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Home  > Birdwatching > Portuguese Rarities Committee

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
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.

The 2018 Annual Meeting of the Comité Português de Raridades (the Portuguese Rarities Committee) was held in SPEA’s offices in Lisbon on 8th and 9th December at which:

1 - It was decided that the taxonomy for the Portugal List would henceforth follow the IOC World Bird List;

2 - An Azores Regional Sub-committee was established with the object of assessing claims of records of species considered rare in the Azores but not rare at a national level.
  • List of bird species requiring adjudication by the PRC:
Species whose records are subject to approval for each of the territories listed below are described in the following lists which were revised in 2018:

The lists are based on all rare or accidental bird species observed up to December 1, 2018, 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.

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.

Paulo Alves
Paulo Alves was born in Abantes in 1989, where he still lives. He studied environmental tourism and completed a professional internship with SPEA. He has travelled in Europe, South-east Asia and North Africa and he has a particular interest in birds of prey and passerines and also in audio recording of nocturnal bird migration. He is a freelance illustrator and has worked on several endangered species in relation to the loss of diversity in Indonesia. He is also engaged in the development of environmental education activities in Portuguese schools. His illustrations have appeared in a number of publications. As a field technician, he works on conservation and monitoring projects and in this regard has spent time in the Red Seas flyway over the course of several migration seasons.

Hélder Cardoso
Helder Cardoso began birding at the age of 11 and has never stopped since. His involvement in bird ringing has developed over the years and he has a special interest in moult in passerines. He is a passionate seabird enthusiast and watcher and is the author or co-author of several books on ornithology. He currently works as a bird guide in Portugal and Spain and is an environmental consultant.

  • 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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