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Sunday 30 September, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W-NW wind, 23C: At last the wet weather front has passed and we can get outside. Janys and I went for a walk (not a birdwatch so no 'scope!) along the Cañada de Los Angeles from Haza de Beata to Marchenilla, south of San Pablo (what I have previously called 'San Pablo track'). There were quite a few birds around including: Cattle Egret, Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Common Kestrel, Lesser Kestrel, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, a flock of 8 Common Raven, Collared Dove, Southern Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike (adult), Crested Lark (including a small flock of about 8 birds), 6 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Willow Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, 3 Northern Wheatear (2 male 1 female), Stonechat, Whinchat (female/juv), Serin, Spanish Sparrow, Linnet, Greenfinch and Goldfinch.
Saturday 29 September, Gaucin, cloudy, light W wind, intermittent light rain, 16C: Luckily Gaucin escaped the worst of the storms that passed through Andalucia over the last couple of days - it has been very wet, and cold, just 14C yesterday, but it wasn't the heaviest nor the most prolonged rain we have seen here. Watching from our terrace during a brief mid-afternoon break in the rain I saw 8 Griffon Vulture, 3 Booted Eagle (2 pale morph and 1 'mid-morph'), 1 Short-toed Eagle, a Green Woodpecker over the Calle Convento gardens, a bedraggled Chiffchaff in a walnut tree and a Red-rumped Swallow mixed in with a small flock of House Martin.
Thursday 27 September, Gaucin, cloudy, rain, heavy at times, light-fresh SE wind, 16C: Two days of rain have put paid to any serious birding but a couple of short walks produced 4 Great-spotted Woodpecker and 3 Pied Flycatcher (yesterday along Camino de Avedin), 1 Pied Flycatcher (today along Camino de Los Molinos) and 1 Crested Tit in the pine trees along Cerro de la Joven.
Tuesday 25 September, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light W-NW wind, 23C. 1900-1945hrs, an early evening cycle to El Puerto del Negro with a few sightings from the road on the way: Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Common Kestrel, Red-legged Partridge, Southern Grey Shrike, Cirl Bunting, Stonechat and Sardinian Warbler. The clouds were beginning to form into something substantial so the predicted rain looks like it's on it's way.
Monday 24 September, light W-NW wind, mostly sunny, 25C: 0900-1230hrs. A morning trip with Holly, on holiday in Gaucin, to the Encinas Borrachas track between Atajate and Ronda produced a good list; Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle (pale and dark morph), juvenile Montagu's Harrier, being mobbed by a Common Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Little Owl, 3x Black Stork flying over, Red-legged Partridge, Southern Grey Shrike, juvenile Woodchat Shrike, Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, 2x Northern Wheatear, 4x Whinchat (see photo), 2x Pied Flycatcher, Woodlark, Thekla Lark, Blue Rock Thrush, 200+ Corn Bunting, 100+ Goldfinch, 4x Rock Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler and Dartford Warbler.  Also seeen were two male and one female Red Deer. On the drive back to Gaucin we saw an adult Short-toed Eagle, several Common Kestrel and further Blue Rock Thrush and Dartford Warbler with a short stop at Gaucin chestnut woods getting us Crested Tit, Firecrest and European Nuthatch.


Saturday 22 September, mostly sunny, light S-SE wind, 29C: The evening House Martin flock over the south of Gaucin is now up to 60+ and I'm hearing the wintery subsong of Blackcap more each day; two sure signs that Autumn is on its way. This morning a Monarch butterfly caused a bit of a stir in Estepona high street as it flew amongst the shoppers.
Friday 21 September, Gaucin, cloudy am, sunny pm, light E-SE wind, 25C: A couple of great reports from Wingspanner...yesterday a sub-adult Spanish Imperial Eagle at Encinas Borrachas nr Ronda and this morning a sub-adult Golden Eagle and a Black-winged Kite in the 'San Pablo' track area. Here in Gaucin it wasn't quite as exciting with just a couple of Booted Eagle passing through! Still 20-30 House Martin around the southern end of the village in the late evening.
Tuesday 18 September, Gaucin, cloudy, humid, calm air-light SW wind, 29C: It came very close to raining today but nothing materialised. Whilst biking along the Gaucin-Jimena road at 1915hrs I was surprised to hear a Garden Warbler in full song at the top of a tree at the roadside just outside Gaucin. There are still a few House Martin hanging around the village in the evenings but I haven't seen a Swift for a few days. Common Buzzard perched on a dead branch just below the village to the South this afternoon.
Monday 17 September, mostly sunny, calm air-light SW wind, 33C. Another day out joining a Wingspanner tour today visiting Laguna Medina and the Bonanza Salt Pans near Cadiz. As we left Gaucin at 0700hrs it was cool with a little mist that developed into quite thick fog as we approached Laguna Medina; fortunately it thinned rapidly and visibility improved whilst at the lake and the sun broke through by 1030hrs. A brief summary of what we saw follows:

Laguna Medina: Marsh Harrier, White-headed Duck, Gadwall, Shoveler, eclipse male Garganey, Ferruginous Duck, female Pintail, Common Pochard, Red-Crested Pochard, 6 Black-crowned Night Heron, 20+Red-legged Partridge in the adjoining fields, 7 Spoonbill, Great-crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Green Sandpiper, Pied Flycatcher, Stonechat, Reed Warbler (at least 2, interestingly quite happy in the shrubbery away from the lake fringes), Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Sardinian Warbler and Reed Bunting.

Puerto Real - we moved on towards Puerto Real hoping to catch up with a flock of Stone Curlew; we dipped on them but did see 3 Marsh Harrier, Black-winged Kite, an Osprey, Southern Grey Shrike and Woodchat Shrike.

Bonanza Salt Pans (see general scene photo that actually includes 2 Little Tern!) - Red Kite, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, Slender-billed Gull (see photos), Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Black-headed Gull, Little Tern (5 or 6 diving and feeding only 10m away - fantastic!), Whimbrel, Black-tailed Godwit (see photo of small portion of a large flock of 200+), Shoveler, Greater Flamingo (250+), Grey Heron, Little Egret, Spoonbill (see photo of all four preceding species!), Black-winged Stilt, Avocet (100+), Grey Plover, Kentish Plover, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Redshank and Greenshank.

Laguna Tarelo - White-headed Duck, Glossy Ibis, Kingfisher, Curlew Sandpiper (still in summer plumage).

Algaida Stone Pine woods - Black Kite, Common Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Garden Warbler.

Santa Maria Salt Pans - Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Black Kite, Jackdaw, White Stork, Cattle Egret, Calandra Lark, Skylark, Short-toed Lark, Northern Wheatear.

Also seen whilst travelling between sites were: Short-toed Eagle and a good number of Lesser Kestrel. An unusual sight of 4 White Stork heading South just in front of Sierra Crestellina on the way back to Gaucin. A superb day's birding!






Friday 14 September, Tarifa - Los Lances Beach, La Janda, Vejer de la Frontera - Barbate Marshes, mostly sunny, calm air-light E wind, 38C:  Today I joined Wingspanner on a day trip along with Marie, Penny and Jane; as we left Gaucin at 0800hrs it was a cool, misty morning as we drove on it got cloudier on the coast but cleared as soon as we dropped below the hills above Tarifa. On the way we saw 37 Griffon Vulture over Sierra Crestellina, Casares and here we also saw a group of 6 Red-billed Chough. We stopped at a migration watchpoint on the hills just outside Tarifa but it was early and there were no raptors, apart from a few Griffon Vulture, to be seen. Arriving at Los Lances beach, Tarifa we soon saw several Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle and Black Kite looking for thermals to help get them over the Straits of Gibraltar; in amongst them were an adult and a sub-adult Egyptian Vulture with an occasional Sparrowhawk joining them. Walking to the hide on the beach we logged Cattle Egret (see photo), Northern Wheatear (see female in photo), Stonechat, Crested Lark, Short-toed Lark, Spotless Starling, a couple of Common Starling and Bee-eater. On the beach were Little Egret, Audouin's, Yellow-legged, Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sandwich Tern, Sanderling, Turnstone, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and about 10 Yellow Wagtail. At La Janda we immediately started to pick up some great species with a distant female Marsh Harrier showing first. Along the main drain we saw a female Hen Harrier, another female Marsh Harrier, juvenile Montagu's Harrier, at the edge of the water a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron and in the fields beyond lots of White Stork, Little Egret and half-a-dozen Glossy Ibis. Driving along the raised track above the drain we saw Grey Heron, Woodchat Shrike, several Zitting Cisticola, Corn Bunting and a couple of Spanish Sparrow. Perched on the top of a pylon was a young Black-winged Kite, one of three seen in the area. A little further on we spotted 50+ Yellow Wagtail together at the side of a field, at least 8 Lesser Kestrel feeding over a stubbly field plus another 2 female Marsh Harrier, a second Hen Harrier and a female Montagu's Harrier. After a brief stop for lunch, it was now very hot, we visited a pond alongside the track to Benalup where we saw a Hoopoe, 3 Black-winged Stilt, one, possibly two, Lapwing, a couple of Dunlin, several Green Sandpiper, a Common Sandpiper and two Common Snipe. On the drive out of La Janda Bob spotted a Common Redstart - one of few migrant passerines seen all day.
Next we drove to Barbate Marshes at Barca de Vejer where we had great views of 150+ Glossy Ibis (see photos) and also picked up Spotted Flycatcher, at least 4 Wood Sandpiper, Common Snipe (see photo with Wood Sandpiper), 10+ Ringed Plover, one Curlew, a Common Redshank and best of all a Spotted Redshank. A really good day with some great sightings.









Wednesday 12 September, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light S-SW wind, 32C: Watching from our terrace in Calle Convento from 1845-1900hrs I saw 3 Booted Eagle (2 light morph, 1 dark morph), 3 Short-toed Eagle, 2 Honey Buzzard, several Griffon Vulture, 20+ House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow (the first within the village for me), 6 Common Swift and 2 Alpine Swift.
Tuesday 11 September, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light S wind, 30C: The last couple of days have seen very little raptor migration so it's likely that the bulk has passed. I went for a brief walk along the top 200m of Camino de Gibraltar from 1845-1930hrs and logged the following: 2 Pied Flycatcher (see one in photo), Spotted Flycatcher, Firecrest, Cirl Bunting, Chiffchaff s.p., Bonelli's Warbler, Garden Warbler, Blackcap and at least 2 Red-rumped Swallow amongst a small flock of House Martin.



Saturday 08 September, Gaucin, sunny, light S-SW wind, 27C: Sightings as follows:
1400hrs: 2 Honey Buzzard
1535hrs: 12 Honey Buzzard
1550hrs: 2 adult Short-toed Eagle
1555hrs: 1 Common Buzzard, 46 Bee-eater (heading due North!)
1615hrs: 8 Bee-eater, 2 Alpine Swift, 2 Red-rumped Swallow, 2 Common Swift
1740hrs: 1 Honey Buzzard

Update on the nesting Red-rumped Swallows at Loma de Avedin...they successfully reared at least 3 young!

Friday 07 September, Gaucin, mainly sunny, fresh E wind, 28C: Remaining very warm away from the E wind and continuing small numbers of raptors passing through. An early morning walk along Camino de Avedin produced a minimum of 2 Pied Flycatcher, Bonelli's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Serin and the first noticeable autumn increase in Blackcap numbers. Late afternoon saw a male Montagu's Harrier over the village at 1755hrs and two small groups of Honey Buzzard (3 and 7 birds) between 1830hrs and 1855hrs along with local Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard and a Spotted Flycatcher along the camino. At 1905hrs a loose flock of 40 Bee-eater were swooping happily around over the East of the village only to be spooked by a loud firework from the Santo Niño fiesta - the birds drew very close together immediately then sped off southwards to 'safety'.
Thursday 06 September, Gaucin, partly cloudy, fresh E-NE wind with some very strong gusts, 26C: Raptor migration slowing down but still some Honey Buzzard to be seen with 9 over the village at 1040hrs, 9 over the Genal/Sierra Crestellina at 1215hrs and 14 over the village at 1215hrs. Also still a couple of Common Swift and a few House Martin around.
Wednesday 05 September, Gaucin, sunny, fresh, gusting to high, E-NE wind, 26C: Seemingly less raptor passage today and exclusively Honey Buzzard. I had other things to do, but tried to keep checking the sky when I could, so maybe the lower counts are 'effort-biased'! Also, the very strong wind made prolonged observation difficult and there was no way a 'scope could be used. The continuing strong Easterly, or Levante, winds will be an issue for the migrating raptors as they need light winds to be able to cross the straits safely - hopefully things will calm down soon.

Today's observations as follows with most birds following the N-S route over Gaucin via La Umbria:
1320hrs: 22 Honey Buzzard
1500hrs: 68 Honey Buzzard
1615hrs: 17 Honey Buzzard and a group of 24 Honey Buzzard over the Genal valley towards sierra Crestellina
1630hrs: 12 Honey Buzzard over the Genal valley towards sierra Crestellina
1730-1830hrs: 87 Honey Buzzard (groups of 12-28 individuals)
1850hrs: 9 Honey Buzzard

Also seen were 'local' Common Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Common Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and 3 Common Crossbill.

Tuesday 04 September, Gaucin, sunny, fresh-strong E-NE breeze, 26C: Raptor migration counts as follows:
1040hrs: 48 Honey Buzzard
1050hrs: 3 Black Kite
1120-1220hrs: 119 Honey Buzzard (groups of between 14 and 36 individuals), 6 Black Kite, 1 Booted Eagle (dark morph)
1240-1340hrs: 62 Honey Buzzard (groups of 8, 39 and 15), 1 Black Kite
1545hrs: 70 Honey Buzzard
1700hrs: 44 Honey Buzzard

A quieter day than yesterday with more birds in the morning and fewer in the afternoon. The stronger wind today pushed the majority of the birds further west and as such their 'starting point' as they approached Gaucin was slightly behind the La Umbria hill giving less viewing time - this was exacerbated by the speed at which the birds moved once they were on the wind! Also, many birds were struggling against the wind with some groups of Honey Buzzard almost flying sideways as they tacked their way south.
Monday 03 September, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light-fresh E-SE wind, 25C: Another afternoon watching raptor migration from a great vantage point, see photo. Highlights were Red Kite, Montagu's Harrier and Egyptian Vulture. Sightings as follows:
1355hrs: 5 Honey Buzzard
1430hrs: 94 Honey Buzzard, 7 Black Kite
1520hrs: 4 Short-toed Eagle
1540hrs: 2 Common Buzzard
1545hrs: 2 Black Kite
1600hrs: 8 Honey Buzzard
1610hrs: 25 Honey Buzzard, 12 Black Kite, 2 Red Kite
1620hrs: 50 Honey Buzzard, 50 Black Kite, 4 Red Kite
1630hrs: 33 Honey Buzzard, 24 Black Kite, 1 male Montagu's Harrier
1640hrs: 28 Honey Buzzard, 17 Black Kite, 1 adult Egyptian Vulture
1650hrs: 24 Honey Buzzard
1700hrs: 20 Honey Buzzard
1830hrs: 20 Honey Buzzard, 4 Black Kite

Along the Camino de Avedin track at 1800hrs I logged Garden Warbler, 2x Pied Flycatcher, male Common Redstart and Red-rumped Swallow.


Sunday 02 September, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh E-NE wind, 25C: Thankfully back to a more tolerable temperature today and great conditions for watching a significant raptor movement over the village. Highlights were a male Montagu's Harrier and 3 adult Egyptian Vulture. There were birds passing over most of the afternoon with counts as follows:
1245hrs: 8 Honey Buzzard
1430hrs: 50 Honey Buzzard, 2 Common Buzzard, 1 male Montagu's Harrier
1600hrs: 9 Honey Buzzard, 1 Black Kite
1610hrs: 30 Honey Buzzard
1620-1630hrs: 90 Honey Buzzard, 1 Black Kite
1640hrs: 31 Honey Buzzard, 1 adult Egyptian Vulture
1700hrs: 36 Honey Buzzard
1730-1740hrs: 54 Honey Buzzard, 1 Black Kite
1750hrs: 8 Honey Buzzard, 2 adult Egyptian Vulture
1815hrs: 24 Honey Buzzard
1910hrs: 31 Honey Buzzard, 2 Black Kite
1940hrs: A single kettle of 119 birds, the majority were Honey Buzzard but there were at least 10 Black Kite and several Common Buzzard amongst them
2010hrs: 8 Honey Buzzard, 6 Black Kite

Some of the Honey Buzzard passage was in very high, swirling 'kettles' and as such identification of all individuals within a group was quite tricky; I would imagine that the totals above probably included more Common Buzzard than I recorded. Throughout the afternoon the migrants were joined by local Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Griffon Vulture and around 1800hrs there was a noisy flock of 20+ Bee-eater swooping in and out of the almond groves that surround the Camino de Avedin.
Saturday 01 September, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light-fresh E wind, 28C: A brief walk down the Camino de Avedin at 1000hrs produced Firecrest, Short-toed Treecreeper, Eurasian Nuthatch, Pied Flycatcher, Eurasian Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Green Woodpecker (heard). During the afternoon there was some Honey Buzzard passage N-S over the centre of Gaucin with 8 moving through at 1500hrs, 35 at 1715hrs and 12 at 1900hrs.
Friday 31 August, partly cloudy, fresh E wind, 26C:
As mentioned in Wingspanner's post, last night saw the worst forest fire on the Costa del Sol for many years centred around Coin and Ojen just north of Marbella. In Gaucin at midnight we could see an orange glow from behind the hills to the east but assumed it was just a small fire somewhere along the Genal valley. At 0300hrs we woke to the smell of smoke and were shocked to see that Gaucin was completely shrouded in smoke - we are currently looking after a friend's house in the countryside and it was quite disconcerting not knowing how close the fire was and we seriously considered leaving the house and taking the cats and dog up to the relative safety of Gaucin village. In the end we decided to stay put, as we couldn't see any flames, but we didn't sleep much for the rest of the night and were continually checking outside to make sure we were safe! As the sun rose through the smoke layer it, like the almost full moon the night before, was a stunning blood red. The images of the fire on Spanish TV during the morning were quite shocking.

Anyway, back to the birds...
0800hrs: a walk along the Camino de Avedin produced a female Comon Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Crested Tit and a Firecrest. There was some raptor passage noted this afternoon with small numbers of, mainly, Honey Buzzard and Black Kite moving N-S over the village:
1800hrs: 4 Honey Buzzard, 4 Black Kite, 1 Common Buzzard
1900hrs: 8 Honey Buzzard
1930hrs: 3 Honey Buzzard
2000hrs: 6 Honey Buzzard


Thursday 30 August, sunny, light W-SW wind, 32C: Despite prolonged viewing from the Camino de Avedin area over the Genal valley the only things to report were a couple of flocks of Bee-eater, 35 at 1600hrs and a further 28 at 1615hrs.