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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.
Tuesday 16 October, sunny, calm air-light E wind, 21C. A morning trip, 0830-1200hrs, to the Casares-Secadero track with Tim, who is visiting Gaucin, began on a high note with the appearance of a Black-winged Kite perched on an electricity pylon. In nearby fields were White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Crested Lark and a couple of very pale Skylark as well as large flocks of mixed finches (Goldfinch, Linnet and Serin). Down by the river we noted Osprey, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, at least 10 Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Mallard, Kingfisher, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin and Corn Bunting. Here we also saw a Black-winged Kite; it could have been the same individual that we saw at the start but at a distance of 2km, and given that the original bird was still there on our return, it could well have been a second one. Along a nearby farm track were 5 Hoopoe (see rather poor photo of one!), 2 Northern Wheatear (female/1st winter), Stonechat and Zitting Cisticola. Also seen on the drive along the track were Griffon Vulture, 2 Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Cattle Egret, Collared Dove, Southern Grey Shrike, Spotless Starling, Chiffchaff sp., Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler and Cirl Bunting; Raven was heard.
1900hrs: A late afternoon cycle behind El Hacho produced Griffon Vulture, Southern Grey Shrike, Blue Rock Thrush, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Thekla Lark, Blackcap and Sardinian Warbler.

Sunday 14 October, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W wind, 23C: An early morning visit, 0830-0930hrs, to the track running along the Las Palas valley below what used to be Venta Socorro produced the following: 1 Griffon Vulture, 2 Raven, several Eurasian Jay, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 4 House Martin over, Eurasian Nuthatch, 3 Corn Bunting over, Spotless Starling, 6+ Blackbird, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Robin, 2 Chiffchaff sp., Blackcap, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Wren. At 1850hrs a Common Crossbill flew over the new Venta Socorro opposite the petrol station. Photo shows this mornings sunrise over the Sierra Blanquilla behind Cortes de la Frontera.


Friday 12 October, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light N-NW wind, 23C: Back to more usual temperatures after reaching 29C on Wednesday. Quiet on the birding front as busy with other things. A Booted Eagle and a few House Martin around on Wednesday, a Dartford Warbler below Rosa Alta yesterday, 40+ Griffon Vulture around El Hacho this morning as well as a Southern Grey Shrike and a female Black Redstart on the west slope.
Monday 08 October, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light S-SE wind, 28C: A visit to the Rio Guadiaro at Estacion Cortes de la Frontera from 1300-1400hrs was very quiet, not surprising given the heat. The highlight was a kettle of 85+ Griffon Vulture; also seen were Short-toed Eagle (3 with the vulture kettle), Peregrine, Common Kestrel, Spotless Starling, White Wagtail, Cirl Bunting and Stonechat. The river was quite full after last week's rain and there were some inviting muddy 'beaches' but no waders taking advantage of them.
Sunday 07 October, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light E-SE wind, 26C: A lovely warm autumn day but few birds to report! Short-toed Eagle and Booted Eagle still around the village, a Raven over Rosa Alta and a few House Martin. Attempted to go birding late afternoon but was thwarted at El Hacho by the presence of hunters; I then tried the river only to find the area full of families having picnics! Nice to hear a Tawny Owl calling close to the southern edge of the village at 2145hrs - the first one in a while.
Saturday 06 October, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light S-SE wind, 24C: A quick look from the roadside at the start of the Encinas Borrachas track on the way back from Ronda at 1700hrs produced the following: 2 adult Bonelli's Eagle, 1 Black Stork (flying N-S), 1 Green Sandpiper at the pool, Blue Rock Thrush, Southern Grey Shrike, Thekla Lark and Stonechat.
Friday 05 October, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light E-SE wind, 25C: A walk along Camino de Avedin from 0945-1015 produced 3 Firecrest, 3 Great-spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Jay, European Nuthatch, Chiffchaff sp., Sardinian Warbler and a group of 9 Long-tailed Tit. All of the Pied Flycatcher seem to have moved on. During the early afternoon there were both Booted Eagle and Short-toed Eagle patrolling below the village to the south and a male Blue Rock Thrush along the rooftops in Calle Convento. A surprise sighting at 1750hrs was 15 Honey Buzzard passing E-W just to the north-west of Gaucin in front of Sierra del Hacho - this is the latest date that I've seen them here; perhaps they were held up by the poor weather conditions further north.
Wednesday 03 October, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light E-SE wind, 24C: A walk along the Camino de Gibraltar to the south of Gaucin village from 0815hrs to 0945hrs produced nothing out of the ordinary but there were lots of Stonechat, a female Black Redstart, 3 Cirl Bunting, 2 Common Kestrel displaying to each other, 2 Chiffchaff sp., Cetti's Warbler (heard), Sardinian Warbler, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 3 Eurasian Jay, Grey Wagtail and towards the top of the track, in a small cork oak tree, a lovely Firecrest.
Tuesday 02 October, Gaucin, mostly sunny,  light E-NE wind, 23C: There was a Blue Rock Thrush calling and singing outside our bedroom window at 0750hrs this morning.



Monday 01 October, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light N-NE wind, 19C:  A visit to the Rio Genal below Gaucin from 0815-0915hrs produced the following of note on a quiet, cool, 14C, morning: 3 Common Snipe, 1 Northern Wheatear, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Spotless Starling, 12 White Wagtail, 1 Pied Flycatcher and Short-toed Treecreeper. At 2000hrs there were 100+ House Martin over the southern edge of the village; haven't seen a Swift for a couple of weeks yet this time last year there were still a few around - have they all gone back already?