Birds and ornithologists flock to very large garbage dump in southern Spain

An unlimited garbage dump in southern Spain has turn into a magnet for ornithologists as hundreds of storks, black kites and vultures make a stopover to feed on meals waste earlier than starting their journey throughout the Strait of Gibraltar.

“It’s particularly helpful for finishing up a census, as with so many birds in a single place it’s simple to rely them and to learn their rings,” stated Jesús Pinilla of web optimization/Birdlife in Andalucía.

It’s simple for the birds to seek out meals among the many mountains of rubbish within the dump at Los Barrios, close to Cádiz, that receives the waste of 400,000 folks residing in Gibraltar and the encompassing space.

Ornithologists have since July counted 210,000 kites and 125,000 storks crossing the strait.

However many Spanish and central European storks have additionally chosen to remain in Spain, feeding from the dump, relatively than make the lengthy journey south. Consequently, there’s now a secure inhabitants of about 37,000 people wintering there, in accordance with web optimization/Birdlife.

“It’s not new for birds to reap the benefits of this meals provide, however what we’re seeing is a change in migratory behaviour, particularly within the case of white storks,” Pinilla stated.

“Till comparatively just lately, all of the European white storks wintered in Africa, and because the garbage dumps have grown bigger, the birds have learnt that if there’s sufficient meals right here there’s no must make a 3,000km journey to sub-Saharan Africa to seek out one thing to eat.”

Robust crosswinds complicate the 13km (eight-mile) journey and any hen that falls into the ocean is prone to die there, as they’re unable to regain flight, so the higher fed they’re earlier than they set off, the higher their likelihood of survival.

Researchers say that in addition to meals, the birds eat a whole lot of plastic, rubber and poisonous substances on the landfills. There are additionally rats that the kites prefer to hunt.

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In an article published earlier this year in the journal Movement Ecology, Spanish researchers tracked the movements of white storks (Ciconia ciconia) on their journey from northern Spain to Morocco and found that they made numerous stopovers at landfill sites on their migratory routes.

The researchers found that storks were capable of spreading toxins picked up from landfills, causing heavy metal and plastic pollution in agricultural areas, particularly in rice-growing regions.

However, by feeding in landfills on the way, storks expend less energy and have easier migratory routes, increasing their chances of survival. As a result, the European white stork population has increased dramatically since the 1980s.

The climate crisis is also driving birds, especially migratory species, to adapt. Two successive hot summers, combined with a prolonged drought in much of Spain, are forcing some species to change their habits.

“We don’t have all the facts, but it seems highly likely that in the case of storks, which need wetlands to feed and to reproduce, they have probably changed their behaviour as a result of the drought and may have produced fewer young,” says Pinilla.

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