Friday, April 2, 2010

Colour and shine under a spring sun

Last week saw the start of the migration north of Bee-eaters. The southern populations, those around the Strait of Gibraltar, are the first to arrive and these birds are already busy digging into banks and soft earth. Their liquid calls and the kaleidoscope of colours of their plumage are a feature of spring in these parts.

 

The 19th Century ornithologist Howard Irby wrote about the spectacular spring arrival of the Bee-eater, noting that the peak was around the 10th April, a day which he christened St Bee-eater's Day!




Lesser Kestrels arrived earlier than the Bee-eaters. Some remain all year in small numbers but many return, from wintering areas in Senegal and nearby areas of West Africa, from January. They are now busily engaged in nesting activities and add more colour to the intense blue spring skies.



Not all colourful and glossy birds are migratory. Spotless Starlings (these photographed on 28th March) are endemic of the Iberian Peninsula and nearby regions. They never leave so are early breeders. The combination of yellow bill, red legs and glossy black plumage add one more brush stroke to the wonderful spring colours and sounds of this part of the world.





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