Champions of the Flyway!

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Tarifa, August '23 - big stuff

European Honey-buzzard 

Big stuff? There was a lot of it, especially concerning raptors - as well as huge numbers of Black Kites (see last post) and masses of Griffon Vultures (see next), there were a great many Booted and Short-toed Eagles, plenty of Egyptian Vultures, a good showing of Montagu's Harriers, a Rüppell's Vulture, multiple Bonelli's Eagles, Ospreys, Black-winged Kite, Marsh Harriers, lots of Honey-buzzards, an interesting cirtensis-type Buzzard.....
Pale-morph Booted Eagle and Honey-buzzard 

 ... and not forgetting the storks, of course; huge, swirling masses of Whites, dramatically materialising from nowhere and regularly attempting crossings, and a good scattering of Blacks, often mixed with raptors in kettles rising above the land.
White (above) and Black (below) Storks
Greater Flamingos
Booted Eagle and Honey-buzzard
Short-toed Eagle
Black Storks
Egyptian Vulture

Friday, September 29, 2023

Tarifa, August '23 - Black Kites

Ah, Black Kites.... there's a good argument for them being the bird of the trip, such was their abundance, omnipresence, ability to hypnotise and personify the migration experience of the Straits of Gibraltar, more than perhaps any other species (and there were plenty of others....).

There were days when we had many thousands - in fact, multiple days when we had many thousands - and every day involved a spectacle that involved them; whether swirling in murmurations over our heads, bombing low over the undulating, last-stop-before-Africa banks along the coast, resting en masse on a sheletered hillside, or bravely attempting the crossing in loose squadrons, with 14km of water opening out below them.
A migrating Black Kite heading out over the Straits, against the backdrop of our hire car....

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Tarifa, August '23 - Orcas!


The first of a few posts from our recent Yorkshire Coast Nature trip to Tarifa and its environs, where Spain reaches out towards Africa and divides the North Atlantic from the Mediterranean. We (Amity and I) were there for a week's recon before my YCN group came out, during which time we took two boat trips out into the Straits - one of which was blessed with these magnificent beasts coming to investigate, at heart-stoppingly close quarters....

Orcas are migratory in the Straits, and are usually encountered only in July and August, so our timing was perfect; in fact, this was the last that was seen of them for the season. Lucky, lucky us.....