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Monday 30 March 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light SW wind, 25C

This morning whilst walking near the Herriza hotel behind El Hacho, there was some passage of Black Kite, with 20+ moving through at 1130hrs; also 10 European Bee-eater and a lovely female Montagu's Harrier. Species heard included Common Cuckoo (first of the year), Bonelli's Warbler and Willow Warbler. Back in the village there were 40+ Black Kite at 1415hrs and another 15, plus a Short-toed Eagle, at 1500hrs. At about 1800hrs, on the way back from yet another trip to the coast, where the temperature hit 28C, there were many Black Kite, also several Booted Eagle and Short-toed Eagle, heading north over Sierra Crestellina.

Sunday 29 March 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light N-NW wind, 25C

A trip down to the Rio Genal below Gaucin from 1030-1230hrs produced some great Spring sightings:
Before leaving the village 5 European Bee-eater flew over Calle Convento. Raptor numbers at the river were low but did include Griffon Vulture, 5x Black Kite, Short-toed Eagle, pale and dark morph Booted Eagle, Osprey, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Common Kestrel. On the wader front, just 3x Little-ringed Plover. There were many migrant arrivals, most notably 15 European Bee-eater and a Wryneck (heard only). Other species seen included Mallard, Great Cormorant, Eurasian Hoopoe, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Common Kingfisher, Common Nightingale (first of the year), European Robin, Cetti's Warbler, many Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Serin and Cirl Bunting.  Bonelli's Warbler (first of the year), Willow Warbler (attempting a song or two) and Common Chiffchaff were seen all together in an oak tree.
Around the same time Janys reported 40+ Black Kite just west of El Hacho. European Bee-eaters continued to move through during the day e.g. 10+ over cafe/bar El Hacho at 1330hrs.
Rio Genal - nice and full
Arroyo de Alba flowing into thr river
pale morph Booted Eagle
dark morph Booted Eagle
Bonelli's Warbler
Bonelli's Warbler


Saturday 28 March 2015, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light SW wind, 24C

Moving through Gaucin today there was an Osprey at 1130hrs and the first European Bee-eater of the year at 1800hrs. Swift sp. numbers to the south of the village now up to 40+. A walk along the Camino de Gibraltar from 1700-1800hrs was surprisingly quiet apart from the Bee-eater and large numbers of Blackcap; also Eurasian Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2x Song Thrush, European Robin, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler and Cirl Bunting but not one Black Redstart.
Gaucin castle from Camino de Gibraltar

male Cirl Bunting in full song

Friday 27 March 2015, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light W-NW wind, 21C

A beautiful Spring day today with some Black Kite passage mid-morning:
40+ over Gaucin at 1100hrs and 30+ over the wind turbines at Casares. At 1830hrs there was a male Montagu's Harrier drifting over Calle Convento. Swift sp. numbers are beginning to increase with 20+ late afternoon on the southern edge of the village.
Black Kite over Calle Convento

Black Kite

Black Kite

Thursday 26 March 2015, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light-fresh NW wind, 16C

Three very quiet days since the rain stopped on Monday; cold starts, 4C, but warming up nicely during the day. South-easterly winds Tuesday and stiff northerlies yesterday and today led to an absence of significant raptor migration; frequent checks of the sky produced just 'local' Short-toed Eagle and Booted Eagle. Swift sp. numbers haven't really increased much though it's great to watch those that have arrived mixing it with the Barn Swallows and House Martins.
On the way down to the coast yesterday there were a handful of Kestrel sp.' including at least one Lesser Kestrel, also 4 Common Raven and a new mirador or viewpoint opposite Sierra Crestellina with an information board with raptor ID photos, see below:


Monday 23 March 2015, Gaucin, partly cloudy am, rain pm, light SW wind, 12C

A mixed day of weather today with quite a sunny, dry morning followed by a grim, dark, cold and wet afternoon! The lull in the rain this morning, combined with more favourable SW wind, brought quite a few raptors through including 60+ Short-toed Eagle and 4 Booted Eagle (3 pale morph, 1 dark morph) between 1000hrs and 1030hrs; interestingly, the Short-toed Eagles were mainly coming from a vaguely north-westerly direction, massing in 'kettles' just south of the castle before heading north.
Mid-morning there was a male Blue Rock Thrush carrying nesting material into a ruin alongside cafe/bar El Puente, right in the centre of the village.

Sunday 22 March 2015, Gaucin, cloudy, rain showers, light wind, 9C

Another cold and wet day with 33mm of rain falling. Just a Eurasian Sparrowhawk, floating out of the mist during a slight lull in the rain, to report. Below is a link to a shocking article concerning illegal trapping of birds in Cyprus - the number of birds killed is quite staggering...
Mass slaughter of songbirds in Cyprus

View from the terrace for most of today

A brief respite from the rain


Friday 20 March 2015, Gaucin, rain, light W-SW wind, 10C

Nothing to report birdwise as we have been under cloud and rain for the last 72hrs. The last four days have produced as much rain (102mm) as the whole of January and almost three times as much as fell in February. Significant rain was always likely to come, but it's still a bit of a shock when it does! As I write this on Saturday morning it's still raining and there is an amber alert for heavy rain from mid-morning today and also for Sunday; the long-term forecast indicates an improvement from Tuesday onwards, let's hope it's correct!

Wednesday 18 March 2015, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light SE wind, 10C

Yesterday saw a high of just 8C as the first rain (31mm) fell since 21 February. Today was a little warmer and the rain that threatened to arrive throughout the day never materialised. There were 2 White Stork heading NE at 1430hrs and at 1830hrs it became apparent that 'Billy-no-mates' the Common Swift was no longer alone as at least 10 Swift sp., including at least one Pallid Swift, careered around the southern extremities of the village.

Monday 16 March 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light SW wind, 15C

Some great sightings today, including 3 species of Harrier, as raptors took advantage of the calm south-westerly winds to cross the straits. A visit to the SW slope of El Hacho from 0900-1030hrs was largely uneventful; apart from a distant female Marsh Harrier following the Guadiaro valley, and thinking that I might have heard a Ring Ouzel, it was all rather unexciting. There were a lot of displaying Sardinian Warbler, a few Corn Bunting, one female Black Redstart, 2 Song Thrush, several Linnet and a couple of Cirl Bunting. As I was leaving I checked once more for Ring Ouzel and was rewarded with at least 2 on the slopes just off the Gaucin-Algeciras road. All of a sudden the sky got more exciting with many raptors passing over at a reasonable height including 200+ Black Kite, 3 adult Egyptian Vulture, a male Hen Harrier and a couple of Short-toed Eagle.
Back in the village.....at 1200hrs there were 50+ Black Kite; at 1230hrs another 50+ Black Kite, plus 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk and 1 female Montagu's Harrier; at 1245hrs 2 Black Stork; at 1300hrs a male Montagu's Harrier and at 1430hrs a further 80+ Black Kite and a couple of Short-toed Eagle. It would have been wonderful to have watched all day but, sadly, real life butted in and I had to tear myself away from the action!

male Cirl Bunting
Distant, but definite! Ring Ouzel

Ring Ouzel - hidden, as ever, deep in the shrubs

Short-toed Eagle



Saturday 14 March 2015, Gaucin, hazy sunshine, calm air-light S wind, 18C

A good sighting of a Lesser Kestrel passing over the village at 1040hrs and, in San Pablo de Buceite at 1230hrs, 7 Black Stork moving through. Mid-afternoon a Common Buzzard swooped down and landed in a tree just below the post office. There are now a couple of Short-toed Eagle in the area most days but still just the one Common Swift, in the Calle Convento area.

Friday 13 March 2015, Gaucin, hazy sunshine, calm air-light W wind, 21C

Whilst walking in the El Peso area mid-morning there was a steady passage of Black Kite, Booted Eagle and Short-toed Eagle to the west of El Hacho.

Thursday 12 March 2015, Gaucin, hazy sunshine, light W wind, 24C

What a difference a change in wind direction makes.......whilst down in San Pablo de Buceite, just over in Cadiz province, a coffee stop from 1100-1120hrs was rewarded with large numbers of Black Kite and Booted Eagle, plus at least 20 Short-toed Eagle, all heading north towards the Parque Natural de Los Alcornocales; most were moving through at low altitude and we had some great views. Even better, though, were 2 adult Egyptain Vulture directly overhead. It was difficult to make an accurate count of the main species as there were inter-linking kettles all over the place. At one point, on the horizon above the cork oaks, it looked like there was a huge swarm of giant flies as hundreds of raptors sought out the thermals - a wonderful sight!
Back in Gaucin there was a single Booted Eagle heading north over the village at 1330hrs and a Green Woodpecker just below Calle del Pino at 1730hrs.
A rather poor shot of one of the many Black Kite over San Pablo


Wednesday 11 March 2015, Gaucin, sunny, calm air, 22C

At last, the first Booted Eagle of the year, seen high up with half-a-dozen Griffon Vulture, of which there were 70+ around and about, at 1330hrs. An hour later there was a second, intermediate morph, individual quite low over the centre of the village.
Female Blackcap in the walnut tree

Tuesday 10 March 2015, Gaucin, hazy sunshine, calm air-light E-SE wind, 18C

Monday and Tuesday were both very similar days with hazy sunshine due to the easterly levante winds. House Martin and Swallow numbers are increasing gradually and at least 3 Short-toed Eagle have been hanging around the village. Yesterday there was a single Common Crossbill in the pines adjacent to Cafe/Bar El Hacho and this morning down alongside the Rio Genal there were 5 Hawfinch and 2 Little-ringed Plover.

Late afternoon today the first Common Swift of the year appeared near the old convent in Calle Convento.

Sunday 08 March 2015, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light E-SE wind, 21C

Walking around La Umbria mid-morning I heard the year's first Iberian Chiffchaff singing (at least 2 individuals); also seen were Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Jay, Eurasian Nuthatch, Song Thrush, Firecrest, Crested Tit, Blackcap and Sardinian Warbler; 2 Green Woodpecker were heard.
The dangerous caterpillars of the Pine Processionary Moth Thaumetopoea pityocampa are still out and about....the hairs are poisonous and can kill dogs and cause serious respiratory problems in humans.
Pine Processionary Moth caterpillars

Pine Processionary Moth caterpillars in convoy across the path
Gibraltar from Gaucin - with a classic 'levante' cloud overhead

Saturday 07 March 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh E-SE wind, 20C

The midweek change from northerly to easterly winds has put a hold on the excitement of raptor migration over Gaucin.

A visit to the SW slope of El Hacho from 1000-1200hrs produced none of the hoped-for early spring migrants but did produce a surprising sighting of at least 2, and possibly as many as 4, Ring Ouzel; also seen were Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Common Kestrel, Red-legged Partridge, Southern Grey Shrike, Meadow Pipit, 4 Song Thrush, Black Redstart, Crag Martin, Sardinian Warbler (plenty of noisy displaying going on), Stonechat, Serin and a single Rock Sparrow. Just off the Gaucin-Algeciras road there were lots of Dull Ophrys orchids and a lone Spanish Ibex poked its head up over the ridge.

Mid-afternoon there were 70+ Griffon Vulture heading towards El Hacho from Sierra Crestellina.

Dull Ophrys Ophrys fusca
Female/juvenile Spanish Ibex


Wednesday 04 March 2015, Gaucin, sunny/hazy cloud, calm air-light S-SE wind, 21C

Highlights of a visit to the Rio Genal from 0930-1030hrs were: Short-toed Eagle (carrying nesting material), Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Little-ringed Plover (first of the year), Black Redstart, lots of Blackcap, at least 2 Common Chiffchaff singing, 3 Hawfinch and Cirl Bunting; Cetti's Warbler was heard.

The garden walnut tree held a minimum of 15 Blackcap (10 male, 5 female) early this morning.

Hawfinch

Little-ringed Plover

Tuesday 03 March 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W wind, 21C

Watching the skies above the village from 1300-1330hrs: 10 Black Kite, 2 Short-toed Eagle and 8 Black Stork. From 1415-1445: 50+ Black Kite, 10+ Short-toed Eagle and 13 Black Stork. There were also many Griffon Vulture around, a good proportion of which were mixed in with Black Kite/Short-toed Eagle and so were most likely returning migrants. Most birds today were heading roughly S-N to the west of the village.
At 1800hrs there were 15 medium-sized raptors high above Sierra Crestellina - most likely Black Kite (or Booted Eagle!); at the same time I had a great time watching a majestic adult Bonelli's Eagle soaring above the mountain with the late afternoon sun glistening off its pale belly.

In the garden Walnut tree this morning there were at least 8 Blackcap (5 male, 3 female).
Male Blackcap

Sunday 01 March 2015, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light W-NW wind, 20C

A steady flow of Short-toed Eagle moving through today with at least 12 between 1200hrs and 1300hrs; 64 Black Kite at 1330hrs and a single Black Stork at 1430hrs. One or two of the Short-toed Eagle were still in the area late afternoon suggesting that they may be local breeders. Also in the air....Griffon Vulture, Common Buzzard, Peregrine, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel and Common Raven (being mobbed by the Sparrowhawk).

Saturday 28 February 2015, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light W-NW wind, 16C

Today saw the first significant numbers of Black Kite moving through with a kettle of 77 individuals above the Rio Genal at 1415hrs and smaller groups of 9 at 1530hrs and 13 at 1610hrs. A reliable report of a Eurasian Hoopoe along the Camino de Gibraltar this morning; a bit early for a returning migrant, so perhaps an individual that over-wintered on the coast and was beginning to head north.