Sagres Bird Migration 2018

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Throughout September, October and the beginning of November, Sagres on the South Western tip of Portugal becomes an amazing sight to watch migrating Birds of Prey. Birds flying across to Africa will always select the quickest route across open water which in South Western Europe is the Strait of Gibraltar. So why do they end up in Sagres? They follow the Western Coastline in a Southerly direction until they reach the South coast where they will then make their way along the Southern Coastline to the short crossing at Gibraltar. This results in some spectacular views of the birds soaring in the sky including this Juvenile Egyptian Vulture. More pictures below.

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Egyptian Vulture - Abutre do Egipto - Neophron percnopterus

Yesterday there was still a strong easterly wind blowing which is keeping the numbers down as the birds are waiting for a more favourably northerly wind to assist their flight south. The wind is predicted to change tomorrow (Sunday 7th October). Although the wind is keeping the numbers down, I was lucky enough to see a large selection of birds although some of which where too far away to photograph. You can witness the migration all the way through until November and the yearly festival is currently in full swing, but the last day is tomorrow. If you wish to visit, you can find more information at The Bird Watching Festival Website.

I have listed all the migrating birds I saw from my position below (in brackets is the Portuguese name followed by the latin name);

  • Egyptian Vultures (Britango/Abutre do Egipto – Neophron percnopterus)
  • Short-toed Eagles (Águia-cobreira – Circaetus gallicus) – Note! Not all migrate
  • Bonelli’s Eagles (Águia de Bonelli – Aquila fasciata)
  • Booted Eagles (Águia-calçada – Aquila pennata)
  • Honey Buzzard (Bútio-vespeiro – Pernis apivorus)
  • Osprey (Águia-pesqueira – Pandion haliaetus)
  • Eurasian Hobby (Ógea – Falco subbuteo)
  • Flock of Black Storks (Cegonha-preta – Ciconia nigra)

Also seen but not migratory;

  • Marsh Harrier (Tartaranhão-ruivo-dos-pauis – Circus aeruginosus)
  • Peregrine Falcon (Falcão-peregrino – Falco peregrinus)
  • Sparrowhaw (Gavião da Europa – Accipiter nisus)
  • Common Buzzard (Águia-d’asa-redonda – Buteo buteo)
  • Common Kestrels (Peneireiro-vulgar – Falco tinnunculus)

This Short-toed Eagle (Águia-cobreira – Circaetus gallicus) seemed to look straight down the lens!

Short-toed Eagle - Águia-cobreira - Circaetus gallicus

Below are some more photos I managed to capture during the day;

Eurasian Hobby (Ógea – Falco subbuteo)

Eurasian Hobby - Ógea - Falco subbuteo

Eurasian Hobby - Ógea - Falco subbuteo

Short-toed Eagle (Águia-cobreira – Circaetus gallicus)

Short-toed Eagle - Águia-cobreira - Circaetus gallicus

Booted Eagle (Águia-calçada – Aquila pennata)

Booted Eagle - Águia-calçada - Aquila pennata

Flock of Black Storks (Cegonha-preta – Ciconia nigra)

Black Storks - Segonha-preta - Ciconia nigra

Although not a migratory bird, a Peregrine Falcon was spotted. It is the world’s fasted bird at almost 390kph so is difficult to photograph, even more so when it refuses to fly on the correct side of the camera! So I decided to snap a quick back-lit shot.

Back-lit Peregrine Falcon - Falcão-peregrino - Falco peregrinus


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