Monday, 9 April 2012

Gibraltar - The Raptors

The Gibraltar straits are world famous as being a migration hotspot, mainly for its birds of prey. There’s just 12 miles of sea between Gibraltar and Morocco (I think?) and is the shortest crossing point for hundreds of miles. This attracts thousands of raptors as they don’t really like crossing the sea so the short trip across is just about manageable.  This Short-toed Eagle looked off when passing by a ship!

During the week we got very lucky and wind conditions and clear conditions persuaded plenty of raptors to take the plunge (so to speak) and head across the straits. A total of 17 species of birds of prey came through totalling 908 individuals though half of those came through on just one day!  Some were closer than others which meant we got some great views but a lot of the birds were pretty distant which made identification rather challenging at times. Identifying  a Booted Eagle at a miles range is certainly a skill I will include on my CV in the future.

Totals were Booted Eagle 253, Sparrowhawk 244, Black Kite 172, Montague’s Harrier 91, Marsh Harrier 41, Kestrel 38, Short-toed Eagle 16, Osprey 4, Hobby 4, Griffon Vulture 3, Egyptian Vulture 3, Common buzzard 3, Lesser Kestrel 2, Peregrine 1, Hen Harrier 1, Merlin 1 and a single Eleonora’s Falcon.
And now for some pictures…
An Osprey

Booted Eagle

Griffon Vulture

Montague’s Harrier – a massive 65 of these came through in just one day! Most were very high up though which wasn't helping the photography.

Short-toed Eagle

Black Kite

As well as the raptors seen from Gib Rock a few extra species were seen on days trips. 

This Black-winged Kite was a highlight. In fact we saw two individuals at one site though pictures were not the best! As you can see…

This Bonelli’s Eagle was easier than we thought it would be.  Was on show for probably half an hour just soaring up and down a ridge though always distant but the photo shows most of the ID features of this rather rare eagle.

We came close of seeing a Spanish Imperial Eagle though it turned out to almost certainly be a Golden Eagle which was a slight shame but who’s complaining…
 Although we saw a few Lesser Kestrels at the rock, they were not showing as well as these ones!

More to come later…

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