3500 Griffon Vultures crossed the Strait of Gibraltar at Jbel Moussa

By MaghrebOrnitho | 28 October 2015

More than 2300 Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus) have crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco in about one hour this morning. They were seen as they arrived above Jbel Moussa by Rachid El Khamlichi.

At the time of writing this (12h45), some smaller groups are still crossing. By late afternoon, over 3500 Griffon Vultures have been estimated to have crossed the Strait towards Morocco.

This shows once again that the number of Griffon Vultures migrating to Africa have increased significantlyover the past years. Foundation Migres estimated their number between 3000 and 4000 birds in spring 2009.

On this part of the Strait, 2138 Griffon Vultures were counted at Jbel Moussa migrating north in spring 2015 (partial count, see table in page 7 here).

Javier Elorriaga, who has studied raptor migration at the Strait of Gibraltar – and elsewhere – for years, commented the following about today’s vulture migration (the comment not edited):

Biggest day ever for Griffon Vulture migration in the Strait of Gibraltar today, as seen by Moroccan Birds fellows. Probably the biggest concentration of Griffons ever recorded in the Paleartcic as well….This is a world class natural wonder…only possible in the Strait of Gibraltar!

Despite this big number, many vultures are still in southern Spain and haven’t crossed the Strait yet. Flaki Sanchez Chico said hundreds of vultures are still at Tarifa waiting to cross (see the last photo he shared with us). He commented about this big migration day by the following:

…Y el resto, los tengo yo en el parque eólico de Tahivilla; Tarifa.

(…And the rest, I have them at the Tahivilla wind farm, Tarifa)

Two interesting species also crossed the Strait today: 2 Rüppell’s Vultures (Gyps rueppelli) and 2 Bonelli’s Eagles (Aquila fasciata). The latter species is sedentary in Europe and rarely cross the Strait to Africa.

On 5 November 2014, we recorded some 1335 Griffon Vultures ariving at Jbel Moussa in less than 6 hours.

En français, voir:

El Khamlichi, R. & Ramírez Román. J. 2015. Plus de 3500 Vautours fauves migrent au Jbel Moussa, record pour l’espèce au Maroc. Go-South Bulletin 12: 107-108.

Griffon Vultures just arriving at Jbel Moussa after crossed the Strait of Gibraltar.
Griffon Vultures just arriving at Jbel Moussa after crossed the Strait of Gibraltar.
Vultures just arriving at Jbel Moussa after crossed the Strait of Gibraltar.
Vultures just arriving at Jbel Moussa after crossed the Strait of Gibraltar.
Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppelli), arriving at Jbel Moussa
Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppelli), arriving at Jbel Moussa
Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata) arriving at Jbel Moussa
Bonelli’s Eagle (Aquila fasciata) arriving at Jbel Moussa
Hundreds of Griffon Vultures - and most likely other species such as the Rüppell’s - are still waiting in southern Spain. This picture was taken at Tahivilla Wind Farm near Tarifa by Flaki Sanchez Chico.
Hundreds of Griffon Vultures – and most likely other species such as the Rüppell’s – are still waiting in southern Spain. This picture was taken at Tahivilla Wind Farm near Tarifa by Flaki Sanchez Chico.

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