Spectacle: 7 Rüppell’s Vultures in 2 days in northern Morocco

By | 12 May 2014

After the observation of 3 Rüppell’s Vultures (Gyps rueppellii) with with 5 Griffons (G. fulvus) at Jbel Bouhachem Natural Park in the afternoon of 10 May. Next day (11 May) we went to Jbel Moussa on the Strait of Gibraltar to observe bird migration with the hope of seeing the Rüppell’s again (we literally wanted to intercept them at the Strait, because we knew that they won’t cross during that same day of 10 May).

To our great pleasure, we spotted the first 2 Rüppell’s Vultures of the day at about 14:35 along with 6 Griffon Vultures. Afterwards, we observed small groups of Griffons moving above our heads.

Between 15:05 and 15:25, we observed 2 other Rüppell’s Vultures with 22 Griffons. In total, we counted 4 Rüppell’s and 139 Griffon vultures.

Also observed crossing the Strait: hundreds of Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus), tens of Black Kites (Milvus migrans), some Booted Eagles (Aquila pennata) and Short-toed Eagles (Circaetus gallicus).

In short, it was a wonderful spectacle of raptor migration.

When we compared the photographs of the 3 Rüppell’s Vultures observed at Jbel Bouhachem with the 4 birds observed at Jbel Moussa, we found that the birds were not the same individuals. So, there were 7 Rüppell’s Vultures migrating north in 2 days. This must be a record for the species at the Strait of Gibraltar and anywhere else in the Western Palearctic. Comments welcome!

Rachid El Khamlichi & Mohamed Amezian (with the company of Edith Meyer and her husband Théo, who were travelling through the Rif Mountains and were lucky – in their own words – to be with us during that day).

On 10 May, we were with the company of our great friend Mohamed Karim El Haoua.

Compare the birds below with those seen at Jbel Bouhachem on 10 May.

Photographs by Rachid.

Rüppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppellii), Jbel Moussa, 11 May 2014 (bird 1)

Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppellii), Jbel Moussa, 11 May 2014 (bird 1)

Rüppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppellii), Jbel Moussa, 11 May 2014 (bird 2)

Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppellii), Jbel Moussa, 11 May 2014 (bird 2)

Rüppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppellii), Jbel Moussa, 11 May 2014 (bird 3)

Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppellii), Jbel Moussa, 11 May 2014 (bird 3)

Rüppell's Vulture (Gyps rueppellii), Jbel Moussa, 11 May 2014 (bird 4)

Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppellii), Jbel Moussa, 11 May 2014 (bird 4)

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