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November 2019
Our Mission
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.

RAM Days

What are RAM days?

RAM (Portuguese acronym for Seabird and Marine Mammal Monitoring Network) is a seabird observation network initiated in the Cantabrian and Galician coasts and now extended to the whole Iberian Peninsula, including the continental Portuguese coast and the Madeira and Azores archipelagos.

One of RAM's main initiatives are the seabird observation days. During these days observers are placed along different spots of the coast, preferably at the same time, to record all birds, including items such as species, number, flight direction, age group, etc.

This project aims to coordinate the volunteers' work in studying seabirds across the whole Iberian Peninsula, thus improving the knowledge and conservation of Atlantic bird species. An important characteristic of these census is the use of standardized methodology to gather information. Observations are done simultaneously to provide more systematic and accurate information and get an estimate of seabird abundance and movement along the coastline, in different areas and at different months.

Participating in this network is free and voluntary for all collaborators with an interest and knowledge on seabirds.

How can I participate?

RAM days, supported by SPEA's Marine Programme, constitute an opportunity to gather simultaneous data on seabird movement along the coast of Spain and Portugal, from the Basque Country in Nothern Spain to Catalonia, across many important sites in Portugal, such as the capes Raso, Carvoeiro and Sagres.

All you need to participate in these observation days is a pair of binoculars or telescope and count passing seabirds for 30 minutes within a 3 hour morning period (7-10am from May to September; 8-11am from October to April). A minimum level of experience will be required or to be part of a team of that includes an experienced observer.
Usually bird counts will be carried out in the first Saturday of each month. If, for whatever reason, the date is changed, observers will be timely informed.

  • Methodology (pdf)

1) Identification:
Determine the number of individuals per species. If this is not possible, numbers should be recorded per genus or family (equally valid identification). Do not register at species level those individuals whose identification is uncertain.

2) Required material
20x telescope (minimum recommended) and 8-10x binoculars.

3) Observation:
Keep the telescope stationary, focusing on 30 to 50% of the ocean just below
the horizon. The binoculars will cover the remaining ocean all the way to the shore (ideally in the hands of a second observer).
Under unfavourable weather, search for a sheltered spot. Quite often a car is the best option, allowing for better stabilization of the telescope.

4) Count:
Register ALL birds, except for the seagulls Larus michaellis and Larus fuscus , which should only be registered in the case of extraordinary movement. Register the number of birds passing through the field of vision, taking care not to count the same bird twice. Average estimates of passing bird numbers are not usable (except in the case of exceptionally large flocks). The duration of any pause during the counting period should be carefully noted down.

5) Record:
Fill in the recording form while in the field or use a portable voice recorder and insert data online later.

6) Computerization:
Insert data through the online platform PortugalAves, chosing "Censos" > "Monitorização de Aves Marinhas - RAM". Please read here the instructions for submitting and consulting RAM data (in portuguese).

Observers should communicate their availability for counting at a particular site, at least 4 days in advance. They should do so by email to ram[at]

  • Locations:
- cabo Carvoeiro (Peniche)
- cabo Raso (Cascais)
- cabo Espichel (Sesimbra)
- Sines (near Sines lighthouse)
- Sagres (near Cabo de São Vicente lighthouse)

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