The Final Count(down) 2021

Another season has passed us by, and from 5th May 2021 to 5th December 2021 Fundación Migres has once again been monitoring the passage of migratory birds through here at The Straits of Gibraltar.

For our small part we helped with the counts whenever we could for this important programme, which has been running since 1997.

Together we counted 521,000 soaring migratory birds including 151,300 White and Black Storks and 369,700 raptors of 37 different species!

Black Stork © Inglorious Bustards

Additionally 443,300 passerine migrants were counted, including 197,000 Finches, 87,500 hirundines, 83,000 Pallid, Common and Alpine Swifts, 32,000 European Bee-eaters, 15,000 Spotless Starlings and 14,000 House and Spanish Sparrows.

European Bee-eater © Inglorious Bustards

Fundación Migres also monitored the seabird passage from (permit-only) Isla de Tarifa, where we counted 404,000 seabirds passing through The Straits. These included 350,500 Scopoli’s / Cory’s Shearwaters, 21,500 Balearic Shearwaters, 15,000 Northern Gannet, 11,300 Gulls and Terns, 3,100 Razorbills and Atlantic Puffins and 600 Skuas.

Add to that the specific Balearic Shearwater monitoring programme, which counted a further 27,445 of this species passing through The Straits between May and July.

Niki counting out the Black Kites © Inglorious Bustards

All of this count data represents long-term monitoring of population at this migratory bottleneck. With this data we are able to trace long-term (and short-term) trends of individual species at the East Atlantic Flyway scale, which can be used to alert conservationists, policy-makers and land managers to population declines and increases – demonstrating that monitoring is a vital part of conservation diagnosis management

Congratulations to the magnificent and dedicated team at Fundación Migres and their tireless work and for allowing us to be a small part of a great team. Additional thanks should go to Viking Optical who not only have supported the programme through loan optics but also taking part in the count themselves!

Alejandro Onrubia is on it! © Inglorious Bustards

However, just as one season ends another one starts – the first White Storks are already returning to Europe and the Black Kites won’t be too far behind! Soon we will be observing the promise of return being fulfilled!

Black Kites © Inglorious Bustards
Everyday is a good day in The Straits – then you see a Lanner 🙂 © Inglorious Bustards
White Stork wallpaper ! © Inglorious Bustards
After several days of strong cross-winds Kite Fest happened! – over 20,000 Back Kites crossing in a single day! © Inglorious Bustards
Rüppell’s Vulture encounters are becoming much more regular © Inglorious Bustards
It is important to kneel in reverence at the the passing of a large group of White Storks (plus you don’t fall over!) – Simon counting with Viking Optical / Stuart Gillies © Inglorious Bustards
Swirling masses of White Storks! © Inglorious Bustards
Short-toed Eagle © Inglorious Bustards
Often the raptor that doesn’t quite get the attention it deserves the super awesome Black Kite here a juvenile © Inglorious Bustards
Juvenile Black Kite © Inglorious Bustards
Incoming Griffon Vulture – returning to Europe leaving Africa behind it as it returns from its youth dispersal © Inglorious Bustards
Early mornings at the watchpoint sometimes saw us watching European Rollers before they moved on © Inglorious Bustards
Montagu’s Harrier © Inglorious Bustards
White Storks taking on The Straits © Inglorious Bustards

Published by Simon Tonkin

'Here at the Inglorious Bustards, experiencing the powerful event of bird migration has led to a life-long fascination with avian migration and #FlywayBirding. It’s no accident that we have chosen our base to be here in the Straits of Gibraltar. Our location between Gibraltar and Tarifa puts us right at the epicentre of birding in the Straits and, from a migrating raptor’s point of view, we must surely also be at the centre of the world! We love not only to marvel at the birds passing but also to follow them on their migratory journey, and explore the whole range of fascinating and varied terrains they traverse each year. More than that though, we love to share our adventures with you!'

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