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Seabird Migration underway at Europa Point

11 August 2017

In the last few weeks seabird migration has got underway at Europa Point, with birds migrating west out of the Mediterranean close inshore.  The best weather conditions are usually westerly winds, although even during easterlies birds will be seen.  The afternoon is the best time to watch from this site as the light is favourable, and the birds pass close providing suitable conditions for good photography opportunities.

Species involved at the moment include good numbers of Audouin's Gulls, with many juvenile birds that have been reared in the Ebro estuary accompanying the adults.  Many none breeding first and second-year birds passed through during June and early July, but some can still be seen.  Also adult and juvenile Mediterranean Gulls, with adults still in summer plumage with their black heads, and also Black-headed Gulls with several small flocks of adults and juveniles passing through, and some straying to feed below the Point.  Offshore the occasional Gannets, non-breeding birds that have stayed in the Mediterranean. Mediterranean Shearwaters, mos of which migrated out of the Strait in late May and June, but a few are still about, and Cory's Shearwaters that come to the Strait in the late afternoon and evening to feed, returning to their nesting grounds to feed their young.  This species will begin to accumulate off Europa Point in September and October, when large shoals of Mackerel and Flying fish are in abundance and will be seen in flocks of several hundred at a time.  Sandwich and Black terns are also seen, but mainly well offshore, and the occasional wader species; mainly Oystercatchers, Common Sandpipers, Whimbrels, and Little Ergets.

So get down to Europa Point and enjoy a cool and refreshing afternoon of seabirds in the company of other birders.

A flock of adult Audouin's Gulls
Adults in flight
Adult Audouin's Gull
Juvenile Audouins Gull
Juvenile Audouin's Gull
Corys Shearwater
Med Gulls in summer plumage with their characteristic black heads.
Adult Med Gull in moult.
Med Gull Adult
Med Gull (left) and a Black-headed Gull( right)