Saturday, February 20, 2010

At a Migration Stopover Site

Good numbers of Black Kites have been going through. Since the Strait looked unpromisingly calm this morning I decided to head a few kilometres inland up one of the valleys immediately north of the Strait. Raptors and storks follow these valleys and often make use of traditional sites to roost and, where possible, feed. Some of these sites are new, unsightly refuse depots, which nevertheless provide feeding opportunities for hungry migrants.

Black Kite today

Calm Strait of Gibraltar today. European shore in the foreground and African shore in the background

The fields and wet meadows in these valleys are now looking beautiful, providing feeding habitat for the local White Storks that are now on nests.

The white Ranunculus is now in full bloom

...and the Cattle Egrets were resplendent in the morning sun were the olives

Cork Oaks Quercus suber form dense woods here too and provide roosting opportunities for migrant raptors

The rains that have produced this vibrant growth of vegetation have done significant damage

A mixed flock of White Storks and Black Kites were starting the day's migration as the sun produced morning thermals. I made the most of the early sun as clouds were due in from the west.

Black Kites hanging around their migration stopover site

Black Kites (above and below)

Gulls continued inland the harrassment started on the coast (see yesterday's post)

By noon the light was deteriorating making these Griffon Vultures hard to photograph. Around 200 gathered round a farm in the hills hoping for a carcass.

As I left, more White Storks were moving north. In all the stopover site had around 500 Black Kites and 2000 White Storks. Most moved on. Not a bad tally for a few hours early this morning!

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