Raptor Movement and La Janda News

Raptor Movement and La Janda News

It’s been another busy week here down on The Strait of Gibraltar. As the summer slowly comes to an end and autumn weather and shorter days signal birds to move slowly south, the skies above Cadiz province have all kinds of bird species flying over or stopping off to feed before crossing the narrow stretch of water that separates the two continents.

BW Stilt juvenile 9576
A juvenile Black-winged Stilt at La Janda

Honey Buzzard 0695
Honey Buzzard

Honey Buzzards migration r7533
Honey Buzzards on migration

More and more Honey Buzzards have been crossing to Morocco this last week with some large flocks being watched over the last few mornings. The fickle winds that have been constantly swinging from pole to pole down on The Strait have taken the bolder and more business-like raptors like the honey’s higher in the sky as they flap across the sea.

Zipping below the birds of prey Common Swifts, House and Sand Martins, Red-rumped and Barn Swallows have been dodging the migrating Sparrowhawks.

The noise of Bee-eater flocks constant calling, migrating high in the blue sky is always something I love hearing and in the dusk of the evening birds have been flying low over the meadow at the rear of our property feeding on insects.

The other evening we had a Red-necked Nightjar come silently from the direction of our neighbour’s garden, dip down low over our swimming pool to take a few moths and out over the other side of our garden.

Spanish Imperial Eagle juv 7423
A juvenile Spanish Imperial Eagle is lit up against the bright afternoon sky over La Janda

Short toed Eagle 7354
Short-toed Eagles are plentiful at this time of year

Short toed Eagle rc5649
With luck you can have some very close views of this lovely bird of prey

Short toed Eagle 0772
A Short-toed Eagle turns gracefully in the sky

Montagu's Harrier adm 3671
This male Montagu’s Harrier was passing through the rice-fields of La Janda this week

Montagu's Harrier juv 7812
There were a lot of first year Monty’s as well

Montagu's Harrier 3449
…and some females too

Booted Eagle 7938
Here’s the commoner form of Booted Eagle and this is the easiest one to identify

Booted Eagle dak 5875

The darker or the intermediate forms can be tricky when in amongst other species on migration. Strong winds can cause the birds to pull in their wings a little to have less lift and more control. This changes the silhouette slightly and their structure and size can appear different. If you can get a head-on view you should be able to see the tell-tale ‘headlights’ or ‘landing lights’, those two white spots on the inner shoulders.

Booted Eagle interm 2069
Another example of a darker Booted Eagle, this time backlit with wings fully extended on a calm day

Bonelli's Eagle juv 9893

The Bonelli’s Eagle is a fine raptor to watch and like a lot of animals younger birds like this one are quite curious and come closer to check you out. If you’re a photographer you can help smiling as you are given such special views.

Sparrowhawk+juv 2977

Fast and without mercy the Eurasian Sparrowhawk takes most of it’s prey on the wing, following the flocks of smaller birds that flap along side it all the way to Equatorial Africa where lots of different species winter. The Sparrowhawks stay there until spring and follow the birds all the way back to Europe picking off the weaker ones en route.

Bee eater 3735
The beaks of the Bee-eaters have grown back to their normal length again after their busy tunnelling days during spring.

Eurasian Spoonbills White Storks 8136
A typical evening scene at La Janda with White Storks and Eurasian Spoonbills feeding

Glossy Ibis 8086
Not forgetting the huge numbers of Glossy Ibis

Squacco Heron 8195
…and a few Squacco Herons

Purple Heron 7767
Purple Herons too

Collared Pratincole juv 3236
There are less and less sightings of Collared Pratincoles and just one first year bird was seen last week. More will arrive from the north of Spain or France and stop off to feed here in the south.

Ruff 7821
We had some Ruff (above) with Common Snipe and Wood Sandpipers feeding alongside the Green Sandpipers and Black-winged Stilts.

More news next week as I head out east lead a tour to Lake Neusiedl in Austria at the border with Hungary

Dive in!

Discover hidden wildlife with our FREE newsletters

We promise we’ll never spam! Read our Privacy Policy for more info

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.

Share this post with your friends

Leave a Reply

Notify of