Friday 16 December, mostly sunny, cool start, then warm, 17C: Another trip to Estepona, another chance to look at the gulls...only there weren't very many, too many people out enjoying a walk along the beach. Only about 100 Yellow-legged and 30 Black-headed, but plenty of Northern Gannet offshore high-diving for fish. On the way to Estepona stopped at Sabinillas where there were about 150 Yellow-legged and a couple of Lesser black-backed also two dolphin heading west along the straits. Back in Gaucin at dusk I saw about 10 White Wagtail heading towards the roof of the old convent so presumably there must be a roost thereabouts - will have a close look another day.
Monday 12 December, sunny but feeling cool in a light-fresh NW wind, 14C: A late afternoon walk along the tracks to the south of Gaucin produced the following....15 Griffon Vulture, Song Thrush, lots of Black Redstart (see male in photo), White Wagtail, small groups of Meadow Pipit (see photo), Stonechat, small flocks of mixed finches including Chaffinch, Greenfinch, 25+ Goldfinch and Serin; Crested Tit, Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Sardinian Warbler. Still no sign of last winter's Common Buzzards.
Sunday 11 December, sunny, 15C, light-fresh NW wind, 1100-1230hrs: Popped down to have a look around the fields near San Pablo de Buciete - mainly to try and catch up with a harrier that I saw briefly late yesterday afternoon whilst I was driving up to Gaucin. Although I didn't see anything in the immediate area I did manage to see a female Hen Harrier, albeit at some distance, off to the SW towards Castellar de la Frontier. Also seen were 3 Common Buzzard, 4 Common Kestrel, 30+ Griffon Vulture, 12 Cattle Egret, Meadow Pipit, Song Thrush, Stonechat, White Wagtail, House Sparrow, Black Redstart, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap and Cetti's Warbler (heard at two locations).
Friday 09 December, fresh W wind, partly cloudy: An late afternoon appointment in Estepona meant an excuse to check the gull flock on the beach. Unfortunately walkers and their dogs kept the birds a bit jumpy and the flock was a bit unexciting with 250-300 Yellow-legged Gull and 100+ Black-headed Gull whilst in amongst them was a group of 12 Sanderling. To see there were several Northern Gannet and a Great Cormorant.
Thursday 08 December, mostly sunny, little or no wind, 15C: Late yesterday afternoon I went for a walk down the Camino de Gibraltar to see if the wintering Buzzards had turned up in the valley, as they over-wintered there last year, but there was no sign of them. Saw Grey Wagtail, Crag Martin, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Goldfinch, Black Redstart and heard Cetti's Warbler. Today walked around La Umbria in the morning - there were a lot of birds around especially large numbers of Blackcap, Robin and Blackbird; also seen were Griffon Vulture, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Jay, Eurasian Nuthatch, Firecrest, Chiffchaff, Sardinian Warbler, Cirl Bunting, Meadow Pipit and 4 Song Thrush. Having spoken to other birders I'm withdrawing my Pied Wagtail record from Tuesday as it was more likely to have been a darker-backed White Wagtail.
Tuesday 06 December, sunny, light-fresh NE wind, 14C: A mid-morning walk around the Peñon de Benadalid, see photo of the rock and the view towards Cortes de la Frontera from the shoulder. The rock is popular with climbers - there were a few around this morning - which might explain the absence of the expected Blue Rock Thrush and Black Wheater! Did see 15 Griffon Vulture, Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, Iberian and Common Chiffchaff, Meadow Pipit, Thekla Lark, 40+ Crag Martin, White Wagtail, Dunnock, Stonechat, Song Thrush, Blackbird and Robin.
Monday 05 December, 1530-1700hrs, west slope of El Hacho, fresh NW wind, sunny, 16C. Another superb sunny day even though the fresh NW wind took the edge off a bit! This warm, dry late autumn weather is very similar to last year - will we get the same long spells of rain later? Before going to El Hacho I had a quick look down the Los Ranosos track opposite La Almuna - lots of bird activity mainly Blackcap, Black Redstart, Goldfinch, also Chiffchaff, a pair of Raven, Sparrowhawk and a group of 9 Griffon Vulture. At El Hacho the Southern Grey Shrike was still there (couldn't resist another photo!) and in full song! Also seen were 15 Griffon Vulture, Common Kestrel, 2x Raven (same pair as earlier?), Black Redstart (not quite so many as last month), Stonechat, Cirl Bunting, Corn Bunting (see photo), Sardinian Warbler and Blackcap. It's a bit quieter now that the passage birds have gone - there are especially noticeably fewer Chiffchaff. Also a photo of the moon rising over the summit of El Hacho.
Wednesday 30 November, mostly sunny, warm: Two bird-call reports....firstly, whilst cutting logs in the cork oaks I managed to call over an Iberian Chiffchaff by mimicking its call. It came from two trees away and eventually got to within 1.5m of me, wonderful. It soon disappeared - I guess once it realised I was neither a threat nor a potential mate! Late afternoon I went up to Gaucin castle to try and hear the Eagle Owl; at 1830hrs, just as it got dark, I heard the soft, 'oo-hu' call of a male but couldn't locate it as it seemed to move N-S below the castle. Will have another look soon.