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SPEA is an Environmental not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support research and conservation of wild birds and their habitats, by promoting sustainable development for the benefit of future generations.
Home  > Birdwatching > Portuguese Rarities Committee
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Portuguese Rarities Committee
The Portuguese Rarities Committee, which functions as a subcommittee within SPEA, began its remit on 1st January, 1995 (from 1987 to 1994, Portuguese records were considered by the Iberian Rarities Committee). The primary function of the Committee is to adjudicate on rare or accidental bird records seen within the national boundaries of Portugal, i.e. continental Portugal, the archipelagos of the Azores, Madeira and the Selvagens, along with their territorial waters.

All observers who record rare or accidental bird species (please see below “Revised lists of bird species requiring adjudication by the CPR, for each of the greater Portuguese areas”), are invited to send to the Committee photographs and/or descriptions of the bird(s), for which they should use the record form easily accessible by clicking on “Record Form” below.

Records received are progressively incorporated into a table (please see below the “Table of Records Submitted to the Committee not yet Published”), the main objective of which is to make known the progress of each record (accepted, in circulation, etc…).

On completion of the assessment process, all records reviewed for a given year are published in the form of a report in Anuário Ornitológico, a SPEA publication (please see http://www.spea.pt/en/publications/ornithological-yearbook/).
We would like to stress that the non-acceptance of any particular record does not imply that the observer (or observers) incorrectly identified the bird in question but rather that, in the opinion of the Committee, the information submitted was insufficient to establish the identification beyond any doubt. In the event of more information becoming available, the Committee is always prepared to re-assess a record previously regarded as not proven on submission of the additional data.

  • List of bird species requiring adjudication by the PRC:
- Portugal
- Açores local rarities (soon)
- Madeira local rarities (soon)
- Selvagens local rarities (soon)

The lists are based on all rare or accidental bird species observed up to 31st December, 2009, for which there is documented evidence.

  • Committee Composition
At present the committee is composed of nine ornithologists, who meet regularly to analyse records of rare birds submitted by observers. One of these is simultaneously the committee's secretary.


Alexandre Leitão
Alexandre is very passionate about birds, birding, ornithology and conservation. He graduated in biology, and currently works as an environmental consultant and ornithologist. He has collaborated in several bird study and conservation projects as a volunteer, namely for SPEA, and is also a regional editor of eBird. Alex has a particular interested in bird migration, birds of prey and seabirds, mainly within the Western Palearctic and Africa, areas in which he has done most of his travelling. He is also the author of a number of ornithological  articles, mainly related to the subjects above.

Dominic Mitchell
Dominic is the founder and managing editor of Birdwatch, the largest monthly magazine for keen birders in Europe, and also managing editor of BirdGuides.com. He is author of several books, including Birds of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East: an Annotated Checklist and The Photographic Handbook of the Rare Birds of Britain and Europe, as well as numerous articles and papers. He has served on the council of the Ornithological Society of the Middle East, and over several decades has watched birds in some 60 countries on all continents. He is most at home in the Western Palearctic and is a frequent visitor to the Azores, which he first visited in 1994. Special interests include gulls, rarities and bird photography, as well as mammals, and he also enjoys leading bird tours and private guiding. Dominic lives in London, UK, with his wife and two children.

João Tiago Tavares
João is a biologist and works in ornithology since 1999, having studied, counted and monitored birds via radio and via satellite several groups from steppe birds to passerines, seabirds  from the North Atlantic, and more recently, birds of prey. Today he is also dedicated to science communication, especially as an illustrator, having illustrated birds since 2000, in some publications. Since 2014, he guides birdwatching tours in Southern Portugal. Outside our country, has watched birds in 16 countries on four continents.

Magnus Robb
Magnus was a co-founder of The Sound Approach in 2000, and has contributed roughly half of the 60,000 recordings in its collection. His speciality is to push the boundaries of identifying birds purely or primarily by sound, particularly while migrating. Magnus was born in the UK, lived in the Netherlands for 15 years, and since 2009 he has been resident in Portugal. His work has taken him to many other countries, primarily in the Palearctic region. In 2013 he recorded an unfamiliar owl in Oman, which turned out to be a species known only from a single 19th century specimen. He has written two books about bird sounds, reflecting special interests in owls and tubenoses.

Pedro Ramalho
He watches birds since 2008, having concentrated much of its activity in the zone of Peniche, is a dedicated patch worker, having special interest in the observation of marine species and the identification of waders. He has participated in several census and counting projects. Outside of Portugal has travelled to several sites in the Western Palearctic to observe birds. He was appointed secretary of the CPR in 2017, simultaneously with being a voting member.

Peter Alfrey
Peter is a Western Palearctic exploration ornithologist and most of his exploration has been focused on the Azores (passerine hunting, winter gull identification and pelagics). As a result of over 60 foreign trips, he has experience with the majority of species recorded in the Western Palearctic. He has published numerous articles and photographs in the leading European birding periodicals including Birding World, Dutch Birding, Birdwatch and Limicola and recently authored his first book. In his home country, the UK, he resides in London and is an avid local patch watcher, local writer, photographer and environmental campaigner. He holds a Masters of Science and is Managing Director of his own (partner) Environmental Mangement Company. Member of the PRC since 2009.

Pierre-Andre Crochet
Currently working as scientist in the French CNRS (National Centre for Scientific Research) in Montpellier in the UMR5175 CEFE lab, the largest laboratory in France devoted to ecology and evolution. His research focuses on the evolutionary and ecological processes generating biodiversity of reptiles, amphibians and birds around the Mediterranean basin, with a strong emphasis on systematics and applications to conservation through expertise and collaboraions with administrations and NGOs. He’s also a very dedicated birdwatcher and twitcher with more than 30 years of experience in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. As a birdwatcher, he is especially interested in the identification of Western Palearctic birds, in searching for vagrants and in the list of the birds of the Western Palearctic. He’s co-chairman of the Taxonomic Advisory Committee of the Association of European Records and Rarities Committees (AERC-TAC), member of the French Avifaunistic Committee (CAF) and French Rarities Committee (CHN), member of the Taxonomic Sub-Committee (TSC, former BOURC-TSC) and member of the Egyptian Ornithological Rarities Committee (EORC).

Ray Tipper
Ray is a life-long birdwatcher who left his native Britain in 1973 and spent most of the next 22 years in Hong Kong, where he was a trustee of WWF and became intimately involved with its renowned Mai Po Marshes Nature Reserve. He has wide-ranging field experience in both the Palearctic and Nearctic regions and in 1997 led his first birdwatching tour for a British bird tour company. Since then, he has led close to 100 tours on various continents. He has authored some 20 papers and articles and two books, but is best known as a bird photographer whose work is published all over the world. Member of the PRC since 2007, appointed Chairman 2017.

Thijs Valkenburg
Thijs discovered his passion for birds when he was 11 years old. He studied environmental management for 4 years in the Netherlands (2005-2009). He did several internships and worked with ornithology mainly in Portugal (mainland and islands). He is also a bird ringer since 2007, and  he has a particular interest in passerines.Thijs has travelled to 19 different countries to do birdwatching, especially in the Western Palearctic and Africa. Since 2015 he is a freelancer birdwatching guide in southern Portugal.


  • Table of Records Submitted to the Committee not yet Published
The following spreadsheet represents an attempt by the PRC to make available publicly details of rarities records submitted to the Committee and the stage that each record has reached in the assessment process, e.g. accepted, in circulation etc. The list below itemises all records received which have yet to be published and will be up-dated at regular intervals. As records are published in Anuário Ornitológico they will be removed from the spreadsheet. New records will be added to the spreadsheet as soon as possible after they are received.

It should be emphasised that the spreadsheet is not an official document but a working one. There may be omissions and it may contain errors. Should you detect any omissions or errors your advice would be very much appreciated. A particular area where further information may often be available of which the Committee is not aware concerns last (and sometimes even first) dates of records when sightings extend over a period. Any corrections to dates would be welcomed.

The view has also been expressed that because hitherto observers have had no way of knowing whether or not a sighting has been submitted, and there is a natural reluctance to submit ‘other people’s birds’, the Committee is not receiving records that would otherwise have been submitted. It is to be hoped the spreadsheet will go a long way towards alleviating that situation.

The spreadsheet is organised in alphabetical order by species (scientific name), the information being arranged in six columns as follows (from left to right):

- Record code (this code will be communicated to the observer (wherever possible) following receipt of a record by the CPR and should be quoted when raising queries or providing additional information in relation to that record).
- Species
- Date(s)
- Locality
- Data relative to the record (number of individuals, sex, age, photographs etc.)
- Status:
  AC = accepted
  NA = not proven

It is important to note that, in relation to records shown as accepted (AC), acceptance relates only to the species concerned and not also to any data appearing in the 'Obs' column e.g. sex, age, number of individuals etc. These are details supplied by the observer, verification of which will be published in the Committee's report in a subsequent volume of Anuário Ornitológico.

Regarding records of species considered to be non-native to Europe (or exotic, e.g. Aix galericulata, Aix sponsa, Cygnus atratus), irrespective of the acceptance of those records, their inclusion in the PRC report will depend on those species being considered to have naturalized populations in Europe (thus being included in category C6) and to other factors. Otherwise they will be published in the section dealing with non-native species in the Anuário Ornitológico.










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