A couple of weeks ago, Simon Tonkin of The Inglorious Bustards gave an excellent presentation on migration along the East Atlantic Flyway, with a particular focus on the Straits of Gibraltar where they are currently based. A small group of intrepid SOG members decided to brave the cold January weather and I am sure they were all glad they did.
Vultures featured prominently in the talk, not only because Simon (slightly worryingly) appears to like “blood and guts” a little too much, but also because they are fantastic birds in their own right. Seeing photographs of huge numbers migrating through the area certainly made me think seriously about visiting in the near future. Unfortunately, vultures are still under threat even in Spain, as the EU have taken the unbelievable decision to allow diclofenac to be used as an anti-inflammatory drug to treat cattle. This is the drug that has nearly wiped out vultures in India.
Although Simon and Niki do lead tours in their local area (and further afield in Gambia), they are not just about eco-tours. Their background in working in the RSPB have helped them develop partnerships with other organisations and allowed them to educate others to ensure wildlife isn’t forgotten and is treated appropriately. For me this was the most interesting part of the talk. These partnerships range from having a local farmer leave out dead cattle for the vultures, to helping an organization find volunteers and funds to monitor the affect wind turbines are having on migrating birds.
You know a talk has been good when it ends and you realise you haven’t noticed the time go by!
Watch out for articles in The Harrier later in the year by The Inglorious Bustards, and we may even organise a SOG trip if anyone is interested!