Audouins Gulls and more in Tarifa

Character bird in Tarifa is the very rare Audouins Gull, which is more than elusive elsewhere. I was pleased to spend some hours with these handsome gulls.

Character bird in Tarifa is the very rare Audouins Gull, which is more than elusive elsewhere. I was pleased to spend some hours with these handsome gulls.

After all the individual travelling I have been doing this year the time had come to do something together with the family. We wanted to extend the Danish summer a bit, and ended up in Tarifa, the very southernmost tip of Europe.

Tarifa is right on the Strait of Gibraltar, and gazillions of birds fly through here in autumn and spring. So I snuck my “new” 500mm on board the plane just in case… As it turned out, the photo opportunities were relatively few and far between, but some of the shots turned out rather nicely all the same.

The clou of the trip in birding terms were the Audouins Gulls. These are super rare almost everywhere, but a reasonably common sight on the beaches around Tarifa. I was on my belly shooting terns when I noticed that a flock of Common Gulls next to the terns had odd-looking bills 🙂

Besides the Audouins Gulls the Lesser Crested Tern is just about impossible to see anywhere else in Europe, but contrary to the gulls it is quite common elsewhere, outside of Europe, meaning the sensation is somewhat relative.

The new 500mm is great – it hasn’t required any micro-adjust, and it accommodates the 1.4x extender much better than the 600 did. I don’t know if this is normal, but I am pleased to be able to shoot at 700mm (1120mm equivalent on the 7D mkII at f5.6) with a lens that is both lighter and slightly shorter than the old one. Most of the shots in this blog are from that very combo, judge for yourself if it works. Speaking of the 7D mkII it just keeps delivering, even when shooting diving gannets against the ocean – awesome piece of kit that one.

One day the griffon vultures seemed to be wanting to tackle the strait and migrate south – some 1500 of them were thermalling over the mountains a few km from the shore line, but I don’t think the Spanish population is generally considered transborder migratory, and I never saw any set out across the sea. Either way, such a concentration of large scavengers can hardly be just local birds, so at least some migration must occur. I didn’t photograph the concentrations so can’t prove anything anyway, but they were there, right on the tip of Spain, thermalling to get as high as possible…

As usual, click on the first image in the gallery to open up an image viewer, and consider hitting f11 if watching on a Windows PC. I like to watch images in Firefox because it renders colours better than the other browsers, if you don’t already then maybe you should.

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  • Aperture: ƒ/7.1
  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
  • Taken: 20 October, 2015
  • Exposure bias: +1EV
  • Focal length: 700mm
  • ISO: 800
  • Shutter speed: 1/200s

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