Thursday, October 16, 2008

Salgados Appeal

Good news and bad news!!

First the bad: the lagoon has again been drained in late September and remains dry. Despite rumours to the contrary, it does look like this was a natural event due to very heavy rain over-filling the lagoon combined with high tides and strong southerly winds. The retaining sand bar simply gave way and resulting outflow has destroyed it completely. Aguas Algarve are currently laying underground pipes from the new Etar (sewage treatment works) to discharge primary treated water directly into the sea; they might take advantage of the recent drainage to dig the proposed conduit across the bed of the lagoon to bury this pipe.

A few birds remain in the puddles and damp reed beds at the southern edge of the lagoon. Of note have been eight Bald Ibis (Geronticus eremita), all ringed and radio-tagged and presumed to be from the reintroduction programme in Spain and driven west by the horrendous easterly gales and torrential rain which southern Spain has experienced recently. Of a more "natural" occurrence is a sub-adult Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana) which is still present and showing well at the edge of the juncus vegetation 200 metres west of the hide:

Spotted Crake

(click on photos for larger image)

The good news: I received an interim update from José Tavares very recently saying that "they" (I presume he means RSPB and SPEA) have agreed to pay for a future supply of tertiary treated water from Aguas Algarve which will keep the lagoon "topped up" during the summer months. This is great news since without this supply (and there has been much debate on who, if anyone, was going to pay for it) the lagoon would simply disappear. He also said that further urgent talks are going on with ICNB (the government environmental department) regarding SPA status for this site. More information will come in an official bulletin in due course.

On the 26th October José is going to run in the Istanbul Intercontinental Marathon and is asking for sponsorship to raise money for an engineering project to build a manageable sluice-gate at the outflow point of the lagoon so that in future the water level can be more accurately controlled. This will negate the current "all or nothing" method where the sandbar is mechanically breached (as happened several times during the breeding season this year) and the lagoon runs dry.

*If you have enjoyed visiting Salgados in the past and want to help retain it for the future please consider making an on-line donation:

Many thanks to all, and especially to José for this enormous personal effort.


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