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Tuesday 29 April 2014, El Rocio, Sevilla, sunny, light wind, 30C

Today we explored the Northern Marshes just outside the Donana reserve. An early start was required as we headed to the Coredor Verde to look for Black-winged Kite. This 'green corridor' was created following contamination in 1998 when a wave of toxic sludge flooded the area after a dam burst at the Rio Tinto Los Frailes mine. It wasn't long before we spotted our target species perched on top of a pine tree; a great start to the day! Here we also saw Common and Lesser Kestrel and had good views of both Melodious Warbler and Zitting Cisticola; Common Quail was heard.
 We spent the rest of the day driving around the extensive marshland, visiting the Embalse de Dehesa de Abajo and the Jose Antonio Valverde Centre. The list of species was impressive and included; Spanish Imperial Eagle (first year), Griffon Vulture, Black Kite, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Great White Egret, Greater Flamingo, Purple Swamphen, Red-knobbed Coot, Stone Curlew, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Greenshank, Redshank, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered Tern, Hoopoe, European Bee-eater, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Short-toed Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Calandra Lark, Red-rumped Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Northern Wheatear, Whinchat, Grest Reed Warbler, Iberian Grey Shrike, Common Magpie, Azue-winged Magpie, Common Raven, Spanish Sparrow (including a large breeding colony with flocks of 50+) and Tree Sparrow; Golden Oriole and Common Cuckoo were heard.

Back in Gaucin, Janys was keeping up the good work by picking up the first Honey Buzzard of the year!



Monday 28 April 2014, El Rocio, Sevilla, sunny, 28C

An early morning visit to the marsh at El Rocio to watch the heron roost was a success with lots of Little and Cattle Egrets plus Black Kite, White Stork, Sacred Ibis, Spoonbill, Black-crowned Night Heron and Purple Heron.

Our first visit of the day was to La Rocina marshes where we had good views of Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Purple Swamphen and Black-winged Stilt; Savi's Warbler was heard. In the woods and heath area we saw Tree Sparrow, Woodchat Shrike, Common Cuckoo, Common Nightingale and Long-tailed Tit; Garden Warbler was heard.

At the Palacio de Acebron woods we saw Wryneck, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Short-toed Treecreeper, Thekla Lark, Melodious Warbler and Dartford Warbler; Green Woodpecker was heard.

After lunch we visited the Acebuche Centre where we picked up Azure-winged Magpie, Golden Oriole, Red-rumped Swallow and Common Redstart.

A final look in at the marsh at El Rocio produced Northern Pintail, Whiskered Tern, a very black-looking Ruff, Collared Pratincole and Common Waxbill.







Sunday 27 April 2014, El Rocio, Sevilla, sunny, 25C

Today I joined Wingspanner for an 8-day trip to Coto Donana and Extremadura. Driving from Malaga airport our first stop was at Laguna Dulce near Campillos; birds here included: Marsh Harrier, Greater Flamingo, White-headed Duck, Tufted Duck, Great-crested, Black-necked and Little Grebe, Red-crested Pochard, Purple Swamphen, Whiskered Tern, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Red-rumped Swallow, Great Reed Warbler and Reed Warbler. Our next stop was Laguna Fuente de Piedra where a small pool held a great selection of waders: Redshank, Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Dunlin, Ringed and Little-ringed Plover. Here there were many thousand Greater Flamingo, also Gull-billed Tern, Glossy Ibis, Shoveler, Gadwall, Lesser Kestrel and Yellow Wagtail. During the journey we saw many Griffon Vulture and Black Kite, also White Stork, Short-toed Eagle, Turtle Dove, European Bee-eater and Hoopoe.
At our destination of El Rocio we had a quick scan of the 'madre de la marisma' marshes and added Great White Egret, Eurasian Spoonbill and Collared Pratincole to our sightings.

Shaky internet, a device with no sd card port plus limited time means photos will come later!
 ps Janys reported a Red-necked Nightjar hawking insects between the ferreteria and the Convento flats yesterday evening - good stuff! Also on Sunday, Tim reported Wryneck along the railway track at Jimena and Penny saw 6 Golden Oriole at the Rio Genal below Gaucin.










Thursday 24 April 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh NW wind, 20C

This morning Tim and I met at 0800hrs for a trip down to the Casares-Secadero track that runs alongside the Rio Genal/Guadiaro. We stopped en-route at the bridge over the Rio Genal below Gaucin to look for Golden Oriole but they were nowhere to be seen nor heard.
Next we stopped at the layby that affords good views of the Bonelli's Eagle nest on Sierra Crestellina; whilst there we talked to a local resident who suggested that the reason that the Bonelli's Eagles haven't nested this year may be because they were disturbed early in spring by workmen clearing scrub below the nest site - a real shame, if that's the case. We saw several Griffon Vulture and a couple of Booted Eagle that were being mobbed by a pair of Common Raven; also Common Kestrel, Crested Lark and Stonechat.
There were quite a few species along the track itself, including a small 'kettle' of 3x Short-toed Eagle and 3x Booted Eagle. Also seen were Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Turtle Dove, Woodchat Shrike, European Bee-eater, Common and Pallid Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Tawny Pipit, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat, some lovely summery-looking Linnet, Cirl Bunting and Corn Bunting. Along the Rio Genal there was a Little Egret, Grey Heron, at least 10 Little-ringed Plover and a couple of Common Sandpiper. Further towards Secadero we stopped again to scan the river and found at least 15 Common Sandpiper and several more Little-ringed Plover; there were a handful of European Bee-eater flying in and out of nest holes on the river bank and plenty of birdsong, mostly Common Nightingale, but it was generally fairly quiet.
We scanned recently-ploughed fields for Yellow Wagtail without success then, as we made a final check of a farm track, Tim spotted a lovely male Ortolan Bunting that gave us good but brief views before flying off into the adjacent field. What a great end to the trip!

Turtle Dove

Tuesday 22 April 2014, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light W-NW wind, 18C

A dry day today and another fruitless morning trying to get the car's gearbox fixed! Still, on the way back from the coast whilst checking out last year's Bonelli's Eagle nest site on Sierra Crestellina (no birds present) I saw an adult Egyptian Vulture amongst the Griffons.



Some observations from Penny Hale in Casares: I heard my first Golden Orioles this morning walking in the Genal valley along the river.  They were also heard on Saturday, too. We saw Egyptian Vulture on Tuesday last week and 2 Black Storks right over the house between the 9th and 14th. 

And from Tim: Today on the river at Jimena de la Frontera: 8 Lesser Kestrels; two Eurasian Sparrowhawks, Common Buzzard, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, and a beautiful immature male Occelated Lizard, see superb photo below (thanks Tim!):


Monday 21 April 2014, Gaucin, rain, light-strong SW wind, 12C

A second consecutive wet day with 30mm falling. It cleared a little late afternoon and Tim provided the following sightings from 1600-1800hrs near San Pablo:

20+ Griffon Vulture, 1 sub-adult Egyptian Vulture, 4 Booted Eagle, 2 Marsh Harrier, 10 Black Kite, 1 Raven, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Little Owl, 50+ European Bee-eater, 30 Woodchat Shrike, 1 Tawny Pipit and 6 Melodious Warbler; Common Cuckoo was heard.


Sunday 20 April 2014, Gaucin, rain, light-fresh NW wind, 12C

A big change in the weather with the first rain for three weeks, 27mm falling today; it abated briefly late afternoon enabling me to see two female Marsh Harrier at 1900hrs and 120 Black Kite at 1930hrs.

Saturday 19 April 2014, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light-fresh W wind, 15C

Feeling chilly today after a couple of weeks with temperatures in the low-mid 20s. The wind has finally changed to a more westerly direction, which will probably bring rain sometime soon. At 1015hrs there were 9 Black Kite over the village and at 1030hrs a sub-adult Egyptian Vulture accompanied by a pale morph Booted Eagle. A Common Crossbill reported from the pines at the top of the village late afternoon by Tim.

Friday 18 April 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W-SW wind, 24C

Just 6 Black Kite to report today, heading roughly S-N over the village at 1230hrs.

Thursday 17 April 2014, Gaucin, sunny, light E-SE wind, 24C

A mid-afternoon walk along the La Umbria footpath was very quiet in terms of birds seen, with just 20 European Bee-eater, a couple of Short-toed Eagle and a Great-spotted Woodpecker of note. There were, however, at least 3 Iberian Chiffchaff and 3 Bonelli's Warbler singing; Common Cuckoo and Green Woodpecker were also heard.

Cream Spot Tiger Moth Epicallia villia in Calle Convento

Yellow Ophrys Ophrys lutea along La Umbria


At 1200hrs a group of 20 Black Kite moved through to the east of the village and at1230hrs a single White Stork.

Tuesday 15 April 2014, Gaucin, mostly cloudy am, mostly sunny pm, light SE wind, 23C

The dry, warm weather continues and this morning Janys, Fred and I headed off to Rio Palmones at Los Barrios (birding with a bit of shopping thrown in!). On the way down we saw a Little Owl perched on a wire near Jimena de la Frontera and several Lesser Kestrel at the colony beside the Rio Hozgarganta. We timed our arrival for low tide around 1000hrs but even so it was a bit quiet on the banks other than Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Yellow-legged Gull, Black-headed Gull, Little Egret, the lovely sight of 2x European Spoonbill sweeping their bills from side-to-side in a frantic feeding display, a few Redshank, a Greenshank, 2x Grey Plover, 2x Eurasian Oystercatcher, Dunlin, a couple of Kentish Plover and a nice flava Yellow Wagtail. After a quick coffee we dropped Janys at the shops and Fred and I headed over the river to the hide on the other side of the marsh. We had a bit more luck here with views of a distant perched Osprey, Common Buzzard, 2x Common Raven, Grey Heron, Cattle Egret, 8 Black-winged Stilt, more Redshank, 2x Greenshank, Woodchat Shrike, Crested Lark, Common Nightingale and Bonelli's Warbler.

Black-winged Stilt

Cattle Egret


Back in Gaucin the Calle Convento/Calle del Pino Swift flock now numbers 150+ and was performing well all evening!
Tim also reported 2 immature Common Crossbill in pines in the village, 6 Lesser Kestrel in Jimena, a Marsh Harrier in San Pablo and 50+ Black Kite circling over El Hacho during the morning (despite my assertion that SE winds bring no migrating raptors over the village!).

Monday 14 April 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh SE wind, 23C

Nothing to report from me as I spent most of the day trying to sort the car out but Tim who is visiting Gaucin reported the following from behind El Hacho:
2 Peregrine, a good record of  Rock Sparrow, Dartford Warbler and 2 Northern Wheatear.


Saturday 12 April 2014, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light W-SW wind, 24C

A wak along the Camino de Gibraltar from 1000-1200hrs produced some good birds including:
Griffon Vulture, 3x Short-toed Eagle (together), several Booted Eagle (including a migrating group of 3 dark morphs), Common Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, a single Black Stork, lots of small parties of European Bee-eater and one of 30+ individuals, Common Cuckoo, Red-rumped Swallow, Thekla Lark, Woodchat Shrike, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Common Nightingale (at least 5 singing), Melodious Warbler (my first in Gaucin this year; difficult to get a photo as it insisted on singing in front of a yellow background until it alighted briefly in an Almond tree!), Cetti's Warbler (heard) Serin and Cirl Bunting.

View towards El Hacho

Melodious Warbler


Back at home during the afternoon: at 1400hrs 2 Black Kite and at 1815hrs 55 Black Kite headed E-W just below the village. At 1900hrs a single Red-rumped Swallow flew low over our terrace.

Some sightings from yesterday (thanks to David and Helen who are on holiday in Gaucin):
Between 1300 and 1500hrs: a passage of 492 raptors, the majority of which were Black Kite with most likely a few Booted Eagle amongst them, plus 1 Egyptian Vulture.

Friday 11 April 2014, Gaucin, cloudy am, sunny pm, calm air-light SE wind, 22C

This morning I was walking in the Castellar de la Frontera area; there were plenty of Booted Eagle around, lots of Common Nightingale, a few European Bee-eater and at least 3x Bonelli's Warbler along the old track up to the castle. Whilst at the castle a flock of 120+ Black Kite passed by (see bad photo taken in poor light with a small camera but you get the idea!). Later a smaller group of 20 or so were seen. At the castle there were at least 10 Lesser Kestrel and in a poplar tree near their colony in the railway bridge there were at least twelve.


Whilst in the area I checked out the site where Black-winged Kite bred last year but there was no sign of them; I haven't seen them at last year's wintering grounds either so it's possible that they've moved on. I'd be interested to hear if anyone has seen them in the San Martin de Tesorillo area.

Thursday 10 April 2014, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, calm air-light SE wind, 22C

A couple of days of SE winds have brought misty and cloudy but warm weather. Not much to report from Gaucin, though the Calle Convento/del Pino Swift flock is now a noisy 100+ and the local Blackcap is singing at full power! I haven't heard the Tawny Owl for a few days and as yet we haven't had a repeat of last summer's Common Nightingale singing in the Calle Convento/del Pino gardens. Yesterday whilst walking near San Martin de Tesorillo there were a lot of Nightingales in full flow; at one point there were at least eight individuals along a 50m section of track, an incredible soundscape. From within the tumult I managed to pick out the scratchy song of my first Melodious Warbler of the year.

Tuesday 08 April 2014, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light SE wind, 25C

A walk along the Camino de Gibraltar from 1000-1200hrs in beautiful spring sunshine produced the following:

Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Thekla Lark, Common and Pallid Swift, Barn Swallow, House Martin, 4x European Bee-eater, 2x Woodchat Shrike, Stonechat, Common Nightingale (at least 4 in song), 2x Bonelli's Warbler (my first this year), Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Cetti's Warbler (heard), Serin and Cirl Bunting.

There were small groups (up to 10 individuals) of European Bee-eater moving over the village throughout the day.

Gibraltar and Djebel Musa - the two pillars of Hercules

Cirl Bunting

Woodchat Shrike

Stonechat

Sunday 06 April 2014, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light SE wind, 22C

A walk along the Camino de Gibraltar from 1000-1200hrs produced the following:

Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle (dark and light morph), Common Kestrel, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, European Bee-eater, 2x Alpine Swift in with a mixed Common/Pallid Swift flock, Thekla Lark, Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola (good to see one so close to the village), Sardinian Warbler and Serin. Common Cuckoo and Common Nightingale were heard - there were two Nightingale, one in the first southern valley and the other in the second, they were the first for the year. There were several butterflies about including Scarce Swallowtail and Spanish Festoon.


Thekla Lark
Sardinian Warbler
(scruffy) Short-toed Eagle

Spanish Festoon

Saturday 05 April 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh N-NE wind, 20C

At 1350hrs the year's first European Bee-eater arrived here with a group of 5 flying over the centre of the village.
The Tawny Owl in the Calle del Pino/Camino de Gibraltar area has been singing morning (at least between 0700 and 0730hrs) and night (at least between 2300 and 0000hrs) for several days now.

Friday 04 April 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W wind, 16C

Today I joined a Wingspan day tour to Tarifa and La Janda (thanks Bob) during which we saw some great birds and I got to try out my new camera (nothing special, just something to replace the hit and miss of 'digiscoping')! It was a lovely day after a couple of cold damp ones and the temperature at Barbate reached the low 20s.

Tarifa from the Cazalla migration watchpoint

We arrived at Los Lances beach near Tarifa at about 0930hrs and it was pretty quiet (there were quite a few walkers and joggers around) but we did see Common, Pallid and Alpine Swift, Sand Martin, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, Northern Wheatear, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail and Corn Bunting. On the beach there were a few gulls, mainly Yellow-legged Gull and a couple of Lesser black-backed Gull, Little Egret; waders were represented by Kentish Plover, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling and Dunlin.

Purple Swamphen

A blockade of Cattle Egret!
We then moved on to La Janda where we soon spotted Calandra Lark and a flock of 30+ Collared Pratincole; other species seen around the fields and ditches included Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, White Stork, Grey Heron, Great White Egret, Cattle Egret, Purple Swamphen, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black-winged Stilt, Common Sandpiper, Little-ringed Plover, European Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Water Pipit, more Yellow Wagtail, including one totally yellow one (Siberian-like but presumably not), Spanish Sparrow, Zitting Cisticola, Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler and Common Whitethroat.  Further along the track in the direction of Benalup we saw Little Owl, Common Raven, Jackdaw, Red-legged Partridge, Common Pheasant and many Woodchat Shrike.

Little Owl

Bald Ibis at nest

On the way to Barbate marsh nature reserve we stopped to check out the Bald Ibis colony just below Vejer de la Frontera; it was good to see the reintroduction project working well with ten or more occupied nests.
At the marshes we logged a distant 70+ Greater Flamingo, Audouin's Gull, Eurasian Spoonbill, Pied Avocet, 2x Stone Curlew, Greenshank, Redshank, Black-winged Stilt, Dunlin, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling, several more Collared Pratincole, Calandra Lark and Short-toed Lark.
Bald Ibis - not the prettiest bird!


Collared Pratincole - now that's pretty!

Collared Pratincole

 

Thursday 03 April 2014, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, rain showers, light W-NW wind, 9C

Common Cuckoo was heard yesterday morning below the village. Today, a Tawny Owl was singing around Calle del Pino/Camino de Gibraltar at 0730hrs and a single Black Kite and a couple of Common Raven were seen at 1130hrs.

Wednesday 02 April 2014, Gaucin, rain, light W-SW wind, 8C

A cold, spring day, with 18mm rainfall, spent largely in cloud! Just a single Black Kite to report, emerging from the mist at 1430hrs.

The best part of the day!

Tuesday 01 April 2014, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, fresh S-SE wind, 16C

A quick mid-morning visit to the west slope of El Hacho produced little of note apart from 1m 1f Common Kestrel, 1f Black Redstart, 1m 2f Cirl Bunting, a handful of Stonechat and several Sardinian Warbler; Red-legged Partridge was heard. There was a Tawny Owl 'singing' just below Calle del Pino at 2300hrs.

Monday 31 March 2014, Gaucin, partly cloudy, fresh SE wind, 16C

The Calle Convento/Calle del Pino Swift flock has grown rapidly in the last couple of days and at 2000hrs there were 50+ in the area; other than that just the local Booted and Short-toed Eagles to report. I've been listening hard but so far haven't managed to hear a European Bee-eater nor a Nightingale; it won't be long, though!