Has Tõnn found his wintering grounds?

Text by Urmas Sellis
Image byJavier Mansilla

For more than a month, our greater spotted eagle Tõnn has searched for a good wintering place. En route, he flew through the southern reaches of France and Spain and from there flew northeast back along the Mediterranean coast. By early December, Tõnn had had adventures in Valencia's southern province of Alicante. On December 11th there was probably good weather, because Tõnn saw more interesting landscape farther inland:

The El Hondo wetlands

And naturally this had to be investigated. Beginning then, our greater spotted eagle landed in the northern end of the El Hondo wetlands. El Hondo offers a quite atypical type of landscape in an otherwise dry region—during the Roman Empire this was still a saltwater bay connected to the Mediterranean Sea. Over time, it was cut away from the sea by sediment and sand brought by the river and sea. Beginning in the 18th century, it's been attempted to dry the marshes, but this hasn't proved successful. In recent times, some of the landowners have stopped competing with nature and have found uses for the land such as fishing and hunting. This change is generally good for the birds that stop or nest there. In 1989, El Hondo came under protection of the Ramsar Convention. The area also has greater European importance and is part of the IBA (Important Bird Areas) program. It seems that Tõnn has found quite a suitable place. Whether he himself thinks so we'll soon know—the next data transmission is due on the 28th. His journey up until now may be seen on the map below.

View larger map




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