This year’s celebration of BirdLife International’s ‘EuroBirdwatch’ was a quieter affair than in previous years.
This is because due to the pandemic, GONHS was careful to avoid groups of over twenty people and a breakdown in social distancing. Thus, we were not able to hold the Raptor Unit’s usual display, nor did we host members of the public at the Jews’ Gate Field Centre, where our bird ringing programme takes place. Still we marked the day with activities.
Two groups ringed birds in separate areas of the Nature Reserve. Results were modest, due to clear skies and a strong westerly wind. Two Willow Warblers and two Garden Warblers comprised the total of sub-Saharan migrants processed at Jews’ Gate, whilst a Pied Flycatcher and five Garden Warblers were at Middle Hill. The most numerous species was Blackcap with a combined 27, indicating that their migration has begun. The best bird of the day was without doubt the Eurasian Scops Owl at Middle Hill. A small number of birds of prey included two Honey Buzzards, several Short-toed Eagles and Sparrowhawks.
A mix of beginners and seasoned birders met at Europa Point in the afternoon for a socially distanced sea watch. Resident species in the area included some twenty House Sparrows, a Common Kestrel and a pair of Ravens. A Ruddy Turnstone was on the rocky shore below. Approximately a couple of hundred Cory’s Shearwaters were present, but most were far from shore and we did not witness the feeding frenzy that has typified EuroBirdwatch in recent years. There were also three Balearic Shearwaters. Some 40 Black-Headed Gulls were below the point and these were joined by an Audouin’s Gull and seven Mediterranean Gulls. A smart adult Lesser Black-backed Gull also flew by. Two Great Cormorants were seen, with the species beginning to return to the area for the winter. There was a steady passage of Northern Gannets into the Mediterranean, with some twenty birds counted. Four Sandwich Terns and seven Common Terns flew west towards the Atlantic, the latter flock chased by a dark morph Arctic Skua. There were also two Great Skuas.
We hope to be able to celebrate EuroBirdwatch in our usual manner when the autumn of 2021 arrives, but in the meantime, it was a great to be out birding!