Flamingo´s zijn neergestreken in de Algarve

De Europese flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is de enige flamingo soort die in Europa in het wild voorkomt en is een trouwe bezoeker van de Algarve.

Van november tot en met maart zijn ze goed te spotten in de lagunes van Quinta do Lago (ten westen van Faro) en Salgados, ook in het zoutwatermoeras van Tavira, de inham van de Rio Arade in Portimão en in de rivier van Alvor.

Ze broeden niet in de Algarve, maar migreren van Frankrijk naar Spanje en stoppen onderweg in de natte gebieden van Portugal. De dieren zoeken hier naar voedsel door met hun kop ondersteboven het water te filteren met hun snavel. Je ziet ze meestal in groepjes vliegen of in een meertje of zoutpan staan. De lokale bewoners laten de dieren met rust en zijn zeer trots op hun “buren”.

Flamingo´s komen natuurlijk voor in Afrika en Azië, maar hun verspreidingsgebied in Europa is beperkt tot enkele gebieden, waarvan de Camargue in Zuid-Frankrijk het bekendste is. Daarnaast zien we hen dus in Portugal, Spanje, Italië, de Balkan en Griekenland.

Een aantal jaar geleden is voor het eerst een nest gezien in de lagune van Salgados, tussen Albufeira en Armação de Pêra. Met behulp van een telescoop was heel duidelijk te zien dat er één nest was met ook maar één ei erin, waar flamingo´s bekend om staan. Het nest heeft de vorm van een hoop modder met vlakke top.

De ouders zijn niet territoriaal ingesteld, maar ze verdedigen het nest wel. Alle kuikens die kunnen lopen, voegen zich bij grote crèches, die worden geleid door een paar volwassen vogels. Het was bijzonder om zo dichtbij een golfbaan een nest te zien, aangezien flamingo´s een aantal jaar geleden hier nog weinig voorkwamen. Maar door verschillende studies en hulp van natuurorganisaties is het aantal gelukkig weer toegenomen.

Ieder voor- en najaar is de Algarve dus weer een tussenstop voor de duizenden flamingo´s, overdag op zoek naar voedsel, zelfs tijdens grote hitte. Het aanwezige ecosysteem van de beschermde natuurgebieden is namelijk rijk hun voedsel zoals kleine dieren, kreeftachtigen, wormen, microscopisch kleine algen, insecten en planten. De vogel is deels een trekvogel, die vaak in warmere streken overwintert.

Het verenkleed van de flamingo is overwegend wit met wat roze, hij heeft een extreem lange nek, een stompe, gehoekte snavel met een zwarte punt, erg lange poten en korte tenen met zwemvliezen. De kleur verkrijgen ze door bacteriën en bèta-caroteen dat ze uit hun voedsel halen. Ze worden 150 cm lang en kunnen tot 4 kg wegen. Jonge flamingo´s daarentegen zijn witgrijs en krijgen pas later in hun leven de roze kleur.

De flamingo is monogaam en broedt in kolonies van soms wel 200.000 paren.

Het geluid wat ze maken lijkt op een gans en ze voeren vaak ingewikkelde, gesynchroniseerde dansen op. Flamingo’s staan vaak op één poot en bij voorkeur in het water. Een reden zou thermoregulatie zijn. Met één poot in het water koelen ze hun lichaam af, maar met twee poten in het water zouden ze te veel lichaamswarmte verliezen. De andere reden zou zijn, dat de flamingo met twee poten de modder in zakt. Door op één poot te gaan staan kan de flamingo, als die te ver in de modder is gezakt, zichzelf als het ware ophijsen met zijn andere poot.

Het is iedere keer weer een prachtig gezicht om deze bijzondere vogel in de mooie natuur van de Algarve te kunnen bewonderen!

Wilt u deze prachtige flamingo´s zelf ook eens bewonderen? Boek dan snel een villa via http://www.amarantevillas.nl

Portimão shops are coming back to life

Today we chose to write about the new lease of life that is springing up amongst some of the smaller independent shops in the town of Portimão.

We met some lovely shopkeepers and discovered some fabulous new little stores in the side streets of the town – far too many to be able to cover in one tiny feature article .. so we thought we would share some more of our finds with you all here on the blog.

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Portimão has looked quite tired and run-down of late, what was once a proud and bustling quayside and shopping area has been passed by in favour of out-of-town shopping – but at last things are beginning to come back to life with a range of new shops opening up around the main Rua Direita street. If you can find your way to the waterfront, by the ice-cream shop outlets, then you need to walk into town past the banks .. and then find the main theatre above the Largo December 1 gardens (you may remember us telling you about the Organic market that happens there every Saturday) – then if you are facing the theatre you need to go left down the main street and you will find all the shops waiting for you!

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The first shop we visited was one of our favourites for picking up an unusual gift or special present – the very enticing Opcão Decor, run by Marcelo Correia, who is an interior designer with a keen eye for a unique product.

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The inside of the shop is beautifully presented with a range of gifts, home-ware and ceramics which are all original and traditional Portuguese brands:

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Many items are sourced locally, from the raffia bags from Loulé, to the nativity scenes which are made in Ferragudo, and the kitchenware from casaalegre.pt

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Algarve hosts birdwatching course for beginners in May

A birdwatching course for beginners will be held in May at Olhão’s Ecoteca.

The two-day course begins on May 14 with a lesson followed by a field trip to Quinta de Marim.

The next day there will be another field trip, this time to Ludo between Faro and Loulé.

Prices range from €50 to €70. Anyone can sign up, though students must first become members of the Portuguese nature association ALDEIA.

http://www.aldeia.org/portal/PT/3/default.aspx

Top 10 activities for kids – Carvoeiro area

Children of all ages are always looking for the next activity and thing to do and in Carvoeiro and the local area there are lots of options to keep children from toddlers to teens entertained. We have put together a list of our top 10 activities for kids in Carvoeiro and the local area with a mixture of ideas to suit both you younger and older children and top meet every budget.

1. Beach

I guess taking children to the beach seems like the obvious thing to do when you are in Carvoeiro but you would be surprised at how many people forget just how fun a beach can be – it really is worth the sand getting everywhere! We have Carvoeiro beach in the town itself which is great for little ones as there are no steps and you have everything you need close to hand. Primary school aged children will probably most enjoy a visit to Praia Grande as there is a good play park here, very calm waters for swimming and a choice of beach bars for parents to relax. Teens keen to explore and find something off the beaten track will love Carvalho beach with is secret smuggler entrane, steps carved into the steps and lots of snorkelling opportunities.

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Praia do Carvalho

2. The Fontes

The Fontes is an area loved by many of the local residents as it is a place that you can go either during the summer or the winter with lots to keep children busy all day long. The Fontes are located just outside Estombar and are signposted from the centre of the village with plenty of car parking space available. Here you will find a lake area, natural spring swimming pools, a park, barbecues, picnic area and trails around the lake which are ideal for nature walks. In the summer it can get very busy here so it is a good idea to get there early if you want one of the big picnic tables and a good spot where you can watch the children as they play wither in the well equipped park or in the fresh, clear waters.

3. Carvoeiro park

Carvoeiro has a small park located at the top of the cliffs next to the church and is a great spot for toddlers and small children. The park has the basics of a slide, swings, bouncy animals and a couple of other rides as well as benches for parents to sit on and shade in some areas which is ideal in the summer. The park is fenced with a gate and is always clean, tidy and well maintained and it is easy to get to by walking up the hill or if you are driving you can park by the church. This park will not thrill older children but it is a really useful area and it is also a beautiful place to sit and admire the amazing views along the coast.

4. Silves park

Carvoeiro park is great for the little ones but older children will love Silves park where you have lots of different activities and areas for all ages. The park is easy to find and can be seen from the road as you pass through the tunnel down to Silves. When you cross the bridge into Silves, then turn left and follow the road along – you will see the park on the left hand side where there is also ample parking. This park has a large wooden activity area with swings, slides, little houses and other bits and a part on sand with some digging toys. There is also a long running track circling the park which is great for bikes or rollerblades and there is even a small skate park area in the centre for BMXs or skateboards. You can spend hours here and even get a spot to eat at the café or a burger at the fast food restaurant. This is also the location of the Silves municipal swimming pool.

5. Krazy World

Krazy World is located about half an hours drive away from Carvoeiro and is a good choice for children between the ages of 4 and 10. The ticket prices for Krazy World are reasonable and it is open all year around making it a good one for those who come out of season and are looking for something to do for the day. In the park there is a large petting zoo with little goats, sheep and ponies while kids will also love the reptile house, crocodiles and snapping tutles in another area of the park. There is an 18 hole mini golf course through the woods which is good for older children and during the summer they have open a large pool area with a slide for the big ones and a shallow pool for smaller children.

6. Carvoeiro Clube de Tenis

You don’t have to be a member or even play tennis to be able to go up to the Tennis club located between Carvoeiro and Sesmarias. The club offer a range of different activities and children can take a tennis lesson, you can rent a court or you can enquire about using the pool areas. There is a small play park here and trampolines as well as the pools ut these will usually need to be paid for, however this is a lovely place to sit with children and enjoy a coffee or something to eat from the restaurant up here.

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Carvoeiro Tennis Club

7. Water parks

During the summer months we are very lucky to have two water parks right on our doorstep and I have yet to find a child of any age (even sullen teenagers) who aren’t keen to get here for the day. Slide and Splash is the closest park and is located between Lagoa and Estombar – you can buy passes for the day and even arrange transport by contacting one of the local operators and there are always discounts available if you buy before you arrive. The park is great for all ages with some scary slides (the black hole and the kamikaze), some tame ones (cloud nine) and a great water park area for small children with lots of things to do. Along the road near to Alcantarilha there is Aqualand, a smaller water park but the cheapest one in the Algarve and still lots of fun.

8. Zoomarine

No list of things to do with kids in the Algarve would be complete without the inclusion of Zoomarine – the most popular of all the attractions in the Algarve and one for all the family. Zoomarine is located in Guia, between Lagoa and Albufeira and combines a water and theme park with a marine life concept. You can watch the dolphin and sea lion shows, go on the rides and the big wheel, learn about marine life in the 4D cinema or relax in the manmade beach area with water slide. This is not a cheap day out but it is an amazing treat for the kids while in the Algarve – Only open during the peak season.

9. Duck pond park

Head into Portimão for a walk around the woods and the duck pond at this great park which is dubbed locally as the duck pond park. The park is located between Portimão and Praia da Rocha and can be found by passing the Modelo shopping centre along the V6 in the direction of Praia da Rocha and is in an area behind the two petrol stations – GPS 37.129414, -8.545171 Little children will love all the ducks, hens and animals running about and the play park area, adults will love the café with some of the cheapest prices you will find in the Algarve and for older children there is the skate park with huge ramps and the BMX track – an all round winner.

10. Tree Climbing

A great one for older children, teens and adventurous adults alike – tree climbing is far more challenging than you fist may think! The best local tree climbing park is in Albufeira and is run in conjunction with a paintball area which is also great fun for groups. There are varying levels of difficulty but basically this involve putting on a harness and safety gear and then navigating your way around the obstacles, zip wires and trees – a great day out, especially out of season as you will work up enough of a sweat as it is with this one!

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Luso Aventura Albufeira