Among other conservation efforts in which "Birding in Portugal" has participated over the last 37 years, the Census of Common Birds stands out, and the following is a précis of the report 2004-2023.

In terms of participation, in the 2023 field season there were 34 squares monitored on the continent, showing a stability in the number of squares monitored on the continent in recent years. In terms of population trends, the decline of more than a third of species in agricultural areas (n=23) stands out, which highlights the impact of the changes that have occurred in recent decades in these ecosystems with an impact on biodiversity.

Common bird species such as the Barn Swallow, Little Owl and Iberian Grey Shrike show significant declines over the last 20 years.

In the group of woodland birds (n=20), the three species that show the largest decline are the Turtle Dove, the Woodchat Shrike and the Common Cuckoo.

 Among the remaining species evaluated (n=21), only three show a negative trend: the Little Egret, the Melodious Warbler and the Common Moorhen.

Looking at the results in Portugal and the recent trends published for Spain and the European continent, we highlight the generalized decline of some long-distance migratory species such as the Barn Swallow, the Woodchat Shrike, the Common Cuckoo and the Turtle Dove.

Moreover, there is also a decline of several common species in agricultural environments, including the House Sparrow, the Common Kestrel and the European Serin.

Conversely, some species associated with forest habitats, such as the Winter Wren, the Blackcap, the European Robin and the Short-toed Treecreeper, show positive trends in the Iberian Peninsula and Europe.

There are some contrasting results in the trends of some species (e.g., Common Magpie, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Corn Bunting), which may reflect regional or national variations in their trends (e.g., between Portugal and Spain) or the need for more targeted assessments.


Farmland birds

In the study period 2004-2023, of the 23 species associated with agricultural habitats, nine show a moderate declining trend, nine have a stable trend, and five have a positive trend. Analyzing only the last 10 years, most species show a stable (10) or uncertain (9) trend, and only two species have had a positive demographic evolution and two others have had a negative evolution, with emphasis on the Cattle Egret and the Barn Swallow, which are the species that have shown the greatest declines in the last ten years. There are no differences in the classifications of long-term trends compared to the previous report (Alonso et al. 2023). In twenty years of CAC (Meirinho et al. 2013, Alonso et al. 2019-2023), the decline of a considerable number of agricultural species stands out, namely insectivorous species, such as the Iberian Grey Shrike, the European Bee-eater and the Barn Swallow.Screenshot 2024 04 25 at 17.36.32

Other species that show a tendency to decline are the Little Owl and the Common Kestrel which are also both species with an important insectivorous component in their diets.

Among the species with a positive trend are the Black Kite, the Zitting Cisticola and the Common Magpie, among others.

Among the species with stable trends are the Eurasian Hoopoe, the Common Stonechat and the Common House Martin.

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The Barn Swallow and the Iberian Grey Shrike both show a negative trend between 2004 and 2023.


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Some common farmland species, such as the Common Magpie and the Zitting Cisticola, have increased between 2004 and 2023.


Woodland Birds

Of the 20 species that were included in the group of woodland birds, nine have a positive population trend, one has a trend of sharp decline, six have a stable trend and five are in moderate decline. Looking at just the last 10 years, only one species is showing a population decline and three are showing a positive trend.

Among the species with a negative trend, the most notable are the Turtle Dove, the Woodchat Shrike, the Common Cuckoo and the Woodlark, which show a negative demographic evolution in the period 2004-2023. Looking only at the last 10 years, the Common Cuckoo is the only species showing a moderate decline.

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Both the Woodchat Shrike and the Woodlark show a trend of moderate decline between 2004 and 2023.


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The Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) shows a continuing downward trend over 20 years between 2004 and 2023.

Two of the species with a negative trend in the period 2004-2023, the Woodlark and the Great Tit, have shown a stable trend over the last 10 years.

Among the species with a positive trend, the Wood Pigeon stands out as it shows a trend of marked growth, including in the last 10 years. Among other species, the Short-toed Treecreeper, the Iberian Green Woodpecker and the European Robin show moderate growth. Considering only the last 10 years, the European Robin and the Short-toed Treecreeper show a moderate growth trend. The Golden Oriole and the Great Spotted Woodpecker show a stable trend in the period 2004-2023.

Comparing long-term trends with the classifications obtained last year (Alonso et al. 2023), the biggest highlight is the change in the classification of the Woodchat Shrike, which went from a trend of sharp decline to a trend of moderate decline. The Greenfinch and Blue Tit now show a positive trend, whereas before they had a stable trend. Conversely, the Coal Tit and the Golden Oriole show stable trends, whereas before they showed a positive trend (Alonso et al. 2023).

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The Iberian Green Woodpecker and the European Robin show positive trends over the period between 2004 and 2023.

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The Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) shows a stable trend in the period 2004-2023.


Other habitats

In the group of birds associated with other types of habitats, twelve show a stable population trend, six show a positive population trend and three species show a moderate decline. Looking at the last ten years, most species show uncertain (10) or stable (6) trends, and the negative trend of three species stands out, with two species with a positive trend. The Little Egret, the Common Moorhen and the Melodious Warbler show a negative trend for the period 2004-2023,  although of these three species only the Common Moorhen shows a trend negative in the last 10 years. Among the species with a positive trend for the period 2004-2023, the Iberian Magpie, the Sardinian Warbler and the White Wagtail, among others, stand out. In the short term, only the first two species show a positive trend.

Screenshot 2024 04 25 at 17.44.32

Species that show a stable trend include the Blackbird, the Common Nightingale and the Carrion Crow, among others. In the last 10 years, the stable trend of the Blackbird, the Common Buzzard and the Turtledove stands out.

Relative to the last report (Alonso et al. 2023), there were three species where it was possible to observe a change in long-term trend classifications: Mallard (moderate to stable growth), Common Moorhen (stable to moderate decline), and Grey Wagtail (uncertain to stable).

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Graphic representation of the population trend of the Melodious Warbler (Hippolais polyglotta) between 2004 and 2023. The Melodious Warbler is a summer species that can be observed in Portugal between March and October.

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Graphical representation of the population trend of the White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) between 2004 and 2023. This wagtail shows moderate growth and can be easily observed in open habitats, including urban areas.


Multispecies indices

 Multispecific indices aggregate a set of species representative of a habitat/biotope and can be used as indicators of the state of these ecosystems. The index of common birds (64 species) is stable for the entire census period (2004-2023), as is the index of common birds in agricultural areas (23 species), and the index of common birds of forest areas (20 species).

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Population trends of 64 common bird species in Europe (EUR) in the period 2004-2021, as well as in Portugal (PT) and Spain (ES) for the period 2004-2022.

*For translations of most bird names from Portuguese this is a very good site.


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It was one of the hottest days of the year at 42º in the shade and we were all feeling it, but not half as much as the juvenile Tawny Owl I spotted sitting right out in full sun while I was coming back from Odemira.

Screeching to an emergency stop I disentangled my passenger from the dashboard, reassured her everything was OK and rushed back to confirm that it was indeed a Tawny out in the middle of the day and sitting on the ground. Sure enough, there it was and it made no attempt to flee as I carefully approached. It was obviously on its last legs and would die soon if nothing was done.

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Well, it was too far gone for any official Nature Emergency body to get there in time so I scooped it up and took it home to see what we could do to save its life.

The first thing was obviously to re-hydrate it which we did with straws and teaspoonfulls of water over the next few days. It was definitely touch-and-go but with the help of an excellent video we found on the Barn Owl Trust website at we wrapped Owlfredo, (yes, we gave it a name of course - we couldn't keep referring to it as "the owl"), in a towel four or five times a day and Daniela and Elias fed it up over the next few weeks.

Owlfredo in towel 9932

Owlfredo grew in strength really quite quickly. We kept him safe in a plastic crate with another one balanced on top over which we spread a blanket during the day and took him/her out every evening to sit with us a while after dinner.

Owlfredo in crate

Completely unfazed, Owlfredo would sit there with us, aware to every slightest sound, the huge eyes taking everything in, the neck seemingly swivveling 460º.

Owlfredo on the chair

We reckoned he'd show us when he was ready to leave, and sure enough he did. One morning we came downstairs to find he'd pushed the top crate off and was nowhere to be seen. Obviously we looked all around for him and a little later found him tucked down in the vegetation scarcely three meters away ... can you see him?

Owlfredo hiding

Here's the same pic blown up ...

Owlfredo hiding blown up

He was truly feeling at home, even with the five dogs we have at the Quinta - we actually find that a great deal of wildlife roosts/sleeps in the garden, preferring to take their chances with our sleepy dogs than the wide-awake predators we have roundabouts, but I digress.

We put him back just in case but the next morning he was gone for good. We like to think we hear him at night now, (and he was definitely around for a few days), but of course we can't be sure.

What we do have though is the thought that we saved his life, and a wealth of photos and many lovely memories of his sojourn with us, brief though it was.


Eurasian Jay with Terrapin

Following the extraordinarily successful and overwhelmingly positive Public Consultation undertaken last month to make the Lagoa Dos Salgados area near Armação da Pêra a Natural Reserve, (a Public Consultation which saw over 800 participations), the development company, Finalgarve S.A., has snuck in a counter proposal, also available for public consultation, that would make the whole idea of a Natural Reserve a travesty.

They propose that they should be allowed to build three hotels, a commercial centre and a golf course slap bang in the middle of the area so recently proposed as being the first new Portuguese Natural Reserve designated as such in the last twenty one years.

This would make any idea of a Natural Reserve a farce, and a successful application would fly in the face of the stated wishes of the vast majority of the many people who took the time and effort to struggle their way through the Public Consultation website so recently.

I urge everyone please to scupper their underhand and dastardly effort by making your feelings known on the Government’s website.

We’ve only got until the 18th Feb, so it’s urgent we write our opinions right now - there’s no time to lose!

Many of you contributed recently with your positive comments during December and January when the original Consultation was available, and I ask you to make another effort now with an equally negative comment on the latest Public Consultation. 

It can be written in any language, and it’s remarkably easy if you follow these instructions.

1. Click on this link,

2. If you haven’t already registered you’ll have to do so. This is a bit of a pain but you’ll have to go through with it. If you have already registered when you commented last month then skip the next few steps and go to point 13.

3. Click on “Registo” in the top right hand corner.

4. Click “Individual”

5. Fill in your name, (where it says “Nome”), your email address, choose a password, (minimum 12 characters but no need for capital letters, numbers or special characters), confirm your password and choose “Silves” in the following box named “Concelho”.

6. Go to bottom left corner and check the box that starts ‘Concordo…’

7. No need to fill in anything else on that page; just click “Submeter” in the bottom right corner.

8. Close down the page - you’ll open it again in a minute, but close it for the time being.

9. The Portal Participa site will send you an email straight away. Open it and click on the highlighted ‘Ativação de Registo’  link.

10. This’ll open up again on a login page but DON’t use it. Just close the page completely and then open it up again by pasting in in your browser.

11. Now click “Login” in the top right hand corner.

12. Fill in your email and password and hit "Entrar".

13. Click “Participar”.

14. On the right hand side click “Classificador” and choose “Discordância”. 

15. Write your commentary in the large box. There’s plenty of room so feel free to politely let rip.

16. Click “Submeter” in the bottom right-hand corner.

17. That’s it - done - and many, many thanks to you from all of us thinking along lines of the greater good for us all and the future generations to come.

Emu 9600

Back when the dinosaurs ruled the world Daniela and I started a petition on Avaaz to try to save a little birding area down in the Algarve called "Salgados".  I say "little", but it's about 400 hectares of productive wetland and scrub, squeezed on all sides by high-rises, one of the last untouched pieces of original Algarvean countryside along the southern coast.

Salgados 3898

We'd been supportive of the effort for quite a few years beforehand, but in the Spring of 2012 everyone else seemed to give up hope as the developers literally moved into the area. The latter had oodles of cash, local and national politicians in their pockets and planning permission apparently granted; it seemed that nothing could stop them. The first bulldozers were already on site …

Daniela and I were incensed that this unique piece of Algarve coastline was being thrown away in the never-ending rush for tourist dollars, so, as a last throw of the dice, we set up a petition and promoted it as if our lives depended upon it.

We threw ourselves wholeheartedly into the effort and largely put our lives and business on-hold. Everything went into the pot, all our family's energy, most of our time and more money than we could afford.

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We spoke to anyone and everyone, travelled here, there and everywhere, held demonstrations,

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garnered support from international celebrities,

Bill Oddie 1647

gave lectures, interviews and awareness-raising meetings both in Portugal and abroad,

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got the press to write articles, the TV to fill slots, NGOs from several different countries to lend their support, (most notably the BTO in the UK).

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We put our heart and soul into it and it took over our lives more than we’d ever imagined it would. 

Despite the normal, "Why bother? You'll never win" comments that came from all corners, we battled through the nay sayers, and slowly, but with an ever-increasing momentum, people joined us, an Action Group was formed with the help of João Ministro who'd studied the area in depth at University, Paul Rees from the Algarve Daily News and Natasha Bund from the Portugal Resident. We became not-so-alone, and the ball started to roll again. It became apparent that there was a groundswell of opinion very similar to ours - the petition just happened to be the catalyst.

Quite quickly, (in hindsight), we saw "our" petition rise to become Portugal's 2nd largest environmental petition ever.

On the strength of it we raised a great amount of interest, had meetings with ministers and took the petition, nominally in a large collection of cardboard boxes, to the Government in Lisbon.

Salgados 7 5945

Then we struck lucky.

Thanks to a chap called Simon Wates, a knowledgeable and informed long-time resident of the area, we became aware of a rare, endemic, and beautiful flower on the site, “Linaria algarviana”. 

Linaria algarviana

This was a game-changer and larger, more knowledgeable organisations than lowly us, notably "SPEA" and "Almargem”, challenged the developer's Environmental Impact Assessment in court and all exploratory work on the site was stopped pending the judge’s decision - and that's where it's been ever since ... yes, don't become involved in a legal process in this country unless you're young, in good health and very, very patient.

With the affair in court our lives returned to normal again as nothing could go ahead until the outcome of the court case, but in the background the effort continued quietly behind the scenes until, a few weeks ago, the ICNF, (Portugal's Environmental Agency), announced out of the blue that it wanted to make the area a Nature Reserve, the first new one in the country for over 20 years!

Wow! What a success!

But hold your horses, it's not a done deal ... 

It has to go to public consultation before anything's approved - and that's where YOU come in. 

It's an on-line consultation, open for 42 days only starting on the 9th December '21, and anyone can make a comment, yes, anyone from anywhere, so I urge you, please, to do your bit.

5 minutes and you become a Superhero, cape, mask, winged boots, the lot. 

Make your voice heard; it's easy. 

Go to, say “No” to more unwanted development and help us save a little bit of nature for everyone.

OK, the site’s all in Portuguese obviously, and it can be a little daunting, so here’s step-by-step instructions that make it easy-peasy to make your voice heard. It looks difficult but it is really easy if you follow these steps to the letter.

    1. Go to
    2. Click on “Registo” in the top right hand corner.
    3. Click “Individual”
    4. Fill in your name, (where it says “Nome”), your email address, choose a password, (minimum 12 characters but no need for capital letters, numbers or special characters), confirm your password and choose “Silves” in the following box named “Concelho”.
    5. Go to bottom left corner and check the box that starts ‘Concordo…’
    6. No need to fill in anything else on that page; just click “Submeter” in the bottom right corner.
    7. Close down the page - you’ll open it again in a minute, but close it for the time being.
    8. The Portal Participa site will send you an email straight away. Open it and click on the highlighted ‘Ativação de Registo’  link.
    9. This’ll open up again on a login page but DON’t use it. Just close the page completely and then open it up again by typing in in your browser.
    10. Now click “Login” in the top right hand corner.
    11. Fill in your email and password and hit "Entrar".
    12. In the search box enter “Salgados” and hit the magnifying glass.
    13. Click on the big ICNF logo.
    14. Scroll down and click “Participar” on the left hand side below the text.
    15. Click on "Particular (inserir identificação e contactos)"
    16. Click on "Proposta de criação da área protegida de âmbito nacional: Reserva Natural da Lagoa dos Salgados"
    17. Choose “Outro”
    18. Now it is ESSENTIAL that you write something otherwise the next option doesn’t open.
    19. In the box below “Participação” you can write how much you value Salgados, how it’s wonderful that Portugal is looking towards the future and has its eyes on more than short-term profit for big business, how having natural spaces is so necessary nowadays and how pleased you are that this is now being valued by Portugal’s politicians for both Portugal’s citizens and its visitors etc etc 
    20. Now click on “Submeter” at the bottom of the page - NOT “Submeter anexo”.
    21. Apply for your Superhero badge.

Oh, and why not sign the petition as well? It’s still open and the more the merrier! It’s at 

Finally, a word of warning; just be careful  when you first start flying, OK? Birds make it look easier than it actually is ... Happy Christmas and a VERY Merry New Year!

Bee eaters 69I7971

The mayhem that is August is dying down and I've been able to get out a little more over the last few days - what a magical time of year this is! 

Bee-eaters are passing overhead in great chirruping flocks, too high for the eye to see this morning, but I found a flock that was feeding up in the Corte Brique valley two days ago .

I'm afraid the pictures above and below are not as good as I'd hoped, but they were hard - it was before the sun had risen over the hills to the west, and there was a low-hanging mist too, so I'm surprised they came out with even this quality quite honestly.

Bee eater flock on migration 69I7966

Getting closer would have been the ideal solution of course, but they had the urge to go and we didn't want to push them, so we left them to feed and a few minutes later saw them in a great band on the way south.

Cattle Egret on sheep 69I7765

The prevailing colour on the Plains is now yellow and most birds keep their heads down, but not so Cattle Egrets which feed with the flocks of sheep in a constantly moving tableau across the scorched stubble.

It's rarer nowadays to see free-moving flocks of sheep, accompanied only by a man and a few dogs, as ever more land becomes fenced, but sometimes one still comes across them, a flock of hundreds lost in the enormity of their landscape.

Cattle Egret on flock of sheep 7754

Most other smaller species spend their efforts on being brown and unobtrusive, but cheeky Zitting Cisticolas, those butterfly-like grassland pygmies, occasionally stand their ground, inquisitively staring one down from the strands of roadside wire.

Zitting Cisticola on barbed wire 7873

Talking about keeping one's head down, it's been an interesting time for Little Owls recently, as they take things to extremes  ... take a look at the picture below - there's a Little Owl tucked away there,

Little Owl hidden in rocks 69I7769

but they're the masters of camouflage and inconspicuosity when they want to be.

A slither of his head is visible below those two diamond-shaped rocks in the middle of the frame as he warily keeps an eye on me, the intruder into his domain.

Little Owl hiding in rocks 7778

There's a large and stable population hereabouts, and the following few shots are just some of the Little Owls I've been able to photograph during the last two weeks.

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Little Owl 6962

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Little Owl crouching in rocks 69I7848

Little Owl hiding behind roof ridge 69I8024

They seem to be able to blend into any background and we pass dozens daily without noticing I'm sure, but every now and again, like this family I found last month, they seem to mind not one jot to be as visible as they choose!

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However, most of the time being a wildlife photographer involves many hours of patient waiting, and it's never a foregone conclusion that the hours or the patience will be rewarded.

Take my three hours in our Water Rail and Kingfisher Hide a couple of days ago for instance ... I was watching a female Blackcap when my eye was drawn to a shadowy, eye-lined form deeper in the same bush ... what could that be?

Sedge Warbler 2

Was it a Cetti's?

No, that eyeline was too bright.

What else has an eyeline that bright? Could it really be a Sedge Warbler?

They're not resident here, only passing through on migration, so it's quite a red-letter day to catch a sight of one near the Quinta ...

It dropped down into the reeds and I could see the little blighter deep inside, (streaky head, definitely not a Cetti's Warbler), and chipped away at the clues. No central stripe, so sadly not an Aquatic Warbler - that really would be a coup! - and the eyeline finished distinctly, so not an errant Moustached Warbler either, (which would have been another coup),  so a Sedge Warbler it must be, and lovely to see him it was.

But would he come out and give me a proper shot?

Sedge Warbler 2 4

Of course not!

I followed him with my five and a half kilos of lens through the next 15 minutes, my arms aching more with each passing second.

I couldn't let him out of my view, for he was invisble to the naked eye, but he kept well hidden the whole time just behind the first scattering of reeds as he preened.

Sedge Warbler 2 3

Then he started to feed and moved tantalisingly towards me ... and then, sadly, away again, until I lost him as he settled ever deeper back into the reed-bed.

Sedge Warbler 2 2

The best I could ever grab was the shot below. 

Sedge Warbler 8351

Mind you, after the first ten minutes or so it was only ever going to be a lucky shot, as it became more and more difficult to keep the camera steady, my mind dreaming of my missing monopod, my shivering forearms shaking with the effort.

So no result that morning despite the effort.

Ahh, well, there's always another day, and the morning wasn't entirely wasted as I did grab a couple of nice shots of a Red-veined Darter,

Red veined Darter 69I7921

and my faithful male Water Rail posed for a second or two as well, before he too slipped back into the reeds on the other side of the river. 

Water Rail in good light 69I8199 2

Looking forward to tomorrow already!







Birding in Portugal

Quinta do Barranco da Estrada
7665-880 Santa Clara a Velha

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Phone : (+351) 283 933 065
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