March 2019 Sightings

31 Mar: Heavy levanter cloud in the early morning, with slight drizzle, lifting by midday.  High westerly overcast cloud drifting east beginning to dissipate in the afternoon to give some good sunny spells.  Winds initially strong north-easterly dropping to fresh, then moderate then light after midday, becoming light variable with a southerly breeze in the afternoon, and south-westerly late evening.  A total of 48 new birds were ringed and included 3 Robins, 3 Nightingales, a Black Redstart, a  Common Redstart, a Song Thrush, a Sardinian Warbler, 18 Blackcaps, 3 Bonelli's Warblers, 5 Chiffchaffs and 12 Willow Warblers.

Birds seen from the Observatory included a 8 Black Kite, a Sparrowhawk,  2 Marsh Harriers,  5 Meadow Pipits, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 72 Swallows, 1 Red-rumped Swallow, a Bee-eater,  a Woodchat Shrike and a Serin.

A visit to Windmill Hill, once the winds had subsided in the morning, proved exciting when apparently a good fall of migrants had taken place.  Birds observed included 7 Barbary Partridges, a Sparrowhawk, 10 Hoopoes, 20 Swallows, 6 Red-rumped , 2 House Martins,9 Meadow Pipits, 13 Black-eared Wheatears, 4 Northern Wheatears, 8 Common Redstarts, 2 Black Redstarts, 3 Robins, 10 Nightingales, 2 Song Thrushes, 2 Ring Ouzels, 3 Blue Rock Thrushes, 7 Blackbirds, 8 Whitethroats,  12 Subalpine Warblers,  2 Spectacled Warblers, 16 Sardinian Warblers, an Orphean Warbler, a Blackcap, 21 Willow Warblers, an Iberian Chiffchaff, 4 Woodchat Shrikes, 11 Spotless Starlings, 2 Chaffinches, a Serin,  3 Greenfinches and 2 Corn Buntings.  

The North Front Cemetery held 6 Common Redstarts, a Wryneck and a Northern Wheatear.  A Hoopoe was seen at Princess Amelia's battery in the morning.

 

Sparrowhawk. Note the long legs.
An adult male Sparrowhawk.
 

 

At Europa Point there were 20 Black-headed Gulls offshore together with a Gannet and 3 Sandwich Terns, a Willow Warbler was present in the Tamarix there. Three Cormorants flew east over Windmill Hill

 

30 Mar: Skies overcast with levanter cloud over the Rock.  Fine drizzle throughout the morning.  Winds fresh easterly becoming moderate in the evening.  A great days ringing at the Observatory with a variety of species, and good numbers.  A  total of 86 new birds were ringed and included a Bee-eater, a Hoopoe,  House Martin, 9 Robins, 11  Nightingale, a Redstart, 2 Blackbirds, a Ring Ouzel, a Song Thrush, 5 Subalpine Warblers, an Orphean Warbler, 2 Whitethroats, 17 Blackcaps, an Iberian Chiffchaff, 4 Chiffchaffs, 6 Bonelli's Warblers, 21 Willow Warbler, and a Woodchat Shrike

 

Adult male Woodchat Shrike
First Orphean Warbler of the season
A smart Bee-eater; one of the most colourful birds in Gibraltar.

 

29 Mar: Levanter cloud over the Rock with overcast skies.  Winds fresh easterly.   Good variety at the Observatory with 38 birds ringed that included single SparrowhawkSwallow, Wren, 4 Robins, a Nightingale, 1 Redstarts,  16 Blackcaps, 4 Bonelli's Warblers, 6 Willow Warblers, a Chaffinch and 2 Greenfinches.

A Hoopoe was seen in the Botanic Gardens.  Birds seen during the outing from Jews' gate to Douglas Path included 3 Barbary Partridges, a Sparrowhawk, 5 Meadow Pipits, 5 Song Thrushes, a Nightingale, a male Black-eared Wheatear, a 3 Robins, a male Redstart,  6 Willow Warblers, 3 Bonelli's Warblers, 5 Chiffchaffs, and 7 Linnets.

 

28 Mar: Overcast skies with levanter cloud over the Rock.  Winds strong easterly.A total of 8 new birds were ringed and included 2 Robins, a Redstart, a Subalpine Warbler, and 4 Blackcaps

 

27 Mar:  High cloud with some levanter cloud over the Rock.  Winds gale force easterly.  Very strong winds prevented most migrants crossing the Strait, and only 19 new birds were ringed and included 2 Robins, a Blackbird, a Song Thrush, 9 Blackcaps, 4 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler and a Woodchat Shrike.

Two Ravens were seen behind Prior Park School.  At the Observatory 2 Swallows, 6 Pallid Swifts and a Cormorant were seen.

 

26 Mar:  Overcast skies with high cloud and some levanter cloud appearing in the evening.  Winds fresh easterly becoming strong to gale force in the evening. Two Ravens were seen around the south end of the Rock in the morning and afternoon.  A Hoopoe was present in the Botanic Gardens.  Another good day at the Observatory with 37 new birds ringed that included single Sparrowhawk, Hoopoe, Yellow Wagtail, Wren, 2 Robins, a Redstart, a Blackbird, 2 Song Thrushes, 18 Blackcaps, a Bonelli's Warbler, a Chiffchaff, 5 Willow Warblers and 2 Chaffinches.

 

Hoopoe, one of many seen around Gibraltar this week.

 

Yellow Wagtail.  A scarce bird at the Observatory caught in scrub habitat.

 

25 Mar:  Overcast with levanter cloud over the Rock and high cloud.  Winds fresh easterly.   Weather conditions are favouring ringing at the Observatory with 58 new birds ringed that included a Wren, 10 Robins, a Black Redstart, a Blackbird, 2 Song Thrushes, 3 Sardinian Warblers, 29 Blackcaps, a Bonelli's Warbler, 3 Chiffchaffs, 3 Willow Warblers, a Firecrest and 3 Greenfinches.   Birds seen from the Observatory included 72 Black Kites, 2 Marsh Harriers, 30 Swallows, a Crag Martin and a Raven.

 

24 Mar:  Heavy levanter cloud with strong easterly winds.  Some Black Kites were observed battling against the strong easterly winds and heading along the east side of the Rock.  Some flew up the Bay.  The incessant easterly winds, dominating throughout most of the past few weeks,  has prevented most raptor passage over the Rock this season, and the dry conditions are not helping the native flora.  In total 97 Black Kites, an Osprey and a Kestrel were counted.  Also seen were 12 Swallows

Another great day at the Observatory with 93 new birds ringed that included 2 Swallows, a Tree Pipit, 10 Robins, single Nightingale, Black Redstart, and Wheatear, 3 Blackbirds, a Song Thrush, a Subalpine Warbler, 3 Sardinian Warbler, 50 Blackcaps, a Bonelli's Warbler, 9 Chiffchaffs, 5 Willow Warblers, 2 Blue Tits and 2 Chaffinches.

 

23 Mar:  Heavy levanter cloud with very strong easterlies. The weather brought down night migrants and the Observatory was again busy with 55 new birds ringed that included a Kestrel, a Hoopoe, 7 Robins, a Song Thrush, a Subalpine Warbler, a Sardinian Warbler, 32 Blackcaps, a Bonelli's Warbler, 7 Chiffchaffs and 3 Willow Warblers.

 

22 Mar:  Overcast with strong easterly winds.  A Hoopoe and a Common Redstart were present in the Botanic Gardens.  Only two new Robins were ringed at the Observatory.

 

19 Mar:  Heavy levanter cloud with fresh easterly winds.  A male Common Redstart was observed in the Botanic Gardens.  Pallid Swifts were again seen and heard over the harbour area in the evening.  About 10 birds were observed. A walk along the Upper Rock produced plenty of both resident and passage Blackcaps with over 20 seen, 2 female Common Redstarts and 2 Chiffchaffs.  The North Front Cemetery, which is in a poor state of conservation, had single Black Redstart, male Common Redstart and a Robin.

 

18 Mar:  Clear skies in the morning with light westerly wind, but by mid morning the winds turned to fresh easterly with a levanter cloud developing over the Rock.  A Raven was seen from the Queen's Lookout in the Nature Reserve, and finally Pallid Swifts made an appearance in the evening over town when 20 birds were seen.

 

17 Mar:  Clear skies with a light to moderate north-westerly wind in the Bay, but a light to moderate south-westerly in the Strait.  A Hoopoe was seen in the Botanic Gardens.  A few Gannets were seen heading out of the Mediterranean, and only 10 Black-headed Gulls and two Cormorants remained around Europa Point.  A total of 23 new birds were ringed and included 4 Robins, a Song Thrush, 14 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs and 2 Greenfinches.

 

16 Mar:  Clear skies with a light easterly to light variable wind.  Two Swallows and 6 Greenfinches were seen heading north.  A Great Skua was seen a mile off the east side of the Rock.  Only three birds were trapped in clear conditions with single Robin, Chiffchaff and Blackcap.

 

15 Mar:  a good total of birds ringed with 38 birds that included 2 Robins, a Black Redstart, a Song Thrush, 4 Sardinian Warblers, 25 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs and single Willow Warbler and Chaffinch.

 

14 Mar:  Easterlies back again so no raptor passage.  Only 5 Swallows, 2 Chaffinches and a Greenfinch heading north.  Sheltered conditions again for a total of 20 new birds ringed that included 8 Robins, 2 Song Thrushes, 6 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs and single Iberian Chiffchaff and the first Willow Warbler of the season.

 

13 Mar:  Clear skies with a fresh westerly wind.  A good day of raptor passage with a total of 156 Black Kites, an Egyptian Vulture, 289 Short-toed Eagles, 2 Marsh Harriers and 30 Sparrowhawks.  Also seen were 5 Black Storks, 7 Swallows, 2 House Martins, 5 Chaffinches and 3 Greenfinches.  Winds prevented ringing attempts but a single Chiffchaff and two retraps, each single Blackcap and Robin were processed.

 

12 Mar:  Another 27 new birds ringed at the Observatory with 3 Robins, 2 Song Thrushes, 18 Blackcaps and 4 Chiffchaffs.

 

11 Mar:  A slow day with a few new birds ringed for a total of 21, with single Robin, Black Redstart and Sardinian Warbler, 17 Blackcaps and an Iberian Chiffchaff.

 

10 Mar:  At the Observatory 23 new birds were ringed and included 2 Robins, 19 Blackcaps and 2 Greenfinches.

 

09 Mar:  Twenty-one new birds were ringed and included a Robin, a Sardinian Warbler, 18 Blackcaps and an Iberian Chiffchaff.

 

08 Mar:  Overcast skies with a few sunny spells.  Winds light northerly becoming light variable to light westerly.  A Hoopoe was seen at the Gibraltar Nature Reserve and another was photographed at the North Front Cemetery.  A total of 36 new birds were ringed at the Observatory and included 2 Robins, single Black Redstart, Blackbird and Song Thrush, 25 Blackcaps, an Iberian Chiffchaff, 2 Chaffinches and 3 Greenfinches.

Hoopoe at North Front Cemetery.                                                                                                                                                          Photo:  J. Sanchez

 

07 Mar:  Clear skies with a moderate northerly wind.   No raptor migration except for one flock of 27 Black Kites that crossed in the afternoon.  Also seen were single Meadow Pipit, Serin, 4 Greenfinch and 4 Swallows.  Among birds trapped and ringed today was the second trans-Saharan migrant, a nice Subalpine Warbler and an African Chaffinch; fourth record and only the third ringed.  Also ringed were 3 Robins, a Sardinian Warbler, 6 Blackcaps, and 2 Greenfinches.

 

First Subalpine Warbler of the season.                                                                Photo:  J. Yeoman

 

African Chaffinch; only the fourth record for Gibraltar.                                Photo:  J. Yeoman.

 The Tawny Owl was again heard from the Botanic Gardens.

Among the birds seen at the western end of the runway were 7 Cormorants, 24 Sandwich Terns, 2 Crested Larks and a Ringed Plover.

A selection of Cormorants at the western end of the runway.                                                                                                          Photo:  T. Hammond.

 

06 Mar:  Cloudy throughout the day with a heavy shower after midday.  Winds fresh westerly.  Some raptors ventured out in the bad weather but watch was only kept in the late afternoon when 378 Black Kites flew north.

 

05 Mar:  Overcast with high cloud.  Winds light north-west.  Only one Black Kite was observed over the Rock.  A Raven was seen around the cliffs above the Observatory.

 

04 Mar:  Clear skies with some high westerly cloud.  A few raptors came over the Rock and included 168 Black Kites, 2 adult Egyptian Vultures, 31 Short-toed Eagles, a Sparrowhawk, 2 Lesser Kestrels, White Wagtail, 2 Swallows, and 3 Goldfinches.  A total of 14 birds were processed at the Observatory, and included a Robin, a Black Redstart, a Song Thrush, 10 Blackcaps, a Sardinian Warbler and 10 Blackcaps.

 

The first trans-Saharan migrant was seen and photographed at the Europa foreshore; a Northern Wheatear.

 

Northern Wheatear; the first trans-Saharan migrant to pass through Gibraltar.                                                                         Photo:  T. Finlayson.

 

Among the flock of Black-headed Gulls on the cliff below Europa Point were two familiar colour ringed Black-headed Gulls; E6PT and Z71T.  Both have been recorded in Gibraltar at this site before.

 

03 Mar:  Clear skies with a light westerly becoming light variable by mid morning, with a light north easterly breeze in the afternoon.  A seawatch at Europa Point provided 4 Balearic Shearwaters heading west, 140 Black-headed Gulls and 4 Mediterranean Gulls feeding below the Point, an Audouin's Gull, 2 Cormorants and a Shag.  There was a pod of 7 Pilot Whales a mile out.  A good day ringing at the Observatory with a total of 85 birds processed with 64 new birds ringed that included 10 Robins, a Black Redstart, 2 Song Thrushes, a Blackbird, 3 Sardinian Warblers, 38 Blackcaps, and Iberian Chiffchaff, 3 Chiffchaffs, a Chaffinch and 4 Greenfinch.   Among the birds trapped was a control Robin from Radofzell in Germany that had previously been caught on the 18th February.

 

A Whimbrel was present at the Europa foreshore.

 

Whimbrel at Europa foreshore                                                                                                                                                    Photo:  S. Shacaluga              

 

02 Mar:  Clear skies with a fresh northerly wind, but south-westerly in the Strait.  A Tawny Owl was heard calling from the Botanic Gardens.  Some raptors crossed in the morning but in the early afternoon passage got underway with several large flocks of Black Kites.  In total there were 600 Black Kites, 130 Short-toed Eagles, 4 Sparrowhawks an Egyptian Vulture and a Black Stork.

A Tawny Owl was heard in the Botanic gardens in the late evening.

At Europa Point several Gannets were heading out of the Mediterranean, about 130 Black-headed Gulls were present below the Point, and 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls flew west.

 

01 Mar:  Clear skies with a moderate westerly wind.  In the late afternoon some raptors flew north over the Rock and included 45 Black Kites, a Black Stork,  a Marsh Harrier and two Short-toed Eagles.

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