It's been another busy week here down on The Strait of Gibraltar. As the summer slowly comes to an end and autumn weather and shorter days signal birds to move slowly south, the skies above Cadiz province have all kinds of bird species flying over or stopping off to feed before crossing the narrow stretch of water that separates the two continents.
Honey Buzzards on migration
Zipping below the birds of prey, Common Swifts, House and Sand Martins, Red-rumped and Barn Swallows have been dodging the migrating Sparrowhawks.
The sound of Bee-eater flocks constant calling, migrating high in the blue sky is always something I love hearing and in the dusk of the evening birds have been flying low over the meadow at the rear of our property feeding on insects.
The other evening we had a Red-necked Nightjar come silently from the direction of our neighbour's garden, dip down low over our swimming pool to take a few moths and out over the other side of our garden.
A juvenile Spanish Imperial Eagle is lit up against the bright afternoon sky over La Janda
Short-toed Eagles are plentiful at this time of year
With luck you can have some very close views of this lovely bird of prey
A Short-toed Eagle turns gracefully in the sky
This male Montagu's Harrier was passing through the rice-fields of La Janda this week
There were a lot of first year Monty's as well
...and some females too
Here's the commoner form of Booted Eagle and this is the easiest one to identify
The darker or the intermediate forms can be tricky when in amongst other species on migration. Strong winds can cause the birds to pull in their wings a little to have less lift and more control. This changes the silhouette slightly and their structure and size can appear different. If you can get a head-on view you should be able to see the tell-tale 'headlights' or 'landing lights', those two white spots on the inner shoulders.
Another example of a darker Booted Eagle, this time backlit with wings fully extended on a calm day
The Bonelli's Eagle is a fine raptor to watch and like a lot of animals younger birds like this one are quite curious and come closer to check you out. If you're a photographer you can't help smiling as you are given such special views.
Fast and without mercy the Eurasian Sparrowhawk takes most of it's prey on the wing, following the flocks of smaller birds that flap alongside it all the way to Equatorial Africa where lots of different species winter. The Sparrowhawks stay there until spring and follow the birds all the way back to Europe picking off the weaker ones en route.
The beaks of the Bee-eaters have grown back to their normal length again after their busy tunnelling days during spring.
A typical evening scene at La Janda with White Storks and Eurasian Spoonbills feeding
Not forgetting the huge numbers of Glossy Ibis
...and a few Squacco Herons
Purple Herons too
There are less and less sightings of Collared Pratincoles and just one first year bird was seen last week. More will arrive from the north of Spain or France and stop off to feed here in the south.
We had some Ruff (above) with Common Snipe and Wood Sandpipers feeding alongside the Green Sandpipers and Black-winged Stilts.
A juvenile Black-winged Stilt at La Janda
More news next week as I head out east lead a tour to Lake Neusiedl in Austria at the border with Hungary