Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Happy New Year

Can this new upcoming 2017 fulfill all the wishes, hopes and  projects we believe in and worked on, particularly for wildlife conservation and for a peaceful world. Let's have great expectations despite the ending year has not been  particularly promising.

I take this chance to remind you to subsribe for the project Wings over the Strait. Support raptor monitoring and conservation!

A new MEDRAPTORS paper was just published on Bird Study. It is the result of a collaboration between us and Batumi Raptor Count. You can download it here: 

Moreover on the BOU blog you can read a short summary of our last paper on Ibis (click here to read it!).

Monday, November 21, 2016

Two new Medraptors papers out now

The first one has been published on Ibis and it is the result of a collaboration between MEDRAPTORS and the Fundacion Migres. In the paper is analyzed the variation of the autumn migratory phenology of 11 species of soaring birds at the Strait of Gibraltar using a 16-years data set. The data were compared to those recorded at the Pyrenees along the same flyway. Species specific differences show that species that are not advancing the migratory dates are those showing a negative population trend across Europe. This is evidence that, on one hand, some bird species show a high degree in behavioural plasticity while, on the other hand, is evidence that some raptor species are threatened by climate changes because are not able to cope with the changing environment. 

Panuccio M., Martin B., Morganti M., Onrubia A. 2016. Long-term changes in autumn migration dates at the Strait of Gibraltar reflect population trends of soaring birds. Ibis, doi: 10.1111/ibi.12420

The other paper is one of the results of our research activity on raptor migration at the Strait of Messina. We have analysed three years of data collected within the effort of the Aspromonte National Park. Data show that the only species regularly performing reversed migration in thea area is the Short-toed Snake Eagles probably because of its reluctance to fly over sea.

Agostini N., Gustin M. & Panuccio M. 2016. Short-toed snake eagles Circaetus gallicus (Gmelin, 1788) (Aves: Accipitridae) approaching a water barrier show reverse direction of migration. Italian Journal of Zoology, DOI: 10.1080/11250003.2016.1240833.

To support the research activity at the Strait of Messina, please donate us even few euros through the crowdfunding project lead by the University of Pavia: Wings over the Strait

Monday, October 17, 2016

Strait of Messina - Autumn 2016

Some days ago our monitoring season at the Strait of Messina, ended. We counted about 18000 migrating raptors belonging to 19 different species from a single watchpoint located on the continental side of the Strait. 
The commonest species were, as usual, honey buzzards, marsh harriers and black kites. Among the rare species one saker falcon, one imperial eagle and one lesser-spotted eagle. Moreover a good numbers of ospreys (49 individuals) some booted eagles, short-toed eagles and pallid harriers. Among non raptor species some tens of white and black storks, 1641 bee-eaters, 7 dottorels some rollers and herons. The nocturnal migration of passerines recorded by our radars was very intense, with different migratory peaks.
Lower numbers were observed on the Sicilian side of the Strait where in any case the nocturnal migration was relevant. Among observed birds some hundreds of marsh harriers and 860 bee-eaters.

On our website (powered by Trektellen) you can find our detailed count: straitobservatory.com

I take this chance to say thanks to the people who worked with us and even more to the volunteers.

In the end I mention that there is opportunity to support the activity at the Strait of Messina in 2017 through a donation, of even few euros, through a crowdfunding project promoted by our associations together with the University of Pavia. If you would like to support us, please visit the following website: wings over the Strait


Friday, September 30, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

In the last days we are counting only few tens a raptors per day since we are almost at the end of the migratory season here at the Strait. However the number of species is quite high with more than 10 raptor species per day. Yesterday one Long-legged buzzard, one booted eagle and two Ospreys. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina - Lesser-spotted Eagle!

Yesterday one beautiful juvenile Lesser-spotted Eagle has passed over our radar station at the Strait of Messina. Here below a picture of that bird taken by Giuseppe Cicero. During the weekend we recorded a good passage of juvenile Honey Buzzards together with several tens of kestrels/lesser kestrels. Moreover two days ago were observed other two dotterls. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

In the last two days we observed about 1000 raptors migrating over the Aspromonte mountain. Most of them were Marsh harriers but we recorded also many other species such as 1 Pallid harrier, 7 Booted eagles, 5 Short-toed Eagles, 1 Red-footed falcon and several Kestrels/Lesser kestrels. However we are still waiting for a peak of the migration in the next days! In the picture below (by Alberto Pastorino) a male Marsh harrier.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Two new MEDRAPTORS papers out now!

Two new papers have just been published! Both papers are outputs of two long-term collaborations between MEDRAPTORS and two other European organizations. The first paper has been published on Ornis Fennica and is a result of the collaboration between MEDRAPTORS and Greek ornithologists belonging to the Hellenic Ornithological Society. This paper analyses the weather selectivity of raptors migrating in autumn across the Aegean Sea. The behaviour of European Honey Buzzards and Western Marsh Harriers shows both similarities and differences.The intensity of migration of both studied species is positively correlated with air temperature. The European Honey Buzzard selects days with strong tailwind assistance that helps to reduce flight time over sea thus decreasing mortality risk and energy consumption during sea crossing. On the other hand, the Western Marsh Harrier seems to be less wind selective reaching the island in good numbers also with headwinds, probably because of its higher ability in using powered-flapping flight.
The second paper deals with the spring migration of Honey Buzzards across the Central Mediterranean area. We analysed the influence of wind patterns during the peak days of migration of this species. Data were collected across 8 years at five different Italian sites during a monitoring project promoted by LIPU BirdLife Italy.
To download the pdf click on the links below.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Imperial Eagle at the Strait of Messina

Yesterday a juvenile Imperial Eagle was observed migrating over our watchpoint at the continental side of the Strait of Messina. This bird was born at the border between Slovakia and Austria and it is followed thanks to a satellite transmitter. Really an impressive sight! Here below a shot of that bird taken by Stiven Kociancijc.

Monday, September 12, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

The weekend was a very good time to observe raptors migrating at the Strait. About one thousand individuals were counted from our main watchpoint. They were mostly Honey Buzzards but we observed also Booted Eagles, Osprey, one Short-toed Eagle (here below a picture of that bird) and some Montagu's Harriers. Black Kites and Marsh Harriers were quite commons. Among non raptor birds, saturday was a great day for Bee eaters with 580 individuals counted. Moreover 2 Black Storks, 2 rollers and one Great White Egret were observed.  

Friday, September 9, 2016

EBCC Conference "Bird Numbers 2016"

The EBCC Conference "Bird Numbers 2016" has started three days ago in Halle, Germany. In the meeting are presented an impressive number of monitoring projects all around Europe and also in Asia and Africa. We are also actively present there with two posters (one with a speed talk) showing results of the project that we are running at the Strait of Messina. 
Here below pictures of our posters.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

Not only raptors at the Strait of Messina. Two nights ago there was an intense migration during the night with thousands passerines detected by our radar. Here below a screenshot.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

In the end today was another amazing day of migration! Our daily count: 2101 Honey Buzzards, 127 Marsh Harriers, 66 Black Kites, 3 Montagu's Harriers, 2 Ospreys and 1 Common Buzzard. Moreover 6 White Storks and lot of Bee-Eaters were observed migrating through the Aspromonte mountain.

News from the Strait of Messina

Yesterday about 1100 raptors were counted and today, up to now, 1300 individuals are migrating between the clouds. Mostly Honey Buzzards but also Black Kites, White and Black Storks, Marsh, Montagu's and some Pallid harriers. Among falcons, Kestrels, Lesser Kestrels and Hobbys. In the picture below, taken yesterday by Domenico Derrigo, a juvenile Osprey.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

In the last week thousands of raptors were counted from our watchpoints at the Strait of Messina. Most of them were Honey Buzzards but today the passage of Marsh Harriers has started. Among the other species we observed Black Kites, Booted Eagles, Short-toed Eagles, Ospreys, White Storks, Montagu's Harriers and one Pallid Harrier today.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

In the picture below a screenshot from our radar screen with a flock of 90 honey buzzards (highlighted by the red circle) passed today here at the Aspromonte mountain. They were flying fast with a strong tail wind support toward the Strait of Messina ahead of a storm.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

August 2016 - Our field team!

Here in the picture below our field team working at the Strait of Messina.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

Here below the picture of a wonderful flock of 59 white storks passed yestarday afternoon over our radar station here at the Strait of Messina.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

In the last two days at least seven hundreds black kites were counted from our watchpoints in the Aspromonte mountain and moving toward the Strait of Messina. Other observed species were: honey buzzard, marsh harrier, short-toed eagle, white and black stork, kestrel and common buzzard. Moreover today it has been observed a wonderful roller.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Call for volunteers

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 our count. 
We are going to start the field season the next 11th August and we are going on until the end of September. We will use two different watchpoints and a radar station to monitor raptor approaching the Strait of Messina. Our study area is along the western slope of the Aspromonte mountain and the last years we counted about 20.000 raptors from a single watchpoint. 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.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Harmonizing pan-European raptor monitoring standards

Last week end in the Western Pyrenees a workshop has been held promoted by EURAPMON. Participants at the meeting were people involved in monitoring projects at raptors bottle-necks of the Western Palearctic. The following sites were represented:

  • Batumi (Georgia)
  • Eilat (Israel)
  • Burgas (Bulgaria)
  • Antikythira (Greece)
  • Malta (Malta)
  • Strait of Messina (Italy)
  • Pyrenees (France)
  • Strait of Gibraltar (Spain)

Moreover also other people involved in land bird migration count attended at the workshop. All the participants agree to constitute a permanent network with the aim to promote conservation and knowledge of migrating raptors, to share best practices, volunteers management and to cooperate. It is important, in fact, to let the activity working at the different sites and to analyse data collected at the different sites in order to give a wider perspective to our work and to answer major questions related to raptor conservation and ecology. 
We are proud that the proposed name of the newborn network recall the one of our smaller Mediterranean network. The name is Raptor Migration Network. Soon an official document of the Network will be published online  and in the next month a new website will be available.
Here below a picture of a plenary session and one of the Central flyway working group.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

Not only soaring birds migrate at the Strait of Messina but also several songbirds moving mostly during the night. During the last full moon night we made a session of moon watching and, of course, our radars are tracking songbirds every night. 
Here in the pictures below a wonderful picture of a northern wheatear taken by Miguel Gonzalez and a shot of the moon watching night.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

The migration is slowing down, and every day less raptors are observed. However from our Calabrian watchsite was observed a wonderful individual of Lesser-spotted Eagle moving toward north. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

Here below some pictures (by Giovanni Cumbo) of a flock of about one hundred White Storks which was observed two days ago at the Sicilian side of the Strait of Messina.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

Here at the Strait of Messina Honey Buzzards are passing between one storm and another. Yesterday in a break during the rain we counted more than 1500 raptors passing mostly toward the Tyrrhenian coast. Here below a nice picture (by Juan Ramirez) of Red-footed Falcons perched on a wire close the radar station. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

Today was a beautiful migration day here at the Strait of Messina. We counted more than 1000 migrating raptors, most of them were Honey Buzzards but we observed 10 different species of raptors and in particular dozens of Red-footed Falcons. White and Black Storks, Bee-eaters migrated at the site. Also the two nights before were very good for bird migration and we detected thousands passerines with our radars. In the picture below a screenshot of birds tracked by the radar.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

Yesterday a beautiful Imperial Eagle immature has passed over the watchpoint of Mount San Leo on the calabrian side of the Strait of Messina. Here below the sight from this watchpoint.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

Yesterday was a very good day of migration at the Strait of Messina. Hundreds of raptors were counted from our watchpoints. Most of them were Marsh Harriers but we observed also tens of Montagu's and Pallid harriers, storks and some Lesser Kestrels.
Now we are waiting for the arrival of Honey Buzzards. If you would like to join our count, send us an email.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

In the last days we observed the first two Honey Buzzards passing over our watchpoints at the Strait of Messina. This last period was characterized by south wind bringing with it fog and low clouds. This weather is not the best possible to watch migrating raptors at the Strait but it creates suggestive atmospheres like the one that has been catched by Miguel Gonzalez in the picture below.  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Egyptian vultures and Black Storks

Two endangered species breeding in southern Italy have just arrived in their breeding sites. The pictures below taken by Gianpasquale Chiatante show one of the last pairs of Egyptian vulture breeding in mainland Italy and a pair of Black Stork.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

Here below two nice pictures taken by Angelo Scuderi in these days at our watchsite on the Calabrian side of the Strait of Messina. A large flock of white storks and a beautiful marsh harrier male. If you would like to participate to our count write us an email  (food and accomodation are provided by the project).

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

In the last two days the migration at the Strait of Messina had become more intense. Some hundreds of Marsh Harriers passed together with Black Kites, Pallid and Montagu's Harriers, Booted Eagles and Sparrowhawks. Moreover yesterday passed an adult Egyptian vulture and today a flock of 71 White Storks. Here below a nice picture of a melanistic Marsh Harrier taken by Miguel Gonzalez.

Monday, March 21, 2016

News from the Strait of Messina

The first week of observations went a bit slowly at the Strait of Messina however we counted the first contingents of Marsh Harriers, some tens of Sparrowhawks and storks and Booted Eagles. There are still some wintering Hen Harriers hunting along the slopes of the Aspromonte mountain and once also the Golden Eagle reached our watchsite. However the weather forecast are not optimistic, today and tomorrow we will have very strong south wind and, in the following days, rain and snow! Here below some nice pictures taken by Giovanni Cumbo from our sicilian watchsite.