When the ocean turns into a desert

When the ocean turns into a desert

I affiliate completely different instances of the yr with specific birds and chicken actions. In some instances, I’ve been following these occasions since childhood and so they have grow to be part of my life. One such interval has simply began and can proceed into September. Because the weather conditions over the Mediterranean grow to be secure in the summertime months, the water column turns into very stratified and little nutrient and plankton will get to the floor. The winter storms churn all this up and make the Mediterranean a spot price getting into if you happen to’re a seabird. However now, it’s time to go for a lot of species.

Balearic Shearwater with Yellow-legged Gull as background

For a seabird, life within the Mediterranean is certainly one of seizing the cornucopia earlier than the desert units in as soon as extra. All of it begins in Could and June with the departure of Balearic Shearwaters Puffinus mauretanicus. They breed early and now it’s time to maneuver out into the Atlantic. This primary stage is a moult migration and it’ll take many all the best way as much as the English Channel. It’s solely with the return of the low stress methods in October that the Balearic Shearwaters come again and prepare to profit from the winter and early spring productiveness to breed.

Balearic Shearwater

This time additionally marks the beginning of the exit of Audouin’s Gulls Ichthyaetus audouinii. I keep in mind the early eighties when these birds have been uncommon and I additionally recall the sudden enhance in numbers because the Ebro Delta colony was established. From only a few birds I might see a whole lot whereas sea-watching at Europa Level, Gibraltar. This must be the most effective place on the planet to see these birds up shut and in giant numbers. With south-westerlies they arrive proper as much as the cliffs as they make their manner out in the direction of the coast of West Africa the place they may spend the winter. Just like the Balearic Shearwaters, they return early, in February, to profit from the productiveness of the Mediterranean. Some grasp across the Strait of Gibraltar all winter, the incoming Atlantic currents making a dwelling attainable right here.

Above: Grownup Audouin’s Gull passing Europa Level, Gibraltar. Under: Juvenile at similar web site, displaying attribute underwing sample

One thing related occurs to the Yellow-legged Gulls Larus michahellis. They’re now ending the breeding season and go away the breeding colonies. Some journey down the Atlantic coast of Morocco or up the coast of Iberia, additionally to moult, however many now grasp across the Strait. Of their case, it’s garbage ideas that permit them to stay resident. These gulls are again on the breeding colonies in October, although they don’t lay eggs till April. Organising nesting territory in these extremely aggressive and aggressive gulls appears to push them in the direction of an early arrival on the colonies.

Grownup Yellow-legged Gull
Raft of Cory’s Shearwaters

The most important spectacle of the summer time comes when the flying fish move in August and September. It attracts many predators and Cory’s Shearwaters Calonectris borealis are the celebrities of the present. They collect within the Strait of Gibraltar in giant rafts and be careful for the fish to point out up. It’s often dolphins and tuna that discover and chase them to the floor, the place the shearwaters lie in wait.

Cory’s Shearwater with flying fish

Shortly after, the Cory’s Shearwaters collect emigrate in the direction of southern Africa as do the Scopoli’s Shearwaters Calonectris diomedea which have bred within the Mediterranean. The Cory’s Shearwaters belong to Atlantic populations with a number of really breeding on this westernmost a part of the Mediterranean. As with the opposite seabirds, each additionally return early, in February.

Scopoli’s Shearwaters on migration previous Gibraltar

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