Raptor migration, the essence of the Strait

To talk about birding in Tarifa and the Strait of Gibraltar is to talk about raptor migration and indeed this is one of the busiest migration corridors on earth. Twice a year thousands of raptors use the Strait as a bridge between their natal region in Europe and their winter quarters south of the Sahara.

Which is best, spring or autumn migration? That’s the eternal question and it does have a simple answer: these are so different (including the landscape) that you need to experience both!

Up to 36 raptor species have been recorded in the Strait in recent years, although the huge concentrations that can be seen are probably a more significant indicator of the magnitude of this world-class natural phenomenon. For instance, over 20,000 Honey Buzzards, 9,000 Black Kites, 5,000 Short-toed Snake Eagles, 3,500 Booted Eagles and 200 Egyptian Vultures have been observed in a single day of migration!

To make things even more spectacular, up to 5 different raptor species are frequently found thermalling in the same updraft and the sight of eagles struggling to fly over the ocean and finally reaching the shore with their beak open to cool themselves after the effort is equally breathtaking! In fact, every single day of raptor migration in the Strait is a masterclass on raptor ID and ecology and, above all, an ultimate natural spectacle for any audience!