February 2017 Sightings



28 Feb: Mainly clear skies with a moderate north-westerly wind. The Saharan dust seems to have cleared, and visibility has improved.  Another poor day of ringing with only seven birds ringed and included 2 Robins, 4 Crag Martins and a House Martin.


It was very quiet with hardly any raptors during the day with only 2 Black Kites and a Sparrowhawk until the late afternoon, when suddenly large numbers of raptors decided to make a crossing until late evening. In total 783 Black Kites, 21 Short-toed Eagles, 4 Sparrowhawks, 2 Lesser Kestrels and a Booted Eagle were counted. Also seen were 2 Black Storks, 90 Swallows, 24 Red-rumped Swallows, 193 House Martins,2 Sand Martins, 18 Serins and 2 Woodlarks were observed heading north.




The data from the Black-headed Gull Z17T seen on the 26th February, has now been received.




27 Feb: Cloudy skies with some sunny spells. Winds moderate north-westerly.   At the Observatory, a small passage of raptors were seen and included 62 Black Kites, 9 Short-toed Eagles and an adult Egyptian Vulture. Also seen was a good flock of 310 White Storks, 53 Swallows, 12 Red-rumped Swallows, 11 House Martins, 2 Meadow Pipits, 27 Serins and a Goldfinch.


Northerly airflow seems to be stalling passerine migration, and only 2 Crag Martins and a male Black Redstart were ringed at the Observatory.


A Hoopoe was seen at Europa Point, and 2 Cormorants were present at this site.


26 Feb: Mainly clear skies with a light variable to  light south-westerly wind. Very misty again. A single Sparrowhawk and a Black Kite were seen heading north in the morning. Also seen were 5 Red-rumped Swallows, 2 Swallows, 4 Serins, and single ChaffinchGoldfinch and Linnet.


Again another quiet day at the ringing station with only 6 Crag Martins and an Iberian Chiffchaff ringed. Another two Iberian Chiffchaffs were heard at the ringing site.


An Eagle Owl was seen and photographed on the airfield runway last night.



A surprising visitor to the airfield runway; an Eagle Owl.                   Photo: B. Slater.©



At Europa Point 180 Black-headed Gulls were resting on the cliffs with some feeding below the Point. Also present there were 14 Mediterranean Gulls, with single adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sandwich Tern and 2 Audouin's Gulls heading west. Among the Mediterranean Gulls present on the cliff was 32A9, that was previously recorded from this site on the 28th January (See 31st Jan for more details of this bird). Also present were two Black-headed Gulls with white colour rings.    T39J was again present, last seen on 28th January, and a new colour ringed bird, Z17T.



The Black-headed Gull T39J again resting at Europa Point.     Photo: J. Sanchez.©



Black-headed Gull Z71T new to Europa Point.                      Photo: C. Perez©



The Mediterranean Gull 32A9 back again at Europa Point.          Photo: C. Perez.©


25 Feb: Mainly clear skies, but very misty in the Strait, as Africa was not visible. Winds light north-westerly becoming light to moderate westerly, and dropping in the afternoon.  Very quiet at the ringing site with very few birds apparent. Only single RobinBlackcap and Serin ringed.


Raptor passage started early in the morning and continued until mid afternoon when passage stopped due to lighter winds. The total of raptors counted included 546 Black Kites, an adult Egyptian Vulture, 62 Short-toed Eagles, a male Marsh Harrier and 2 Booted Eagles. Also seen from the Observatory were 4 Swallows, 8 Red-rumped Swallows, 17 House Martins,Sand Martin, 3 Meadow Pipits, a Woodlark, a Chaffinch, 92 Serins, 3 Greenfinches, 2 Linnets and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull.


24 Feb: Cloudy with sunny periods throughout the day Winds north westerly becoming westerly.  A White Wagtail and several Chiffchaffs were present in oak trees at Commonwealth Park.


At the Observatory a total of 8 new birds were ringed and included 3 Crag Martins, 2 Blackcaps, and single Song ThrushChiffchaff and Iberian Chiffchaff.


Some raptors headed north in the morning but passage stopped in the afternoon.   A total of 66 Black Kites, 2 Egyptian Vultures, 63 Short-toed Eagles and a Sparrowhawk were recorded. Also seen were 18 Swallows, 3 Serins and 5 Greenfinches.


A visit to North front Cemetery produced 5 Black Redstarts, a Hoopoe, a Song Thrush, 2 Stonechats, 3 Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap, 5 Goldfinch and a Cattle Egret.


23 Feb: Some rain showers early in the morning, clearing to give a bright sunny day. Winds moderate westerly, becoming light in the afternoon. Some diurnal passage of birds were seen from the Observatory in the morning and included a total of 184 Black Kites, 18 Swallows, 15 Red-rumped Swallows, 3 House Martins, 6 Greenfinches, and 9 Serins.  Very quiet at the ringing site where 6 Crag Martins, and single Blackbird and Robin were ringed. A Hoopoe was observed in the vicinity of the Observatory and single Hoopoes were also present at the Botanic Gardens and at Commonwealth Park.


At Europa Point, in calm conditions in the afternoon, few birds were about, with only 15 Black-headed Gulls feeding below the Point, including a ringed bird that was presumably the Polish bird with the white ring, and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull that flew west. Also seen were single Cormorant and Shag west, and offshore among a pod of feeding Dolphins, were 30 Scopoli's Shearwaters, 4 adult Mediterranean Gulls 4 Sandwich Terns, 20 Gannets, two Razorbills flying west and single Audouin's Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull heading east.


22 Feb:  Overcast with a strong easterly wind. A quiet day at the Observatory with only a handful of nets opened that produced 2 RobinBlackbird and 7 Crag Martins. A Hoopoe was seen on the Upper Rock Nature Reserve.


Cirl Bunting was seen at Princess Caroline's Battery, and the earliest recorded Bonelli's Warbler was observed at the top Cable Car Station.


Six Scopoli's Shearwaters were offshore at Europa Point.


21 Feb: Cloudy but dry with a gale force easterly wind. Nine birds were trapped at the Observatory and consisted of single Blackbird, Blue Tit, a Chiffchaff and 3 Crag Martins. Also trapped were a Wryneck that was ringed in the autumn of 2014, and a Blue Rock Thrush that was ringed in 2015.


20 Feb: Overcast with some light showers. Winds strong to gale force easterly.  Only a few nets were up today at the Observatory. It accounted for single Black Redstart and a nice Grey Wagtail at the pond.  In the evening, the pond net surprisingly caught 5 Crag Martins, on their way to the roost.  Three Swallows flew north after midday.


19 Feb: Overcast with heavy rain showers throughout the day. Winds fresh easterly.  At least 21 Swallows flew north past the Observatory in the early morning.


18 Feb: Overcast skies in the morning becoming bright and sunny in the afternoon with some high cloud. Winds light easterly becoming light southerly in the afternoon and evening.  A Hoopoe was observed in the Botanic Gardens in the morning.



A Hoopoe at the Botanic Gardens.                          Photo: Franz-Josef Odinius.©


An afternoon watch at Europa Point produced 80 Scopoli's Shearwaters in two flocks, heading into the Mediterranean. Also seen were 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, an adult Audouin's Gull, and 5 Gannets heading east. A Great Skua flew west and put up the 40 Black-headed Gulls that were feeding below the Point.


A total of 14 new birds were ringed at the Observatory and included 5 Robins, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Greenfinches, and single Sardinian WarblerBlackbirdSwallowGoldfinch and Serin.


At least 6 Swallows and 3 Serins flew north past the Observatory.


17 Feb: 14 Feb:  Overcast with a moderate easterly wind. During a brief period in the morning 2 Black Kites, an adult Egyptian Vulture, 5 Swallows and 6 Sand Martins flew north.A Cattle Egret was present at North front Cemetery, where it was seen hunting lizards.


The ringing programme at the Observatory got underway today, with the top nets rides erected and only two in the lower net rides, as vegetation management was required to clear some of the areas.  A total of 12 birds were ringed in the morning with 4 Robins, 4 Crag Martins, and single BlackbirdSardinian WarblerBlackcap and a Chiffchaff.


13 Feb: Overcast with heavy rain showers most of the morning, with some breaks and showers in the afternoon, and some sunny spells towards the evening. Winds light westerly, becoming west-north-west. In the late afternoon 2 Marsh Harriers flew north over the Observatory.


12 Feb: Overcast with heavy rain overnight, but ceased during the morning, and resuming in the afternoon and evening. Winds Light southerly becoming light to moderate easterly. A quick visit to Europa Point in the morning produced 25 Black-headed Gulls feeding below the Point with an adult Mediterranean Gull, and 2 Cormorants. An adult Audouin's Gull flew east .


11 Feb:  Overcast with heavy rain early in the early morning, ceasing by mid morning and brightening a little. With some showers throughout the afternoon and evening.  Winds light westerly.  A late morning watch from Europa Point produced 9 Balearic Shearwaters west, small movement of Gannets out of the Mediterranean, 40 Black-headed Gulls and 2 Cormorants feeding below the Point, 12 Mediterranean Gulls east, with 8 first-winter and 4 adults, a Lesser-Black Backed Gull and 2 adult Audouin's Gulls east, and a Great Skua west.


09 Feb:  Mainly high cloud with hazy sunshine. Winds moderate easterly. The Hoopoe remained in the Botanic Gardens, and another was seen on Windmill Hill. Another 2 Hoopoes were observed at Middle Hill.


08 Feb: Clear skies with a light westerly wind becoming light variable in the evening. The Hoopoe remained in the Botanic Gardens.


07 Feb: Clear skies with a moderate westerly wind. The Hoopoe was again seen at the Botanic Gardens.


06 Feb: Clear skies with a light westerly wind. The first Hoopoe of the year was seen in the Botanic Gardens.


Six Swallows flew north in the afternoon over the Observatory.


04 Feb:  Cloudy with some sunny spells in the morning, and the occasional light drizzle. Winds fresh west turning to south-west in the afternoon.  A steady migration of Gannets out of the Mediterranean was observed from Europa Point , with over 180 birds in an hour, in the late morning. Also seen were 190 Black-headed Gulls, 4 adult Mediterranean Gulls resting on the sea offshore, 3 Great Skuas west, 3 Shags heading east, 2 Cormorants in the area, 4 adult Lesser-black-backed Gulls and 2 third-winter and a second- winter Audouin's Gull heading west, a Sandwich Tern, three Serins arriving across the Strait with a Swallow, and a Greenfinch.


03 Feb: Mainly overcast with some rain showers and drizzle during the day, clearing in the late afternoon. Winds westerly.


An 3rd year Mediterranean Gull with a green colour ring on the left leg, and a metal ring above the tarsus of the right leg, was photographed on the cliff at Europa Point. The ring is not in the right orientation to determine the code, but it is believed to come from the French ringing scheme.


A 3rd year Mediterranean Gull at Europa Point cliffs with a french colour ring.      Photo: C. Horrocks.©



02 Feb:   Cloudy skies as a frontal system sweeps across the Iberian Peninsular, bringing some light drizzle in the late morning and afternoon. Winds fresh west to south-west.   There has been a significant decline in the number of Robins wintering in the Botanic Gardens in the last few days. As weather conditions improved, after the cold snap of last week, there seems to have been a exodus of this species.


Single Grey and White Wagtail were present at Commonwealth Park, and the Hooded Crow was back there this morning.


01 Feb: Mainly clear skies with a light easterly wind. The Hooded Crow was back at Europa Point.


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