We’re only in the first week of March, but some of our most spectacular summer migrants have already started to return from African wintering grounds!
The Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus is a seasonal visitor to the Mediterranean region, and a real “must-see” species for the warmer months down here in southern Spain. With a wingspan of nearly six feet – over 1.7 metres – it’s always an impressive sight, and Kiersten’s wonderful new images illustrate superbly some of the key ID points to look for.
Uniformly pale, almost silvery-white plumage on the underside of the wings and chest separates this species from many of the other larger raptors, and always contrasts strongly with the characteristic, dark brown hood. Note how in some individuals it extends in a bib onto the chest…nicely captured in the shot shown below.
A good view reveals fine rows of dark spots across the chest, extending out across the wing, and three, evenly-spaced dark bars through the sharply cornered tail.
The Short-toed Eagle favours open, hilly country with patches of woodland, rocky slopes and scrub. They feed mainly on reptiles, and specialise in hunting snakes: thick scales on their legs protect them from bites, and larger victims are skilfully wrestled on the ground before being overpowered and carried off!
No doubt we’ll return to this beautiful species as the coming weeks unfold, and it’s terrific to have our first shots of the season posted for you today. If you would like to know more about how to join us on one of our birdwatching trips and holidays, click here for all the details…and for all our latest birding news, please keep checking our posts and trip reports!