Sunday, 21 September 2008
Cooling down, warming up
This morning, with a chill in the autumnal air, both adults were warming themselves in the early morning sun that was shining onto the East face of the tower, the male on the middle gargoyle and the female out of sight of the webcam on the lead gutter just behind the camera, as seen from the ground.
Under the south face of the tower were several feathers of a teal, easily identified by the green sheen on the secondary flight feather that I picked up among many browny breast feathers. Teal are small duck which are often taken by the falcons between now and spring when this species frequents local gravel pits and reservoirs.(The photo by Jon Salloway shows the female last summer with prey).
The last couple of days have been very warm and sunny here, perfect September days in fact and exactly the type of weather you want coming back from a holiday in SW Spain where mid day temperature were in the mid 30s!
We did see at least one peregrine while we were down there (perching on a pylon) but the main attraction was to watch the exodus of the many different types of birds of prey as they leave Europe bound for African warmth, accompanied by big flocks of white storks, much smaller groups of the rarer black stork and other species such as bee eaters, swallows and swifts.
The southward migration of these birds is focused on the short sea crossing to Morocco between Tarifa and Gibraltar. Over 100, 000 honey buzzards pass through between late August and the end of September with similar numbers of black kites and smaller numbers of short toed and booted eagles, egyptian vultures, harriers, sparrow hawks, ospreys etc. If you happen to be there on a day when the birds are moving in numbers it is really an amazing spectacle to watch. One day, apparently within an hour and a half, over 900 short toed eagles and 1000 other raptors flew over one of the watch points which have been set up to monitor this twice yearly passage.
Back here in Derbyshire it is still possible to see hobbies, especially the young birds which are honing their flying skills before they too set off bound for southern Africa. To watch these birds high in the fly sailing about catching insects is a treat to return home to. They'll soon be gone as the days get ever shorter.
Nick B (DWT)