Black-eared wheatear. / PETER JONES

The wonder of bird migration

The Andalucía Bird Society recommends looking out for the Black-eared Wheatear this month


September is a month marked by a very special time in the birding calendar with the spectacle of autumn bird migration happening on a huge scale throughout our region. Of course, the biggest attractions are the flocks of large soaring birds gathering over our shorelines as they wait for favourable conditions to glide across the short distance between us and North Africa, many eagle species as well as storks can provide an unforgettable experience.

For me it is a time of year when I am torn between looking up for the large flocks of raptors passing overhead or studying my immediate surroundings for those smaller, less obvious migrants such as the many different warblers that also take advantage of the short sea crossing to Africa. A beautiful example is the European bee-eater. Their calls drawing my attention before witnessing their numbers as they pass before me, they are a joy to see but also it is a time of sadness as I realise, they will not return until spring.

For those readers who might know me, you will not be surprised that one of my favourite family of birds is the wheatears. Both Northern and Black-eared Wheatears are passing through our region as they make their way to sub-Sahara regions of Africa to spend their winter. The plumage difference in these birds is outstanding compared to the vivid colours of their spring finery, so I pay special attention to finding these wonders of the birding world and enjoy seeing their antics as they pause migration to set up small territories to feed before continuing the journey south.

I do hope you get to see some of the birds that pass through the region at this time as it may inspire you to take an interest in our amazing bird life and nature in general.