The year of 2016 allowed me to set the stage for a more solid future for Birdland, and to refine strategies. There were walks, several Nature activities, and of course birdwatching tours for all levels of expertise. During my tours, we observed 238 species of birds, 222 of which in the Algarve, where most of the activities take place.
My priority in this project is to create bridges and shorten distances between people and the Natural world, and to explore the natural wonders of the SW Coast of Portugal, sharing knowledge and promoting natural awareness. In other words, the bird list in the end of the day is not my main concern when I plan my itineraries. However, keeping track of numbers is important to illustrate the biodiversity of a region.
Due to its local approach, it is not surprising that by the end of the year, it was in this magical land of the Southwest that more species were detected during Birdland tours – 148 species in Vila do Bispo, 116 in Aljezur and 103 in Lagos. The final numbers of the year are also high in counties less visited like Silves – 99 species sighted in Salgados Lagoon; or Loulé – 88 species registered in Quinta do Lago area.
The Algarve (still) holds and impressive diversity of species and habitats for European standards, and these lists are not at all representative of anything. They are in fact just a glimpse of what they could be, for this is only the first full year for Birdland, and the more tours I guide, the longer the lists will be.
It is difficult to list best records, but some moments will remain in the memory of both clients and myself, as were flocks of 300 Griffon Vultures, of 70 Booted Eagles (a record low by the way), or of 30 Black Kites, Egyptian Vultures over the seas, and great views of Dotterel and so many other migrants in Sagres; the incredible Snowfinch that ended up in Aljezur; The lonely Common Crane in Paúl de Lagos; Some mythical afternoons in Salgados Lagoon; or the presence of all 5 species of hirundines in Quinta do Lago in late December, while watching Little Bitterns and Purple Swamphens in the evening light. And so many others I cannot recall right now… This is of course not going into plants, butterflies, landscapes or marine life.
The current year of 2017 will bring more memorable wildlife moments, and surely some updates and improvements in Birdland structure and itineraries. New ideas are rising, and above all there is a mission to follow – to deepen the connection with Nature, and to promote it as a way of life, of information, of awareness, and of struggle.