March 2017 Sightings



31 Mar: Clear skies with a light easterly wind, becoming light variable, becoming moderate south-westerly in the afternoon.    At 14:00 raptors begun to approach the Rock from the Strait, with a steady passage of birds till the late evening, when most of the Marsh Harriers made an appearance. In total there were 590 Black Kites, 3 Short-toed Eagles, 30 Marsh Harriers, 4 Montagu's Harriers, 26 Sparrowhawks, 69 Booted Eagles and 6 Ospreys. Also seen were 24 Black Storks, 40 Bee-eaters, 6 Swallows and 20 Goldfinches.


The ringing operation was again slow, due mainly to clear skies, but 14 birds were ringed that included a Song Thrush, 5 Robins, single Woodchat Shrike, BlackcapSardinian Warbler, and Bonelli's Warbler, and 5 Chiffchaffs.


There were 2 Bonelli's Warblers, a Whitethroat and a Woodchat Shrike in the Botanic Gardens.



At dawn two Scops Owl and a Red-necked Nightjar were heard calling, in the vicinity of Parson's Lodge Battery.



30 Mar: Clear skies with a moderate to fresh easterly.  The first Bee-eaters, a flock of 18, were seen heading north. Also recorded were 36 Linnets and 4 Serins.


Fourteen birds were ringed at the Observatory and included 2 Robins, single Blue TitWoodchat ShrikeNightingaleBlackcapBonelli's WarblersChiffchaffSubalpine Warbler, 3 Linnets and 2 Greenfinches.



29 Mar: Cloudy with levanter cloud over the town and harbour, clearing by mid afternoon to give some sunny spells. with a moderate easterly wind. Only three raptors were seen in unfavourable wind conditions. These were single Booted Eagle and Sparrowhawk, and 2 Marsh Harriers. Also seen were 94 Swallows, 1 Red-rumped Swallow, 27 Linnets and an Alpine Swift.


Ringing at the Observatory improved, with levanter conditions, and 20 new birds were ringed.    included a very early Red-necked Nightjar, a Blackbird, 3 Robins, a Nightingale, 4 Blackcaps,Bonelli's Warblers, 2 Willow Warblers, an Iberian Chiffchaff,Sardinian Warbler, a Subalpine Warbler, a Goldfinch and a Linnet.



28 Mar: Clear skies with a light easterly wind.  Sixteen birds were ringed at the Observatory, and improvement since the last weeks tally. These included a Blackbird, 2 Robins, the first Nightingale of the season, 3 Blackcaps, 4 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, 2 Iberian Chiffchaffs and 2 Bonelli's Warblers.


Two Woodchat Shrikes were present at North Front Cemetery.



27 Mar:  Clear skies with a light southerly to south west turning to light variable.    Raptors migrated up the centre of the Strait, with only a trickle over the Rock that included 9 Black Kites, a Short-toed Eagle, 9 Booted Eagles, 4 Marsh Harriers, 2 Ospreys, a Kestrel, and the first Hobby of the season. Also seen were 2 Swallows, 4 Chaffinches and a Meadow Pipit.


Another Scops Owl was found dead at New Harbours, having presumably hit a reflective glass window. This follows from another one found dead at the same location on the 7th March.


Seven birds were ringed at the Observatory and included a Robin, a Blackcap, 2 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Collared Dove.  A control Blackcap ringed in Holland was also recorded.



26 Mar: Clear skies with a light variable wind turning to light to moderate easterly in the afternoon, but changing to westerly in the evening and becoming overcast with constant rain.


At the Observatory only two birds ringed; a Robin and a Chiffchaff. Still very poor.


A Cormorant was resting on the rocks at Little Bay, and offshore at Europa Point, 2 Gannets, 3 Black-headed Gulls, 5 Sandwich Terns and a Razorbill.



25 Mar: Clear skies with a fresh south wind, becoming light and turning to light south easterly. During the outing to the Europa foreshore, very few birds were seen. Among these were a Chiffchaff,Meadow Pipit and a Hoopoe at the foreshore, 4 Gannets and several Sandwich Terns offshore, and 10 Black-headed Gulls, and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull below the Point. Later a flock of 8 Mediterranean Gulls flew west.


Finially one bird ringed; a Chiffchaff.


Four Grey Herons were seen flying south past Westview park at dusk, Two together and then singles.



24 Mar: Mainly clear skies with some rain showers approaching during the afternoon. Winds a cold moderate northerly. Only 2 Black Kites and an Osprey were seen all day.


Nets open for 5 hours and not a single bird. This spring is turning out to be the worst on record!



23 Mar: Cloudy with sunny intervals and some rain showers in the area. Winds, a cold and fresh north-westerly.A flock of 30 Flamingoes were observed flying west past Europa Point.


Only three birds ringed; a Blackcap, a Willow Warbler and a Greenfinch.


At the Observatory, a steady passage of raptors throughout the day produced 500 Black Kites, 7 Short-toed Eagles, 14 Marsh Harriers, 58 Booted Eagles, 25 Sparrowhawks, and 3 Kestrels. Also seen were 21 Black Storks, 22 Swallows, 27 Red-rumped Swallows, and 5 Common Swifts; the first of the year.


Three Woodchat Shrikes were present at the North Front Cemetery, and a Common Redstart was observed in the Nature Reserve.



22 Mar: Mainly clear skies with some cloud from the west in the afternoon. Winds moderate westerly becoming north-westerly.  Slow raptor migration due to the northerly air flow resulting in birds having difficulty flying into a headwind. Even so the total for the day was 109 Black Kites, 23 Short-toed Eagles, 2 Marsh Harriers, 11 Booted Eagles and 29 Sparrowhawks. Also seen were 90 White Storks, 8 Black Storks, 30 Swallows, 5 Red-rumped Swallows, a Tawny Pipit, 66 Serins, 6 Goldfinches and a Linnet.


No ringing; too windy.



21 Mar:  Clear skies with a fresh north-westerly wind. Very windy at the Observatory so no ringing was carried out. Raptor passage was steady throughout the day with 310 Black Kites, 29 Short-toed Eagles, 11 Marsh Harriers, 8 Montagu's Harriers, 60 Booted Eagles, 56 Sparrowhawks, 3 Ospreys, a female Merlin, 3 Kestrels, 5 Lesser Kestrels and 5 Kestrel sp. Also seen were 2 Swallows, 14 Pallid Swifts, 55 Serins and 33 Goldfinches.


Grey Heron was seen over town.



20 Mar:   Clear skies with a moderate south-westerly wind. Windy at the netting site and only five birds were ringed that included 2 Blackcaps, and single Sardinian WarblerWillow Warbler and Goldfinch.


A good raptor day with birds constantly crossing the Strait from early morning till sundown. Totals were 1012 Black Kites, 2 Egyptian Vultures, 61 Short-toed Eagles, 10 Marsh Harriers, 3 Montagu's Harriers, 117 Booted Eagles, a Common Buzzard, a Long-legged Buzzard, 47 Sparrowhawks, 5 Ospreys and 3 Kestrels. Also seen were 2 Black Storks, 11 Red-rumped Swallows and 8 Goldfinches.


The Hooded Crow was present at Commonwealth Park in the afternoon.



19 Mar: Moderate to light easterly winds. Clear skies. Only 2 Swallows, 4 Red-rumped Swallows and 2 Serins were observed at the Observatory.


Eleven birds were ringed and included 5 Robins, 4 Blackcaps and single Black Redstart and an Iberian Chiffchaff.



18 Mar: A single Osprey, 2 Sparrowhawks and 9 Swallows were the only birds observed heading north from the Observatory.


Eleven new birds were ringed in the morning and included a Song Thrush, a Robin, 3 Blackcaps, 3 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff and 2 Iberian Chiffchaffs.



17 Mar: Some raptors crossed in adverse weather conditions and included 25 Black Kites, 4 Egyptian Vultures, and 4 Marsh Harriers. Also seen were 4 Pallid Swifts, 3 Swallows and a White Wagtail.


The Observatory was busy in the morning with 36 new birds ringed. These included a Robin,Song Thrushes, a Blackbird,Common Redstarts, 3 Black Redstarts, a Tree Pipit, 6 Blackcaps, 4 Subalpine Warblers, 6 Chiffchaffs, an Iberian Chiffchaff, 6 Willow Warblers, 2 Chaffinches and a Goldfinch.



16 Mar: Levanter cloud over the Rock and the Strait area. Winds strong easterly. Fifteen Cormorants were seen entering the Bay.


At the Observatory, there was a slight improvement with 16 birds ringed which included 4 Subalpine Warblers, 4 Chiffchaffs, 3 Iberian Chiffchaffs, and single Robin, BlackcapWhitethroat, Willow Warbler and Bonelli's Warbler.


A Subalpine Warbler was observed at Commonwealth Park.



15 Mar: Very windy with easterly gales. Only 2 Blackcaps and a Blue Rock Thrush were trapped and ringed in the morning.


A Common Redstart and a Hoopoe were seen in the Botanic Gardens.


14 Mar: Rain and easterly gales. Nothing to report.



13 Mar: Winds dying down so fewer raptors. Totals were 97 Black Kites, 6 Marsh Harriers, 10 Sparrowhawks and an Osprey. Also seen were 22 Swallows, 7 Red-rumped Swallow, 3 Pallid Swifts, 2 Serins and 24 Goldfinches.



12 Mar: Fresh westerly winds concentrated raptor passage over the Rock, with 1232 Black Kites, 4 Egyptian Vultures, 111 Short-toed Eagles, 3 Marsh Harriers, a Long-legged Buzzard, 37 Sparrowhawks, 3 Ospreys, a Kestrel,Lesser Kestrel, and a Kestrel sp. Also seen were a single Black Stork, 28 Swallows, a Red-rumped Swallow, 20 House Martins, 2 Pallid Swifts, 8 Greenfinches and 4 Goldfinches.


Only six birds were ringed and included 3 Blackcaps, and single RobinChiffchaff and Iberian Chiffchaff.


11 Mar: A good raptor day with 1092 Black Kites, 2 Egyptian Vultures, 429 Short-toed Eagles, one with a radio tag!, 8 Marsh Harriers, 6 Booted Eagles, 34 Sparrowhawks, a Kestrel, 5 Lesser Kestrels. Also seen were 3 Black Storks,Swallows, 4 Red-rumped Swallows, 5 Pallid Swifts, a Chaffinch, 9 Serins, 20 Greenfinches and 4 Goldfinches. Only three birds were ringed; a Greenfinch and 2 Chaffinches.



10 Mar:  Clear skies with a light easterly wind.  Only six birds ringed and included 2 Robins, 2 Chiffchaffs, an Iberian Chiffchaff and a Greenfinch. An Iberian Chiffchaff was also heard calling outside the Observatory.



09 Mar: Clear skies with a fresh easterly wind. rather warm for the time of the year, with temperatures reaching 22C.   Only 8 birds were trapped and ringed at the Observatory with 4 Robins, and single Crag Martin, Black RedstartChiffchaff and a Subalpine Warbler.


A late afternoon visit to Europa Point produced 14 Gannets heading west, 16 Black-headed Gulls and 2 Mediterranean Gulls below the Point, together with 2 Cormorants, and an Audouin's Gull heading east. Around the Point 3 Black Redstarts and a Meadow Pipit were present.



08 Mar:  Clear skies first thing in the morning, but by mid morning a heavy levanter set in with fog over the airfield. This cleared by midday to give clear skies and a very warm day. Winds moderate easterly.  A female Subalpine Warbler was photographed at the Botanic Gardens.



Female Subalpine Warbler at the Botanic Gardens.       Photo: Franz-Josef Odinius.©


A total of 9 Birds were ringed in the morning, and included 3 Black Redstarts, and single RobinBlackbird, BlackcapBlue TitSardinian Warbler and a Dartford Warbler.



07 Mar: Clear skies with a light south-westerly breeze.  Most raptor passage took place to the west of the Strait, with only one Short-toed Eagle seen from the Observatory in the afternoon. 


Scops Owl was picked up from St. Bernard's School, and another was found dead at New Harbours.


Only six birds ringed at the Observatory this morning and included 2 Blackcaps, 2 Sardinian Warblers, and single Chaffinch and Robin. The Scops Owl was ringed and released in the evening.


In the evening at least 50 Pallid Swifts were over the town area.



06 Mar: Clear skies with a moderate north-westerly wind, with a south-westerly freshening in the Strait. Only 5 birds were ringed in a gusty morning, and included 3 Robins, and single Crag Martin and a Chiffchaff.


Good passage of raptors as the southerly winds picked up, but Black Kite numbers were low. Totals for the day included 94 Black Kites, 3 Egyptian Vultures, 370 Short-toed Eagles, 4 Marsh Harriers, 10 Sparrowhawks, 3 Booted Eagles, a Peregrine, a male Merlin and possibly yesterdays first-year Lanner that flew north over the Observatory and headed down into the urban area.


Also seen were 3 White Storks, 23 Swallows, 5 Red-rumped Swallows, 3 Pallid Swifts and 6 Serins.


A Hoopoe was seen in the Botanic Gardens.



05 Mar:  Cloudy skies with afew sunny spells in the morning. Winds fresh northerly, becoming westerly by midday, and turning to south-westerly in the afternoon. A few Black Kites came through at first light, but no other raptors were seen until mid morning when some begun to approach the Rock, as winds changed direction. The just after 13:00hrs a spectacular passage of raptors came across the Strait on a broad front, and involved several species. Black Kites stopped passing in the late afternoon, but Short-toed Eagles continued to cross into the evening. Many raptors were missed as they headed along the east side of the Rock, and the volume of birds made the count difficult.


The total number of birds included 3560 Black Kites, 937 Short-toed Eagles, 3 Griffon Vultures, 16 Egyptian Vultures, 8 Marsh Harriers, 13 Sparrowhawks, a Buzzard, a Booted Eagle, an Osprey, 5 Common Kestrels, 3 Lesser Kestrel and a first year Lanner. Also seen were 130 White Storks, 217 Black Storks, 18 Swallows, 15 Red-rumped Swallows, 43 House Martins and 2 Yellow Wagtails.


Two Hoopoes were present in the Botanic Gardens, and a Subalpine Warbler was picked up inside a building at the frontier customs post, and later flew away.


At Europa Point 80 Black-headed Gulls were present below the Point, a small passage of Gannets heading out of the Mediterranean, an Audouins Gull and a Lesser Black-backed Gull heading west, 8 Sandwich Terns, and 2 Cormorants feeding.



04 Mar:  Overcast skies with some sunny spells early in the morning, closing in as a frontal system came through the Strait giving constant rain since 11am.  Gale force south-westerly wind throughout the day, dropping by evening.  A spectacular passage of Black Kites started at first light with many flocks crossing before the weather closed in. It was surprising to see the raptors cross in gale conditions, but they were determined to get across. Totals for the day up to 11am when the rains stopped passage, was 3251 Black Kites 4 Marsh Harriers and an Osprey.


Hoopoe was seen at Signal Station Road. Two Pallid Swifts were seen over town.


At Europa Point only 40 Black-headed Gulls were present, with two Mediterranean Gulls, an Audouins Gull, a Great Skua, and a Lesser Black-backed Gull.



03 Mar: Cloudy skies with some sunny spells. Winds moderate north-westerly to westerly.  There was some raptor passage throughout the day with a total of 338 Black Kites, 16 Short-toed Eagles, an Egyptian Vulture, a Lesser Kestrel and 2 Kestrel sp. Also seen were 21 White Storks, 23 Black Storks, 3 Swallows, 8 House Martins, 2 Pallid Swifts,Greenfinches, a Goldfinch and 2 Linnets.


Only single Blackcap, Black Redstart and Chaffinch were ringed.



02 Mar:   Cloudy skies with a light to moderate easterly wind clearing after midday and winds becoming light later. A Hoopoe was seen near Rosia, and seven were on Windmill Hill. A Grey Heron was present in the harbour.  A slight improvement to the ringing total this morning of 17 birds that included 2 Crag Martins, 4 Robins, 3 Black Redstarts, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Sardinian Warblers, and single Blackcap, Iberian Chiffchaff and a male Stonechat.


A total of 96 Scopoli's Shearwater, in three flocks, were seen entering the Mediterranean in the morning.



01 Mar: Mainly clear skies with a light variable to light westerly wind. Only 2 Swallows were seen today, with a Hoopoe seen near the car park.  Ringing remains poor with only 9 birds ringed that included 3 Crag Martins, 4 Robins, and single Collared Dove and a Song Thrush.



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