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Wednesday 25 January, mostly sunny, warm, 17C: Sabinillas beach - 6 Black-necked Grebe 25m offshore at 1000hrs. At Estepona the gull flock was way out to sea due to the presence of so many people walking along the beach enjoying the sunshine!
Monday 23 January, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light NW wind, 15C: Some early returning migrants with a single Black Kite heading North low over the village at 1720hrs and a couple of Barn Swallow doing the same just before 1800hrs.
Sunday 22 January, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light NW wind, 13C: Chiffchaff seen in the gardens between Calle Convento and Calle del Pino and a female Blue Rock Thrush on a roof nearby.


Friday 21 January, La Janda and Los Lances beach, little or no wind, mostly sunny, warm: Wingspanner and I took a trip over to the La Janda area with a short stop at Los Lances beach near Tarifa on the way home. It was a cold start, just 2C as we passed Jimena de la Frontera, but as the day progressed it warmed up beautifully reaching a balmy 17C. A soon as we arrived at La Janda some good birds began to appear including Calandra Lark, Reed Bunting distant Common Crane and both Marsh Harrier and four female Hen Harrier. Continuing along the central track we saw Purple Swamp Hen (see photo) and fantastic views of a Short-eared Owl as it hunted no more than 10m from us. Here we also picked up a Peregrine mobbing a Black-winged Kite and here we also saw four Barn Swallow! A little further along we stopped to watch some Common Snipe in a rice field and were treated to a couple of superb male Bluethroat (see photo) and a Water Pipit whilst a second Black-winged Kite flew close by and stopped to rest on an electricity pylon as we picked up both Ringed and Little-ringed Plover in the field. As the temperature began to rise so did the raptors and it wasn't long before we had seen 3 Spanish Imperial Eagle, a juvenile Bonelli's Eagle and an unexpected adult Golden Eagle! With an immature Short-toed Eagle (normally expected to be wintering in Africa) and several Griffon Vulture Red Kite that Wingspanner saw it was an amazing hour or so. A spell watching along a creek towards the back of the fields produced a Little Owl and a male Penduline Tit. Other birds seen were Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, White Stork, Mallard, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Common Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Red-legged Partridge, Common Pheasant, Common Coot, Moorhen, Green Sandpiper, Lapwing, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, Crested Lark, Skylark, White Wagtail, Bluethroat, Robin, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Collared Dove, Feral Pigeon, Wood Pigeon, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Stonechat, Black Redstart, Zitting Cisticola, Jackdaw, Raven and Corn Bunting.
Stopping by at Los Lances on the way home we added Caspian Tern, Sandwich Tern, Yellow-legged Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Dunlin, Sanderling, Grey Plover and Kentish Plover.
All-in-all a wonderful day's birding with a great species count of 73 but it was more about the quality of what we saw rather than the quantity.
Tuesday 17 January, light SE wind, mostly sunny, cool: A short walk along the Camino de Avedin this morning produced 2 Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Linnet, Chaffinch and Greenfinch.
Monday 16 January, rain am, mostly clear pm, NE wind, cold, 6C at 1600hrs in Gaucin. This was the first rain here since 21 November other than a couple of showers on 02 December. had to go to Estepona so checked out the gull flock on the beach. There were two small groups at either end of the beach that I didn't check out but the main group held 300+ Yellow-legged and a handful of Lesser-black backed, 15 Mediterranean, 25 Black-headed plus a single Common. Also present were 20 Sanderling, 6 Great Cormorant, several White Wagtail, Spotless Starling, 1 male and 2 female Serin and 2 female Black Redstart.
Friday 13 January, Camino de Gibraltar, Gaucin, 1630-1730hrs, light E wind, mostly sunny, 13C. A late afternoon walk along the track produced the following: Grey Heron (flying over in direction Black Redstart (minimum of 16), 5 Song Thrush, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Sardinian Warbler, Cetti's Warbler (heard), Great-spotted Woodpecker, Cirl Bunting (heard), Stonechat, House Sparrow, Common Kestrel, Spotless Starling, Robin, Eurasian Jay, Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Blackbird, Great Tit and Blue Tit. There was a probable Rock Sparrow but I couldn't get a firm i.d. before it flew off.
Tuesday 10 January: Wingspanner and I headed off to Laguna Dulce at Campillos north of Ronda at 0730hrs in a fresh E wind, mostly cloudy starting at just 5C and peaking at 13C; it looks like our long warm and sunny spell has finally come to an end. We were hoping to catch up with some Little Bustard here but they didn't show - we did, however, see Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, 300 Common Crane (see photo),

Jackdaw, Skylark, Calandra Lark including a flock of 25-30, Cattle Egret, White-headed Duck, Tufted Duck, 3 Ferruginous Duck (the diagnostic white iris is clearly visible, even in my long-range digiscoped photo),

Teal, Pintail, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Common Pochard, Red-crested Pochard (see photo),

Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Green Sandpiper (see photo),

Common Kestrel, Coot, Moorhen, Black-headed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Corn Bunting, White Wagtail and Stonechat.

In an effort to find some bustards we continued on to Laguna Fuente de Piedra where they can be found in the surrounding fields. Still no luck but we did see Raven, Hoopoe, Southern Grey Shrike, Common Crane, Wigeon, Common Snipe, Lapwing, Black Redstart, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, Greater Flamingo in amongst the large flock of which was a solitary smaller, bright pink/red Lesser Flamingo, Common Shelduck. Also Black-tailed Godwit, Black-winged Stilt and Avocet (all visible in same photo),

Marsh Harrier, Meadow Pipit, Water Pipit, Crested Lark, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Zitting Cisticola, Chiffchaff and Blue Tit.

On the way back to Gaucin we stopped at Sierra de Vijan near Cuevas de Becerro where we saw Bonelli's Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Rock Dove, Blackcap, Crag Martin, Common Sandpiper, Grey Wagtail and Great Tit.

A stop at Encinas Borrachas just north of Atajate produced Little Owl, Rock Bunting, Blue Rock Thrush, Thekla Lark, Southern Grey Shrike, Goldfinch, Linnet, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Serin whilst a final stop on the Ronda Road delivered 3 Black Wheatear.

All-in-all it was a great day's birding with a final species total of 71, albeit missing the sought-after Little Bustard, but including 5 species of lark and some specials (for me, anyway) such as Ferruginous Duck and Lesser Flamingo.
Saturday 07 January, Siete Pilas, 1000-1230hrs, sunny, very warm, 21C: Another visit to the Siete Pilas area to make sure we remembered the walk that we were shown on Thursday! Unfortunately, half-way through we were refused access through a farm gate so had to adapt and abandon the circular route. Birds seen included Griffon Vulture, Southern Grey Shrike, Song Thrush, Woodlark, Meadow Pipit, Corn Bunting, Black Redstart, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Goldfinch and Chaffinch.
Thursday 05 January, Gaucin, sunny, warm: Back from Christmas/New Year in the UK where there wasn't much to report bird-wise; the usual array of Red Kite was a joy to behold and a quick Christmas Eve trip to a local lake allowed me to see Wigeon, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Great-crested Grebe, Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Lapwing and a male and female Goldeneye. Back in Spain the weather remains warm and sunny and the lack of rainfall is beginning to worry local farmers - but like most years I'm sure it will come, plenty of time yet! This morning a nice walk around the Siete Pilas area yielded 4 Woodlark, 6 Corn Bunting, Crested/Thekla Lark, small flocks of Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch and Chaffinch, plus Sardinian Warbler, Cirl Bunting, Sparrowhawk and Griffon Vulture. There were also a couple of Common Chiffchaff in full song.