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Sunday 29 July, sunny, fresh E wind, 32C: Collecting Janys from Malaga airport gave me another opportunity to visit the Guadahorce reserve from 1730-1900hrs. Despite the intense heat, it was 36C as I crossed the Rio Genal below Gaucin, there was more bird activity than my visit last Wednesday. With limited time available I concentrated on the Laguna Grande where the hide provided a bit of shade. The return passage of waders appears to have begun with 2x Curlew Sandpiper, moulting from summer plumage, 2x Dunlin still in full summer plumage, 1x Common Sandpiper, 6x Redshank (4 juvenile and 2 adult), up to 30 Little-ringed Plover and a single Spoonbill (see photos). Also of note were 4x Sandwich Tern and 2x Little Tern, plenty of Black-headed, Mediterranean, Yellow-legged and Audouin's Gulls and 2x Lesser black-backed Gull, Zitting Cisticola, Bee-eater and Monk Parakeet. There were at least 6 Audouin's Gull with colour rings - I'll add them to the ringing site data and if any have interesting histories I'll let you know. I've included a poor distant photo of a Little Tern dwarfed even by Black-headed Gulls - it's easy to forget just how small they are!

Saturday 28 July, sunny, light-fresh E wind, 30C: A warm day that just got hotter as it went on - driving down to the coast at 1800hrs it reached 34C a couple of km below Gaucin and was still 27C at 2300hrs. A short mid-morning visit to the Siete Pilas area on the road towards Estacion Cortes produced the following of note: Griffon Vulture, 2x Short-toed Eagle (great views as they passed by together just overhead), Common Buzzard, 2x Common Kestrel, Woodchat Shrike, Common, Pallid and Alpine Swift, Barn Swallow, Woodlark, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler and Bonelli's Warbler. There seemed to be Woodchat Shrike on every other fencepost or bush (an adult and one of the many juveniles in photos).

Friday 27 July, partly cloudy am, sunny pm, light-fresh W-NW wind, 27C: 0815-0945hrs: A morning visit to the west slope of El Hacho in Gaucin felt distinctly chilly in the westerly breeze - is autumn on its way already? The presence of a, presumably, returning Southern Grey Shrike added to the autumnal feel - as far as I am aware it didn't breed in the area this year and this is probably the same individual that wintered here last year. Little else of note but there were 20+ Griffon Vulture, 4 Raven, at least 3 Bonelli's Warbler, lots of juvenile Stonechat and 3 juvenile Blue Rock Thrush. From 1600-1700hrs I had a look along a track opposite La Almuna estate - it was a bit warm with few birds active but I did log Booted Eagle (pale morph), Griffon Vulture, Sparrowhawk, Woodchat Shrike (1 adult and 3 juveniles together), Short-toed Treecreeper, Garden Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Bonelli's Warbler, Blackcap and Spotted Flycatcher.
Thursday 26 July, partly cloudy, light-fresh E wind, 27C: Just an update on a colour-ringed Audouin's Gull I saw yesterday at Guadalhorce. The bird was ringed as a 1st summer bird (1 year old) on 20 June 2009 at the Estación Biológica de Doñana in Huelva, Spain - this was the first time that the bird had been controlled (reported on) since that date.

I have to say that the service from the EBD website was superb - within an hour of submitting the report it was assessed, accepted and I had been emailed access to the full ringing and observation records.
Wednesday 25 July, mostly cloudy, humid, light-fresh E wind, 29C: A trip to Malaga airport gave me a chance to visit the Guadalhorce reserve from 1330-1530hrs. It was very warm and humid and there were some heavy thundery showers on the way home in the afternoon. Although not the best time of day for birding there were still some interesting species around including: Common Kestrel, Monk Parakeet (including a very noisy group of 20+), Bee-eater (see photos), White-headed Duck, Little Egret, Black-winged Stilt (photos of adult and juvenile), Whimbrel, Sandwich Tern (there were reports of a Lesser-crested Tern a couple of days ago but no sign of it today), Little-ringed Plover, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Audouin's Gull (see photo), Mediterranean Gull (2x 1st summer? in photo), Red-rumped Swallow and Yellow Wagtail (female iberiae). Surprised to see so few raptors - not even a Booted Eagle - and no 'returning' waders.

Sunday 22 July, cloudy start down towards the coast, sunny later, light-fresh E-SE wind, 29C: 0800-1030hrs; today I managed and early start so headed down to the Casares-Secadero track alongside the Rio Genal. Much of the river is now dry but there are still some sections flowing above ground and many birds are coming down to drink. This morning's highlights were an adult Red Kite, great close views of an adult Short-toed Eagle, 3 Booted Eagle, juvenile Peregrine, several Common Buzzard, Griffon Vulture, 2 Little Egret, White Stork, two groups of Red-legged Partridge, one of 8 and one of 15 birds, 10+ Little-ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, 3 Hoopoe, 30+ Bee-eater, Kingfisher, 10+ Turtle Dove, large flocks (50+) of House Sparrow, lots of superbly marked Corn Bunting, Cetti's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler and, just as I was leaving, good close views of an adult Olivaceous Warbler (no sign of the, presumably, recently fledged birds that were in the nest a couple of weeks ago). Photos of Little Egret and Turtle Dove.

Friday 20 July, hazy sunshine, light E wind, 34C: The run of sunny days with a hot E wind continues and is making any birding after about 1000hrs very difficult (and the necessary late nights waiting for it to cool down mean I'm too tired to get up at 0700hrs)! Still, there have been a couple of interesting sightings from our terrace here in Gaucin; yesterday two adult and one juvenile Common Buzzard 'displaying' high up and both yesterday and this afternoon a Green Woodpecker over the garden - the first time I've seen this species in the village.
Tuesday 17 July, sunny, light-fresh E wind, 30C: A few more Bee-eaters about with a group of 21 passing S-N over Gaucin at 0900hrs. In the afternoon Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle and a male Sparrowhawk were flying to and fro, often quite low over the houses on the southern edge of the village. The Sparrowhawk is an almost daily visitor now - usually accompanied by a small entourage of Swift and House Martin! Great-spotted Woodpecker also seen flying across the edge of the village just below Calle del Pino.
Monday 16 July, cloudy am, sunny pm, fresh-strong E wind, 28C: During the morning I checked on the Red-rumped Swallow nest - one bird, presumably the male, seen exiting the nest. After an afternoon visit to Ronda stopped a couple of times on the way back between Ronda and Atajate and logged: Bonelli's Eagle (great views of an adult being mobbed by three Common Kestrel), Southern Grey Shrike, Black-eared Wheatear (juvenile and adult), Corn Bunting (see juv in photo), Rock Sparrow (group of at least 8, see juvs in photo), Crag Martin and Subalpine Warbler (2nd yr female? in photo).

Friday 13 July, hazy sunshine, very light SE wind, 35C: Small groups of Bee-eater (5 or 6) beginning to pass over the village, mainly early morning. One ragged, moulting, Booted Eagle cruising over the south of Gaucin most of the day. Having thought that many of the Swifts had already left for Africa they have been back in great numbers the last couple of evenings - mainly Common Swift with a few Pallid amongst them.
Thursday 12 July, mostly sunny, light SE wind, 30C: 0730-1130hrs - an early morning trip to Encinas Borrachas (between Atajate and Ronda) with Bob and John was very productive: Short-toed Eagle, Common Kestrel (a party of 5 flying around the mountain ridges), Red-billed Chough, Little Owl, Green Sandpiper, Southern Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, including many juveniles (see adult and juvenile in photo), Hoopoe, Bee-eater (heard), Black Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear (see juvenile in photo), Common Swift, Blue Rock Thrush, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Corn Bunting, Short-toed Treecreeper, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Woodlark, Spotted Flycatcher, Orphean Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Bonelli's Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Serin and Rock Sparrow. We also saw many butterflies including Striped Grayling (see photo) as well as Spanish Ibex and Red Deer (see photos).


Wednesday 11 July, sunny, light-fresh W-NW wind, 32C: Feeling cooler in the wind than the past couple of very hot days. A late evening (2100-2200hrs) visit to the west side of El Hacho produced the following highlights: Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Common Kestrel, Red-legged Partridge, Woodchat Shrike, Common Swift, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Corn Bunting and Cirl Bunting (see photo).

Monday 09 July, sunny, light SE wind, 32C: Update on the Red-rumped Swallow nest....the nest is now finished and there was only one adult flying around; hopefully the female is getting on with egg-laying. Side view of nest:
Front view of nest showing the entrance tunnel:
Friday 06 July, sunny, 34C: Whilst down on the coast a quick mid-morning visit to the Sotogrande lagoon produced 2 Purple Swamp Hen, 1 Little Egret, 6 Little Grebe, several Monk Parakeet, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow and a family of Lesser Kestrel (2 adults and 2 chicks) on the old tower. Later, back in Gaucin there were impressive numbers of Swift with several hundred, including at least two Alpine Swift, feeding high up from 2100-2200hrs.
Thursday 05 July, sunny, light-fresh NW wind, 31C: Here's an update on the Red-rumped Swallow nest....they have nearly finished, just missing the 'entrance tunnel' but they must be finding it hard to source mud (I made a large puddle for them close to the nest but I'm not convinced that they are using it - wrong type of mud, probably!).
Wednesday 04 July, sunny, light SE wind, 32C: With another very warm day ahead of us Bob and I decided to set off at 0730hrs to the Rio Genal to look for Olivaceous Warbler; Bob found a nest there in the Tamarisk recently so I was hopeful of some good views of this tricky bird! It didn't take long before we spotted two adults taking food to the nest where the young looked close to fledging. I missed out on many photo opportunities having left my camera behind in the car but eventually I went back for it and somehow managed to get a half-decent shot from the few attempts I was able to make (see photo)! In all there were at least 3 pairs along a 500m stretch of the river. We also saw many other good species including Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Griffon Vulture (15+), Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Raven, Little Owl (on a ruin on the track), Turtle Dove (10+), Yellow-legged Gull, White Stork, Grey Heron, Purple Heron (Bob only; I was fetching my camera as they flew past!), Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Sandpiper, Little-ringed Plover (20+), Mallard, Moorhen, Bee-eater, Common Swift, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow (coming to the river to drink), Woodchat Shrike, White Wagtail, Blackbird, Corn Bunting, Cirl Bunting, Crested Lark, Greenfinch, Serin, Linnet, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Spotted Flycatcher, Sardinian Warbler, Nightingale and Cetti's Warbler. 41 species in a couple of hours - not bad for a July morning!
Monday 02 July, mostly sunny, light E-SE wind, high of 30C: I joined Bob and his American guests for a late evening visit to the track that runs from opposite Venta Molino, Casares down to Secadero. Whilst waiting for them I saw an Alpine Swift above Gaucin - now a regular sighting here, particularly with the early morning and early evening Common/Pallid Swift flocks. We weren't disappointed and at about 2200hrs had some very good views of Red-necked Nightjar both in flight and sitting on the ground close by. Neither Bob nor I have seen this species up near Gaucin this summer - the past few years they have been regular visitors along the Camino de Gibraltar and even over the houses on the southern edge of the village around Calle del Pino; could be a result of increased human activity in the area?
Sunday 01 July, sunny, light NW wind, 29C: A morning walk around La Umbria just outside Gaucin village produced Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Eurasian Nuthatch, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Crested Tit and Firecrest. 3 Bonelli's Warbler and a Great-spotted Woodpecker were heard.