Monday, March 26, 2012

When bad weather brings the migrants down, especially the males

Easterly winds, grey skies and showers at this time of year tend to bring down migrants at Gibraltar. Here they can feed in the olive scrub and woodland, sheltered from the wind. Many have just crossed the Sahara and are ready to feed and drink as they await better weather. This past weekend saw a large arrival of migrants.

Among the main species were Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla. These large, pale, long-winged birds (above) rapidly outnumbered the greyer local birds (below) which are now breeding. The latter soon gave up trying to chase all the newly arrived males from their territories!

Most of these early migrants are males aiming to set up territories ahead of the females. The latter will dominate the migration later on

Willow Warblers Phylloscopus trochilus (above) and Chiffchaffs P. collybita (below) were also numerous

Males also dominate the Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus (above) component at this time but Nightingales Luscinia megarhynchos (below) are more difficult to separate 

Male Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans completes the male-dominated migration

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