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Watching 1000s Migrate Across the Straight

It is hard to explain - 1000s of birds, forming up on the Spanish coast at Tarifa readying themselves to cross the Straights of Gibraltar to Africa. They form up in kettles, tornados made of birds, big birds mostly, and then form a moving river as they have gained enough height and found just the right thermal to cross. Some will keep going many more miles. Some will just make the 14km journey across the windy water.

We stood at the top of a hill and watched the spectacle. The absolute highlight - 600 White Storks catching the right thermal and heading across, right over our heads.

Prominent species migrating across the Straits included: White Stork, Black Kite, Griffin Vulture, Honey Buzzards, Booted Eagle, Swifts, Bee-eaters, Swallows, …. we watched from Ornithological Observatory of Cazalla.

And then - one of the key reasons I choose this tour - Gargoyle Vultures (actually Griffin not gargoyle but…). The model for the stone creatures that loom at us from tops of churches and structures all over the world. I saw them - live!

And today I saw a Spanish Imperial Eagle and then one of the most endangered birds - the Bald Headed Ibis (ugly and yet beautiful!). Many cows - yes some with bells but mine come with birds or the above mentioned Ibis.

Should we talk food? There is just too much of it! I had no idea this trip was going to be about eating! We are staying at very nice hotels (which I didn’t expect) and we are eating 3 wonderful meals a day (which I didn’t expect). So much salt!

Practicing photography, trying not to overheat in this crazy hot humid weather, and adding new birds to my life list.

As some of you know, I have been taking this Stanford course on ‘reading Historical Fiction - a way to learn about history - mostly about Antiquity but not just that’ (my title - 4 quarters of this amazing book club). Well, it is run by two archeologists and then would be thrilled to know I was looking down on this ruin in the town of Bolonia:

We did head out on the Atlantic on a boat ride. It was long and we saw very few birds. But it was so amazing to be out on the water. We motored along on the Continental shelf (the other one) dropoff, on smooth water until I could see Portugal in the misty distance. Highlights were sightings of a Manx Shearwater (finally - a target for Alvaro’s trips) and two other Shearwaters (Cory’s/Balearic).

Best photos for the last few days:

A Stonechat in front of Spanish Civil War bunker:

A Eurasian Kestrel with crazy alive snails:

Count update: 87 new life birds, 137 birds total

A few favorite photos/videos:


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