20 August 2021
Raptor migration is underway in Europe and will follow soon in North America. One of the best autumn hawk watches is in Spain at the Strait of Gibraltar, the water gap between Europe and Africa.
Northern Africa looks tantalizingly close — only 9 miles away — but the Strait is too dangerous to cross when the wind is from the east. Called the Levant, it blows 25-45 miles per hour toward the Atlantic, strongly suppresses vertical air motion, and can create an inversion within a few thousand feet of the surface. The birds would be forced into the water if they made the attempt.
#KiteSurfing! Masses of Black Kites swarm and surf the strong easterly crosswind today ! The magic of The Straits!— Inglorious Bustards (@Otis_inglorius) August 15, 2021
The easterly wind continues today and the departure gate is still shut for the majority of the soaring migrants. Not thousands, but tens of thousands gather! pic.twitter.com/xLUmHwpebF
When the weather changed, Monday 16 August was a fantastic migration day.
??? #migration here in The #Straits today with @ornid – 18,425 Black Kite, 4,556 White Storks, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Eleanora’s Falcon, a diff juv Lanner Falcon, Montagu’s and Marsh Harriers, Black-winged Kite and European Honey Buzzards and European Bee-eaters! pic.twitter.com/BqIMqwwwEt— Inglorious Bustards (@Otis_inglorius) August 16, 2021
Meanwhile songbird migration is heating up in North America. BirdCast shows that last night over 100 million birds flew over the eastern U.S. Tonight’s forecast for Pittsburgh (night of 20-21 Aug 2021) promises to be especially intense. Go birding on Saturday!
Update on Sat 21 August, 11am: What a bust! The birds must have flown over without landing. Lots of robins and blue jays. And it was hot out there.
(photos from Wikimedia Commons, embedded tweets from Inglorious Bustards, screenshot from BirdCast; click on the captions to see the originals)