The 25th May was specially hectic for the number of raptors that fell into the sea. Most of these are young non-breeding and inexperienced birds that fall foul of windy conditions in the Strait.
The day started with fresh westerly winds in the Strait providing ideal conditions for migrating raptors. Early in the morning numbers of Honey Buzzards made their way north, arriving at Europa Point at a good altitude, and then soaring over Windmill Hill and gaining height on the up-draughts soaring over the Rock and heading north. By mid morning, conditions for large soaring birds, mainly Griffon Vultures and Short-toed Eagles, were optimal. The first flock of vultures of about five birds, managed the gauntlet of Yellow-legged Gulls and the Peregrines and quickly passed low over the Observatory. Several Short-toed eagles followed, and these were harried by the Peregrine, but most managed to avoid the falcon. Then by 11:00hrs a large flock of Griffon Vultures numbering over fifty birds, approached Europa Point, with many flying low over the sea and most making land, whereupon they soared against the backdrop of Jebel Musa, and quickly headed north.
Of these, a couple of birds floundered into the sea within striking distance of land, and our able GONHS member, Robert Perez, saw this happening and alerted the authorities, with the Police fast launch to the rescue. Two other Griffons were also rescued, one inside the harbour by the EPRU (Environmental Protection & Research Unit), as were two Booted Eagles and a Short-toed Eagle around our coastline. The Raptor Rehabilitation Unit was informed, and our stalwart, Vincent Robba, together with Stanley Olivero and Gilbert Gonzalez, retrieved the rescued birds and transported them to the Centre. Some of them had severe injuries, and were taken to the Veterinary Clinic, where the vet had to insert a pin on the broken leg of a Short-toed Eagle, with some inflicted with eye injuries, as a result of attack by the Peregrines and Gulls. Eventually they were given food and water and were rested for the day.
EPRU hands in a rescued Griffon Vulture
Police rescue a Griffon Vulture
Stanley Olivero with a wet Short-toed eagle
Vincent Robba with a rescued Booted Eagle.
Griffon Vulture in the harbour.
These birds will remain at the Centre until they recover optimal condition and substantial weight that will enable them to continue their trajectory into Iberia.