Melanistic Montagu’s Harrier and other Raptors

Melanistic Montagu’s Harrier and other Raptors

Here are some of the raptor photos we managed to see with my Swiss group from Arcatour last week. The wind direction swung around to give us moderate to strong Levante (easterlies) for five days and only died down on our last two days.

Still, knowing what the migrating raptors do and where they will be are key factors in getting your group to see the birds close at hand. Some shots of a first calendar year bird (1cy) hunting at La Janda.

On some of the smaller tacks along The Strait we walked to different vantage points and watched hundreds of raptors and Black & White Storks fly overhead along the coast.

We had exceptional views of Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Sparrowhawks, Spanish Imperial Eagle, Griffon, Egyptian and the rarer visiting Rüppell’s vultures as well as Montagu’s Harrier, Honey Buzzard and Common Buzzard.

Melanistic Montagu’s Harrier and other Raptors
A melanistic form of Montagu’s Harrier at La Janda, Spain.







Our last days were spend manly on The Strait although we did have visits to Barbate for Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Stone Curlew, Osprey, Caspian Tern, Audouin’s Gull, Calandra Lark, Kingfisher, Kentish Plover and of course Northern Bald Ibis.

Honey Buzzard Spain Oct 4005
A late migrating Honey Buzzard near Tarifa
Egyptian Vulture 2333
Adult Egyptian Vulture
Egyptian Vulture juv Spain 4045
Juvenile Egyptian Vulture
Retinto Cattle Andalucia Spain w 2436
Back on the ground on the southernmost point of the European coast
Monarch Butterfly Spain 7394
Monarch Butterfly on Milkweed at Guadalmesi
Mediterranean Chameleon 2720
Mediterranean Chameleon at Algaida
Ruppell's Vulture Spain 1539
Rüppell’s Vulture near Facinas

Griffon Vulture Spain 7603

Griffon Vulture at the Sierra de La PlataA calm day at Cape Trafalgar sea-watching, gave us Puffin and Razorbill in rafts on the sea as well as many Northern Gannet, Cory’s and Balearic Shearwaters. Several dolphins were also seen but too far to correctly identify.

La Janda was dusty with very strong winds but we did see some great birds that included masses of White Storks feeding low in the rice fields with good numbers of Marsh Harriers and Lesser Kestrel over the cut maize fields on the other side of the main canal.

Black-winged Kite, Yellow Wagtail, Whinchat and huge flocks of mixed House and Spanish Sparrows were around with Green Sandpiper and Common Snipe.

Short toed Eagle Oct Spain 8966
A Short-toed Eagle passes low at Tarifa
Short toed Eagle Oct Spain 8978
A young Short-toed Eagle takes a look at us
Booted Eagle juv low pass Spain 9718
A Booted Eagle on a low pass during the Levante winds last week in Spain

At Sanlucar de Barrameda, the Algaida and Bonanza salinas we watched Slender-billed Gull, Marbled Teal, Black-necked and Little Grebes, Black-crowned Night Heron, Black Stork, Red Kite, Osprey, Caspian Tern and many different waders. We also caught up with not one but two Mediterranean Chameleons!

It was a good trip and all the members of the group gelled well and we had a very happy time together.

I’m back home in Germany again and will try and post some other photos of wildlife from this latest migration tour in Spain in the next ten days before leading another tour with Limosa Holidays. This time it’s across to eastern Germany to the Brandenburg area west of Berlin to see the cranes, geese, Great Bustards, Rough-legged Buzzards and White-tailed Eagles. I heard yesterday that the first flocks of cranes have already started to arrive.

Stephen Daly

Stephen Daly

Stephen Daly, has been birding since he was eight years old in his native Scotland. After living in Germany and France he established Andalucian Guides the successful birding and wildlife tour company on The Strait of Gibraltar in Spain and has been living here since 2001. Photographing birds in flight is one passion and his photos can be found in many books, magazines and journals. Studying bird behaviour and bird migration are two other positive aspects of being based on one of the busiest migration routes on Earth.

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