The return migration of the Black Kite across the Strait of Gibraltar

The return migration of the Black Kite across the Strait of Gibraltar


The return migration of the Black Kite across the Strait of Gibraltar The Black Kite is the earliest migrant raptor in the Strait of Gibraltar (Europa Point Lighthouse in Gibraltar) From early February Black Kites cross the Strait of Gibraltar in growing numbers Their main wintering quarters are in the tropical and subtropical savannas and grasslands of the Western Sahel, South of the Sahara The return migration to Europe peaks by mid-March and it lasts until May Over 11.000 kites have been counted in active migration over the ocean in a single day This is a world class spectacle Adults are now in a race to reach their breeding grounds in Europe and occupy the best breeding sites However, weather constraints, including strong winds and rain, do often force them to make a break in their journey This leads to enormous accumulations of Kites It is estimated that 150.000 to 250.000 individuals cross the Strait every year, making this the most abundant of all the raptors using the flyway (The Lighthouse of Tarifa and the coast of Morocco in the background) Driven by their migratory instinct, Black Kites may keep migrating from dawn to dusk, even in the absence of thermal updrafts This is a physically demanding challenge for a typically soaring species Migration communal roosts play an important role in pair formation and the exchange of information between individuals Sturdy Cork Oaks within Los Alcornocales Natural Park provide excellent shelter for necessary rest Immatures and non breeders may extend their stay at communal roosts, especially around predictable food sources In turn, adults will resume their way north as soon as they can In less than 5 months time, once the breeding season has finnished, they will be back in the Strait of Gibraltar, this time on their way South to Africa

One comment

  • SunnyRock Victor

    Amazing footage when was this filmed? As I live in Gibraltar and would like to visit Tarifa to see this amazing event if is still happening.

    Reply

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