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Thursday 20 December, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light N-NE wind, 17C: During a morning dog walk around La Umbria I saw Griffon Vulture, 2 Song Thrush, Black Redstart, Eurasian Nuthatch, female Siskin, Crested Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Firecrest and 4 Chiffchaff sp., 2 Wren heard.
Wednesday 19 December, Gaucin, light breeze from S-SW, mostly sunny, 16C: A morning trip to Ronda for the car ITV (MOT) gave me an opportunity to see what was around on the Encinas Borrachas track between Atajate and Ronda. It felt a little strange to be in this, usually rather cold, place in the middle of December in a t-shirt! The first stop, on the way to Ronda, was fairly quiet with 20 Red-billed Chough, a flock of 6-8 Thekla Lark, a pair of Southern Grey Shrike, Blue Rock Thrush, Woodlark (heard) and Dartford Warbler (heard) the highlights. On the return trip at 1200hrs I stopped in the lay-by at the entrance to the track and with my binoculars picked up a large eagle perched on a rock at the top of the escarpment; once I got the 'scope out of the car I could see a golden head and nape and the white 'shoulder patches' that are diagnostic for Spanish Imperial Eagle. I watched this wonderful bird for a minute or two before it took off and flew SW along, and frustratingly often, behind, the limestone ridge - limited views of the underbelly suggested a 2-3CY bird. Shortly afterwards, possibly spooked by their big cousin, a pair of adult Bonelli's Eagle drifted up from behind the ridge and wheeled away almost directly overhead. Add to the eagles 3 more Blue Rock Thrush and a couple of Black Wheatear and the fact that the car passed the ITV; and to think I wasn't looking forward to going to Ronda today!
Tuesday 18 December, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light NW wind, 15C: A female Siskin feeding on seeds of a cypress tree along the Camino de Avedin at about 1200hrs.
Thursday 13 December, Gaucin, partly cloudy, calm air-light W-SW wind, 12C: At 1000hrs there were two female Crossbill on a dead pine tree next to the old convent in Calle Convento.
Wednesday 12 December, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, calm air-light SE wind, 11C: 1030-1200hrs - the highlights of a visit to the Salto de Cura just outside Gaucin were a female Crossbill, Crested Tit and Eurasian Nuthatch. Moving on to a track leading to the Salitre area just off the road to Estacion de Cortes I pulled over to check a thrush on a distant small tree - I'm glad I did as it was a Redwing, a good record for this area. Along the Salitre track I added Common Kestrel, several Collard Dove, Southern Grey Shrike, Hawfinch, Meadow Pipit, Thekla Lark, Woodlark, Corn Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Black Redstart, Stonechat, small flocks of Chaffinch and several Chiffchaff sp.

Yesterday there were 20-30 Griffon Vulture very low over the village just above Plaza Santo Nino - it was great to sit there in the warm winter sunshine watching their beautifully languid wingbeats as they worked on getting some height.

Woodlark - look at the length of those hind claws!

Collared Dove

Friday 07 December, Gaucin, rain, light-fresh W-SW wind, 11C: Plenty of Song Thrush around at the moment; they seem to be bursting out of every other shrub or small tree. Today there were 100+ White Stork at Estacion de San Roque where the over-wintering population is getting bigger each year.


Monday 03 December, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh NW wind, 13C: A morning walk along Camino de Gibraltar, 0930-1130hrs, didn't start well as one of the fresh gusts of wind blew my scope over on the steep concrete section of the track; the objective casing was dented, the eyepiece housing cracked and the body fell into two parts but such is the build quality of Kowa optics once I got it home and glued it all back together it was as if nothing had happened! Anyway, apart from the scope disaster it was a quiet morning with a party of 5 Siskin (see photo of one), a nice close view of a male Blue Rock Thrush and at least 15 Song Thrush the highlights.
Sunday 02 December, Gaucin, sunny, light N wind, 11C (but feeling colder in the shade or in the wind!): Dog-walking has its advantages...hard on the heels of yesterday's Siskin I saw my first Brambling of the winter this morning on the concrete section of the Camino de Gibraltar just 50m from the nearest houses; also a possible Redwing but it disappeared into the middle of a large olive tree before I could get my bins on it. This afternoon whilst having a coffee and gazing out of our patio window I saw 11 species in 20min in the Walnut tree in the garden, including three good 'garden ticks': Common Starling, Spotless Starling, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Crested Tit, Blackcap, Chiffchaff sp., House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Siskin.
Saturday 01 December, Gaucin, sunny, light N-NW wind, 6C: A morning walk along the Camino de Gibraltar produced the following of note: Raven, Blue Rock Thrush (in Calle del Pino), 3 Song Thrush, at least 10 Black Redstart, Rock Bunting, Serin, 6 Chiffchaff sp. including 4 feeding together around a shallow drainage ditch; it was interesting to note the colour variations, two were very green/yellow and two very dull grey/brown. Also my first Siskin of the winter, a female.
Friday 30 November, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light N-NW wind, light rain showers, 7C: A visit to the tracks around Marchenilla/La Barca at 1600hrs was cut short due to the rain but I did manage to see: 1 White Stork, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Griffon Vulture, Common Buzzard, female Sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail (50+ in one field), Black Redstart, Spotless Starling, Stonechat, Chaffinch (flocks up to 30+ but no Brambling) and Goldfinch.
Thursday 29 November, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh N-NW wind, 10C: A proper cool, sunny winter day; just 5C at 1000hrs and feeling colder in the fresh  breeze. A quick look around El Hacho and the fields nearby produced the usual winter species: Griffon Vulture, Southern Grey Shrike, Blue Rock Thrush, Thekla Lark, Spotless Starling, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Robin, Nuthatch, and lots of Black Redstart and Sardinian Warbler.

Sunday 25 November, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light E-SE wind, 14C: Not much to report as I've been doing a lot of walking rather than birding! There's been a Tawny Owl calling most nights just south of the village. I was told that an Eagle Owl was heard near the castle on Friday evening so I went up there at dusk today; after a 30min wait it duly called a couple of times at about 1900hrs but didn't appear. It's good to know that they are still around despite the fact that the rocks below the castle are now a favoured climbing area.
Thursday 22 November, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light E-NE breeze, 14C: Not much to report...a couple of Common Raven below Sierra Crestellina this morning. On the drive down to the coast on Monday spotted both Southern Grey Shrike and Blue Rock Thrush just off the road opposite Sierra Crestellina. In Malaga city centre there were several Black Redstart, also a Blackbird in full song on top of the christmas tree of lights (unlit!) in Plaza de la Constitucion and a Tawny Owl calling just below the Gibralfaro; other species seen around the centre were Yellow-legged Gull, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Monk Parakeet, Collared Dove, Crag Martin, Chiffchaff sp., Serin and Goldfinch.
Friday 16 November, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh E-SE wind, 16C: A bonus day as the forecast was poor but it turned out to be good! 1630hrs: a cycle ride to the Mirador de Genal above Algatocin was rewarded with a fly-past by a Peregrine and a quick stop at the Salto de Cura (where the old 'bull ring' was) produced a female Common Crossbill at the top of a cork oak tree. There were a few Crag Martin around the southern end of the village during early afternoon.
Thursday 15 November, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light E-SE wind, 19C: Another lovely warm day although the next wet weather system is due tonight and will last for two or three days. Woke to a Blackbird in full song then spent a couple of hours from 1000-1200hrs checking the fields along the Gaucin-El Colmenar road hoping for some Brambling with the Chaffinch; there weren't any but I did see 30+ Griffon Vulture, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Song Thrush, a group of 40+ Crag Martin, amongst which was a late House Martin, Thekla Lark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Black Redstart, Sardinian Warbler, 20+ Blackcap, Greenfinch and Chaffinch. Heard both Green Woodpecker and Great-spotted Woodpecker with the latter also drumming. On the drive back to Gaucin the Southern Grey Shrike was showing well on top of a tree below El Hacho.
Wednesday 14 November, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light SW wind, 18C: After the run of 20 days with rain a welcome return to sun yesterday and today. It was great to be out even if I only managed an hour and a half's birding! From 1200-1330hrs I had a walk along the west slope of El Hacho - nothing special there just the usual winter birds: 20+ Griffon Vulture, a displaying pair of Common Kestrel, Red-legged Partridge, Southern Grey Shrike (ok, quite special), Thekla Lark, Blue Rock Thrush (female in photo), 12 Song Thrush, Crag Martin, 15+ Black Redstart, White Wagtail, 3 pairs of Stonechat, Cirl Bunting, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, 25+ Goldfinch and a handful of Chaffinch and Robin. Also a couple of distant Spanish Ibex (see photo).


Saturday 10 November, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W wind, 15C: We are now up to 19 consecutive days where it has rained, often heavily, for at least some part of the day; at least today it was only early morning and late evening.  A walk along the Camino de Gibraltar from 1530-1730hrs produced the following: Griffon Vulture, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Woodpigeon, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Nuthatch, Spotless Starling, 4 Song Thrush, Blackbird, Crag Martin, 10+ Black Redstart, White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Stonechat, Firecrest, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff sp., Blackcap, House Sparrow, Greenfinch and several small flocks of Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Serin.
Thursday 08 November, Gaucin, cloudy, intermittent light rain, fresh-strong E-SE wind, 13C: Yesterday morning there were 50+ Griffon Vulture to the N-W of El Hacho and today at 0845hrs a Goshawk flew out of a tree at the side of the road just above the bridge over the Rio Genal.
Tuesday 06 November, Gaucin, cloudy, rain, light E-SE wind, 12C: Another wet day walking with some Russians (they want to walk very quickly so no birding opportunities - not that you'd see much through the rain) but I did hear a couple of Red-billed Chough at the northern end of Sierra Crestellina. Yesterday was cloudy and damp though it didn't rain until about 1600hr then rained heavily most of last night; at 0845hrs there was a very tame Firecrest in an oak tree opposite the Bodeguita Chapparo bar - it was quite happily gleaning the leaves not much more than 1m from where I was standing; in the valley to the south of Gaucin at about 1030hrs there were at least 10 Black Redstart; also 2 Song Thrush and a singing Mistle Thrush.
Sunday 04 November, Gaucin, light rain showers, light-fresh W wind, 18C: Three more days of rain, some of it very heavy, has prevented any birding; anyone who has been here during a 'whiteout' will know what it's like. Today was better, there were a few Black Redstart on the village roofs, the winter House Sparrow flock in the garden has built up to a noisy 20+, there were 30+ Starling sp. roosting on a tower crane oppposite the petrol station and I saw a Sparrowhawk from the terrace! The forecast for the coming week is not very encouraging; after the spring/summer drought let's hope we don't have another very wet winter like 2009.....
Wednesday 31 October, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light W wind, 13C: After two more rainy days, thankfully not as torrential as the previous downpour, today was at least dry. A short early morning walk along Camino de Avedin produced Great-spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Black Redstart, Chiffchaff sp., and Firecrest. At about 1330hrs there were no fewer than 5 Black Redstart (1 male, 4 female) in the 'paddock' at the top of the track along with small flocks of both Chaffinch and Goldfinch.
Sunday 28 October, Gaucin, mostly sunny am, cloudy pm, light S-SW wind, 14C: Today I joined Bob (Wingspanner) and Simon, who is staying in the village, for local day trip.

We started at Gaucin chestnut woods at 0815hrs where the only birds of note were an overflying Hawfinch, Crested Tit and a singing male Cirl Bunting.  We then drove to the Rio Guadiaro in Cortes where we noted Black Redstart (see male in photo), Meadow Pipit, Rock Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Cetti's Warbler (heard), Blackcap, Serin, Goldfinch, Crag Martin, Grey Heron, White & Grey Wagtails, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Spotless Starling and Stonechat.


After the river we drove on to Montejaque to look for Ring Ouzel at the impressive Llanos de Libar (see photo).

There were plenty of Griffon Vulture around, including some eerily vocal youngsters, and amongst them were two adult Bonelli's Eagle. Further along the track we saw Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap and one or two Black Wheatear before finally catching sight of a Ring Ouzel; over the course of the next hour we located at least 6 individuals, male and female and got some good views (not good enough for my digiscoping skills but I've borrowed one of Bob's - thanks!).

A male Ring Ouzel sub-species Alpestris



On the way back to Gaucin we dropped into the Encinas Borrachas track; close to the entrance there was a huge flock of Golfinches (150+), a few Serin, Greenfinches, Linnets and some Stonechats. Further along we saw Red-billed Chough, Southern Grey Shrike, Green Sandpiper, Rock Sparrows, a couple of Skylarks, Thekla Lark and a large flock of Corn Bunting (25+).We didn't venture far as the rain set in quite heavily so we continued the drive back to Gaucin stopping at the chestnut woods, the rain had stopped by now, which enabled us to see no less than 3 Firecrest.
Saturday 27 October, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light W-NW wind, 15C: During a brief sunny spell from 1500-1530hrs I managed to get Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle (adult; a good late record for the area), Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Common Kestrel from Camino de Avedin.
Thursday 25 October, Gaucin, cloudy, rain, light SW wind, 14C: No bird news as I've been largely trapped indoors by the rain that has plagued us since yesterday afternoon.  Driving through the village today was a challenge as we avoided several manhole covers that had been lifted by the surging water in addition to incredible torrents of water that gushed from every conceivable outlet. I can honestly say I've never seen rain like it. To cap it all we were treated to a short, but violent, electrical storm that included one massive electrical impulse followed by an apocalyptic crash of thunder - a real stomach churner! On a brighter note, Tim Birkhead reported 3 Otter at the Torreguadiaro Laguna yesterday; thanks to Tim for his observations over the past couple of weeks.
Tuesday 23 October, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light E wind, 22C: A lovely warm autumn day. A quick visit to El Hacho at 1900hrs produced a Southern Grey Shrike (now seeming to favour the small barn on the top of the slope to the right) and a couple of Blue Rock Thrush and a Black Redstart; there are now a lot of Blackcap and Robin around.




Some more obs from Tim Birkhead:
A Peregrine at El Hacho this morning.
A flock of c100 Chaffinch on he road to Estacion de Gaucin (opposite Hacho hotel entrance).
and a flock of c50 near the bridge at Estacion de Gaucin with two Brambling, one male, one female.
Monday 22 October, mostly sunny, light E-SE wind, 20C:

Some more observations from Tim Birkhead.....
On Saturday a Hen Harrier, a pair of Black Wheatear and a flock of 20+ Rock Sparrow at Encinas Borrachas.

Sunday, before the fog, a single White Stork on a nest near Jimena de la Frontera, and a Hen Harrier on the San Pablo track; also big flocks of finches harried by a Sparrowhawk. Another spectacular but ephemeral gathering of Griffon Vulture, 120 together by Estacion de Jimena.

We went to Tarifa today, Monday, (to see dolphins, which we did), but MUCH more exciting was a gathering of about 1000 Griffon Vulture on the hills above Tarifa - absolutely stunning.
Sunday 21 October, Gaucin, mostly cloudy am, intermittent light rain pm, light W wind, 15C. A lunchtime walk along the Marchenilla-Jimena de la Frontera track produced the following of note: A minimum of 150 Griffon Vulture, including two groups of 60+ just west of Marchenilla, 2 Booted Eagle, 2 Common Buzzard, 2 Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel, 50+ House Martin, 10 Barn Swallow, 1 Red-rumped Swallow, 20+ Stonechat, Crested Lark, White Wagtail, 3 Chiffchaff sp., 1 Willow Warbler, Sardinian Warbler and Serin. Yesterday at 1830hrs there were Blue Rock Thrush, Southern Grey Shrike, a flock of 8 Corn Bunting, Crag Martin and a flock of 50+ Goldfinch below El Hacho.
Friday 19 October, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light W-NW wind, 14C: Thanks to observations from Tim Birkhead we can now confirm that there are 2 Black-winged Kite along the Casares-Secadero track; the 5 Hoopoe were still there today plus a couple of Yellow Wagtail of the UK race.
Thursday 18 October, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light-fresh W-SW wind, 20C but feeling cooler and despite looking like rain all day it never materialised. I made a couple of brief road-side stops at a mist-shrouded El Hacho to see if yesterday's Golden Eagle was still around but it didn't materialse either! Birds that did show were: Griffon Vulture, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel, Southern Grey Shrike, Blue Rock Thrush, Black Redstart, Robin, Stonechat, Blackcap and Sardinian Warbler.
Wednesday 17 October, sunny, calm air-light E-NE wind, 22C: Some observations for today from Tim Birkhead...including a very good record of Golden Eagle below El Hacho.



90 Griffon Vulture together near Jimena de la Frontera around midday - spectacular; also a Short-toed Eagle there.

Along the 'road' behind and between Marchenilla Venta and San Pablo we had a Lapwing in a muddy pool/stream and also a Dartford Warbler.

We then walked under El Hacho and had a Southern Grey Shrke and had a first year Golden Eagle - very close. There were 6-10 Black Redstart, too.