Recent Sightings March 2020

 

 NOTICE

Ringers and Observers booked in to the Observatory are advised that Gibraltar is at present suffering the consequences of the Corona Virus Covid-19, and public transport, pubs and restaurants are not operating and have closed their services to the public.  Gibraltar is now in total lock down!.  Therefore we urge all visiting ringers and observers to postpone or cancel their visit until this outbreak is dealt with worldwide.  We wish you all good luck.

 

27 Mar: Clear skies with a few westerly clouds.  Winds moderate to fresh westerly.  A trickle of raptors in the morning, with mainly Sparrowhawks crossing as winds are predicted to turn easterly sometime in the evening or tomorrow.  Also four Cormorants and 2 Swallows flew north over town this morning.

 

26 Mar:  Clear skies with some cloud from the north in the morning.  Winds light northerly at first, then fresh with strong gusts turning to north-westerly.  With a limited watch taking place from homes, raptors and storks were counted throughout the day for a total of 30 Black Storks, 200 Black Kite, two Egyptian Vultures, three Short-toed Eagles, 26 Marsh Harriers, a Montagu's Harrier, 34 Sparrowhawks, 330 Booted Eagles, five Osprey, a Lesser Kestrel and two Kestrels.  Also seen at Vinyards were single Hoopoe and two Woodchat Shrikes.   Finch flocks flew north with a small number of Chaffinches, Greenfinches and  Linnets, and a single Siskin.  At Commonwealth Park there was also a single Woodchat Shrike.   Seen at the North Front Cemetery were 2 Black Redstarts, a Hoopoe and 2 Woodchat Shrikes.  A Tawny Owl was heard calling from the Botanic Gardens.  Two Grey Herons flew in to roost in the Harbour and plenty of Pallid Swifts milling around the town in the evening.

 

A typical set-up in the lock down.  Well done to the Observers for their initiative.

 

25 Mar: Cloudy skies in the morning and afternoon clearing in the late afternoon.  Winds moderate easterly.  Three Red-rumped Swallows heading north over town.

 

24 Mar:  Overcast skies with light rain throughout the day.  Winds light variable.  First day of lock down!.  Good number of Pallid Swifts over town calling in the evening.

 

23 Mar:  Heavy showers early in the morning with overcast skies and a fresh to strong easterly wind.  At the Cemetery there were two Subalpine Warblers, a Black-eared Wheatear, a Common Redstart and a Woodchat Shrike.  In the evening Pallid Swifts dropped into town to roost.  Some 40 birds involved.

 

22 Mar:  Some light showers early in the morning, giving way to cloudy skies with some sunny spells.  Still cloudy but brighter in the afternoon, and clearing early evening.  Winds light variable to light north easterly in the morning becoming light variable throughout the day.  There was a small fall of migrants around Gibraltar with birds at different sites and included the North Front Cemetery where there were three Hoopoes, 26 Black Redstarts, two Common Redstarts five Song Thrushes, six Subalpine Warblers, 23 Blackcaps and eight Willow Warblers.

At Windmill Hill there were nine Barbary Partridges, a Quail, six Hoopoes, two White Wagtails, 18 Meadow Pipits, four Tree Pipits, seven Blackbirds, a Song Thrush, a Blue Rock Thrush, a Wren, five Black Redstarts, a male Common Redstart, 5 Nightingales, two Spectacled Warblers, four Whitethroats, eight Sardinian Warblers, four Blackcaps, seven Willow Warblers, four Woodchat Shrikes, 15 Spotless Starlings, three Goldfinches and a Linnet.

At Europa Point a male Common Redstart, a Subalpine Warbler and two Willow Warblers were seen in the Tamarix bushes, and offshore a few Gannets were fishing 6 Black-headed Gulls feeding offshore and a Great Skua flew west.  A male Common Redstart was also seen in Montagu Gardens Estate.

Three Hoopoes arrived across the Strait and landed on the wall next to the Lighthouse at Europa Point.

 

21 Mar:  Mainly clear skies with some cloud early in the morning but progressively cloudier with some heavy showers till midday.  Winds light westerly becoming moderate south-westerly in showers.  Then mainly clear until early afternoon when it became overcast with a frontal system approached from the west giving plenty of showers and some fresh westerly winds with strong gusts.  Black Kites, which had been held up by the strong easterlies, made a break and crossed the Strait early in the morning on a broad front.  By 09:00 am at least 900 Black Kites had been counted together with 16 Black Storks and a Marsh Harrier.  At 09:30 a spectacular flock of at least 450 White Storks flew high over the Bay and headed north.  Then there was a rush of raptors by mid morning when many Booted Eagles, 2 Egyptian Vultures and four Griffon Vultures.  After midday passage diminished, and was over as the frontal system closed over the Rock.

At least four Pallid Swifts over town ahead of a heavy shower mid afternoon.

The total for the day was 450 White Storks, 1241 Black Kites, five Griffon Vultures, two Egyptian Vultures, 12 Short-toed Eagles,two Marsh Harriers, three Montagu's Harriers, 30 Sparrowhawks, 92 Booted Eagles, a Lesser Kestrel and 2 Kestrels.  Also seen were 12 Swallows, 5 Red-rumped Swallows, 4 House Martins, 11 Cormorants, a Chaffinch, three Serins, 20 Greenfinches, 14 Goldfinches and three Linnets.

 

A lovely male Subalpine Warbler.       P. Rocca

A lovely male Subalpine Warbler. P. Rocca

Subalpine Warbler             P. Rocca

Subalpine Warbler P. Rocca

Nets were opened in the sheltered bottom rides, and several Willow Warblers, and other passerines were trapped including a Goldcrest; only the 6th ever ringed at the Observatory.

Ringing Results

Species Full Grown Retrap Total
Sparrowhawk 1 0 1
Robin 3 0 3
Blackcap 2 1 3
Chiffchaff 0 2 2
Willow Warbler 8 0 8
Goldcrest 1 0 1
Total 15 2 17

 

Goldcrest, the smallest European Bird

Goldcrest, the smallest European Bird

Goldcrest, the last was ringed in 2013

Goldcrest, the last was ringed in 2013

Goldcrest,  at 4.6g this a a light bird

Goldcrest, at 4.6g this a a light bird

Our thanks go to the volunteer ringers and observers that have manned the Observatory up until now, and have returned safely back home.  They are Joakim Dybbroe, Natasha Stonestreet, Roland Hayes and Graeme Dunlop. 

Roland Hayes and Graeme Dunlop is with Charlie Perez (centre), on the last day of their visit.

 

 

 

20 Mar:  Overcast skies with a strong easterly wind, easing a little after midday with some sunny spells in the Strait.  The gale force winds must have held up most of the raptor passage as when winds eased a little several flocks of Black Kites flew in over the Bay and over town, with many flocks heading to the east side of the Rock in the afternoon.  It is most unusual to see raptor passage with easterly winds, but these birds must have been desperate to cross and head north.

A total of 160 Black Kites flew east behind the Rock.

Ringing Results

Species Full Grown Retrap Total
Robin 4 2 6
Blackbird 0 1 1
Subalpine Warbler 3 0 3
Sardinian Warbler 1 1 2
Blackcap 2 1 3
Western Bonelli's Warbler 4 0 4
Chiffchaff 5 1 6
Willow Warbler 29 0 29
Woodchat Shrike 1 0 1
Greenfinch 1 0 1
Total 50 6 56

 

The Woodchat Shrike that was observed in the North Front Cemetery is no longer with us.  It was presumably killed by a cat and left there.  The Cemetery and other places around the Rock, and even our Nature Reserve has a population of feral cats that regularly prey on birds.  The Department of the Environment should act on this specially in a Nature Reserve where cats, released by unscrupulous pet owners, cause a big problem to the native wildlife, in particular Barbary Partridges and their chicks, rabbits and other mammals and reptiles.

Woodchat Shrike                  P. Rocca

Woodchat Shrike P. Rocca

Woodchat Shrike found dead.  A cat kill!              P. Rocca

Woodchat Shrike found dead. A cat kill! P. Rocca

 A Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita ssp. tristis was photographed in the Cemetery.  This subspecies is found in Asia.

Chiffchaff of the subspecies tristis.  Phylloscopus collybita ssp. tristis.                   P. Rocca.

 Note the grey colouration to upperparts and washed out white underparts, together with jet black legs.

19 Mar:  Overcast skies with some showers overnight and in the early morning.  Winds strong to gale force easterly.  The conditions proved optimal for migrants with a total of 46 new birds ringed, with the arrival of good numbers of Willow Warblers.

 Ringing Results

Species Full Grown Retrap Total
Robin 3 0 3
Nightingale 0 1 1
Black Redstart 1 0 1
Blackbird 0 1 1
Subalpine Warbler 1 0 1
Sardinian Warbler 2 0 2
Blackcap 6 3 9
Western Bonelli's Warbler 4 0 4
Chiffchaff 1 1 2
Willow Warbler 28 0 28
Totals 46 6 52

 

18 Mar: Overcast skies with strong to gale force easterly winds.  Some migrants were observed around the netting site at the Observatory and consisted of a Quail, a Hoopoe and a Subalpine Warbler.  A male and a female Common Redstart were present in the Botanic Gardens together with single Hoopoe and Bonelli's Warbler.  A Woodchat Shrike was present in North Front Cemetery.

Ringing Results

Species Full Grown Retraps Total
Hoopoe 1 0 1
Robin 1 0 1
Sardinian Warbler 1 0 1
Blackcap 3 0 3
Willow Warbler 3 0 3
Woodchat Shrike 1 0 1
Totals 10 0 10

 

17 Mar:  Overcast skies with light rain early in the morning.  Winds light variable becoming moderate easterly by mid morning, turning to fresh easterly by sundown..  A single Sparrowhawk flew north before the easterly winds set in.  Two Northern Wheatears present at North Front Cemetery in the morning.

 

One of two Northern Wheatears present at North Front Cemetery.                                         P. Rocca

 

Ringing Results

 Species Full Grown Retrap Total
Blackcap 2 1 3
Linnet 1 0 1
Totals 3 1 4

 

16 Mar:  Overcast skies with a fresh north-westerly wind, clearing mid morning to a bright, sunny but colder day, and winds veering to westerly in the afternoon.  Black Kites were heading north over the Rock this morning.  An Iberian Chiffchaff was heard calling in the Botanic Gardens.  Eleven Avocets were observed heading west at Europa Point.

Ringing Results 

Species Full Grown Retraps Totals
Tree Pipit 1 0 1
Nightingale 1 0 1
Robin 1 0 1
Subalpine Warbler 1 0 1
Sardinian Warbler 1 0 1
Blackcap 1 0 1
Chiffchaff 1 0 1
Totals 7 0 7

 

A very good day for raptors with heavy passage of Black Kites from dawn till dusk.  The total for the day was 8550 Black Kites, 7 Egyptian Vultures, 86 Short-toed Eagles, 31 Marsh Harriers, 28 Sparrowhawks, 70 Booted Eagles, four Ospreys and two Kestrels.  Also seen were 11 White Storks, 55 Black Storks, eight Pallid Swifts, 3 Alpine Swifts, three Swallows, 21 House Martins, eight Serins, and 5 Linnets.

15 Mar:  Levanter cloud over the Rock throughout the day, with some sunny spells in the afternoon.  Winds moderate to fresh easterly.  A Dartford Warbler was trapped and ringed at the Observatory.  A visit to Windmill Hill in the afternoon produced six Barbary Partridges, seven Black Redstarts, one Blue Rock Thrush, six Blackbirds, two Meadow Pipits, two Robins, 12 Sardinian Warblers, two Chaffinches, 13 Goldfinches, three Linnets and 55 Spotless Starlings

Ringing Results 

Species Full Grown Retraps Totals
Robin 6 1 7
Blackbird 1 1 2
Dartford Warbler 1 0 1
Sardinian Warbler 1 1 2
Blackcap 12 2 14
Chiffchaff 7 3 10
Willow Warbler 2 0 2
Chaffinch 1 0 1
Greenfinch 0 1 1
Totals 33 9 40

 

A flock of 45 Flamingoes flew west over the runway.

Forty-five Flamingoes flying west over the runway.                                                                     R. Perez

No trans-Saharan migrants were found.  The lack of migrants is due in part to the incessant northerlies that the Iberian Peninsular has been subjected too, by the persistant Anticyclone centred over the Azores, which is preventing low pressure systems approaching.  This is also responsible for the drought conditions the Iberian Peninsular is suffering from.  In Gibraltar, the levanter conditions produce a blanket of cloud that keeps the sun away and provides moisture laden winds, but if we do not get any rain soon, the dry season is expected to last well into the autumn.

14 Mar:  Overcast in the morning with levanter cloud over the Rock, clearing in the afternoon to give sunny spells.  A male Subalpine Warbler and an Iberian Chiffchaff were among birds ringed at the Observatory.  A Sparrowhawk flew north over the Rock, and a Tawny Owl was heard calling in Governor's parade.

Male Subalpine Warbler, first of the season.                                                         C. Perez

Ringing Results 

Species Full Grown Retraps Totals
Robin 5 0 5
Blackbird 1 0 1
Subalpine Warbler 1 0 1
Sardinian Warbler 1 0 1
Blackcap 15 5 20
Chiffchaff 4 0 4
Iberian Chiffchaff 1 0 1
Blue Tit 0 1 1
Chaffinch 2 0 2
Greenfinch 3 0 3
Totals 33 6 39

Several flocks of Gannets were heading out of the Mediterranean in the morning, together with 12 Balearic Shearwaters.  A Hoopoe was seen on the cliff below Europa Point, and a Chaffinch spent over an hour resting above the cliff.  Several Chiffchaffs and two Black Redstarts were seen in the vicinity of the Mosque.

13 Mar:  Mainly clear skies with some high cloud.  Winds modeate south-westerly turning to moderate north-westerly in the afternoon.  Good passage of raptors in the morning with many Black Kites crossing the Strait, but as winds shifted to northerly, passage decreased with only a trickle of raptors.  nevertheless a good total for the day consisting of 1265 Black Kites, two Egyptian Vultures, 65 Short-toed Eagles, five Marsh Harriers, 31 Sparrowhawks, 14 Booted Eagles, and single Osprey and Kestrel.  Also seen were 89 White Storks, six Swallows, a House Martin, five two Chaffinches, five Greenfinches and two Linnets.  A Pallid Swift was seen in the evening over town.

Ringing Results 

Species Full Grown Retraps Totals
Blackcap 0 2 2
Chiffchaff 3 0 3
Greenfinch 2 0 2
Linnet 1 0 1
Totals 6 2 8

 

12 Mar:  Clear skies with a moderate north-easterly wind, becoming lighter in the afternoon and evening.  Single Swallow and Black Kite were seen in the morning.  Seven Garganey were seen from Europa Point heading west into the Bay.  This is only the second record of this species for Gibraltar.  The first Pallid Swifts were seen in the evening over town.

Ringing Results 

Species Full Grown Retraps Totals
Robin 7 0 7
Black Redstart 1 0 1
Blackbird 0 2 2
Sardinian Warbler 2 2 4
Blackcap 3 4 7
Chiffchaff 5 0 5
Iberian Chiffchaff 1 0 1
Totals 19 8 27

 

11 Mar: Clear skies with a fresh north-easterly wind.  Two Swallows and 3 Serin flew north past the Observatory.  Very few migrants are arriving from Africa due to the persistent northerly winds.  The ring effort has seen many retraps of resident birds and few new ones, considering the time of the year when more migrants should be moving through.

Ringing Results

  Full Grown Retrap Total
Robin 3 0 3
Grasshopper Warbler 0 1 1
Sardinian Warbler 1 0 1
Blackcap 0 1 1
Chiffchaff 0 1 1
  4 3 7

 

10 Mar:  Clear skies with a light westerly to light variable, turning to easterly in the afternoon, with some levanter cloud, but clearing towards evening.  The only raptors seen were single Sparrowhawk and Kestrel.  Other birds seen heading north were 3 Cormorants, 30 Swallows, a Red-rumped Swallow and a Chaffinch.  A Tree Pipit was seen at Europa.

Ringing Results

  Full Grown Retrap Total
Robin 2 2 4
Black Redstart 1 0 1
Blackbird 0 2 2
Blackcap 5 2 7
Chiffchaff 5 0 5
  13 6 19

 

 09 Mar:  Clear skies with some high cloud.  Winds fresh to strong south-westerly in the Strait but light north-westerly at the head of the Bay, turning to north-westerly.  A slow start to the raptor passage in the morning, but improved at midday onwards for a total of 1511 Black Kites, 5 Egyptian Vultures, 131 Short-toed Eagles, 20 Marsh Harriers, 5 Hen Harriers, 29 Sparrowhawks, 13 Booted Eagles, 2 Ospreys 3 Lesser Kestrels and 2 Kestrels.  Also seen were 25 Black Storks, 76 Cormorants, 2 Swallows, 2 Ravens, 11 House Martins, a Chaffinch,  5 Serins, a Greenfinch, and 6 Goldfinches.

 Four Flamingoes flew south off Catalan Bay.

An extremely early Grasshopper Warbler was trapped and ringed at the Observatory.  Normally this species is encountered towards the end of April and May.

 Ringing Results

  Full Grown Retrap Total
Robin 4 1 5
Black Redstart 1 0 1
Blackbird 1 4 5
Song Thrush 1 0 1
Grasshopper Warbler 1 0 1
Sardinian Warbler 3 2 5
Blackcap 3 0 3
Chiffchaff 3 0 3
Iberian Chiffchaff 1 0 1
Chaffinch 1 0 1
Greenfinch 1 0 1
  20 7 27

 

The earliest Grasshopper Warbler to arrive in Gibraltar.                                                                                                     C. Elmer.

 

08 Mar:  Clear skies with a light variable breeze.  A very warm day.  Ringers arrived at the Observatory at the Jews' Gate Field Centre after midday, and all nets were erected ready for the season. A single Sparrowhawk flew in over the Bay chased by several Yellow-legged Gulls.

 

07 Mar:  Mainly clear skies with a moderate easterly wind.  A visit to Europa Point in the morning resulted in a count of 150 Black-headed Gulls that included the gulls RKSF from France, E6PT from the Netherlands, and T39J from the Netherlands.  Also seen were single Audouin's Gull,  two Mediterranean Gulls, a Great Skua, 14 Balearic Shearwaters and several flocks of Gannets heading west out of the Mediterranean.  A Turnstone was seen on the rocks at the Europa foreshore.

A flock of 12 White Storks were seen over the runway.

 

06 Mar: Clear skies with a moderate northerly wind, freshening in the afternoon to a north-westerly wind.  A trickle of Black Kites in the morning but a three hour watch in the afternoon produced 437 Black Kites, 82 Short-toed Eagles, 3 Marsh Harriers, 6 Sparrowhawks, 2 Booted Eagles and a Common Kestrel.  Also seen was a single Black Stork.

A Hoopoe was observed in gardens in the South District.

 

05 Mar:  Overcast skies with some light drizzle in the afternoon.  Winds north-westerly.  A trickle of Black Kites throughout the day with unfavourable conditions for a total of 1245 Black Kites, an Egyptian Vulture, 34 Short-toed Eagles, 21 Sparrowhawks and 14 Booted Eagles.  Also seen were 2 Red-rumped Swallows and three flocks of Cormorants heading north over town totalling 112 birds

 

04 Mar:  Cloudy skies with some sunny intervals and high cloud .  Winds mainly north-westerly.  Raptors continued to cross the Strait, despite the northerly headwinds.  Many went to the east side of the Rock, and some down the Bay.  The total was 2486 Black Kites, 6 Egyptian Vultures, 87 Short-toed Eagles, 6 Marsh Harriers, 21 Sparrowhawks, 5 Booted Eagles, and a first year Bonelli's Eagle.  Also seen were 14 Sand Martins

A flock of 6 Grey Herons flew past Europort, and 2 Common Sandpipers were seen on the rocks by Waterport.  A Hoopoe was present in the Botanic Gardens.

 

 03 Mar:  Clear skies with a moderate to fresh south-westerly wind.  As from 08:45 Black Kites have been pouring in over the Rock, with an estimated 4000 by 09:30!!  The Moroccan birder, Rachid, based on the opposite side of the Strait, mentioned that the number of Black Kites accumulating there yesterday evening was of the order of 10,000 to 25,000 birds, and every tree and bush held flocks of Black Kites roosting, and ready to cross the following day.

Just a small detail of a flock of Black Kites soaring over Gibraltar.         S. Shacaluga

 

Raptor migration was steady but by 13:45 another spectacular movement of raptors that included Black Kites and Short-toed Eagles, continued for several hours, and then tailed off as winds turned to north-westerly.  raptors continued to cross over the Rock until well after sundown.  In total there were 11195 Black Kites, 8 Griffon Vultures, 2 Egyptian Vultures, 945 Short-toed Eagles,10 Marsh Harriers, a Montagu's Harrier, 14 Sparrowhawks, 6 Booted Eagles, 2 Lesser Kestrels and a Common Kestrel.  Also seen were 8 Black Storks, 5 Swallows, 6 House Martins and a flock of 36 Cormorants.

 

02:  Mar:  The edge of a frontal system passed through the Strait area giving leaden skies with some light showers in the morning.  Winds were fresh westerly, but became strong in the afternoon with high cloud.  Some raptors passed over the Rock in the afternoon bearing the brunt of the strong winds.  In total 950 Black Kites, an Egyptian Vulture,  8 Marsh Harriers and a Sparrowhawk were seen with Black Kites crossing well after sunset.  The two Ravens were scouting the Jews' Gate area.

 

01 Mar:  Cloudy with some sunny spells and high cloud.  Winds moderate northerly turning to fresh south-westerly by midday and then veering to light northerly in the afternoon.  After the exceptional raptor passage yesterday, the day turned out to be disappointing, with most raptors reported from Punta Carnero, on the opposite side of the Bay.  The trickle of raptors that totalled 41 Black Kites, 7 Short-toed Eagle, 5 Marsh Harrier, a Hen Harrier,  4 Sparrowhawks and and two Ospreys.  Also 7 Swallows heading north.  An Iberian Chiffchaff was heard calling in the Jews' Gate area.

At Europa Point, approximately 130 Black-headed Gulls and five Mediterranean Gulls were present feeding and resting on the cliff.  Present there were colour ringed birds RKSF, the french bird, and E6PT, the Netherlands gull ringed on the 7th July 2014, and subsequently seen every winter at Europa Point.  Offshore several Gannets were fishing with some heading west out of the Mediterranean.  A Northern Wheatear was seen near the Mosque at Europa Point.

  • Bat Life Europe Logo
  • UKOTCF
  • University Of Gibraltar Logo
  • IUCN Member Logo
  • BTO Logo
  • Bird Life International Logo