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African White-backed Vulture at Tarifa

An African White-backed Vulture photographed at Tarifa, southern Spain.

African White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus), Tarifa, southern Spain, 8 Oct. 2021 (Javier Elorriaga / Birding The Strait)
African White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus), Tarifa, southern Spain, 8 Oct. 2021 (Javier Elorriaga / Birding The Strait)

October and November is the time of Griffon Vulture migration at the Strait of Gibraltar. Thousands of juvenile and immature birds cross the Strait at this time to winter in Africa. And their African cousins, Rüppell’s and White-backed Vultures, tend also to occur with them at the migration bottleneck as they head back to the African continent.

It’s during these conditions that Javier Elorriaga found and photographed a White-backed Vulture at Tarifa on 8 October.

He wrote in their “Birding The Strait” FB page at the time of the observation:

African White-backed vulture in Tarifa today! After the wonderful migration of the regular species in August and September, October does usually bring the rare ones to the Strait of Gibraltar. This week we had been lucky enough to find a juvenile Pallid Harrier and this striking African White-backed Vulture among several Rüppell’s!

African White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus), Tarifa, southern Spain, 8 Oct. 2021 (Javier Elorriaga / Birding The Strait)/

There have been about a dozen of White-backed Vulture records in the Western Palearctic so far. However, not all birds identified as such were later accepted by the relevant national rarity committees. In fact some of them were strange-looking Griffon of Rüppell’s Vultures.

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