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Friday 30 August 2013, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light-fresh SE wind, 29C

The male Eagle Owl was calling from somewhere just below Calle del Pino at 0630hrs; I got up to try and see it but by the time I reached the terrace it had gone/gone quiet. There was some spectacular migration during the afternoon with numbers as follows:

1330hrs: 300+ Honey Buzzard, 1 adult and 1 juvenile Egyptian Vulture. The number of Honey Buzzard may have been nearer 500 as there were two large 'kettles' of birds to the SW of the village that were constantly swirling around, intermingling and being joined by new individuals making an accurate count very difficult.

1345hrs: 56 Honey Buzzard
1400hrs: 129 Honey Buzzard, 24 Black Kite, 1 Short-toed Eagle, 30 European Bee-eater
1415hrs: 34 European Bee-eater (possibly same birds as above?)
1530hrs: 110 Honey Buzzard
1700hrs: 2 Honey Buzzard, 10 Black Kite

Other than the large group at 1330hrs, the Honey Buzzards were mostly heading NE-SW over the East of the village. In addition to the migrants there were at least 45 Griffon Vulture, 3 Booted Eagle and 1 Short-toed Eagle around all afternoon.

Thursday 29 August 2013, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light-fresh E-SE wind, 29C

Some raptor movement during the morning as folows:

1145hrs: 50 Honey Buzzard
1210hrs: 88 Honey Buzzard, 2 Black Kite

Watching on and off during a very cloudy afternoon, with some thunder, there was nothing to be seen. There are still a handful of Swift, a few more House Martin and at least one pair of Barn Swallow around the south of the village.

Stormy sky this afternoon

Wednesday 28 August 2013, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light-fresh S-SE wind, 28C

Afternoon migration counts over the village as follows:

1730hrs: 88 Honey Buzzard, 1 Black Kite
1800hrs: 33 Honey Buzzard
1830hrs: 43 European Bee-eater
1930hrs: 60 Honey Buzzard
2000hrs: 29 Honey Buzzard

Most birds following a N-NE to S-SW route.

Tuesday 27 August 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh E-SE wind, 28C

After one day of westerly winds we were back to levante and the murky view to the coast that goes with it! Despite reaching 28C, today, like yesterday, had a cool feel to it. There are variable amounts of precipitation forecast over the next few days; if this happens it will be an early return for the rains.

Just the following sightings today:

1830hrs: 49 Honey Buzzard, 12 Black Kite

Monday 26 August 2013, Gaucin, misty am, sunny pm, light W-SW wind, 28C

A change in the wind direction and a 4C drop in temperature and all of a sudden it feels like autumn is just around the corner. We woke to a 'white-out' mist engulfing the village and the autumnal feel was added to by the presence of a Blue Rock Thrush on a roof in Calle del Pino and a European Robin in full song; also a couple of Honey Buzzard at around 1030hrs. It wasn't until mid-day that the mist lifted and I could look for migrating raptors. Nothing much to report until late afternoon when I noted the following:
1700hrs: 21 Honey Buzzard and 1 Black Kite
1715hrs: 48 Honey Buzzard
1900hrs: 7 Honey Buzzard, 1 Black Kite, 2 Common Buzzard and 1 adult female/juvenile Montagu's Harrier

Sunday 25 August 2013, sunny, calm air-light S-SE wind, 32C

From 0930-1100hrs a walk along the Sierra de Espartina (Smuggler's route) produced a handful of Honey Buzzard lifting off from the nearby wooded areas, also Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle (including great views of  two performing a 'bonding' display) and Crested Tit. During the afternoon, frequent scans from the village showed continuing rapter passage with the following sightings:

1530hrs: 5 Honey Buzzard, 4 Black Kite, 1 pale morph Booted Eagle, 1 Short-toed Eagle
1545hrs: 28 Honey Buzzard, 2 Black Kite, 20 Swift sp., 35 European Bee-eater
1615hrs: 5 Honey Buzzard, 3 Black Kite
1715hrs: 23 Honey Buzzard, 25 Black Kite
1730hrs: 28 Honey Buzzard, 29 Black Kite 1 juvenile Egyptian Vulture
1745hrs: 18 Honey Buzzard, 12 Black Kite, 1 Common Buzzard, 1 Booted Eagle, 1 Short-toed Eagle
1800hrs: 16 Honey Buzzard, 1 Black Kite, 1 Common Buzzard
1840hrs: 39 European Bee-eater

Saturday 24 August 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light S-SE wind, 32C

The male Eagle Owl was back again in the Calle Convento/Calle del Pino area, calling for 15min from 0215hrs, occasionally 'duetting' with a Tawny Owl!  At 0900hrs there were two male Golden Oriole along the Arroyo del Moro track down towards the Rio Genal and driving back up at 1030hrs the first Honey Buzzard of the day. After yesterday's migration excitement today was a little quieter with sightings during the afternoon as follows:

1540hrs: 18 Black Kite, 6 Honey Buzzard
1740hrs: 2 Honey Buzzard
1805hrs: 1 Honey Buzzard


For most of the afternoon there were a couple of pale morph and one intermediate morph Booted Eagle around, also a beautifully marked adult Short-toed Eagle.

A nice surprise was a 'kettle' of 90+ Black Kite that was building up just to the SW of the village at 2115hrs despite the rapidly fading light.

Friday 23 August 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh S-SE wind, 32C

A morning visit down to the Rio Genal from 0845-1015hrs produced the following:
Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Honey Buzzard (2 following the river downstream at about 1030hrs), Common Kestrel, Grey Heron, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Turtle Dove (at least 6 individuals), European Bee-eater (just a couple flying over), Eurasian Jay, Golden Oriole (1 male, 2 female/juv), Common Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Sardinian Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff sp., Willow Warbler, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and a small party of Hawfinch.

There was steady southward migration today, with most birds taking a NE-SW route over the centre of  Gaucin. Numbers as follows:
1030hrs: 20 Honey Buzzard, 15 Black Kite (below Las Limas estate)
1330hrs: 2 Honey Buzzard
1350hrs: 7 Honey Buzzard
1400hrs: 32 European Bee-eater
1500hrs: 1 Black Kite
1505hrs: 15 Honey Buzzard
1530hrs: 7 Honey Buzzard, 4 Black Kite
1540hrs: 17 Black Kite
1615hrs: 22 Honey Buzzard
1730hrs: 16 Black Kite, 29 European Bee-eater
1745hrs: 12 Honey Buzzard
1800hrs: 15 Honey Buzzard, 12 Black Kite, 1 adult Egyptian Vulture
1840hrs: 33 Honey Buzzard

Hawfinch



Thursday 22 August 2013, Gaucin, sunny am, mostly high thin cloud pm, light E-SE wind, 32C

A warm, humid day; I was only looking skywards during the afternoon and saw just 8 Honey Buzzard moving through NE-SW at 1600hrs.

Interesting photo of a tiny mantis nymph that appeared alongside my laptop displaying protective ant mimicry, or myrmecomorphy.


Wednesday 21 August 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh E-SE wind, 31C

The first reverse migration Honey Buzzard of the year were seen today; by this time last year we had already had a few days of light Honey Buzzard passage and I was beginning to wonder when this year's movement would start. Early afternoon I spotted a couple of raptors a long way off that had a Honey Buzzard look about them but they were just too distant to be sure and it wasn't long before more arrived directly above the village and I was able to confirm an ID. Numbers as follows: 

1530hrs: 20 Honey Buzzard heading N-S
1540hrs: 4 Honey Buzzard heading NE-SW
1545hrs: 1 Black Kite, 30 European Bee-eater and 1 Short-toed Eagle
1655hrs: 40 European Bee-eater

There were a couple of local Booted Eagle and several Griffon Vulture around all afternoon plus a few Common Swift, at least one pair of Pallid Swift, several House Martin and one pair of Barn Swallow.

Tuesday 20 August 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh E-SE wind, 32C

A morning visit to the Rio Genal from 0830-1000hrs produced some good sightings including: Booted Eagle, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, Grey Heron, 3x Green Sandpiper, European Bee-eater, Eurasian Jay, Common Swift, Barn Swallow, Golden Oriole (at least 3, 1 male, 2 female/juvenile), Spotless Starling, Grey Wagtail (family party of at least 4 individuals), 4x Spotted Flycatcher, Iberian Chiffchaff (still attempting a short song!), Blackcap, Cirl Bunting, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and 3x Hawfinch.

Since the initial passage of Black Kite over the village during the first week of August it has been very quiet on the migration front but it is, however, going on elsewhere! I've had reports of several hundred Black Kite, along with a handful of Egyptian Vulture and Short-toed Eagle, held up along the coast near Bolonia presumably waiting for the Easterly winds to abate so they can make the crossing to Morocco.

Golden Oriole adult male that refused to face me!


Golden Oriole adult female

Golden Oriole (with Blackcap and Hawfinch!)

Saturday 17 August, 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light E-SE wind, 31C

A male Eagle Owl calling from the trees below Calle del Pino at 0530hrs this morning. Good to know that at least one bird is still around!

Thursday 15 August 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light E-SE wind, 31C

A visit to the west slope of El Hacho from 0900-1030hrs didn't produce a great deal of note. Birds seen included Griffon Vulture, Common Kestrel, European Bee-eater, Thekla Lark, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler and Cirl Bunting. Bonelli's Warbler was heard.

Tuesday 13 August 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light S-SE wind, 29C

A cloudy morning, towards the coast, at least, gave way to a warm, humid afternoon. A trip to Malaga airport gave me the chance of a short stop at Guadalhorce and Janys to go shopping in IKEA! By the time I'd dropped Janys off and walked from the car to the hide at Laguna Grande I only had about 20min left for birding but I did see the following:

Lesser black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Audouin's Gull, Black-headed Gull, Little Egret, Black-necked Grebe, Monk Parakeet, Black-winged Stilt, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Little-ringed Plover, Common Swift, Spotless Starling, Zitting Cisticola, Goldfinch and Greenfinch.

Interestingly, all the European Bee-eaters appeared to have left the area.

Early morning cloud below Gaucin

Monday 12 August 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light E-SE wind, 31C

After the excitement of last week's Black Kite movement the past few days have been very quiet with not a single migrating raptor to be seen during frequent scans of the skies above the village. There have been some signs of the Summer/Autumn transition with occasional small groups of European Bee-eater around, a couple of calling Chiffchaff sp. in the garden and a noticeable drop in Swift numbers. There have been one or two Scarce Swallowtail butterflies around which is always a welcome sight.

Friday 09 August 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light E-SE wind, 31C

No migration visible over the village for the past couple of days. This morning from 0900-1030hrs I took a walk along the Camino de Gibraltar and logged the following: Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle (a very vocal pair displaying for a good 20min in the valley between El Nobo and El Hacho), Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Raven, European Bee-eater (at least 70 birds in a couple of groups on the wires below El Nobo), Great-spotted Woodpecker, Spotless Starling, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff sp., Cirl Bunting.

European Bee-eater

Cirl Bunting

Wednesday 07 August 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light NW wind, 32C

Some relief from the heat of the past couple of days with the wind switching to a more northerly direction. I kept an eye on the skies on and off during the day but no sign of any migration. I did, however, see the first presumably 'returning' phyllosc warbler as a very bright looking individual, most likely a Chiffchaff sp. gave a very brief view as it darted deep into the folliage of the garden Walnut tree during the afternoon.

Tuesday 06 August 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light W-SW wind, 36C

A very hot day today and on my brief forays outside seemingly no migration to be seen with just a lone pale morph Booted Eagle patrolling high above the village. At 1800hrs, however, there was a large high altitude movement of Swift with several hundred heading due South. They were followed almost immediately by 302 Black Kite taking a NE-SW route over the North side of the village.

With the more westerly winds the views cleared considerably late afternoon, so much so that a pair of Short-toed Eagle way over above Sierra Crestellina could be seen as if they were just a short distance away.

Monday 05 August 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light S-SE wind, 33C

In addition to an early-morning Alpine Swift low over Calle Convento, there was more Black Kite movement today, numbers as follows, with a huge flock going through just before 1500hrs. Most birds were moving high over the centre of the village in a roughly NE-SW direction.

1455-1500hrs: 710

1500-1505hrs: 48

1630hrs: 17

1830hrs: 2

Sunday 04 August 2013, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light E-SE wind, 32C

Haven't had a chance to scan the skies much over the past two days with it being the annual feria but there were more Black Kite moving through today with 60 over the main plaza at 1815hrs.

Several people have commented on the dearth of Barn Swallow around the village this year. Normally there are plenty of them zipping up and down the road outside our house first thing in the morning but I've only seen a handful all Summer. Hopefully just a bad year (related to poor weather conditions during the Northward migration?) and they'll be back in force next year.

Friday 02 August 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh E-SE wind, 32C

Today saw the first 'reverse migrating' Black Kite of the year with 239 passing over the village between 1700 and 1715hrs. A handful more followed in the next 30min. Most birds were on a more or less N-S course but at times some were clearly 'tacking' into the fresh wind and heading E-SE, no doubt keen to avoid being blown off course towards the Atlantic.  Today's date for the first significant Black Kite passage compares to 04 August in 2012 and 29 July in 2011.

Swift numbers were at their peak late in the evening with over 200 to the south of the village at 2130hrs; mostly Common with a few Pallid scattered amongst them.

Thursday 01 August 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh E-SE wind, 31C

An early morning visit to Encinas Borrachas track for Wingspanner and me hoping to get some good views of Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush. As is often the case, the wind was quite a bit fresher than in Gaucin, picking up strength as the Sun rose, and at first it felt quite cool. There from 0815-1115hrs we dipped on the Rock Thrush but did see Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle (at least 4 on the drive from Gaucin), Common Kestrel, Southern Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Crag Martin, Common Swift, Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Thekla Lark, Stonechat, Orphean Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Bonelli's Warbler, Rock Sparrow, Linnet and Rock Bunting.  European Bee-eater was heard.

There were many juveniles around including Woodchat Shrike, Black-eared Wheatear and Spectacled Warbler and also several very 'scruffy' birds mid-moult, see photos below.

On the Ronda road, just beyond the turning to Benarraba, we were saddened to see a dead Genet, victim of a collision with a vehicle. They are not particularly rare but, due to their secretive nocturnal nature, are seldom seen.


Black-eared Wheatear - moulting adult

Spectacled Warbler

Spectacled Warbler

Spectacled Warbler - adult on left, juvenile on right

Stonechat - moulting adult male

Thekla Lark