Usually we think that raptors don't like water (and it is true!). However our friends Alan Pittana and Elisa Moretti from Trieste took amazing pictures of Griffon Vultures swimming in a river in Western Spain (here below). It is really impressive to see pictures of griffons freely going into the deep water! This behaviour is probably linked to the necessity of vultures to clean themselves from parasites taken when feeding on carcasses.
Thursday, December 7, 2017
Saturday, October 21, 2017
The migration of European honey buzzards finished weeks ago since the peak of the migration was, as usual, between the end of August and early September. On the other hand Oriental honey buzzards are still moving southward in Asia and at Khao Dinsor (Thailand) in these days thousands of them are migrating together with several other raptor species. The raptor count there is promoted by the Flyway Foundation. Here below some shots of Oriental honey buzzards there.
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Few days ago the fieldwork season at the Strait of Messina ended. This year we decided to extend the monitoring season to detect some late migrants. In october we observed hundreds of Kestrels/Lesser Kestrel as well as interesting numbers of Short-toed Snake Eagles, Booted Eagles, some Pallid Harriers and Red Kites.
Our next appointment will be in spring 2018. Let's meet then!
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Two days ago it was shot a juvenile Black Stork close to our watchpoint at the Strait of Messina. We already don't know if it will be possible to release the stork in the field. This beautiful bird was shot in area outside Natura 2000 site and outside the border of the National Park. Therefore it was shot in an area where hunting is allowed. We believe the problem is that one and the solution should be to forbid hunting activity in the whole bottle-neck area of the Strait of Messina. Here below a picture of the unlucky stork.
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
In the last two days about 2000 birds were counted at our watchsite at the Strait of Messina. Most of them were Honey Buzzards but we observed also about 100 Marsh Harriers, about 50 Black Kites, 4 Ospreys, 12 Black Storks one Roller and many more. Take a look to our count here.
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
In the last two days there was a good passage of raptors with more than one thousand individuals counted yesterday. Lot of Honey Buzzards but also a beautiful adult Egyptian vulture. Black kites moved slowly in the study area flying through very circuitous paths. Also the day before in the evening. Fortunately we tracked them by eye (and also by radar) to avoid double count. We are testing a new radar software and we tracked several flocks of raptors migrating both on the highland and over the slopes of the mountain. Follow our raptor count here: http://www.straitobservatory.com/raptor-count/
Monday, August 21, 2017
Both tagged kites are now in western Sicily. They started the migratory journey around mid-august, three days distance from each other. Both passed the Strait of Messina where they have been observed by our raptor counters on the Aspromonte mountain. Now the two kites are roosting together and during the day they feed at agricultural fields, garbage dumps and lakes, together with several hundreds of other kites, waiting to undertake the crossing of the Channel of Sicily and reaching Africa. Here below a map with the tracks of the two kites and a detailed map of their passage through the Aspromonte mountain close to our watchpoint (the red star).
Monday, August 14, 2017
This summer we tagged two Black Kites born in Decima Malafede Natural Reserve in the surrounding of Rome. Now the first of those birds is moving southward and this morning at 6 o clock it crossed the Strait of Messina reaching Sicily. The bird was observed by our raptor counters on the Aspromonte mountain flying in a flock of 19 birds. Here below two maps and a picture of the bird with the GPS tag. The bird has also a red coloured ring with a white code.
The project is run by Ornis italica with the support of Medraptors, the University of Pavia and RomaNatura.
Monday, August 7, 2017
This is a video realized (by Michele Panuccio) few days ago in the Natural Reserve of Decima Malafede of two beautiful chicks. An adult individual is bringing them some food (a dead pigeon). This pair is in delay. The migration of Black Kites has already started and in the same moment of the video, tens of individuals have grouped together in the same area in a communal pre-migratory roost.
Saturday, July 29, 2017
Autumn migration is coming as well as a new exciting season of raptor watching. If you are a raptor maniac or if you are simply curious to participate to a fieldwork you can join us and our count.
We are going to start the field season the next 9th August and we are going on until the end of September. We will use one watchpoint where we will set a radar station to monitor raptor approaching the Strait of Messina from the mountain ridge. Our study area is along the western slope of the Aspromonte mountain and the last years we counted about 20.000 raptors. Most of raptors are Honey Buzzards, Black Kites, Marsh Harriers and Kestrels/Lesser Kestrels. Other species regularly observed are: Montagu's and Pallid harriers, Ospreys, Egyptian Vultures and Black Storks. The monitoring activity is conducted by professional ornithologists and volunteers coming from different European countries.
Food and accomodation is provided for all volunteers. For further information write us an email.
Friday, June 30, 2017
This stunning sequence was taken by Juan Ramirez some weeks ago at the Strait of Gibraltar. Despite the Strait is only 14 km wide at its narrowest point, the largest raptors find serious difficulties to use flapping flight to overcome it. During the flight across the Strait it is not rare that some vultures or eagles died in the attempt of crossing the Strait. This time a Griffon Vulture fell into the sea but he was not discouraged and he reached the coast "swimming"! The bird survived and when it dried up it flew away showing an amazing case of how any individuals fight for its survival.
Monday, June 12, 2017
This video shows an adult Black Kite defending its nest from a jay. The video was taken two days ago by Jean-Philippe Audinet in the Natural Reserve of Decima Malafede that hosts a population of about 11 pairs of Black Kites. Unfortunately the population of this species in central Italy is declining probably because of a lack of resources.
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Thursday, May 25, 2017
In these days we are recording the late passage of raptors at the Strait of Messina, mostly Honey Buzzards even if not exceeding some hundred of individuals per day. While here below a nice picture taken by Giovanni Cumbo of an Osprey in migration carrying a fish for his breakfast.
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Yesterday it was an astonishing migration day at the Strait of Messina. We counted more than 2600 raptors and 3 beautiful Egyptian vultures! This species is now so rare in the Italian peninsula that not every year we observe it at the Strait, while this spring we already counted 6 individiduals.
Here below a picture of two individuals observed yesterday at our station.
Monday, April 24, 2017
Yesterday has been detected an amazing passage of Red-footed falcons at the Strait of Messina. In a few hours hundreds of them crossed the Strait on a broad front together with a beautiful Egyptian vulture, and good numbers of Montagu's harriers.
Here below a picture of the falcons taken by Giuseppe Cicero.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Some days ago a flock of three Griffon vultures was observed at the Strait of Messina. Vultures were observed first on the Sicilian side and then also on the Calabrian side of the Strait. Vultures have crossed the Strait together, taking 35 minutes to fly across 23 km!
Monday, April 17, 2017
Here below two beautiful pictures taken by Juan Ramirez at the Strait of Gibraltar. The first one was taken yesterday at the Los Lances beach and shows an adult Egyptian vulture. The other one shows an exhausted Griffon vulture just arrived on the European side of the Strait.
Friday, April 14, 2017
This week Alberto Pastorino graduated at the University of Pavia. He made a Master thesis analysing individual differences in flight performances of Honey Buzzards migrating in southern Italy. Radar measurements were made on raptors flying singly and in flocks, and for each flock were tracked more individuals. The amazing results showed that faster speed is reached by individuals flying in flocks rather than alone and that there are significative differences among individuals of the same flock.
Friday, March 31, 2017
An interesting video document from the '70s that shows the "adorno" festival in a small village inland of the Strait of Messina. The festival was yearly organized by hunters/poachers to celebrate the killing of the Honey Buzzards. The hawk shoother who did not shoot to any raptors in the season was named the mayor of the village and was bringed around the village for derision.
Monday, March 27, 2017
Today we observed a good passage of raptors with two beautiful male pallid harriers and tens of male marsh harriers. Moreover we recorded three black storks and the first cuckoo of the season. Follow our count.
Friday, March 24, 2017
In these days we observed a passage of hundreds of Marsh harriers together with many other species such as Booted eagles, Black kites, Sparrowhawks, Kestrels and Lesser kestrels, Montagu's and Pallid harriers, Ospreys. As usual in March, most of the Marsh harriers observed were males and they migrated in small flocks or singly.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
After some years from the fieldwork I'm really happy to announce that has been published our paper relying on raptor migration in North West Turkey on Ardeola. It was a project totally carried out by MEDRAPTORS and aimed to provide data on the behaviour of migrating raptors in relation to weather conditions. Despite several different raptor counts performed at the Bosphorous there wasn't any published information showing how wind and other weather parameters interact with raptor migration. Moreover no available data from the Dardanelles were available. Therefore our paper fills a gap providing new important results that clearly show species-specific differences among raptors migrating across the straits of Turkey.To download the paper, click on the link below.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
14 March - 25 May
For the fourth consecutive season we are starting a new fieldwork season at the Strait of Messina using visual observations and radar monitoring. If you are interested in participating as volunteer (food and accomodation will be provided) contact us: email@example.com.
Saturday, February 4, 2017
A new paper has been published on Acrocephalus. The paper relies on the migration of Lesser Kestrels in the Balkan area. This analysis shows that this species migrates on a broader front during spring than in autumn while philopatry rates are higher for adults, while juvenile birds disperse more often and at longer distances, up to 974 km away. This research was made by a team of Greek ornithologist with a contribution from MEDRAPTORS activities.
To download the paper click on the link below.
- Bounas A., Panuccio M., Evangelidis A., Sotiropoulos K. & Barboutis C. 2017. The migration of the Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni in Eastern Europe - a ringing recovery and direct observation approach. Acrocephalus 37: 49-56.