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Saturday 30 October, 1200hrs: One very tame male Blue rock thrush on a wall below Gaucin castle in Calle Arrabalete. I was able to get within 4m and he was still happily sitting there calling!


After a day off following the 7-day tour of Coto Donana & Extremadura I was back at 'work' leading a day tour locally to our home base here in Gaucin.

It was quite cloudy to start with and quite chilly but by lunch time it was hot with a clear blue sky. David & Olga & I set off at 9am after breakfast at our home in Gaucin, we drove directly northward towards Ronda. We picked up Rock Sparrow, Griffon Vulture, Sparrowhawk & Blue Rock Thrush before stopping at a roadside pull-in just north of Atajate. We walked along a walled section of the road which overlooked a valley of scrub and rugged-rocky outcrops. There were many birds flitting around which included; Black Wheatear, Black Redstart (7), Chiffchaff, Blue Rock Thrush, Red-legged Partridge, our first Ring Ouzel of the winter, Rock Sparrow & Red-billed Chough.

Next we stopped at the Dolmen's Encinas de la Borrachas where a track leads across a large open valley. the whole area is strewn with rocks, scrub and a couple of man-made pools. It was full of birds, large flocks of Linnets, Goldfinches and Corn Buntings were joined by Meadow Pipits and Stonechats.

Further down the track we watched Thekla Larks, a Little Owl and we heard a Woodlark singing in the morning sunshine. Scanning the high limestone ridges we found Peregrine Falcon, Griffon Vulture (5), Blue Rock Thrush & Black Wheatear.

We spent the next two hours walking the streets of Ronda doing the tourist bit (finding Red-billed Chough, Blue Rock Thrush, Crag Martin and Common Kestrel). By 2 pm we were back in Gaucin enjoying a tapas lunch.

For the afternoon I took Pam out, she is also staying with us at Gaucin and wanted to visit a couple of coastal sites. We stopped at Sierra Crestellina on the way down to the coast. Up to 40 Griffon Vultures were in the sky as were Crag Martins, Kestrels and small flocks of Goldfinch & Corn Buntings. We failed to find Bonelli's Eagle or Cirl Bunting both of which were on our target list.

At the coat we spent a couple of hours walking around the reserve at Torreguadiaro. It was a lovely time, many Crag martins and Barn swallows were hunting insects over the water as Little Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Little Egret. Kingfisher, Mallard and a single Teal messed about near the water. Two good sightings were of a Purple Swamphen and a Little Bittern, it will be interesting to see if the bittern decides to spend the winter here?

Walking around the boardwalk to the beach we found Stonechat, Crested Lark, Chiffchaff, Spotless Starling, a flock of Monk Parakeets flew over us whilst we were watching Northern Gannets diving for fish and Balearic Shearwaters shearing the water just offshore.

On the return journey we stopped to scan a gull flock on the beach which contained 500+ birds, mainly Yellow-legged but also Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls. Another stop at Crestellina on the way up to Gaucin gave us a very brief view of Bonelli's Eagle but it disappeared over the ridge and failed to return. It was now 7pm, the sun was still warm and bright but we had to get back to join the others for dinner.

Sunday 24 October, below El Hacho on the road to Estacion Gaucin, 1030-1200hrs, sunny and warm: Good numbers of Black redstart, also Rock bunting, Willow warbler, Blackcap, Sardinian warbler, Great-spotted woodpecker, Robin, Stonechat, Song thrush, Raven and 14 Griffon vulture. Down by the river Genal, 1430-1600: Little egret, wonderful views of a Kingfisher hovering over the water for a good 10 seconds, Cetti's warbler, Blackcap, Grey wagtail, Meadow pipit, Stonechat, more Black redstart, 10 Griffon vulture.
Saturday 23 October, Gaucin: Autumn is officially here with the first Black redstart turning up in the village; two females seen during the morning on the roofs in Calle Convento.
Friday 22 October, behind Gaucin castle, 1100-1200hrs, partly cloudy: Not a great deal happening, a couple of Blue rock thrush feeding off the big rocks, lots of Robin, Blackcap, Sardinian warbler, a Willow warbler, Booted eagle and one or two Griffon vulture. Flocks of 10+ Crag martin and a single House martin.
Monday 18 October, Gaucin, 1400hrs: Flock of 37 Griffon vulture flying west over the village.
Sunday 17 October, Sierra de Espartina (Smuggler's trail) just outside Gaucin, 1300hrs: First time I've seen a Woodlark here....possibly due to the improved habitat since the ground was cleared earlier in the year. A great number of singing Robin around as the local population is augmented by autumn arrivals.
Friday 15 October: Back in Gaucin...have all the Swifts gone? Willow warbler and Grey wagtail spotted in the gardens between Calle Convento and Calle del Pino this morning.

October 7th - recent sightings

With Paul away in the Uk fior 2 weeks and myself out of town birding not much has been recorded over Gaucin for several days. The weather has been superb with clear skies, light winds and great light. I have visited the coast several times since our last report and also I have taken a few jaunts inland towards Ronda.

I have made many good sightings during the last week and full details can be seen on:

listed below are highlights of birds seen within 100km of Gaucin since Sept. 26th

17 Black Storks flew over San Enrique,

Lesser Crested Tern was at Palmones beach 2nd Oct, 4 Ospreys, A flock 99 White Storks at Palmones Salt Marsh on 2nd. October. 2 Marsh harriers have taken up winter residence there.

Little Bittern (2) and a Water Rail are still at laguna Camelias, Torreguadiaro, 5th October

many Whinchats and Northern Wheatears can be seen at many coastal locations.

Short-toed Eagles and Booted Eagles are still trickling through in ones and twos on migration, large numbers of House Martins and swallows with the odd Alpine Swift and also passing over daily.

Pied Flycatchers, Spotted Flycatchers and Common Redstart are seen daily in the area. More and more White Wagtails, Common Starlings, Song Thrushes, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps are moving in for the winter.

Garden Warblers and Blackcaps can be seen on all the fig trees devouring figs as fast as they can.

Bonelli's Eagles can be seen most days up the Guadiaro valley and a long Sierra Crstellina.

It won't be too long before the Black Redstarts start to appear and Ring Ouzels will be turning up to eat the abundance of berries that can be found this year.

In this nice hot spell many butterflies are on the wing: Swallowtail, Two-tailed Pasha, Cardinal, Cleopatra, Long-tailed Blue, Saffron Skipper, Wall Brown, Speckled Wood and Red Admiral have been seen in the last few days.