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Saturday 30 March, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, calm air-light N-NE wind, 15C: More heavy rain overnight with 22L/m2 falling between 2200hrs Friday and 0900hrs Saturday. The Blue Rock Thrush is still adding a touch of exotic song to the dawn chorus on the roofs of Calle Convento.

An afternoon walk along the Camino de Gibraltar from 1630-1800hrs produced the following: Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Common Kestrel, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Woodchat Shrike (see photos), Grey Wagtail, Stonechat, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Cirl Bunting.

Also some nice flowers....including Star of Bethlehem Ornithogalum umbellatum and Barbary Nut Moraea sisyrinchium (the white morph pictured below is the first I've seen).






Star of Bethlehem



Barbary Nut
Barbary Nut - white morph

Friday 29 March, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light-fresh W-NW wind, 16C: After another 11L/m2 of rain on Wednesday evening, Thursday was thankfully dry but the only bird of note was a stunning male Siskin on the garden Walnut tree during the morning. Today, despite the cooling wind, the temperature reached a warm-feeling 16C. A morning visit to the Casares-Secadero track alongside the Rio Genal was quite productive with my first European Bee-eater of the year which was in one of three separate groups of 15-20 birds each. Also seen were Griffon Vulture, 4 Short-toed Eagle (see rather scruffy one in photos), 5 Booted Eagle (one dark morph), 6 Black Kite, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Great Cormorant, 3 Grey Heron, 4 Little-ringed Plover, Common Swift, Pallid Swift and a single Alpine Swift, Barn Swallow, no fewer than 8 Woodchat Shrike, female Black Redstart, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Crested Lark, at least 4 singing Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warber, Zitting Cisticola and Serin. Again, no singing migrant warblers; though there were Chiffchaff around as they could be heard calling. Back in the village, a small group of European Bee-eater flew over 'la cruz' area at about 1400hrs.

 





Wednesday 27 March, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, occasional rain showers, light W-NW wind, 13C: After 10L/m2 of rain overnight today was drier. A mid-morning appointment on the coast afforded the chance to check out the Estepona beach gull flock where there was nothing of note; 250+ Yellow-legged Gull and about 20 Black-headed Gull. In amongst the gulls, though, was a very flighty Little-ringed Plover. In the stream opposite Estepona football stadium was a pair of Canada Goose and on wasteground beside the 'Roca' roundabout, a Zitting Cisticola was singing. Earlier in Gaucin there was a pale morph Booted Eagle patrolling the southern fringes of the village - surprisingly, this was my first sighting of a Booted Eagle this Spring other than a couple passing through a week or so ago. Also in the village, a male Blue Rock Thrush was singing enthusiastically both from a chimney and whilst performing its impressive display flight.
Tuesday 26 March, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, occasional light rain, calm air-light W wind, 11C: In an effort to escape the rain, and to buy what will hopefully be our last load of wood for this winter, Janys and I drove 'down the hill' to Castellar de la Frontera mid-morning. Around the atmospheric castle were Griffon Vulture, Lesser Kestrel, Common Swift, Barn Swallow and House Martin. After a lovely coffee, in the part of the moorish castle that was recently converted into a hotel, we headed back through Jimena de la Frontera where we saw a flock of at least 9 Alpine Swift, a Woodchat Shrike on a telegraph wire, a Hoopoe flying just over the car, a Black Kite, several White Stork and a couple of Short-toed Eagle.  At 1630hrs I ventured out into the intermittent drizzle to see if there was anything interesting around the side of El Hacho - it was all rather quiet, but there was a single Short-toed Eagle, and passing to the N, in the direction of El Peso, was a female Montagu's Harrier; also seen were a couple of pairs of Stonechat, a Thekla Lark, a pair of Cirl Bunting, a male Black Redstart still hanging on to it's wintering grounds, and several Sardinian Warbler. I also saw this interesting grass that I think is Lamarckia aurea or Goldentop Grass:


Monday 25 March, Gaucin, cloudy, persistent light rain, calm air-light W-NW wind, 9C: Just a single Black Kite to report, passing low SE-NW over the south of the village at 1130hrs.
Sunday 24 March, Gaucin, rain am, partly cloudy with light showers pm, light W-NW wind, 12C: Heard the first Common Cuckoo of the year with one calling to the South of the village at 0945hrs. With 21L/m2 of rain falling from 1000hrs Saturday to 1000hrs Sunday it was good to get out along Camino de Gibraltar mid-afternoon. It was generally quieter than I expected but I logged a solitary Black Kite passing in front of the castle, Short-toed Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Common Kestrel, 25 Wood Pigeon, Blue Rock Thrush, Spotless Starling (including the Common Buzzard and Golden Oriole mimic), Cirl Bunting, Meadow Pipit, 10+ Sardinian Warbler, 3 pairs of Stonechat, Wren, Serin and a flock of 50+ Goldfinch. Black Redstart were notable by their absence as they have all moved on to their breeding grounds. There were no migrant warblers to be seen or heard. There were a handful of Dull Ophrys ophrys fusca along the track, see photo.




Saturday 23 March, Gaucin, rain, light W-SW wind, 7C: The retention of the cool wintry weather was epitomised by the fact that there are still Siskin around, with a male in the Walnut tree in the garden at 0930hrs. The House Sparrow roost in the Walnut/Bamboo was up to at least 35 individuals during late afternoon.
Friday 22 March, Gaucin, cloudy, frequent rain showers, light SW wind, 12C: Not much to report other than a female Northern Wheatear on the Bahia Casares-Casares road and the fact that at least one male Blue Rock Thrush is still around on the roofs of Calle del Pino/Calle Convento.
Thursday 21 March, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light W wind,14C: First day of Spring and, though cool, there was no rain. Driving back from the coast at about 1030hrs the two Goshawk were flying along the Genal valley on the Casares side of the river bridge and there were a couple of Short-toed Eagle around, too. Throughout the day there were at least two, sometimes three Short-toed Eagle around the south of the village and four flew through at height mid-morning. Swift sp. numbers are up to 30+ with at least one pair of Pallid and there were two male Blue Rock Thrush on the roofs around Calle Convento/Calle del Pino during late morning, one in full song; it's the first time I've seen them singing and displaying so openly within the populated parts of the village.

Blue Rock Thrush



Wednesday 20 March, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light W-NW wind, 11C: Back to Spain yesterday evening after a few days in the UK to be greeted by yet more heavy rain and unseasonably cool temperatures. Today was dry but still cool. There is at least one pair of Common Swift around Calle Convento and there was a Blue Rock Thrush singing on the rooftops there this afternoon. A Goshawk was again displaying in the valleys to the south of the village at about 1830hrs.
Wednesday 13 March, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh NW wind, 10C: At last, a day without rain! It was only 6C when I ventured out towards Jimena/San Pablo but just seeing the sun made it feel like a summer's day. Just outside the village on the Gaucin-Jimena road there were 23 Black Kite and 1 Red Kite then as I drove through San Pablo another 50+ Black Kite before I had to pull in to the petrol station to check out a distant 'kettle' of birds; it turned out they were White Stork, at least 300 of them joined by several Black Kite and a couple of both Short-toed Eagle and Booted Eagle - and I hadn't even reached my birding destination! Arriving at the track between Barca Moreno and Marchenilla at 1000hrs I soon picked up a male Marsh Harrier and an adult Egyptian Vulture plus a few more Black Kite, 3 Common Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel and 2 Short-toed Eagle as well as 30+ Griffon Vulture. Passerines included Common Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Stonechat (I just love their haunting tinkling song) and Crested Lark. Looking back in the direction of San Martin, and Sierra Crestellina beyond, there were 50+ White Stork and a constant stream of Black Kite piling up the Guadiaro river valley. All of this in just an hour, and this included heeding the advice of a local farmer to take refuge in the car as he drove an angry-looking bull to it's new pasture. On the drive back up the hill there were several more Black Kite, 4 Short-toed Eagle and, just to the west of El Hacho, 3 Booted Eagle. Good birding!

Today's terrace view - a great improvement!

Not much of the Gaucin-Jimena road left after the rain.

Tuesday 12 March, Gaucin, rain, light-fresh W wind, 10C: Two more days of rain, showery on Monday but continuous today with 32L/m2 falling in the 24hr to 2000hrs. Whilst down on the coast this morning I saw a couple of Swift sp. and there was a Raven just near the turning to Casares; back in Gaucin I got a brief glimpse of a Swift over Calle del Pino but it promptly disappeared. Here's hoping for better weather tomorrow!
Sunday10 March, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, intermittent heavy rain showers, 14L/m2 since Saturday evening, light-fresh W wind, 10C:  Thanks to Wingspanner for his sightings today - clearly more going on to the west! No major raptor migration sightings here but there was a pair of Goshawk displaying over the valleys south of the village early afternoon and one or two Short-toed Eagle and Common Kestrel around. There were two Swift sp. flying towards the coast in front of Sierra Crestellina but they were too far away for me to ID between Common and Pallid.

SUNDAY 10TH MARCH 2013

GENAL VALLEY NEAR CASARES

heavy rain and hail showers with some sunny breaks.

About 11am the rain stopped for a while and I took Tom & Stephanie out for a couple of hours birding during the dry spell.

We drove down to the Genal River and up to Sierra Crestellina where we stopped to look at the Bonelli's Eagle nest site. The nest was in good shape but no birds were in attendance. We did see many Black Redstarts, Stonechats, Crested Larks and Griffon Vultures. We also saw one or two Booted Eagles and a single Short-toed Eagle.

record shot of my first Woodchat shrike of the year

record shot of the Bonelli's Eagle

Black-winged Stilts in the river genal


A few kilometers further along the road to the coast we turned off on the single track road towards Secadura. It was along here that we saw the true numbers of migrating raptors that we'd expected during a dry sunny spell. Soon the sky was full of birds, over 100 Black kites were joined by 10's of Short-toed Eagles, Booted Eagles, Common Buzzards and one or two Marsh Harriers. On lower levels we found two WOODCHAT SHRIKES, Cirl Buntings, Serins, White Wagtails, Corn Buntings and a nice flock of 7 Lesser Kestrels were feeding over the hillside.

Black Kites
A single raptor caught our eye, at first it looked like Long-legged Buzzard but as it got closer to Common Buzzards the size difference was obvious, we had found a first winter Bonelli's Eagle, a nice find.

Short-toed Eagle

Lesser kestrel


We made it down to the river which was in flood and all we saw there was a flock of 17 Black-winged Stilts. It began to rain again, the fun was over, thick cloud came in so we retreated back to the house for shelter. A short but sweet birding excursion.

ALL PHOTOS TAKEN BY  TOM GREEN
Saturday 09 March, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, rain pm, 9L/m2 during the day up to 1900hrs, light W-SW wind, 12C: A few more migration sightings with a single Black Kite over the village at 1410hrs and a male Marsh Harrier at 1500hrs; agian, a steady passage of Barn Swallow throughout the day. At 1600hrs there was a female Blue Rock Thrush on the roofs in Calle Alta and at 1630hrs a pair of Black Redstart and a Grey Wagtail around Callejon del Pino. I had reports of larger numbers of Black Kite passing over Jimena de la Frontera this morning so perhaps the main passage is currently slightly further west.
Friday 08 March, Gaucin, cloudy, light-fresh SW wind, 14C: At last a day without rain, although another 16L/m2 fell between 1800hrs and 0900hrs Saturday, and some interesting migration.....around 1500hrs passing over the centre of the village were an Osprey, a Short-toed Eagle and 7 Black Kite; at 1745 a male Marsh Harrier passed through being closely attended by a local Sparrowhawk; also several groups of 3-4 Barn Swallow throughout the afternoon. With the SW tail-wind birds were moving through with some speed. There was also a Short-toed Eagle kicking around the south of the village most of the afternoon - probably one from the two local breeding pairs.
Thursday 07 March, Gaucin, rain, fresh SW wind gusting to moderate gale, 13C: Yet more rain today, 32L/m2 between 0800 and 1800hrs.
Wednesday 06 March, Gaucin, cloudy, occasional light rain, light-fresh W-SW wind, 11C: In the 24hr period from 0800hrs Wednesday to 0800hrs Thursday a minimum of 45L/m2 rain fell, 35L/m2 of it during the early hours of Thursday. Wednesday was another grey day but at least there was an opportunity to try and positively ID the early swift, except it didn't show! There were at least 35 House Martin around the southern fringes of the village and one or two Barn Swallow just NE of the old convent. During the morning 40+ Griffon Vulture headed west after leaving their overnight roost on Sierra Crestellina.
Tuesday 05 March, Gaucin, rain, fresh-strong S-SE breeze gusting to moderate gale, 9C: A very wet and wild day with 67L/m2 rain falling in the 24hrs to 0800hrs Wednesday.

Today's view from our terrace

Monday 04 March, Gaucin, light-fresh E wind, rain, 9C: Nothing to report birdwise as visibility is down to a few metres. I want to try and get a better look at the swift that's been around Calle del Pino as a brief view yesterday suggested more of a Common than a Pallid; need some good light, though!
Sunday 03 March, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light-fresh E wind, 9C: During breakfast this morning there were at least 9 Blackcap (5 male, 4 female) in the Walnut tree in the garden behind our house; also a male Blue Rock Thrush and a male Black Redstart on a house roof in Callejon del Pino. 3 Barn Swallow flew up from the south mid-afternoon and the single Pallid Swift was around again at about 1830hrs.
Saturday 02 March, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light E-SE wind, 11C: A late afternoon visit to El Hacho produced, all visible from the road, 30+ Griffon Vulture, a Peregrine, 1 female Blue Rock Thrush, 4 Song Thrush, 5 Black Redstart, 6 Stonechat and 4 Sardinian Warbler; again no sign of the Southern Grey Shrike. A 5min stop at the Salto de Cura Chestnut/Cork Oak woods saw Eurasian Nuthatch, Eurasian Jay and Great-spotted Woodpecker.
Thursday 28 February, Gaucin, cloudy, occasional light rain, sleet and hail, light-fresh W-NW wind, 5C: Winter returned with a vengeance as we woke to a light dusting of snow and a bitterly cold day but it didn't stop the first Pallid Swift of the year putting in an appearance above Calle del Pino; there were also 2 male and 2 female Siskin in the gardens below Calle Convento.