Alagoas Brancas, the natural freshwater lagoon in Lagoa that campaigners have been trying desperately to protect from the threat of development, continues to attract a wealth of bird species during the breeding season.
So says German biologist and ornithologist, Dr Manfred Temme, who extended his annual visit to the Algarve following several flight cancellations due to the Covid-10 pandemic. He took advantage of the opportunity to observe the bird life at Alagoas Brancas, which he has been doing since 2008.
During his trips to the wetland, he spotted several aquatic birds regularly visiting the area to look for food or ‘take a bath’, including several swallows looking to catch the “bountiful supply of insects which hover over the water.
“The insects are welcome food for the swallows that have young in their nests to feed. Other songbirds also need water and visit the ponds regularly,” said Dr Temme.
On June 10, he was “very excited” to spot two breeding pairs of the “very rare and highly protected Purple swamphen or Western swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio), which are raising their young this month.
“The chicks are about half grown and were seen either together with an adult bird or already looking for food on their own,” he said.
During this time, Dr Temme also spotted about seven Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) feeding in the wetland. He is so far unable to confirm if any birds of this formerly rare species were breeding there this year.
However, on June 21, shortly before sunset, a dense flock of about 100 birds circled the area to land and roost in the bushes safely during the night.
Although the adult birds are active in their breeding places near the coast, he still saw about 50 younger cattle egrets (Bubulcus ibis) arriving to sleep at Alagoas Brancas.
“Proper scientifically-based management of this wetland would provide the permanent living conditions which would attract many bird species. In my experience, this would definitely attract sustained eco-tourism to the area without disturbing the wildlife, especially during the autumn, winter and spring months,” said Dr Temme.
With a total of approximately 11 hectares and hundreds of years of existence, Alagoas Brancas “provides an important refuge to migrant and resident birds and evolving communities of native fauna and flora,” says the biologist.