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A Rocha
02/28/2010, Near Lagos

Ju from Little Else is an enthusiastic bird watcher and has been involved at A Rocha assisting with species counts since arriving in the Algarve. A Rocha is an environmental centre studying local wildlife and open to schools for nature trails etc. On Thursday mornings they carry out bird ringing and the public can attend to watch, coffee and nice cakes are provided. Ju always takes a party from the marina each year but as I had missed it she kindly took me later.

It was a beautiful, sunny day we caught the train to Mexilohoeeira and walked up the hill to A Rocha in time for coffee. Ju showed me round the grounds where they set up the nets to trap the birds. After coffee we watched the ringing, three birds were caught, a robin, sparrow and greenfinch. The birds are measured, examined to see their general health and weighed. If necessary they are ringed or if already done then just noted.

After that we set off to the salt marsh to do a spot of bird watching and have a picnic. It was great being with someone who can identify birds from appearance and song, I know lots but can only name them if they are quite still! Ju was hoping we would see an osprey and owls which are often around. Apparently if you are around at the right time of year Bee eaters and flamingos are about. We saw egrets, grey herons, oyster catchers, crested skylarks, chiff chaffs, stonechats, stints, magpies, wagtails, kestrels and a kingfisher. The best bit was when I finally got my eye in and saw a group of about a dozen spoonbills. There were also butterflies about - red admirals and brimstones.

I took Ju for a pint in the Amuras as a thank you.

Bird-weighing - a clever idea
02/28/2010, A Rocha

Here is a novel use for a film canister, apparently the birds feel quite calm when put upside down in the canister to be weighed!

Burns night
02/10/2010, Lagos

Here we all are about to tuck in. The camera angle would not let Steve into the picture, was he upset - NO!

A belated Burn’s Night Celebration
02/10/2010, Lagos

Lesley and Andy from Glasgow returned from their Christmas/ Hogmanay break in the UK complete with 3 haggises or is the correct plural haggii? It was past the appointed date of 25th January but so what. There were 8 of us attending and we all had a haggis to cook on our boats as large scale catering on a boat can be tricky! Lesley prepared all the vegetables - neeps and tatties (mashed turnip and potatoes. Of course North of Hadrian's Wall turnip is swede unlike the whitish root vegetable we think of as a turnip further south! We also had a soup and dessert which was Portuguese rather than Scottish.

Lesley wore a tartan skirt and Andy did a valiant job of addressing the haggis - "great chieftain other puddin race" etc. I must say the haggis tasted better than the ones I ate as a child because my father was a Scotsman. We had a good time which went on for some of us till well after midnight. The wine and whisky flowed..................

Keep Fit
02/08/2010, Lagos

I met Bev who has been over Winter in Lagos for the last 2 years and she asked if I would like to go swimming with her and some other ladies from the marina. Lagos has a municipal pool and exercise complex with a gym, dance/exercise studio and café etc. The more you use it the cheaper it is. I am going most mornings, Bev likes to meet at 8 am on weekdays leaving most of the rest of the day free for other things. I have been going about 3 times a week and can see my swimming improving. We all have a coffee afterwards and then go shopping at the Pingo Doce on the way back to the marina - handy!

Windy weather

We have had some very windy, wet weather like we also had last year in Ayamonte. The water in the marina is really churned up and a very unhealthy looking orangey-brown and there is lots of bamboo, oranges and other debris carried down by the river. The other night it was spring tides and the pontoons got perilously close to floating off the piles - luckily they didn't!

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