The short-toed eagle. Peter Jones
Eagles in the skies

Eagles in the skies

The Andalucía Bird Society recommends looking out for raptors and large soaring birds as they return to Europe

Peter Jones

Friday, 17 March 2023, 11:18


March is the big birding hurrah as hundreds, sometimes thousands, of raptors and large soaring birds arrive daily to our shores here in Andalucía. As these birds arrive on their northern journey from Africa, birdwatchers from across Europe and beyond head in the opposite direction to witness this migration from the southernmost outpost of the Iberian Peninsula, where the shortest sea crossing between neighbouring Morocco and Spain exists and the 14km flyway concentrates gatherings of these large birds as they enter Europe. It is a spectacle and one of the many wonders of nature, truly an experience worth seeking by everyone.

Of course, many smaller birds will be making the same crossing over the Strait of Gibraltar with a great number choosing to make the journey at night-time to avoid predators under cover of darkness. Throughout March to and including May, the spectacle of migration will be the focus of attention for a great many birdwatchers. I highly recommend readers spending a morning or even a whole day down on the southern coast between Algeciras and Tarifa, where there are many viewing points to see raptors in large numbers and at very close quarters.

I will be making an effort during March to visit Tarifa, but most of my days will be spent in my mountains as some of our birds are already beginning their breeding season and it is an opportunity for me to assess populations and be hopeful that numbers might increase on the previous year. I will be spending my time like some demented Mother Hen, worrying, and fretting over favourite birds, hoping they have survived the rigours of winter and hoping to renew my familiarity with specific pairs and individuals. It might be frowned upon in certain quarters, but I have been attracted to individual birds and enjoy reacquainting myself with these friends in the wild.

Another aspect covered by my wanderings in the mountains during March is the dazzling springtime flower show, coloured clusters of spring flowering plants that will be forming a veritable tapestry of vibrant colour on meadows and the understorey of our open woodlands.

I am hoping you will all enjoy the beginnings of our spring and find time to spend with our wonderful regional wildlife.

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