Sunday 28 February, the 'northern' section of the Smuggler's path, towards Puerto del Negro, 1030-1230hrs, sunny, light NW wind: Plenty of small groups of Griffon Vulture around, but also a larger group of 40+ over El Hacho. The first Swift of the year was seen; not a Common or Pallid but a lovely Alpine Swift heading N. Also seen were a single Short-toed Eagle, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Raven, Barn Swallow, Stonechat and Song Thrush. Mistle Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush and Cirl Bunting were all heard singing. There were a few orchids about, mainly Sombre Bee, but the photo shows one I can't identify - anyone got any ideas?
Tuesday 22 February: A couple of reports of a pair of Red-billed Chough flying around the village side of Gaucin castle - hopefully they might breed here. Also, following the Eagle Owl sighting last month, reports of one calling near the castle last night - a dusk walk along the Camino de los Molinos is called for, I think!
Tuesday 22 February, track below Sierra Espartina, 1000-1100hrs: Still a lot of Song Thrush around, at least 6 seen in this area, plus Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Black Redstart. The photos show two forms of the Sombre Bee Orchid Ophrys fusca both seen today. The bottom photo, taken last week, shows the all pale type and the top photo the yellow edged variant.
Monday 20 February, Gaucin, 1500-1630hrs, mainly sunny, moderate wind from NW: Spent an hour or so along the wonderful footpath that starts at the bottom of Calle Arrabalete. The good news is that both of the Bonelli's Eagles are still around in the Genal valley below the castle to the south. Watched them being mobbed by a female Sparrowhawk before they eventually gave up and headed further up-river - it may be that they have moved further away after the fire but at least they are still in the same general area. Also seen were Griffon Vulture, Common Kestrel, Woodpigeon, Chiffchaff, House Martin, Sardinian Warbler, Black Redstart, Blackcap and Blue Rock Thrush (male in picture showing characteristic large bill). The warmer weather has also brought out quite a few butterflies including some early Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius).
Saturday 19 February: A couple of sightings of at least one of the Bonelli's eagles since the fire last week - let's hope they are both still around. Currently a great singing contest going on in the gardens between Calle del Pino and Convento between two Blackbirds, that's when thet're not chasing each other from tree to tree! One of them in the photo.
Sunday 13 February, 1030-1300hrs, Tourist Association walk to the Ermita de San Juan, Gaucin, mostly cloudy: Two separate Hawfinch sightins (by Wingspanner), male Common Buzzard in modified diving display flight, Common Kestrel, Black Redstart, Stonechat and a flock of over 50 Griffon Vulture flying west towards El Hacho. Also found a few Sombre Bee Orchid Ophrys fusca (see photo of one taken on Friday on the Sierra Espartina just outside Gaucin).
Tuesday 08 February, Laguna Dulce, Campillos, 1000-1300hrs, mostly sunny, calm: Tony and I took a trip up to the main lagoon at Campillos, north-east of Ronda. After several lovely clear warm days it was strange to set off in misty conditions but it soon cleared once we arrived at Laguna Dulce. First we went down a track that runs behind the lagoon and had distant views of 19 Little Bustard, also good views of several Calandra Lark, plus Golden Plover, Lapwing, Common Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Red-legged Partridge, Crested Lark, Skylark, Corn Bunting and Marsh Harrier. We then drove around the lagoon to the hide where we saw White-headed Duck (see female and male in photo), Gadwall, Shoveller, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Grey Heron, Greater Flamingo, Great-crested Grebe (two pairs performing the mating 'dance'), Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Purple Swamp-hen, Marsh Harrier, Cetti's Warbler and Chiffchaff (in full song). There were still plenty of Spanish Iris Iris xiphium in flower (see photo)- always a nice sight!
Wednesday 02 February, Along the River Genal at the bridge on Gaucin-Manilva road, 1600-1700hrs, clear blue skies, cool: Fairly quiet bird-wise but did get several distant views of Bonelli's Eagle over the wooded ridge that runs E-W from Gaucin; also Griffon Vulture, Cattle Egret, Black Redstart, Crag Martin, Grey Wagtail, Serin, Siskin, Chaffinch and Blackcap.