Monday, September 6, 2010

Eleonora´s Falcons near the cape

Adult Eleonoras's Falcon (Falco eleonorae) - probably female. West Algarve, August 2010.

Birdwatching around the cape of Sagres and São Vicente - the extreme south western point of continental Europe - is always a great thing to do, particularly when migration peaks here in late summer and autumn. On good days, 15 to 20 raptor species can be seen, of a total of 31 bird of prey species recorded here so far. In late August, still at the beginning of the season, Lesser Kestrel, European Roller, White-rumped Swift, Egyptian Vulture, Bonelli's Eagle (I saw 4 different Individuals), Honey Buzzard and Eleonora's Falcon have been seen already. Seawatching from the cape, around 30 Great Skuas, 120 Cory's Shearwater, a dozen or so Balearic Shearwaters and around 10 Grey Phalaropes could be seen during less than an hour on the 31st of August.
Though the Eleonora's Falcons are not known to breed in the area, they show up every year and there are records throughout the season from August to October. It's interesting, because this period is the (delayed) breeding season for this cliff-nesting (often colonial) Falcon, feeding the young with migratory passerines, while dragonflies are the main food during the rest of the year. Main wintering area for the species is east Africa (Madagascar).
I have seen 2 different birds here in late August (of a total of 3 Ind.) - both of the pale morph, an adult and a probable immature, most probably the birds on the photos made by Jorge Safara (Obrigado para partilhar, Jorge !) and included in this article. Latest news - a sighting of a Lanner Falco biarmicus by Simon Wates on the 4th of September, a species that I have seen with a group of people here in February 2007 - record shots are here (scroll down).

Immature Eleonoras's Falcon (Falco eleonorae) - 2nd calender year. West Algarve, August 2010. Both photos by Jorge Safara.

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