Monday, 23 November 2009

Algarve Wildlife - the natural year

Last Saturday we were at the Griffin International Bookshop in Almancil for the launch of a new book on the wildlife of the Algarve. Appropriately titled, Algarve Wildlife - the natural year, the book has been written by Clive Viney and superbly illustrated with the photographs of Ray Tipper. Both Clive and Ray are long-time residents of Tavira with an interest and enthusiasm for the region’s wildlife that spans many years and the book is the quality production that one would expect from the two of them.

The authors at the book launch

The book takes an unusual view of the year dividing it into 24 half-month periods and then highlighting the wildlife and countryside activity that can be expected during each period. For instance, we are told that now (that is during the period 16th - 30th November) “Stone-curlews are gathering, sometimes in flocks of a hundred or so” and that “a few late Little Terns are still passing through”. There are also detailed references to the various waders to be found on the saltpans and mention of the possibility of an occasional Hen Harrier. Regular readers of this blog will only have to think back to our posts last week to confirm the accuracy of those statements and similarly the advice that “it is always worth checking the local water treatment works” is borne out by the finding last Thursday of a Whooper Swan at Altura - clear evidence that the authors know their subject very well!

Birds are our speciality and main interest but the book covers a wide variety of wildlife and we are sure will encourage us in future to be more observant of the wildflowers, butterflies, dragonflies, trees, fungi and even the lichens. Now we will be even better informed about what to look for and when. Who knows, we may even be tempted away from our regular birding haunts to go and look for edible mushrooms or to search on sandy soil for yellow toadflax! Next month we will surely be out there looking for Narcissus papyraceus and it can only be a matter of time before we heed the advice to take a train ride from Tavira to Faro through the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. Hopefully, others will similarly gain fresh insights to the Algarve’s wonderfully varied fauna and flora and value the region for more than just its sun, sand and golf courses.

This is a book that is written in such a way that it should appeal to a wide audience, both visitors and residents of the Algarve. The timing of its publication makes it an ideal Christmas present. It is available from the publishers, First Nature.

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