Saturday 28 April 2012


Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug). Piros, a juvenile female born in Hungary and photographed in Palencia by Juan Sagardía (photo taken from his personal blog). 

The news is not exactly hot off the press but the Rarities Committee has just confirmed the presence of a Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) in Extremadura in 2009, the second record ever for Spain, after the first in Cádiz back in 10.04.02, and the first ever for Extremadura. The curious fact in this particular case is that no one has knowingly seen this satellite-monitored individual in Extremadura territory: a young female called "Piros" tagged with a satellite transmitter on 03.06.09 in Hungary. Piros set off on her juvenile-dispersal journey on 25.07.09, passing through Croatia, Slovenia and, Italy to the south of the Alps (27.07.09) and the south coast of France. It entered Spain on 30.07.09 via Girona, then crossing Lleida, Tarragona, Zaragoza, Navarre and Burgos. It then settled down for a month and a half in Tierra de Campos (Palencia, Valladolid and Zamora) until mid September, barring a brief foray into Portugal (districts of Guarda and Castelo Branco) from 30 to 31.08.09. The following map, taken from the Rare Birds in Spain Blog, traces its movements within the Iberian Peninsula.

According to the detailed info of the website its brief passage through Extremadura broke down as follows:
- 14.09.09. 10:00-12:00 hours, Palencia. 13:00-18:00 hours, near Puerto de Béjar (Salamanca). 19:00 hours, centre of Badajoz, where it spent the night.
- 15.09.09. 07:00 hours, still in the centre of Badajoz. 08:00-12:00 hours, moved southwards. 13:00-18:00 hours, north of Seville. 19:00 hours, Doñana.
- 16.09.09 and 17.09.09. Still in Doñana.
- 18.09.09, reached Cádiz. From 19 to 20.09.09 it crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and continued through Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania, where it was found dead, from unknown causes, shortly after 24.09.09.

The Saker Falcon is an open-country raptor whose range spreads from central Europe to China. Europe hosts a very threatened population, closely monitored since 2006. Up to 2010 47 were tagged (43 juveniles and 4 adults) with satellite transmitters. This research has shown that the adults stay put while the juveniles make dispersal journeys of varied length. Most stick to central Europe and a sizeable share shift eastwards to the Caucasus and Belarus, and southwards to Italy and above all Sicily. Only four birds reached Africa, one of them (Piros) passing through the Iberian Peninsula. Later on, another bird in 2011 moved to the west of France, brushing the Spanish Pyrenees but without actually crossing to the Spanish side.

- CR-SEO (Comité de Rarezas de SEO). 2011. Observaciones de aves raras en España, 2008. Ardeola 58(2). 
- Proyecto LIFE (LIFE06 NAT/H/000096) “Conservation of Falco cherrug in the Carpathian Basin 2006-2010”. Download PDF.