was raped and murdered. If people would be encouraged to think about authority less uncritically, then cases of child abuse might go down.

5. How would you end poverty if you had the power? UK-based charity Oxfam says the world’s 100 richest people earned enough in 2012 to end global poverty four times over. So, according to these Oxfam figures, if these 100 people would give up 25% of their yearly income, then they still would have plenty of money left to buy private warship yachts, private planes, private Hawaiian islands, etc.

6. When did you realize you wanted to write? Already as a pre-teen, I wrote stories and poems.

7. What is your favorite dessert? Fruit salad.

8. Who was the greatest influence in your life? My mother; with her subscriptions to bird and wildlife magazines, and much more.

9. What was your favorite subject in school? Biology.

10. If you could live anywhere on earth, where would that be and why? There are many beautiful places. I spent wonderful spring days around Tavira in the Algarve in Portugal. I saw fantastic migratory birds and nesting swallows. I saw medieval architecture and poetry as well. On the other hand, the weather there in mid summer might be too hot.

11. Do you like winning these awards? Yes!

My eleven nominees are:

1. usmanhashmi

2. The Panama Adventure

3. margosnotebook

4. Ruth E Hendricks Photography

5. Miss Ayo Délé

6. Flowers, Trees, & Other Such Gifts of Nature

7. Oil Pastels by Mary

8. Sunlight in winter

9. roy thoman

10. La Photographie de Mode

11. Life For a Forest

My eleven questions for my nominees are:

1. If you are a WordPress blogger: did you blog somewhere else before you started your WordPress blog?

2. If yes to question #1, what are the main differences between your previous blog site and WordPress?

3. Do you think you are using all WordPress features which might be useful?

4. Do you know how many “likes” your blog got so far? If so, how? This is an important question for me, as some bloggers know, and I don’t have any idea how many “likes” my blog got so far 🙂

5, Do you use the Get Polling Polldaddy feature?

6. If so, is it working well on your site? I tried Polldaddy, but somehow it did not work well on my site 🙂

7. What is your favourite animal species?

8. What is your favourite plant species?

9. Did you ever make a blog post which you expected would get few visitors, but which on the contrary got many views?

10. Did you ever make a blog post which you expected would get many visitors, but which on the contrary got few views?

11. What is your favourite song?

Portuguese bird habitat still threatened


This video is about flamingos in the Lagoa dos Salgados.

From Wildlife Extra:

Crucial Portuguese wetland still in danger as developers ignore questions

Empty presentation merely raises more questions as Finalgarve present their “plans” for Lagoa dos Salgados!

February 2013. A public presentation by the project “Praia Grande’s Environmental Park” was, according to ‘Friends of Lagoa dos Salgados’, in actual fact merely a marketing exercise to brighten the murky image that the mega-development has earned to date. It was a declaration of intentions, but empty of any meaningful content.

More contentiously, no questions were allowed from the large number of the public that attended.

This public presentation was Finalgarve’s (Finalgarve is the developer) initiative and had the support of the Silves County Council. From what was said and presented in this presentation, we, the association known as “Friends of the Lagoa dos Salgados“, would like to stress the following:

Old hat

The Developer’s plans put forward for the so-called “Praia Grande Environmental Park” are, in the majority, already part of the Management Plan for the Lagoa dos Salgados, which is in actual fact a project of ARH Algarve (Algarve Regional Hydrographic Management). This project has already been approved by the company “Águas do Algarve” back in October 2011, and has as its main purpose the completion of the sewerage network and the management of the water flow within the lagoon. The one million euro investment announced in Finalgarve’s presentation for this so-called park, is the already budgeted project of Águas do Algarve, which not is not completed at the moment due to this company’s inaction to date.

Empty promise?

Once again a high emphasis was stressed of the economic aspect of this project’s ability to generate employment for the region. There is little to add to this erroneous assumption. If this was really a reality rather than wishful thinking then the Algarve would not have the unemployment rate that it endures at present, bearing in mind all the developments already in existence throughout the region, many of them closed and bankrupt, as can easily be seen if one looks across the water to the Herdade dos Salgados bang next door to the lagoon.

Unanswered question

The presentation also mentioned the creation of a “Protected Area of Private Initiative”, which has already been discussed with the ICNF (Nature and Forest Conservation Institute). Such an initiative is welcomed, but a question remains: what land will be included in the future protected area? Bearing in mind that a large part of the lagoon and the wetlands of Alcantarilha are public domain and other property included on the map presented is NOT the property of Finalgarve.

Environment Impact Assessment – News to everybody

We also learned that the Environmental Impact Assessment of the mega touristic project of Praia Grande has already been delivered to the Portuguese Environment Agency. This news was the biggest surprise of the day as it was only on the 8th January 2013 that the Secretary of State for the Environment made it public that he would be calling for an EIA to take place. This casts doubt both upon the impartiality of the EIA itself and also upon the communication skills and capacity of the Ministry.

To sum up, the campaigners believe that the presentation was merely a marketing manoeuver to throw sand in the eyes of the thousands and thousands of concerned citizens and local companies and associations that have legitimate concerns as to the viability of the project as a whole and to the good intentions of the company in particular. It was at the end of the day an empty declaration of intentions, void of any technical information and detail.

No questions farce

The presentation descended into farce when no questions or comments were allowed and the company chairman and the local County Council chairman almost ran out of the meeting. Besides the lack of courtesy this involved to the many people who had travelled far to see the presentation, many important aspects of the proposal remain unclear (who, where, how, how much and when?).

As a last note about the “Praia Grande Environmental Park”, (with the exception of the imminent activities under the Management Plan of the Lagoa dos Salgados promoted by the ARH Algarve), everything seems to point towards this area being a reproduction of another Environmental Park close by, that of Vilamoura. When this was undertaken the same promises were made and this presentation is a carbon copy of that, with lofty intentions and promises of sustainability and the influx of employment and riches for the region. Today however it has no habitat management, the interpretation center has been closed down and converted into office space, local activities do not exist, there is little or no surveillance of the park and hunters legally use bird hides as shooting hides.

With all of the above in mind, the Friends of the Lagoa dos Salgados continue to demand that Lagoa dos Salgados is classified, duly protected, and efficiently managed, and that the development that it is planned for the area is profoundly reviewed.

Threat

This threat was dramatically highlighted six months ago with the grant of building permission over an area of 247 hectares, (more than 600 acres), bordering the lagoon. The building permission allowed for a luxury mega-tourist complex of hotels, resorts, and golf courses that were scheduled to break ground in April 2013, but the developers had used loop-holes to sidestep regulations and steam-roller through the permission.

This was enough to galvanize local feeling and an on-line petition was started by a local bird watching guide, Frank McClintock, to provide a voice for those opposed to the plan and to highlight the continuing lack of any protection for the lagoon’s unique habitat.

Successful petition

The petition has been such a success that it has turned what was a purely local affair into Portugal’s largest environmental campaign for over 30 years, garnering support from all of Portugal’s leading environmental NGOs, and the first 21,000 signatures were handed in on a CD to the Minister for the Environment during the first week in January.

Sign the petition

There has been an on-line petition set up to persuade the Government to change its mind, rescind the permission and grant SPA status in order to preserve this habitat for future generations. You are urged to sign it here and to share it on Facebook and Twitter.

Update July 2013: here.

Protect Portugal’s Algarve birds


This is a Portuguese video from 2009 about the Lagoa dos Salgados.

From BirdLife:

SPEA calls for permanent protection for Algarve wetland IBA

Fri, Jan 18, 2013

Portugal’s Secretary of State for the Environment has halted the proposed destruction of the Pera Marsh IBA to make way for a golf course and holiday complex. Pera Marsh is better known to birders as Salgados Lagoon (Lagoa dos Salgados). The development has been suspended while a full Environmental Impact Assessment is carried out, which conservationists hope will lead to a permanent reprieve for the site.

The Secretary of State acted within hours of receiving a petition signed by almost 21,000 people. The fact that more than half the signatories came from outside Portugal has helped transform a local dispute over the fate of a mismanaged and undervalued wetland on the Algarve coast into what is said to be Portugal’s largest environmental campaign in 30 years. The petition was delivered by the Friends of Lagoa dos Salgados, a coalition of NGOs including SPEA, the BirdLife Partner in Portugal.

“In ordering the EIA, the Secretary of State has met the first of our requests”, said Domingos Leitao, SPEA’s Rural Programme Coordinator. “The year has begun well, but if 2013 is to mark a real turning point for Salgados, the Ministry of the Environment must also introduce full protection for the site, and implement the management plan to maintain and enhance its biodiversity.”

Pera Marsh qualifies as an Important Bird Area because of regionally significant populations of waterbirds considered threatened within the European Union. These include wintering and migrating Spoonbills, breeding Little Bitterns, Purple Herons, Purple Swamphens and Black-winged Stilts, and Portugal’s only breeding Ferruginous Ducks. Almost 150 bird species have been recorded at Salgados, which has become one of the prime birding spots in the Algarve, generating hundreds of thousands of euros in ecotourism revenues every year. It is also a regular study site for school and university students from inside and outside Portugal.

But Pera Marsh was not assessed as an IBA until 2002, and missed inclusion on the list of Portugal’s Special Protection Areas for birds (SPAs), sites which automatically become part of the European Union’s Natura 2000 network of protected areas. Governments which have attempted to develop SPAs, or failed to maintain them, have been prosecuted in the European Court.

SPEA is confident that as a result of the EIA, the development of Salgados will be thrown out permanently. The project, first approved in 2008, was in breach of newly introduced planning laws for the Algarve, and would not be approved if resubmitted today.

SPEA and other Friends of Lagoa dos Salgados now want the government to grant formal protection of the site as a nature reserve, and ideally an SPA. They are also calling for immediate implementation of an already-approved management plan for Salgados. Among other issues, the plan specifies a system of sluices, which would allow the water level to be managed for the mutual benefit of nesting birds and the people who use the land surrounding the marsh. In recent years, the sandbar separating Salgados from the sea has been repeatedly breached by bulldozers when nearby golf courses were threatened with flooding, draining the marsh and leaving nests exposed.

A landmark decision has taken place in courts in Portugal as the Central Administrative Court South upheld the conviction of the owners of Quinta da Rocha requiring them to restore habitats that were destroyed because of their development in the Ria de Alvor. The company Aprígio Santos is now obliged, within six months to submit a plan for the full replacement of destroyed habitats in accordance with environmental law to ICNF (Nature and Forest Conservation National Institute). This kind of sentence is a great achievement as it is rarely applied by law but is one of the only effective measures in place to prevent illegal construction in protected areas. After construction, full restoration of the ecosystem values is often completely ​​destroyed and irreparable: here.

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Portuguese wildlife victory


This video from Portugal is about the Lagoa dos Salgados and its birds.

From Wildlife Extra:

Crucial Portuguese wetland gets last minute reprieve from developers

Lagoa dos Salgados development halted, for now

January 2013. An on-line petition that has gathered 21,000 international signatures has stopped a mega-tourist complex from destroying a unique wetland bird sanctuary in southern Portugal. The bird sanctuary, Lagoa dos Salgados, has been given a last minute reprieve while an Environmental Impact Assessment is carried out.

Despite this unique coastal lagoon being of prime importance to many breeding, over-wintering or passage species and despite being internationally recognised as a bird watching hotspot that brings in many hundreds of thousands of tourist dollars every year – as well as being a study area for schools and universities throughout Europe – it has never had any official protection, and has been threatened with development throughout the last 15 years.

Huge hotel complex

This threat was dramatically highlighted six months ago with the grant of building permission over an area of 247 hectares, (more than 600 acres), bordering the lagoon. The building permission allowed for a luxury mega-tourist complex of hotels, resorts, and golf courses that were scheduled to break ground in April 2013, but the developers had used loop-holes to sidestep regulations and steam-roller through the permission.

This was enough to galvanize local feeling and an on-line petition was started by a local bird watching guide, Frank McClintock, to provide a voice for those opposed to the plan and to highlight the continuing lack of any protection for the lagoon’s unique habitat.

Successful petition

The petition has been such a success that it has turned what was a purely local affair into Portugal’s largest environmental campaign for over 30 years, garnering support from all of Portugal’s leading environmental NGOs, and the first 21,000 signatures were handed in on a CD to the Minister for the Environment during the first week in January.

The response was immediate; within hours there had been a radical U-turn, with the Government announcing that no building would be allowed before an official Environmental Impact Assessment had taken place and its findings implemented.

Of course there is a long way to go before the lagoon is fully protected, and the fight continues to protect this special place for future generations, but round 1 has gone to the environmentalists, which is both a step in the right direction and an excellent way to start the year!

Sign the petition

There has been an on-line petition set up to persuade the Government to change its mind, rescind the permission and grant SPA status in order to preserve this habitat for future generations. You are urged to sign it here and to share it on Facebook and Twitter.

Save Portugal’s Algarve birds


This video from Portugal says about itself:

Some birds at Quinta de Lago in the Algarve.

Purple Swamp Hen (Purple Gallinule).

This is really important to me, as I myself was in the Portuguese Algarve region and saw its beautiful birdlife.

From BirdLife:

Sign petition: stop wild life sanctuary destruction

Thu, Sep 20, 2012

A recent decision by the Portuguese government to develop parts of Lagoa dos Salgados, a lagoon in the Algarve area, is likely to have a detrimental impact on the wildlife in the area, including a vital nesting and migration sanctuary for birds.

Some of the species of birds that can be found at the site include Grebes, Gulls, Little Terns, Coots, Flamingos, the rare Purple Gallinule, Black Terns, Peregrines, Black Winged Kites, and Collared Pratincoles, amongst many other wild life species.

A petition has been launched to stop the development and if it reaches 40,000 signatures the issue will be raised in the Portuguese Parliament.

The Internet petition is here.

Save Portugal’s Algarve birds


This is a video about flamingos and black-winged stilts at Salgados lagoon in Portugal.

From Wildlife Extra:

Vast, unnecessary hotel complex to destroy Portugal’s wetland paradise

Portugal gives go-ahead to destroy internationally recognized unique coastal lagoon and bird sanctuary on Algarve coast.

July 2012. With current hotel occupancy standing at just 55% the Portuguese Government has disgracefully given permission for yet more – and, what’s worse, the development threatens the last coastal lagoon along the south coast.

The RSPB and SPEA, (the Portuguese equivalent), have been fighting a ten year battle to save the area, Salgados, (or “Pera Marsh” as it’s known to many birdwatchers), and for it to be given named as an SPA, (a site of special protection status); inexplicably this has never been granted.

Vast luxury development panned

Instead the Government has given Finalgarve, (part of Grupo Gallilei, a company currently before a Parliamentary Commission for corruption), permission to develop an area of 359 hectares, (887 acres), right next door to this unique habitat.

Insufficient funds & corruption

Included in the plan are three new hotels and a golf course, along with myriad villas and shops etc. However, with not enough funds to pay the fines being levelled on it for its past corruption, Finalgarve have let it be known that they do not have the money necessary for construction and are appealing for investors worldwide.

Last surviving lagoon

Before tourism came to the Algarve in the 1970’s there were several lagoons similar to Salgados along this coastline and they were used as migratory fuelling stops, over-wintering sites and breeding habitat for many bird species, but all the other lagoons have now been “gentrified” out of existence and Salgados is the last one left.

Standing half-way between two of the Algarve‘s most urbanised areas, Albufeira and Armação de Pera, Salgados has always been under extreme threat and severe pressure for many years but the proposed development of the area surrounding it may well prove to be the last nail in the coffin.

Water misuse

With a low-lying golf course bordering its eastern edge, the dune protecting the lagoon from the sea has been illegally breached whenever the course was in danger of becoming flooded. Conversely, right now, after one of the driest winters on record, water is in short supply, so the water feeding the lagoon is being diverted to keep this course green; the lagoon is now 1 metre lower than usual and is dropping 4 cm every week. Breeding success this year has been severely affected again and many of the resident species have disappeared from the lagoon already.

With the proposed development bringing even more pressure upon this unique area, the lagoon will simply disappear and be lost for ever, and there is widespread international indignation that the Government, currently promoting Nature-based tourism, should let this happen.

Sign the petition

There has been an on-line petition set up to persuade the Government to change its mind, rescind the permission and grant SPA status in order to preserve this habitat for future generations. You are urged to sign it here and to share it on Facebook and Twitter.