Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Let The Autumn Migration Begin...

With only 15 km distance between Europe and Africa, this week's strong 'levante' winds from the east caused a massive pile-up of raptors - particularly Black Kites on The Strait of Gibraltar!

Black Kites are everywhere around Tarifa just waiting for the wind to drop

Booted Eagle (adult dark form) makes its way slowly inot the wind

Booted Eagle (pale form in transitional plumage) photographed yesterday

A Short-toed Eagle clutches an in flight meal on it's way south

Firstly, these images aren't photoshoped but are original ones taken this week. The reason in showing them is clear; wind turbines cause the deaths of many birds particularly larger birds like sorks, cranes and raptors. I have personally witnessed the deaths of a Commmon Crane, Short-toed Eagle and Lesser Kestrel. On the top ten list of birds killed over the years is - at No 1, The Griffon Vulture. No 2, The Short-toed Eagle.... and so on. Wind farms sited on one of the busiest bird migration routes in the world will cause collision casualties. When struck by a blade at 260kmp you can safely consider yourself dead.... The only benefit to wildlife is that foxes and weasels seem to be on the increase around the bases of such turbines.

There is a monitoring programme in place - OK, I know it's funded by the wind turbine companies through their reprasentatives here in Andalucia, Fundacion Migres.

Young Eurasian Sponbills face the same migratory man-made hazards. To be fair, there is a system of paid observers that monitor incoming flocks of migratory birds at some of the windmill sites. It is of course impossible to monitor each and very line and those watching have to be exteremely vigilant. Flocks take preference as to alerting the various wind companies concerned, asking them to send a signal to brake or stop the turbine blades. Sometimes it takes time to get this organised and most of the time individual birds have to take their chances if they fly on their timeless migratory rotes into the windmill killing zone. Flocks take priority or is it business?

What's that greasy mark on the blade?

A male Montagu's Harrier pretends not to see me...

Probably the offspring of such a male above. This first year Montagu's Harrier extends its wings and heads south driven by that complex genetic, inbuilt magnetismno passion to leave Iberia and follow warmth and an abundant food supply....

Hunting - Heads down clickey-click, legs eleven - A Preying Mantis! Fantastic...

Bit of a second probably third plumage Egyptian Vulture coming through yesterday. I say 3 (oh, did I?) because the neck looks a lighter fresher moult and the underwing coverts also seem quite bright


An adult female Honey Buzzard made a very low pass yesterday, but I said nothing to Patty!

Adult female Honey Buzzard

Griffon Vultures

Migrating juv Marsh Harrier- four times heavier than the Monty's

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Last week in August

Tarifa Dawn. I've had some early starts this week trying to watch what species are crossing before the wind gets up! Fickle wind direction with a few days of 360 degree turn around! - makes for a varied and interesting bird movement...
Thousands of Black Kites have been crossing with more Booted and Short-toed Eagles gathering in the southern tip of Cadiz province. Bee-eaters, Eurasian Spoonbills. Glossy Ibis, White and some Black Storks have all been seen in good numbers.

The migration watch points are always attrctive to travelling birders but there are some quiet places where other migrants can be watched or photographed. Here are some juvenile Ruff that have comethrough this week. More Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwits, Reshanks and Greenshanks have been stopping off to feed. Common Pochard, Teal and Shoveller have joined the thousands of Mallard with Yellow Wagtails feeding on the muddy rice-field edges and dykes. All of our breeding Collared Paratincoles have left but new arrivals from the north are constantly popping in to feed then to continue their journey. More Marsh Harriers are coming through and Lesser Kestrel are more common in the open coutryside.

Glossy Ibis at dawn

Isla Paloma at Tarifa with D'jebel Moussa, Morocco in the background

Around the corner into the Mediterranean is the other 'Pillar of Hercules', the Rock of Gibraltar

Juvenile Black Stork

Iberian Hare

Some more Montagu's Harrier shots

and a bit closer...

Open view of the rice-fields and passing juvenile Monty's

Juvenile Montagu's Harrier going to roost

Little Ringed Plover juvenile, second brood of the season

Panoramic shot of The Strait from the mirador above Tarifa looking to Ceuta, one of the two Spanish equivalents of Gibraltar in Morocco. The Mediterranean Sea opens up to the left where the distance separating the two continents is greater, hence concentrated migration takes place mainly on the narrow stretch between Barbate and Gibraltar - some 50kms of coastline

Summer colour. Bee-eaters have been constant migrants this week although there are some roosts that are still crowded at dusk

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Same Day - Sunday...

I took this photo and in another shot managed to zoom in on what looks like a Lesser Emperor Dragonfly. Here's one of many satisfying photos from today with the dragonfly enlarged in the corner of the photo.

Sunday continued....
An amazing day out birding locally. I normally avoid lists and listings but….Once out on the road, here's the birds as they came today:
Cattle Egret, Spotless Starling, Rock Dove, Jackdaw, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Grey Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Bee-eater, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Barn Swallow, Golden Oriole, Black Kite, Common Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Pheasant, Sardinian Warbler, Common Stonechat, Turtle Dove, Wood Pigeon, Red-legged Partridge, Common Kestrel, Hobby, Black-winged Kite, Turtle Dove, Eurasian Spoonbill, White Stork, Little Egret, Squacco Heron, Yellow Wagtail, Stone Curlew, Little Owl, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Common Linnet, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Woodchat Shrike, Melodious Warbler, Black-winged Stilt, Mallard, Teal, Ruff, Common Snipe, Little-Ringed Plover, Glossy Ibis, Purple Heron, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Hoopoe, Sand Martin, Green Sandpiper, Red-rumped Swallow, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Corn Bunting, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Crested Lark, Common Kingfisher, Common Moorhen, and Purple Swamphen (aka Blue Chicken)… Apart from a splendid juv SI Eagle the Monty's hunting dragonflies and darters were just stunning to watch beside the rice fields.