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Wednesday 29 June 2016, Gaucin, hazy sunshine, light SE wind, 29C

Well, a week has passed since my last post and not a lot has happened (there was something about a referendum in the UK but I don't think it was anything important.....).  As you might expect for late June, the weather has been relatively settled, though yesterday was a strange, murky day with electrical storms and a sprinkling of dusty rain.
Exciting species have been thin on the ground but the continued presence of 2 Turtle Dove along La Umbria (suggesting they may be breeding nearby) and the definite breeding of Crag Martin below the castle are something to be excited about!
Other than that, walks around the village (La Umbria, Camino de Gibraltar, Venta Socorro-La Claridad) have produced the usual array of species: Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle (still just the one seen lately), Booted Eagle, Common Kestrel, European Bee-eater, Wood Pigeon, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Blue Rock Thrush, Woodchat Shrike, Crested Lark, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Stonechat, Short-toed Treecreeper, Common Nightingale, Sardinian Warbler, Bonelli's Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff, Cetti's Warbler, Serin and Cirl Bunting.

Wednesday 22 June 2016, Gaucin, sunny, light SE wind, 28C

During an early morning walk around La Umbria there were 40+ Griffon Vulture over the Guadiaro valley towards Cortes de la Frontera, also 2 Alpine Swift there. Further along the track 2 Turtle Dove took off from the ground to hide amongst the sweet chestnut trees and Iberian Chiffchaff and Bonelli's Warbler were heard.
Down on the Rio Genal late afternoon (still 27C at 19:00hrs) there were: 20+ Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, 2 Little-ringed Plover, 10+ European Bee-eater, 2 Alpine Swift, 3 Red-rumped Swallow, Grey Wagtail and Common Nightingale; Golden Oriole and Cetti's Warbler were heard.
El Hacho from La Umbria

Sierra Crestellina and Gaucin castle from la Umbria

Still some water in the Rio Genal

European Bee-eater

Monday 20 June 2016, Gaucin, sunny, light E-SE wind, 26C

Some late Spring passage today with three small groups of Black Kite (9, 13, 4) moving through over the village between 11:15-11:45hrs.

Along the Camino de Gibraltar this morning there was a family of Bonelli's Warbler flitting between the olive trees; also, Golden Oriole was heard from the poplar trees further down, past the house that used to be called El Nobo and beyond Finca Alboran.

The last  week or so there have been some wonderful display/feeding flights by one of the local intermediate morph Booted Eagles as it calls and dives from on high, wings folded, swooping back up again just a few metres from the ground. A Short-toed Eagle has also put in an appearance close to the south of the village. The male Blue Rock Thrush is still around on the half-finished house in Calle Convento where they appear to have bred this year.
male Blue Rock Thrush


Swift sp. numbers are building up as this year's young take to the skies with the adults - no sign of an Alpine Swift among the melee so far.
Pallid Swift

Photo-bombed by a Pallid Swift!

Pallid Swift with full crop

Pallid Swift


Thursday 16 June 2016, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light NW wind, 24C

A couple of quite cool days with some very light mist/drizzle early yesterday morning and the same today mid-morning; the temperature at 09:00hrs today was just 13C and it didn't start to feel warm until mid-afternoon. 

Early morning walks along the Camino de Gibraltar over the past three days have produced the following sightings:
Griffon Vulture (there were also 60+ over the wind turbines this afternoon), Short-toed Eagle (so there is at least one still around!), Booted Eagle, Common Kestrel, 23 Wood Pigeon, Eurasian Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Woodchat Shrike, European Bee-eater, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Thekla Lark, Stonechat, Common Nightingale (at least 2 singing, one close to the village just below Calle del Pino), Melodious Warbler, Bonelli's Warbler (2 singing), Sardinian Warbler, Greenfinch, Serin, Corn Bunting and Cirl Bunting; Cetti's Warbler heard. I haven't heard the Golden Oriole for a couple of weeks.

Monday 13 June 2016, Gaucin, sunny, light N-NW wind, 35C

Back in Gaucin after a few days away exploring other areas of Andalucia; three days in Cazorla in Jaén province and three days a few km outside Órgiva in Granada province. It wasn't really a birding holiday (though one of the reasons for going to Cazorla was to look for Lammergeier - alas, no luck!) but I did manage to see a few interesting species despte the heat; it was 34C in Cazorla and as we arrived in Órgiva it reached a steamy 39C.

In and around Cazorla:
Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Peregrine, Common Raven, Common Kestrel, Red-billed Chough, Carrion Crow, Common Magpie, Dipper, Crag Martin, Black Redstart, Grey Wagtail, Melodious Warbler. Golden Oriole, Common Nightingale, Iberian Chiffchaff and Bonelli's Warbler were all heard.
Cazorla at night

Grey Wagtail
Cazorla and castle

Despite the June heat there was still a lot of water around....

....and orchids, this an Early Purple Orchid


Puerta de las Palomas (stunning views and good Lammergeier territory):
150+ Griffon Vulture homing in on (presumed) carrion - I was hopeful of a Lammergeier sighting at this point as an environment agency worker I met there told me that they are sometimes seen when 'food' is put out for the Griffons, but not this time. I've never checked Griffons with such intent! here are some of the species we did see, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Red-legged Partridge, Alpine Swift, Mistle Thrush, Black Wheatear, Red-rumped Swallow, Woodlark, Stonechat, Melodious Warbler, Firecrest, Corn Bunting, Rock Bunting; Common Cuckoo was heard.

Drive from Cazorla - Órgiva:
Not a bad list from the car (whilst driving!):
Common Buzzard, Booted Eagle, European Roller (just south of Úbeda), European Bee-eater, Common Magpie, Turtle Dove, Southern Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike.

Órgiva area:
Booted Eagle, Little Owl, Turtle Dove, Eurasian Hoopoe, European Bee-eater, Golden Oriole, Red-rumped Swallow, Woodchat Shrike, Mistle Thrush,  Spotted Flycatcher; Tawny Owl was heard.
Moorish Gecko Tarentola mauritanica


Barn Swallow
Little Owl


Saturday 04 June 2016, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh NW wind, 26C

Another week has passed with little to report as the local birdlife gets into full summer mode and is busy with breeding, feeding and fledging. Booted Eagles continue to put in regular appearances around the village, with at least a pale morph and a dark morph still around. Short-toed Eagles have been conspicuous by their absence but hopefully just because they are concentrating on their chicks somewhere in the forest. Blackcaps, Blackbirds, Robins and even Blue Rock Thrush continue to sing in and around the village and walks through the local woods have produced the usual array of songs and calls from Iberian Chiffchaff, Bonelli's Warbler, Eurasian Nuthatch and Short-toed Treecreeper.

The highlight of a visit to Rio Palmones near Los Barrios yesterday was a pair of Yellow Wagtail but there was a dearth of birds with just a Kentish Plover and Black-winged Stilt representing the waders. Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle and Common Kestrel were the only raptors on show; a couple of White Stork were nesting on a distant pylon.