Tarifa Apr 28th-May 6th for the Honey-buzzard migration

Back again in Tarifa, now for the Honey-buzzards. Early May is the peak of HB migration, actual dates depending much on the weather. This year there were several days with thunderstorms in the area, strong winds and rain, and on days like this very little happened. But as soon as weather permitted, the birds came streaming.
Already in the first afternoon, on the day of my arrival, hundreds were crossing the Strait, coming in fairly low in the moderately strong easterly wind and in good light for photographs. The next two days were wet and cloudy with no migration to speak of, and so was 1st of May, but despite the inclement weather thousands of HBs arrived, now very low in the strong easterlies, locally known as the Levante. Even the locals said that they had never seen such a migration, with a continuous stream of birds drifting very low, almost scraping the treetops , forced down by the very strong wind.
Another few mediocre days went by, until the main passage went through on 5th and 6th of May in splendid weather. Particularly on the 6th the sky was dotted with spirals of thermalling HBs, with up to 300 birds in the bigger groups.
Other highlights of the tour were a Black Vulture crossing the Straits arriving from Africa in a group of Griffons (very nice passage of Griffons, too!) on the 4th , and a Ruppell’s Vulture, also migrating with Griffons, on the 5th – the first of the season.

A re-introduction program of Bald Ibis has been going on in S Spain for some years now, and this spring several pairs are breeding in the wild, all adults fitted with rings and satellite transmitters. Don’t fall from your stool if you see a party of Bald Ibises flying pass when you are raptor watching. I was close to, when it happened to me at Tarifa on the 3rd.

Incubating Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita, S Pain, 5th May 2011.

Incubating Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita, S Spain, 5th May 2011.

Ruppell's Vulture (lower) with immature Griffon, note the dark plumage, lacking the underwing contrast of Griffon. Pelayo, S Spain, May 5th, 2011.

Ruppell's Vulture (lower) with immature Griffon, note the dark plumage, lacking the underwing contrast of Griffon. These birds were very high in a hazy sky, which explains the poor quality of the image. Pelayo, S Spain, May 5th, 2011.


About this entry