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Sunday 29 September 2013, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light rain, light W-SW wind, 20C

The weather has broken, with some steady rain over the past couple of days; 32Lm2 fell Friday night-Saturday morning, 12.5Lm2 Saturday night-Sunday morning and 10Lm2 Sunday night-Monday morning.

Today in the gardens between Calle del Pino and Calle Convento there was a male Blue Rock Thrush, Pied Flycatcher, a pair of Blackcap and a Chiffchaff sp. There are still quite a few House Martin in the village with many flying into and around a large Palm tree behind Calle Convento and at least a couple of Common Swift, too.

Friday 27 September 2013, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light-fresh SW wind, 26C

This morning I was joined by Tim for a visit to the mountain pass at the start of the Llanos de Libar, behind Montejaque. From 0930-1130hrs we logged the following:

30+ Griffon Vulture, Bonelli's Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Southern Grey Shrike, 1 Alpine Swift, House Martin, Crag Martin, Spotless Starling, 8+ Blue Rock Thrush, male Common Rock Thrush, 6-8 Black Wheatear, Black Redstart, male Common Redstart, Stonechat, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, 20+ Rock Sparrow and Cirl Bunting. Red Deer and Ibex were seen, too.

On the drive back towards Ronda we saw Common Kestrel and a group of 60+ Griffon Vulture in and around a stubble field.

Black Redstart

Distant shot of  male Common Rock Thrush


From 1900-1930hrs there were two Peregrine flying around the west side of El Hacho, also 2 Honey Buzzard heading South and a female Common Redstart there.

Wednesday 25 September 2013, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light E-SE wind, 27C

A visit to the Rio Genal below Gaucin from 0915-1100hrs produced the following:
Griffon Vulture, 3 Grey Heron, 2 Green Sandpiper, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, 4 Great-spotted Woodpecker (together in a dead tree), European Bee-eater (one or two heard flying over), European Robin, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Pied Flycatcher, 1 superb male Common Redstart, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff sp., male and female Blackcap, Cetti's Warbler, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, and 8 Hawfinch.

In addition, moving through the Genal valley between 1030 and 1100hrs were  20+ Short-toed Eagle, 15+ Booted Eagle, 1 Honey Buzzard and 2 Common Buzzard.

Tuesday 24 September 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light SE wind, 27C

Moving through over Gaucin at 1745hrs were 3 Short-toed Eagle, 4 Booted Eagle (3 dark morph) and a single Eurasian Sparrowhawk.

Monday 23 September 2013, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light SE wind, 27C

Watching the west slope of El Hacho from the road from 1815-1900hrs produced the following:
Griffon Vulture, 2 Short-toed Eagle, dark morph Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard, adult Peregrine Falcon, Crag Martin, House Martin, Southern Grey Shrike, Common Redstart, Black Wheatear (my first at this site for a few years), Thekla Lark, Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat, Goldfinch and Corn Bunting.

Sunday 22 September 2013, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light SE wind, 28C

A walk along the top section of the Camino de Gibraltar (village to the water treatment station) from 1715-1830hrs produced the following:
Short-toed Eagle, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, 3 Pied Flycatcher, Stonechat female Black Redstart (first 'returning' one of the winter), Eurasian Nuthatch, Cetti's Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff sp., Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler and Serin.

Yesterday morning, 1100-1200hrs, on a track above Algatocin village there were Short-toed Eagle, Raven, Common Kestrel, European Bee-eater, Common Redstart, Long-tailed Tit and Cirl Bunting. Also several Common Swallowtail and Scarce Swallowtail butterflies.

Still a handful of Common Swift and 100+ House Martin around the village .

Thursday 19 September 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W-NW wind, 28C

Today I joined Wingspanner on a day tour to the lagoons and saltpans near Jerez/Cadiz. We left Gaucin at 0715hrs collecting visitors Jane and Dave on the way.

Laguna Medina
We arrived at Laguna Medina just after 0900hrs. The water level was higher than it has been in the past and there were few birds on the lagoon but we did see:
Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Red-legged Partridge, Purple Swamp Hen, Cattle Egret, Great-crested Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Little Grebe, Gadwall, Common Pochard, Shoveler, Common Snipe, Yellow Wagtail, Pied Flycatcher, Penduline Tit, Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Willow Warbler, Cetti's Warbler and Serin.

Santa Maria and Bonanza Saltpans:
It always seems slightly surreal birding amidst the strange salt pan landscape but it's worth the effort to see;
Osprey, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Short-toed Eagle, Slender-billed Gull, Sandwich Tern, Little Tern, White Stork, Black Stork, Greater Flamingo, Great White Egret, Black-winged Stilt, Eurasian Spoonbill, Pied Avocet, Stone Curlew, Whimbrel, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Dunlin, Little Stint, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Northern Wheatear, Red-rumped Swallow and Common Whitethroat.

Laguna Tarelo:
Despite the water here having turned red, presumably due to an algal bloom, a brief stop led to some good sightings including Purple Heron, several Black-crowned Night Heron and a female Red-crested Pochard.

En-route to the Trebujena marshes we saw a single European Bee-eater, Spotted Flycatcher and Chiffchaff sp.

Trebujena Marshes:
Squacco Heron, eclipse male Garganey, Red-knobbed Coot, Whinchat and Short-toed Lark.

Other species seen at, or whilst travelling between, sites were:
Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Raven, Jackdaw, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Black-headed Gull, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Common Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Spotless Starling, Blackbird, White Wagtail, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, House Sparrow, Crested Lark, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Linnet and Corn Bunting.

A great day's birding with a grand total of 97 species including some quality individuals!

Greater Flamingo


Wednesday 18 September 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light W-SW wind, 28C

A visit to the Rio Genal from 0830-1000hrs produced the following;
Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Grey Heron, Green Sandpiper, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Sardinian Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff sp., and Hawfinch.

Pied Flycatcher

Tuesday 17 September 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W-NW wind, 30C

At 0830hrs there were approximately 250 House Martin in two groups around the South of the village. There were 20 or so Swift feeding high up for much of the afternoon and they were joined occasionally by 3 Alpine Swift. From 1645-1600hrs there were three pale morph and one dark morph Booted Eagle, one Short-toed Eagle and a couple of European Bee-eater around, too.

Monday 16 September 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W-NW wind, 32C

A very warm and humid day today. Not much opportunity to watch the skies but did record my first Black Stork of the summer, heading NE-SW over the village:

1745hrs: 4 Black Stork
1815hrs: 2 Short-toed Eagle
1900hrs: Barn Swallow

A pair of local Short-toed Eagle and at least two pale morph Booted Eagle were around for much of the day.

Sunday 15 September 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light SW wind am veering E-EW pm, 27C

A much quieter day than yesterday despite apparent good migration conditions. Just the following to note over the village:
1430hrs: 25 European Bee-eater
1630hrs: 2 Short-toed eagle
1645hrs: 1 Short-toed Eagle, 1 adult male Montagu's Harrier

The 'local' Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle and Common Buzzard were around most of the day along with a good number of House Martin and a few Common Swift.

Saturday 14 September 2013, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light E-SE wind, 27C

There was a steady passage of raptors this afternoon that was, at times, frustrating; many individuals were moving extremely quickly and were very high against dark clouds and as such, difficult to ID. This is what I recorded:

1515hrs: 4 Short-toed Eagle
1545hrs: 10 Short-toed Eagle + 10 unidentified raptors (most likely also STE)

1700hrs: 5 Short-toed Eagle, 1 juvenile Marsh Harrier
1715hrs: 1 Short-toed Eagle, 1 adult male Marsh Harrier
1730hrs: 1 Honey Buzzard, 2 Common Buzzard, 10 unidentified raptors (again, most likely STE)
1800hrs: 16 Honey Buzzard
1900hrs: 5 Honey Buzzard, 5 Short-toed Eagle

Friday 13 September 2013, Gaucin, partly cloudy am, cloudy with some rain late afternoon, 2Lm2, fresh E-SE wind, 25C

Watching for an hour just before the rain produced the following:

1545hrs: 4 Booted Eagle
1600hrs: 10 Honey Buzzard
1615hrs: 3 Honey Buzzard
1645hrs: 6 Booted Eagle, 6 Short-toed Eagle

Gaucin Castle yesterday evening....

Thursday 12 September 2013, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light-fresh E-SE wind, 26C

A mid-morning visit to one of my favourite sites, the track between Barca Moreno and Marchenilla, was curtailed due to the fact that the track was being resurfaced! I drove on a couple of km towards Marchenilla and had a look there instead with some good sightings, despite quite a strong wind, including the following:

Griffon Vulture (flock of at least 25), Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, juvenile Montagu's Harrier, Lesser Kestrel, Little Owl, Common Swift, House Martin, Whinchat, Stonechat, Tawny Pipit, Crested Lark and Corn Bunting (small winter flocks now forming).

The views of the Montagu's Harrier were superb with the bird coming within 5m of me; after recent long-distant views of migrating individuals it was fantastic to get one at such close quarters.

During the afternoon just a small passage of migrant raptors over the village with 3 Short-toed Eagle, 1 Honey Buzzard and 1 female Montagu's Harrier moving through at 1600hrs.

Red-rumped Swallows: There are at least three birds visiting the nest at Loma de Avedin; they could be a pair plus one young, or, more likely, three young. Thanks to Gregory for the update.

Also thanks to Julie who reported three juvenile Golden Oriole at the Cortes de la Frontera side of La Umbria last week.

Little Owl

Classic Andaluz fence post - with snails!


Wednesday 11 September 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light E-SE wind, 28C

A walk along Camino de Avedin from 0930-1030hrs produced Green Woodpecker (heard), Great-spotted Woodpecker, 3 or 4 Firecrest, Chiffchaff sp., but no Pied Flycatcher. Blackcap and Wren were both in song, though not the full version.

Watching the skies above the village from 1715hrs produced good numbers of Honey Buzzard, generally split into two routes, one NE-SW, just West of La Umbria and the other slightly further East. Small numbers of Bee-eater are still around, also a flock of 20+ Common Swift.

1715hrs: 34 Honey Buzzard, 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk
1745hrs: 39 Honey Buzzard, 2 Short-toed Eagle, 1 Booted Eagle, 1 female Montagu's Harrier
1815hrs: 49 Honey Buzzard
1830hrs: 91 Honey Buzzard and 3 'local' Red-billed Chough
1845hrs: 38 Honey Buzzard followed by a second group of 79 Honey Buzzard

Walking along the Camino de Avedin (with dog) I managed to log:
 1900hrs: 34 Honey Buzzard, 1 Black Kite
1915hrs: 49 Honey Buzzard
1930hrs: 39 Honey Buzzard, Red-rumped Swallow

1945-2000hrs: several small groups of Honey Buzzard totalling approx. 25 individuals

The Red-rumped Swallow is presumably one of the pair that is nesting on the Loma de Avedin that, coincidently, I was told about this morning. They bred there last year, raising 3 young that were first seen on 08 September; so far this year no young have been seen.

Tuesday 10 September 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light E-SE wind, 27C

After the rain yesterday afternoon there was, despite the humidity, a wonderful fresh feeling about today; the start of another chapter in the weather story.

0900hrs: A couple of early Honey Buzzard over Camino de Avedin
Watching the skies above the village from 1600-1730hrs I logged the following:
1615hrs: 3 Honey Buzzard
1630hrs: 3 Booted Eagle (2 pale morph, 1 dark morph - could have been 'local' but their height and direction of flight suggested migrants), 1 sub-adult Egyptian Vulture
1730hrs: 3 Honey Buzzard

Also above the Camino de Avedin during this period were 3 Booted Eagle, a Short-toed Eagle with a small snake in its tallons, a Common Buzzard, 20+ Common Swift, 2 Alpine Swift and several House Martin.

2015hrs: There was a Blue Rock Thush calling whilst sitting on the 'arch' that tops the old convent in Calle Convento (or Calle Luis de Arminan for those that prefer the 'old' nomenclature).

Monday 09 September 2013, Gaucin, sunny am, cloudy showers pm, calm air-light S-SE wind, 10L/m2 rainfall, 26C

A walk through the mixed woodland north of the Loma de Avedin from 1030-1130hrs produced the following:
Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, a handfull of passing European Bee-eater, Pied Flycatcher, Chiffchaff sp., Firecrest and lots of European Nuthatch a species that seems to have done very well in the area this summer. There were quite a few butterflies around including many Wall Brown as well as Common Swallowtail  and Scarce Swallowtail.

At 1600hrs we had the first rain of the Autumn with 8.5L/m2 falling in a 30min downpour from very black skies. Afterwards there was some migration as follows:
1645hrs: 5 Honey Buzzard
1700hrs: 3 Honey Buzzard
1715hrs: 19 Honey Buzzard
1745hrs: 3 Honey Buzzard. Also three 'local' Booted Eagle, a dark morph and two displaying pale morphs and a pair of local Common Buzzard.





Sunday 08 September 2013, Gaucin, partly cloudy, calm air-light E-SE wind, 26C

After a cloudy Saturday, during which I managed to see just a single Honey Buzzard, today was a lot brighter on the weather front and with 2 Osprey passing over the village at 1645hrs, better on the bird front, too.  Walking around La Umbria mid-morning I logged two or three Chiffchaff  including an Iberian still attempting to sing, also Booted and Short-toed Eagle, Great-spotted Wookpecker and Firecrest.  Above Camino de Avedin during late afternoon there was a local Common Buzzard and at 1945hrs there was a male Eurasian Sparrowhawk that was being mobbed by at least 100 House Martin, amongst which was an Alpine Swift.

cumulus congestus (I think) above Gaucin castle late afternoon

Thursday 05 September 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, fresh SE wind, 26C

Yesterday I saw just 7 Honey Buzzard at 1300hrs. From 0900-1030hrs this morning I had a look along the Camino de Gibraltar but it was very quiet with Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Coal Tit and Short-toed Treecreeper the only birds of note. Late afternoon there was some migration as follows:

1845hrs: 15 Honey Buzzard, 3 Black Kite
1900hrs: 8 Honey Buzzard
1915hrs: 7 Honey Buzzard
1930hrs: 6 Honey Buzzard

Most of the above were 'kettling' quite low just west of the castle before moving off more or less N-S. To the south of the village there were still a dozen or more Swift, including at least one pair of Pallid, plus House Martin, Booted Eagle and Short-toed Eagle. The number of birds in the post-breeding House Sparrow flock in the Calle Convento/Calle del Pino gardens is now a healthy 30+.

Tuesday 03 September 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh SE wind, 29C

0900-1100hrs: A walk around La Umbria with Richard who is staying for a couple of weeks started with a sighting of a male Blue Rock Thrush posing on top of Gaucin castle. Along the walk route we saw several Griffon Vulture, 2 Black Kite, Booted Eagle, Common Swift, House Martin, European Nuthatch, Firecrest, European Robin, Crested Tit, Iberian Chiffchaff (at least two still singing half-heartedly), Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap and Pied Flycatcher.

Raptor migration seen during the afternoon as follows:

1815hrs: 41 Honey Buzzard
1830hrs: 15 Honey Buzzard
2015hrs: 80 Honey Buzzard

Monday 02 September 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh SE wind, 27C

Not back from Sevilla until the afternoon but at 1845hrs I did see 42 Honey Buzzard over the village.

Sunday 01 September 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light E wind, 30C

At 0930hrs in the garden Walnut tree were Pied Flycatcher and Willow Warbler. Away in Sevilla watching football for the rest of the day so no migration watching!

Saturday 31 August 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light SE wind, 29C

Afternoon migration counts as follows:

1550hrs: 440 Honey Buzzard, 2 Black Kite
1610hrs: 75 Honey Buzzard, 1 Black Kite
1625hrs: 126 Honey Buzzard, 5 Black Kite
1830hrs: 139 Honey Buzzard

Most of the above were high to the west of Gaucin, passing more or less over El Hacho, though at 1830hrs there were two Honey Buzzard very low over Calle Convento giving superb views. In the garden the first autumn Blackcap was calling.