The Vita Nativa team visited Figs on the Funcho on December 13th and made some interesting discoveries!
It’s that time of year when Vita Nativa inspects and cleans our birdhouses so they’re ready to welcome nest-seeking birds in the spring. A blue tit, crested tit and house sparrow nests were found and removed from the nesting boxes installed by Vita Nativa, in Figs on the Funcho in November 2020, near SB Messines.
Why is it important for Vita Nativa to clean and inspect nest boxes?
It is recommended that you clean your nest boxes before the breeding season, as nests with bird droppings can promote bacteria and parasites that will remain long after the birds leave the nest.
It is not uncommon for birds to build on old nests as we have discovered in one of our nesting boxes. The house sparrow has built a nest above the blue tit nest. If the birds continue to build on the old nests, the new nest will be closer to the entrance and the occupants can be easily reached by potential predators.
Vita Nativa inspects nest boxes so they can track numbers during the breeding season. João Tomás, from Vita Nativa, told me that the occupancy rate for 2021 in the Algarve is very good. Of all target species, i.e. chickadee species (blue, crested and large), starling, little owl, common kestrel, common hoopoe, barn owl, species fast (common and pale), only the hoopoe is missing, but he is convinced that it will be included in 2022!
Results of the visit
A blue tit nest and a sparrow nest were found in a birdhouse. It can happen when blue tits build nests earlier than house sparrows. Moss, string and feathers were among the materials used to build the nests.
Figs on Funcho’s location is in a protected nature reserve and attracts many species of birds, so it made sense to partner with Vita Nativa and be part of their project, “Local Housing for Birds”. The project aims to encourage nesting sites for birds in the Algarve region and they have already installed over 1000 nesting boxes. 7 bird nesting boxes have been installed in Figs on the Funcho for species of chickadees, starlings / hoopoes and little owls.
Have you always been passionate about the conservation of wildlife, especially birds?
My interest in birds grew by observing the ornithological activities in my garden and on the lake from the comfort of my outdoor living room! Watching the hoopoe, with its distinctive feathered “crown” and the azure-winged magpie constantly flying from tree to tree in my garden and the heron by the water in search of juicy bits in the water made me discover more species of birds on our site. I partnered up with a local bird watcher and together we explore the bird rich areas near our location. It is so easy to befriend bird watchers because no matter how much you know about birds, having a common interest makes it easier to form friendships.
Last November, we chose to partner with Vita Nativa in their “Local Accommodation for Birds” project which installs birdhouses to encourage birds to nest in the area. the farmer to use poisons will be reduced and the quality of the product will improve.
When the team secured the nesting boxes to our carob and cork oak trees, they identified forty-one different bird species in less than two hours! This is a very commendable bird watching total for an inland site. Of particular interest are the Iberian Magpie and the Iberian Green Woodpecker, as their habitat is limited to the Iberian Peninsula. Other species observed that are not present in much of northern Europe were the white stork, hoopoe, Thekla’s larks and crested larks, Sardinian and Dartford’s warblers, pristine starlings and European canaries.
What is your walking and birding vacation all about, including if people are coming to Figs on the Funcho?
Shortly after the nesting boxes were installed, I chose the colorful bee-eater bird as the subject of our watercolor painting workshops. During this 3 hour painting workshop, we learned how to draw a bee-eater bird with its upturned beak, pointed wings and slender body, then painted the bird’s feathers in bright colors; blue, red, yellow and green. The more we learn about birds, the more likely we will understand the positive impact birds have on our environment, their needs and the challenges they may face.
We also have several hiking trails that start from our villa, including the Via Algarviana long distance hiking trail for serious hikers. Walkers can explore this region and its hidden beauty on their own or join one of our guided bird-trekking vacations. Our location is not only on the banks of a river, but is located in a protected nature reserve and attracts a wide range of bird species.
Bird watching vacations to Figs on the Funcho are offered throughout the year as the birds are around us all the time. What you see will depend on the season. Having a bird guide accompanying the bird trekking vacation helps us find and identify birds, share information about their habitats and what they eat. I often see a group of storks along our river walk including woodpecker, little owl, colard and egrets to name a few. The birdhouses from Figs on the Funcho have stimulated the interest of our visitors and we are always looking for ways to encourage interest in the natural environment through our creative art workshops or our walking vacations.
Who are we
Graham from Zimbabwe and Cheryl from South Africa, both former IT consultants, run a waterfront B&B property Figs on the Funcho for nature lovers looking for a more relaxed pace of life. slow. A range of art and hiking packages, cooking classes, paddleboarding, and wild swimming activities are offered. Its idyllic setting by the river overlooking the Funcho dam; perfect for large events including weddings, business events, birthdays and other celebrations.
Readers interested in getting closer to nature can book a stay or a walking vacation by the river. For more information, please visit their website at https://figsonthefuncho.com/. To get in touch with Cheryl and Graham, please email [email protected] or you can also call +351 912 595 539.
Photos of Cheryl Smith