Flora and fauna in the Ria Formosa

I have a terrible memory for remembering names of books and of flowers, which makes life quite awkward at times when you are married to an Antiquarian bookseller and love photographing Portuguese flora. Fortunately however MrB has come to terms with the former, and I have numerous resources up my sleeves for the latter! And I really needed all of the latter after our recent 3hour birding and botany adventure in São Lourenço.

Allium in Landscape
Allium, but which one?!

It will be another couple of months before the Algarve reaches peak season for the flora, but even so I found plenty to photograph. The alliums in particular were lovely to look at as they were covering the ground at our feet, the colour of them suggested they might be Naples Garlic (neapolitanum) but we were in a very dry habitat and the flower clusters were tight and the stems looked cylindrical. This all suggests they might be a Rosy Garlic (roseum) but then I noticed another shot I had taken showed them with multiple leaves and the stamen did look quite long which suggests they could be Allium massaessylum except there are no purple keels! Help, are there any botanists out there who could advise? To help you here’s a comparison of all alliums on the excellent Flora-On website.

I felt more confident with some of the other flora such as the gorgeous Silene colorata, more commonly known as the Pink Pirouette. They are very common here on waste land and also in sandy places. You do need to crouch down though to photograph.

Pink Pirouette

Also at ground level, and therefore easily overlooked is the nailwort (paronychia argenta). So named as it was once thought to cure diseases of the fingernails! They create a carpet of white over maritime sandy soils. And in a few weeks they will be joined by a thick rug of South African ice plants, as we spotted a couple already in flower. I was also feeling confident about the euphorbia, which I am pretty sure is Geraldton carnation spurge (Euphorbia terracina). Not as confident though about the armeria. Armeria pungens is one of the most common species on the coastal sands in this area, but is that what I have photographed?!

As in England in spring there is an abundance of yellow, from tiny ones at your feet to those at eye level and higher. Unfortunately many of these are invasive non-native plants which are having a detrimental impact on the environment, namely the mimosa (acacia) and eucalyptus. The one I have photographed here I think is the Swamp Mahogany (robustus) but am hoping one of my lovely Australian blogging friends can identify for definite for me.

It wasn’t just the flora that caught my eye, there were numerous insects and birds too. The birds I am going to have to keep for another post, but here are a few shots of some of the other fauna I spotted.

As you can probably guess by the multiple shots of the Carpenter Bees I am really happy to see them! This is a good time of year to photograph them as they have only recently emerged from their winter hibernation and so still enjoying the sunshine. In a few weeks they will be moving far too fast for me to photograph. Not so happy though to still see the Thaumetopoea herculeana  (processionary caterpillar), but at least I recognised them unlike the grub that the Hoopoe had found.

Hoopoe with grub

Author: BeckyB

It had been a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, blogging, and best of all spending time with MrB, family, & friends. Sadly it no longer is. Suddenly and unexpectedly I have become a widow.

41 thoughts

  1. A lovely collection of flora and fauna Becky; I can empathise with the identification issues, it’s easy to get confused! I can recommend a really helpful book if you don’t have it already – it’s Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of the Western Mediterranean by Chris Thorogood – ISBN 978-1-84246-616-2. It’s detailed but easy to follow.

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely lovely feedback and for the book recommendation. I do have that one, it’s excellent 🙂

      The problem I think is more me and my ability to remember names or even the plant family!!!

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