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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

1000's of raptors over Tarifa, Spain

Over 600 Short-toed Eagle came in off just east of Tarifa

  At 10.30 a flock of 35 Black Kite arrived in a SE breeze at the north end of Tarifa Beach. However, I had no idea that over 1100 Black Kite would pass over head in the next two hours! I observed them in the shade from the burning sun as they headed inland. The only other birds that I saw also coming in were 13 Griffon Vulture, 40+White Stork and a male sparrowhawk.

Looking from the far north of Tarifa Beach towards Tarifa where I had over 1100 Black Kite this morning!

Over 40 White stork came in off the sea

One of the 13 Griffon Vulture

The sea can cause problems for raptors crossing The Strait, but also wind turbines can be a danger if they fly too close like this Sparrowhawk

  When the kites had dried up, I decided to go and get some grub, but when I drove into Tarifa, there were Short-toed Eagles coming in off the sea. A quick sandwich from the shop and on to coastal track east of the town. I scanned further east and could see kites and eagles streaming in and drove a mile further down road. I climbed a hill and from here I was at eye level as they hit the land. Thirty minutes later, some 500 Black Kite, 250 Short-toed Eagle, 7 Black Stork, 3 Booted Eagle and a single Egyptian Vulture had gone through. A lot of them were almost at arms length away as they looked into my eyes as they passed. I was off the beaten track, but somehow, two German birders came across me and we all started scanning the mass of raptors arriving across The Strait. They told me that just a mile west from where we were now, down road, in an hour they had, 4 Egyptian Vulture, 8 Black stork, 200+Short-toed Eagle and 100's of Black Kite. It was obvious that the birds had all stopped after an hour, but a scan to the west saw 100's still coming in. We drove towards where they were and continued counting. In less than an hour, a constant stream of over 1000 Black Kites had moved through and with them a male Marsh Harrier. Also 250+STE, 2 Lesser Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk, and 3 more Egyptian Vulture! By 19.00, there were still strangles coming in, but I was tired and we all decided to call it a day.
  We also met some local English birders and they told us that this was a quiet day. A quiet day!? It was good enough for me.

Today's totals from 10.30-19.00 not including what the German birders observed

4000+Black Kite                
600 Short-toed Eagle
4 Egyptian Vulture
13 Griffon vulture
9 Booted Eagle
1 Marsh Harrier
2 Sparrowhawk
3 Lesser Kestrel
40+White Stork
7 Black stork
STE just arriving with Morocco in the distants

You could almost touch the STE as they passed by. These are three different individuals 

The sky was crowded with Black Kite with over 1000 moving  through in less than an hour!

Morocco in the background

When the kites did arrive they passed by at very close range

Clouds of Black Kites

This male Marsh Harrier. above the kite. came in with the 1000's of Black Kite

Less than 10 Booted Eagle were seen.

3 Lesser Kestrel arrived with the kites including this male. Before I came to Spain, the only Lesser Kestrel that I had seen was the one that I found on Scilly. A few years later, someone claimed they found it a month before me. I'll let you make your own minds up on that one.

Crested Lark

Listening to this today. Justin DeYarmond Edison Vernon (born April 30, 1981) is an American multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and producer. He is best known as the primary songwriter and frontman of indie folk band Bon Iver. Vernon is also a member of the bandsVolcano Choir, The Shouting Matches and Gayngs.

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