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Bird spotting in the summer

egretWhile the Algarve in summer is more renowned for its holiday beaches, increasingly it is gaining a reputation for the wealth of beautiful birds that also migrate here for the season – but unlike the majority of the holidaymakers, they arrive from the south and not from the north.

Several, such as the impressive Alpine Swift and its smaller relatives, the Pallid and Common Swifts, can be watched while prostate on the beach as they zoom around their nest-holes in the cliffs. Others, such as the delicate Subalpine Warbler or the striking Black-eared Wheatear, will take a more determined search inland, but more than repay the effort.

Pressure to ban cattle medicine that is fatal to Portugal's vultures and eagles

eagleImperialEuropeanThe head of Portugal’s Food and Veterinary agency has received an application to authorise diclofenac for veterinary use. The problem here is that as well as being used in medicine to treat sick cattle, the drug is fatal to birds that eat carrion.

Birdlife Europe and Portuguese environmental organisations already have appealed to Portuguese government not to authorise the drug, saying it threatens already rare species such as the Black vulture and the Imperial-Iberian eagle.

Council stays quiet over destruction of Lagoa wetland habitat

egretThe wetland area that gives the city of Lagoa its name is being erased by earth-moving machinery that is preparing the land for an, as yet, unknown development - but most likely to be a new Continente supermarket.

Thousands of Glossy ibis are being pushed from their winter habitat of Alagoas Brancas as the natural area to the north of the Aldi and Apolonia stores is being destroyed.

WARNING - Processionary Caterpillars have made an early appearance this year

Processionary CaterpillarsThey have been seen very early this year so I feel I have to put out the warning again - fast! I have searched the books and net to come up with more comprehensive information on them. I must thank the various holiday companies for helping with some of the technical information.

On a personal basis I know of dogs who have lost their tongues to this beast, and it is not a pretty sight and so distressing. There seems to be little local information about them, there are companies here on the Algarve who will spray the pine trees.

British support for survey of rare bird

Little BustardA new survey of one of Portugal’s most threatened birds is being supported with funds by a British wildlife holiday group.

The little bustard – 'Sisão' in Portuguese – is declining in Portugal and Spain. It’s a bird of steppes and low intensity arable cultivations, with a key breeding population in Alentejo.

Reasons for the little bustard’s decline are unclear, and a coalition of nature conservation groups is undertaking a survey this year as part of efforts to tackle the decline.

Danger rises from processionary caterpillar

prosessionarycaterpillarSpain has been warned of the early arrival of lethal caterpillars due to a mild, dry winter similar to the one in Portugal.

The Pine Processionary Caterpillar (Thaumetopoea Pityocampa) poses a danger to children, dogs and some adults.

British support for campaign against illegal bird trapping

Robin / pisco-de-peito-ruivo (Erithacus rubecula) in snare trap.A conservation campaign against the illegal trapping of wild birds has been given a boost by a British wildlife holiday group.

A group from Honeyguide Wildlife Holidays has donated 1000 euros to the campaign run by SPEA, Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves (BirdLife in Portugal).

Swiss mobile vets have successful visit

Swiss mobile vets have successful visitDuring a recent visit to the Algarve, members of the Swiss Mobile Veterinary Clinic (SMVC), a charity organisation, saved two badly suffering horses, provided a range of treatments for many others and gave much advice to a number of horse owners and volunteer carers.

Having worked entirely free of charge in daily 16-hour stretches, the founder and president of the SMVC, Christa Seiler-Stocker, and Swiss veterinarian Dr Nina Waldern, feel their latest week-long visit was so worthwhile that they hope to return before this year is out.