If you have been following me a while then you will know I am often irritated by tourists who attempt to photograph flocks of roosting or feeding birds with their phones, basic cameras or worst of all iPads. The inadequacy of the lenses means they walk closer and closer to the birds, until surprise surprise they take to flight.
It doesn’t matter too much if it is urban pigeons you are photographing but if waders and/or flamingos experience this regularly it will have a hugely detrimental impact. MrB and myself will never get really close to the birds, as thanks to an excellent set of binoculars and a camera with an 83x optical lens we can easily observe from quite a distance away. We will also when we can attempt to blend in with the environment, and there are occasions when we deliberately decide not to stop and observe as we are aware the birds are restless. You can therefore can imagine my annoyance with individuals who deliberately cause the birds to take off all in the name of a good photograph or those who see nothing wrong in allowing their pets or themselves to run or walk through roosting and feeding areas.
Unfortunately though even worse things have occurred recently in the saltpans to the west of Olhão da Restauração, which seem to be having an even bigger impact on the birds. Two of the footpaths/sea walls have been repaired. Doesn’t sound too bad does it, and I admit they were at risk at eroding into the sea and so repairs were a necessity. However it is the manner in which they have been repaired which has caused our concerns. The next two galleries include before and after photographs.
Large machinery was used to move the rocks and soils from another part of the saltpans to the sections needing repair, and to get the machinery onto the paths they had to widen them. And there lies the problem. In widening they have removed much of the vegetation which was protecting the birds from both the prevailing winds and the ever increasing tourist activity. Areas which were once filled with birds at high tide now lie empty, and thanks to a month of no rain the damaged vegetation which remains is struggling to stay alive.
I am sure in a couple of years much of it will have returned, but in the meantime this change to the habitat combined with increasing numbers of tourists here could have a significant impact on bird numbers in the medium to long term. It is so unfortunate, as it could have easily have been avoided if more care had been taken. I can only hope it rains very soon as waders need a place to roost.
I also hope that you will help me get a message out to a wider audience by sharing with friends, family and on social media the importance of respecting nesting, roosting and feeding areas. Maybe share this post, or simply have a conversation with one person this week about why we should not try not to get too close to the birds and should never deliberately disturb the birds. As more and more of us travel and explore the countryside it really is as important as reducing our use of plastic. The thing to remember is that ‘In order to see the birds you need to be part of the silence.’