Autumn vulture migration at the Strait of Gibraltar, November 2015

By | 24 November 2015

A summary of vulture migration census during November 2015 at Jbel Moussa and Punta Cires (Dalia beach) on the southern shore of the Strait of Gibraltar, northern Morocco:

4 November:

More than 400 Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus) crossed the Strait of Gibraltar this day at Jbel Moussa and Punta Cires. They were first detected (by telescope) circling and gaining altitude east of Tarifa in Spain at 10:50. The first group started to cross at 11:22 and started to arrive to Morocco at 11:56 (with slight westerly winds). They were four groups of 238, 83, 18 and 70 vultures (409 vultures in total).

In late afternoon we met Jose Antonio Barba Ramos who visited us from Murcia, and he told us that he observed a flock 300 vultures at Cazalla near Tarifa, of which a group of about 100 were about to cross the Strait at 15:00 (Moroccan time).

One Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppelli) also crossed with the griffons, but we didn’t seen it in the field and was only detected when we were looking at the photographs.

Rachid El Khamlichi & Mohamed Amezian

20 November:

At least 80 Griffon Vultures have crossed the Strait of Gibraltar at Punta Cires this day at noon. Some Short-toad Eagles (Circaetus gallicus) have also crossed the Strait with the vultures. (Rachid).

22 November:

A group of 100 Griffon Vultures crossed the Strait this day (Rachid).

23 November:

It’s nearly the end of November and vultures still migrating south from the Iberian Peninsula. Here is a list of the birds seen this day between 11:05 and 13:44 at Jbel Moussa and Punta Cires (Rachid):

– Griffon Vulture: 620 birds,

– Red Kite (Milvus milvus): 6 birds. One of the latest migration dates recorded for the species in Morocco. Until now, the latest date of autumnal passage was 20 November as cited in ‘The Birds of Morocco’ (Thévenot et al. 2003).

– Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo): 4 birds, and

– White Stork (Ciconia ciconia): A bird. It seems that this bird was marked with red painting on the left wing (see last photo), and it probably represents the latest white stork still moving south at this date. The normal post-breeding migration period of the species is summer and early autumn, and by this time of year (November) some storks are already returning from their wintering grounds to Europe. As an example, a White Stork satellite-tagged as a nestling in June 2013 in the Doñana National Park (Spain) migrated to Niger where it ‘wintered’. Before the “real” winter begins, the stork started its northward migration and by 5 November it was already at Asilah (northern Morocco) where it was found later dead near a rubbish dump.

Gyps vultures in autumn 2015:

The following is the total numbers of Gyps vultures counted during the autumn migration of 2015:

– 700 Griffon Vultures crossed the Strait at Tanger-Med port on 15 October.

About 3500 Griffon Vultures and 2 Rüppell’s Vultures crossed the Strait at Jbel Moussa on 28 October.

– 1209 Griffon Vultures and 1 Rüppell’s Vulture counted during 4 days in November (detailed above).

Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppelli), Jbel Moussa, northern Morocco, 4 November 2015

Rüppell’s Vulture (Gyps rueppelli), Jbel Moussa, 4 November 2015.

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) migrating south, Strait of Gibraltar, northern Morocco, 23 November 2015

Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) migrating south at the Strait of Gibraltar, Morocco, 23 November 2015.

Red Kite (Milvus milvus) migrating south, Strait of Gibraltar, northern Morocco, 23 November 2015

Red Kite (Milvus milvus) migrating south at the Strait of Gibraltar, Morocco, 23 November 2015.

White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) migrating south at the Strait of Gibraltar, Morocco, 23 November 2015

White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) migrating south at the Strait of Gibraltar, Morocco, 23 November 2015

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