GONHS 2023 Outings Kick-off
The first GONHS outing of 2023 was held on Saturday the 21st January. Robert Perez led a sea-watch at Europa Point, from which attendees had an opportunity to see some of the seabirds that spend the winter in Gibraltar waters.
In spite of the normally unfavourable northwesterly wind, there was plenty to keep watchers entertained. Five Mediterranean Gulls in a range of plumages provided a useful comparison with some 80 Black-headed Gulls, feeding just off the point and then settling on the cliff below Harding’s Battery. A Common Sandpiper was on the rocks below these. A second winter Audouin’s Gull flew past at a distance but an adult in immaculate plumage flew only metres from the watchers. Also useful for comparison were four Great Cormorants and five European Shags. There was a constant trickle of Northern Gannets, at least 25, allowing watchers to grapple with the aging of these. Two Sandwich Terns were seen and it wouldn’t have been winter 2023 without a Razorbill, which sat on the sea off the point. The most notable sighting was a remarkable movement westward of 262 Balearic Shearwaters in an hour and forty-five minutes. These are regular off Gibraltar throughout the year, but the main movements are in late spring/early summer, when they leave the Mediterranean, then returning mainly during mid- to late autumn, with some laying eggs in their Balearic breeding grounds as early as February. It was thus extraordinary to see so many birds leaving the Mediterranean, but these may have been birds that were blown in from the Atlantic during recent strong westerly winds.