Monday, 9 November 2009

Griffons and Gulls

The weather here remains dry but temperatures are falling and today’s forecast maximum is ‘only’ 21° C. For a few days now a strong wind has been a feature.

Yesterday morning from the window here on the outskirts of Tavira we watched for half an hour or so a group of 15 Griffon Vultures struggling to make headway in the wind. We don’t often see Griffons at this eastern end of the coast but we also saw two last week near Castro Marim. Presumably these are young birds that are gradually and inexpertly finding their way to the Tarifa area for the short crossing to North Africa.

We now have hundreds of gulls on the local saltpans. Six species are involved and it’s not difficult to see them all together. Lesser Black-backs are the most numerous and at the other end of the scale there are just a handful of Slender-billed Gulls.

We were very pleased earlier this year when SPEA announced at last that they would no longer be treating Slender-billed Gull as a rarity requiring a description to be submitted with our records. With an expanding population in Iberia, the species has not been a rarity in Portugal for several years now but it is regular only here in the south-eastern corner of the country. As these decisions are made in far away Lisbon where Slender-billed is hardly if ever seen it has taken time for its true status to be acknowledged. In 2008 we found more than 70 individuals on 23 different dates and we are now seeing them most days.

No comments: