GONHS celebrated the 25th EuroBirdwatch last weekend, a Europe-wide event organised by BirdLife International to highlight bird migration and conservation. The event has been celebrated in Gibraltar every year since 1993, when it began.
The events started off at sunrise with a bird walk up to Jew's Gate led by Keith Bensusan, who highlighted migratory birds that were present along the way including Blackcaps and Robins. Participants were then able to see the ringing that takes place at our field station, which at this time of the year is headed by Ray Marsh. Members of the public were shown the process involved in measuring and ringing a bird, including how the birds are extracted from the mist nets. Some of the children present were even able to release the birds after they had been ringed and processed.
A small group of Barbary Partridges were also present around the field station, which afforded some really close up views of these stunning birds. Some ringing highlights included a large migratory movement of Blackcaps, including a Blackcap that had been ringed in Belgium earlier in the year, highlighting effectively how migratory birds travel between countries and do not know borders. It was stressed to those attending that, unlike throughout most of the Mediterranean, all hunting of birds is illegal in Gibraltar and no illegal hunting or trapping takes place on the Rock.
A Robinson moth trap was also run at Jews' Gate where we recorded around 50 species of moths, including two Death's-head Hawkmoths Acherontia atrops. This feature of the event, which we hold every year, proved to be very popular with the children.
The event continued in the afternoon at Europa Point with a seabird watch. Some 400 Cory’s Shearwaters that vied for flying fish with Common Dolphins and Bluefin Tuna could be seen off Europa Point. This impressive spectacle has become an annual event during EuroBirdwatch, but this year the feeding frenzy was further from the shore than usual.
The day's events were attended by some fifty people in total, with 837 birds recorded. The same events are planned for 2019, with the addition of a bird of prey display at Commonwealth Park, where the hazards of migration for raptors will be highlighted.