Wednesday, 21 March 2012


Just back a few days in southern Spain, which included a visit to the Bird Observatory on Gibraltar. The views from there are stunning, across to Africa ....
..... and across the bay to Algeciaras.
Unfortunately the Levanter easterly winds were not kind to us, and not one migrant was seen over the three days at the Obs - they would have been pushed over to the more westerly landfall at Tarifa.

To quote the excellent Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society website :

14 Mar: The winds have been a moderate easterly with mainly clear skies for the last few days. This means that there has been no raptor passage and the passerine migrants have gone through mainly undetected with the clear night sky. The ringing effort has therefore produced few birds, with mainly local retraps and some local birds ringed, and included a new Blue Rock Thrush on Monday. Lets hope that the weather system that is producing settled weather over much of Western Europe shifts soon and may bring the much awaited rain fronts our way. If this does not happen soon, we will be experiencing extreme drought conditions, and the vegetation will soon dry out, as it is already showing signs of stress and browning.

That's not a bad view from the well-appointed Observatory, and there were Sardinian Warblers and Black Redstarts in the garden to watch, not to mention the ubiquitous Yellow-Legged Gulls which bizarrely nest in trees on the Rock.
Spotless Starlings nest in the Trafalgar Cemetary.

There are apparently still a few Barbary Partridges left in the area, but these are declining with habitat loss and depredation so are rarely seen. This moth-eaten specimen showed well, however.
The flora on the Rock was varied and fascinating, and a later blog will hopefully cover some of these after some critical analysis. We were greatly helped by Paul, a local member of GONHS, who showed us around and pointed out some of the bird and plant species. He also kindly told us where to find a small colony of Lesser Kestrels on the mainland, without which help I'm sure we'd never have seen them.

They were nesting in holes on a railway bridge and although they quickly flew when we arrived, a little patience paid off and they soon returned, wheeling in the bright sunshine showing their colourful plumage.
The mountains of Andalucia were lovely, but dry. There were plenty of orchid rosettes but few flowers which have presumably been held back by the lack of rain. More birds were seen here, with the pick of them being this juvenile Golden Eagle.

Water was eventually found back at Malaga at the end of the airport runway. The estuary of the Guadalhorce has been made into an impressive nature reserve, where Kentish Plovers were a joy to see. Just look at their little red caps!
In the wetlands behind the beach was a good variety of species, and the contrapunction of White-Faced Duck and elegant Black-Winger Stilt was very strange.
More later, when the thousands of photos have been processed :-)

1 comment:

Greenie said...

Steve ,
Look forward to the later posts .
You've certainly wetted the appetite with this one .