Numbers Entering Africa

The number of raptors, storks and pelicans counted at other watch sites in Europe and the Middle East are summarised in Tables 7.2, 7.3 and 7.4. The numbers and species composition vary greatly from site to site, depending on location with respect to breeding and wintering areas, and the importance of the site as a concentration point. Adding the maximum counts from Gibraltar, Messina (Italy), Israel

(or Suez) and Bab el Mandeb for certain soaring species gives a minimum rounded estimate of the numbers entering Africa from Eurasia in autumn, as follows: Short-toed (Snake) Eagle Circaetus gallicus 19 000, Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina 142 000, Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis 75 000 (spring count), Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus 16500, Levant Sparrowhawk Accipiter brevipes 60 000, and Steppe Buzzard (spring count) 466 000. These species alone total 778 000 birds, with White Stork Ciconia ciconia at 530 000, Black Stork Ciconia nigra at 17 000, and White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus at 70 000. Only for these species were the migration seasons reasonably well covered at each site, and no other major routes are known. In addition, Western Honey Buzzards Pernis apivorus alone probably total more than one million, because maximum counts at three major sites sum to 996 000, and many others are known to cross the Mediterranean Sea on a broader front, especially in autumn (Chapter 15). Meaningful counts of falcons and others, which migrate by flapping, or by a mixture of flapping and gliding, cannot be made, as they migrate on a broad front, and can cross the Mediterranean Sea anywhere. Hence, their total numbers are as yet unknown. One of the main gaps in knowledge concerns the extent of spring passage at Bab el Mandeb at the southern end of the Arabian peninsula. These birds are likely to take a more eastern route than those that pass through Eilat, so will not have been counted elsewhere on their journey. It seems likely, however, that the total numbers of raptors and other soaring birds entering Africa from Eurasia each year could greatly exceed two million.

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