Sagres Bird Watching Festival is an excuse to know much more

The migration of birds to the South will again motivate another type of migration with a mandatory stop in Sagres, […]

The migration of birds to the South will once again motivate another type of migration with a mandatory stop in Sagres, that of bird watchers, birdwatchers in English. The II edition of the «Bird Watching Festival – Sagres 2011» starts on Friday and has a series of activities on land, but also at sea.

From bird watching trips on foot and by boat to ringing birds, the organization has many and varied suggestions, in charge of the Almargem association and the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA), in close collaboration with the City Council. Vila do Bispo, municipality where the event takes place.

Anabela Santos, from Almargem, and the SPEA representative João Ministro were the guests of the radio program Impressões, held in partnership by Sul Informação and by Rádio Universitária do Algarve RUA FM. The program was originally broadcast yesterday, at 19 pm, and can be heard in its entirety on RUA FM (102.7 FM) or on, on Saturday at 12 noon.

«We have prepared a set of activities to reinforce people's interest and to let them know that when they come here, they can take advantage of this offer. We want people to know the place to come back here. The migration of birds in Sagres is not limited to the three days of the festival», illustrated João Ministro.

The object and great attraction of this festival are the different species of birds that pass through Sagres at this time of year, on their way to milder climates in the South. But nature offers much more than that, something that participants can enjoy.

“Like last year, the main focus is obviously on birdwatching. But Sagres has a number of other elements of interest from an environmental point of view. It has an interesting component from a geological, botanical, terrestrial and marine fauna point of view. Therefore, as happened last year, we are going to have a set of parallel activities where people can enjoy these values», added the SPEA representative.

«For example, the boat trips, to observe marine birds, turn out to be also trips to observe cetaceans and dolphins. And, in fact, it works very well. Last year, we had some outings to observe plants, endemisms and rare species, and this year we have outings to observe temporary ponds and a lecture on mammals and marine fauna. We want people to also know something about Sagres, which is a sanctuary», he revealed.

The organization also scheduled mini-courses, book presentations and various Environmental Education actions. All this is part of a vast and varied program, which can be seen in full on the website

Despite being a vast program, many of the activities are already sold out. In 2010, the strong adhesion and reservations before the start of the festival even led to a difficult situation for the organization to manage. “Last year, there were fewer activities and, if I'm not mistaken, they all ran out. And we noticed that there were a lot of people who arrived to apply and had no place», said Anabela Santos.

“We took the opportunity to make a critical analysis of the first edition and understand what went less well. Hence, we have made a much broader and broader program. Without a doubt, I think we were very ambitious in creating this program. At the same time, we created a set of exits that are not in the program, but in which people can enroll on the days of the Festival», he revealed. These surprise activities will be “for all tastes and ages”.

After the success of the first edition, Almargem and SPEA left for the second round of the festival with the hope of seeing the number of participants increase, not least because in 2011 there was "much more international publicity". «Our main goal is to reach the thousand people», he said, about twice as many as those who visited the event in 2010.

And everything indicates that there is a greater affluence, taking into account the number of activities with full capacity, despite the large increase in supply registered this year. «We also already have many applications from people from the United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium and Spain», when a year ago «there were more Spanish and Portuguese».

Bird watching is a passion shared by many millions of people around the world and it doesn't look at class, economic status, age or gender. "In the United Kingdom alone there are four million registered birdwatchers", said João Ministro.

João Minister made a point of stressing the work that has been done not only by associations with environmental concerns, but also “by official entities”, namely the Regional Tourism Authority of the Algarve. “Three years ago nobody talked about this, but in the last two years something has been invested in this area. And the truth is that there is already some birdwatching material in the Algarve», illustrated the SPEA member.