Saturday, 22 September 2012

A blessing in disguise??

September in southern Spain is most famous for one thing....raptor migration!  Being the narrowest point across the Straits of Gibraltar, the area around Tarifa is a funnel for thousands of southbound raptors and other migrants, and naturally their watchers.  Wind direction is crucial for viewing the spectacle, and as we headed along the main road towards Tarifa, it was soon obvious that we had picked a good day, with scores of Booted Eagles and other raptors (I would have looked more closely had Toni not kept complaining about something to do with keeping my eyes on the road).  Along the road there are a couple of watchpoints around old deserted buildings which make excellent hilltop vantagepoints from which to view the spectacle.  Scanning around, dozens of Booted and Short-toed Eagles were visible along with fewer Honey Buzzards, Black Kites, Lesser Kestrels and even Sparrowhawks along with Black Storks and a swirling mass of several hundred distant White Storks, though only occasional birds ever came close enough to make photography really worthwhile.

Short-toed Eagles

After a couple of hours, the number of birds had decreased so we moved on, stopping for a few minutes at another viewpoint with a cafe.  Returning to the car, we soon noticed a smashed window and the realisation that one of the cameras (thankfully not the one with my big lens on!!) and Toni's purse had been stolen from the car.  We can only have been away from the car for a matter of minutes and even then not that far away, but the local thieves obviously know birders have expensive optics and are constantly on the lookout.  A few frantic phonecalls later and all her credit cards had been stopped and only a small amount of cash was in her purse at the time so the damage was minimal but a lesson definitely learned!

Even before the theft, I had been toying with the idea of upgrading my camera when we visited Gibraltar and a dash just in time as the shops were closing saw us soon kitted out with a new D300s and 70-300mm VR lens and we spent the rest of the evening up on the rock photographing the Barbary Macaques which live there and harrass the tourists for food, but are endearing nevertheless.

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