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Tuesday 30 April, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light SW wind, 13C: Another cool day after a night when 7.5L/m2 rain fell in the pueblo and on the top of Los Reales, just across the Genal valley, it fell as snow, see photo. Further up the valley towards Ronda the aptly-named Sierra de las Nieves was covered with a thick layer of snow. Is it really May tomorrow? The Common Nightingale in the garden had some competition today from a very vocal Blackbird (which for me has the better voice, anyway!), one of a couple of males that have been chasing each other around for a week or so.

Monday 29 April, Gaucin, prolonged light rain showers, light SW wind, 8C: Not much bird news today, the Common Cuckoo is still calling from the valley to the south and the Common Nightingale was rather quiet after some human disturbance in the garden over the weekend, but an interesting weather was a bitter, cold day and it was snowing at the turn off to Alpandeire on the Gaucin-Ronda road this afternoon!
Saturday 27 April, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light SW wind, 14C: A morning walk along the Casares-Secadero track down to the river Genal produced the following: 10+ Griffon Vulture, 4 Booted Eagle, 1 Short-toed Eagle, 2 Common Buzzard, 6 Black Kite, 5 Lesser Kestrel, 2 White Stork, 4 Little-ringed Plover, Grey Heron, 20+ European Bee-eater, 2 Woodchat Shrike, a cracking Tawny Pipit, Crested Lark, Common Swift, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Stonechat, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Cirl Bunting and Corn Bunting; 2 Turtle Dove, 3 Common Nightingale and Cetti's Warbler were heard.

The wildflowers were stunning, including wild Gladioli, see photo, and this one that I can't identify - anyone know what it is?

Little-ringed Plover

Little-ringed Plover mid-wash

A stunning Tawny Pipit

Tawny Pipit

Field Gladiolus Gladiolus communis

Friday 26 April, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light W-SW wind, 21C: Continuing light raptor passage today with small groups (1-5 birds) of Honey Buzzard, Black Kite and Booted Eagle moving through - also a White Stork at 1530hrs. Having said that our garden Common Nightingale had gone rather quiet, the last two nights it has been performing well and yesterday afternoon I was weeding within 2 metres whilst it carried on singing.
Thursday 25 April, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light E-NE wind, 21C: The last phase of the Spring migration has begun with several small groups (2-4 individuals) of Honey Buzzard passing over the village this afternoon and a group of 35 (also 5 Black Kite) at 1430hrs. At 1520hrs a single White Stork flew low over the centre of the village and at 1720hrs there was a group of four raptors high up on a thermal that on closer inspection turned out to be a Common Buzzard, a Black Kite, a Booted Eagle (pale morph) and a Montagu's Harrier! Alongside the migrants were local Griffon Vulture, Booted and Short-toed Eagle, Peregrine, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Common Kestrel.
Wednesday 24 April, Gaucin, mostly sunny, fresh E-NE wind, 17C:  Feeling quite cool in the fresh wind. From 1000hrs-1130hrs I was down on the track near Marchenilla and saw a good range of birds including: Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle (pale morph), Short-toed Eagle (x5), Common Buzzard, Montagu's Harrier (female), Lesser Kestrel, Eurasian Hobby, European Bee-eater, Common Swift, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Crested Lark, Common Nightingale, Woodchat Shrike, Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Common Whitethroat, several Melodious Warbler in full song, and Corn Bunting. Noticeable by their absence were Rufous Bush Chats; hopefully they'll arrive soon.

The Common Nightingale in the garden is still singing but not as frequently and the song has definitely changed over the last week or so; the sounds are now more staccato and each phrase is shorter than it was before. Common Cuckoo is still calling from the valley south of the village, too.

Andalucian traffic jam.....

Corn Bunting

Corn Bunting battling the wind

Melodious Warbler

Another Melodious Warbler

Sunday 21 April, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light W-SW wind, 19C: A mid-morning walk along a section of the Pescaderos track below Sierra Maravillas above El Colmenar produced Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Common Kestrel, Raven, Eurasian Jay, Woodchat Shrike, Thekla Lark, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Bonelli's Warbler and Serin. From about 1230hrs there was a reasonable passage of Black Kite with at least three groups of 28, 40 and 18 moving through to the north of Sierra del Hacho. Also seen was an Egyptian Mongoose, a couple of Spanish Festoon butterflies, and some interesting flora such as Dwarf Convolvulus Convolvulus tricolor, Plough-Share Serapias orchid Serapias vomeracea and Cytinus hypocistis, a parasite of the Rock Rose family Cistaceae, of which, the Narrow-leaved Cistus was in full bloom covering many of the rocky slopes.

Narrow-leaved Cistus Cistus monspeliensis
Dwarf Convolvulus Convolvulus tricolor

Plough-Share Serapias
Cytinus hypocistis

This afternoon I took a look along the Casares-Secadero track (the river was a waste of time as it was one big picnic area!) and saw the following of note: Griffon Vulture, Short-toed eagle, Booted Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, European Bee-eater, Woodchat Shrike, female Northern Wheatear, Crested Lark and Melodious Warbler. Well worth it just for the lovely views back to Gaucin.....

Saturday 20 April, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light NE wind, 16C: A quick afternoon stop at the start of the Encinas Borrachas track on the way to Ronda produced Griffon Vulture, Common Kestrel, Southern Grey Shrike, Black-eared Wheatear, Rock Bunting and Thekla Lark; Common Cuckoo was heard. In Ronda there was a pair of Red-billed Chough flying around the old walls in the San Francisco area.
Friday 19 April, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light SE wind, 20C: The last few days have been mostly sunny in the afternoon but with a thick mist lasting most of the morning. Little to report on the bird front as I've been busy with other things. The Common Nightingale in the garden has been on top form and doesn't seem distracted by regular disturbance by either people or cats! It sang all of Thursday night, I heard it at least once every hour from 0000hrs to 0700hrs, and it's singing most of the day, too. I tried to record it last night but the phone didn't pick enough sound up - may try again. It's interesting that it's trying to set up a territory so close to human habitation when there's acres of 'campo' just a few hundred metres away.
Tuesday 16 April, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light SE wind, 23C: Early morning (dog) walks along the Camino de Avedin the last couple of days produced dark morph Booted Eagle, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Red-rumped Swallow in amongst a House Martin flock (maybe the pair that bred at the end of the track last year?), Eurasian Nuthatch, Firecrest and Crested Tit; both Green Woodpecker and Bonelli's Warbler were heard. Today there was some visible migration with 17 Black Kite and 12 White Stork passing to the east of El Hacho at 1400hrs, then 30 Black Kite low over the same area at 1430hrs. All of these birds seemed to be struggling to get any height to the point where the storks started heading some way SE, presumably to get some lift from the headwind.
Sunday 14 April, Gaucin, sunny, light SE wind, 22C: Whilst walking from near San Martin de Tesorillo to Castellar de la Frontera on Friday morning I heard 3 Bonelli's Warbler and one Iberian Chiffchaff; once up at the castle at 1130hrs, 200+ Black Kite passed by and there were at least 6 Lesser Kestrel around the castle itself. An unusual sight was a Portuguese Squill Scilla peruviana growing by the side of a cotton field, see photo.

This morning I walked around La Punta Umbria and heard 2 Bonelli's Warbler and one Iberian Chiffchaff, also a Wryneck in the cork oaks. This afternoon, from 1730-1830hrs, I checked out the west slope of El Hacho and was treated to a Whinchat in addition to a pair of Peregrine mobbing an unfortunate Griffon Vulture that must have strayed too near their nest, pale phase Booted Eagle, Blue Rock Thrush, Thekla Lark and Cirl Bunting, see photo. Interesting that the 5 Northern Wheatear from last week seem to have moved on already.

Thursday 11 April, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh N-NW wind, 20C

A mid-day walk to Punta Umbria produced the following sightings: Griffon Vulture, 2 dark morph, 1 pale morph Booted Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Raven, Red-billed Chough (over El Hacho), European Bee-eater, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Jay, Crested Tit and Firecrest; two Common Cuckoo heard. Both Iberian Chiffchaff and Bonelli’s Warbler were heard singing – first for the year.

From 1730-1900hrs I checked out the west slope of El Hacho; on arrival I was treated to a pair of Montagu’s Harrier battling against the strong wind, the male coming down low before spiralling back up to join the female. I can never get enough of watching their elegant butterfly-like flight - superb birds. Also seen were Griffon Vulture, 7 Black Kite, pale morph Booted Eagle, 2 pairs of Woodchat Shrike, 5 Northern Wheatear (4 male, 1 female) and Stonechat; Cirl Bunting was heard.

Today there was a very vocal Common Nightingale singing in the garden just less than 10m from our window – wonderful!

Throughout the week there have been small parties of European Bee-eater passing North over the village, with one at 0800hrs on Wednesday numbering 30+ birds. There was a Northern Wheatear to the south of the village and a pair of Blue Rock Thrush south of the castle on Sunday and a Hoopoe on the path up to Gaucin castle on Tuesday (per Campbell Wood).

Wednesday 10 April, Gaucin, cloudy am, mostly sunny pm, light W-NW wind, 20C

A super Spring day at last (though Monday and Tuesday weren't bad either, just tempered by a cold wind)! Monday morning I was walking around the San Martin de Tesorillo area but there was little bird activity of note, 30+ Griffon Vulture over Cerro Gordo, a couple of Booted Eagle and a couple of Short-toed Eagle, Little Egret, Alpine Swift, several Common Nightingale and Zitting Cisticola, many Woodchat Shrike and a single Northern Wheatear. This morning I was back there and there was more about; turning off the Jimena de la Frontera-San Roque road towards San Martin de Tesorillo at 0900hrs there were at least 75 Black Kite on the ground in a field; later around Cerro de Galgo there were 3 Montagu's Harrier, Booted and Short-toed Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Common Cuckoo, 20+ Woodchat Shrike (including a pair displaying millimetres apart on a fence wire right in front of me), Crested Lark, 15+ Common Nightingale, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler and Blackcap; Cetti's Warbler was heard.

There was a Blue Rock Thrush still singing strongly around Calle Convento area yesterday and in the evening at about 2300hrs, just as a light mist descended on the village, there was a burst of alarm call from an Eagle Owl directly above Calle Convento - unfortunately, the mist prevented me from seeing it but it flew around calling for at least 15 minutes.
Sunday 07 April, Gaucin, partly cloudy, calm air-light SE wind, 15C: Five Stork sp. flying to NW of El Hacho at about 1200hrs, probably Black Stork but just too far away to be certain; 40+ Griffon Vulture milling around above Sierra Espartina and 100+ Swift feeding high above the south of the village, including at least two Alpine Swift. Down the Camino de Gibraltar from 1700-1800hrs there were at least two, possibly three Nightingale in song in the valley to the left; also, two Firecrest in the cork oaks at the top of the track, a male Marsh Harrier flying North low in front of Sierra Crestellina, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Sparrowhawk and Great-spotted Woodpecker; Cetti's Warbler was heard.
Saturday 06 April, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh W-NW wind, 13C: After another 18L/m2 of rain yesterday it was great to wake up to a clear sky, albeit feeling a bit chilly in the wind. A morning walk around the base of El Hacho was rewarded at 1200hrs with the passage of 360+ Black Kite, 60 low over the NW shoulder of the mountain followed by another 300+ a little further west, following the river Guadiaro valley. In amongst the kite was a single Osprey. Also seen were Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Eurasian Nuthatch, Stonechat and a Red-billed Chough was heard. It was lovely to see so many of the streams in full flow, including the one in the photo that emerged from deep within the rockface and is part of the aquifer that provides water to the village. There were also several flowers out including Mirror Ophrys Ophrys ciliata, Yellow Ophrys Ophrys lutea and Spanish Bluebell Scilla hispanica (both blue and white forms).

Some observations from a visitor over the last few days....Thanks to Campbell Wood. On Monday at the Salto de Cura a Firecrest; on Tuesday afternoon down the Camino de Gibraltar sightings included 10+ European Bee-eater, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Woodchat Shrike, Chaffinch and Crossbill. On Friday evening along the Camino de Gibraltar, Sparrowhawk, Serin, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler and Linnet.

Spanish Bluebell

Yellow Ophrys

Janys surveying the collapsed Gaucin-Algeciras road

Thursday 04 April, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, frequent prolonged outbreaks of rain, light-fresh S-W wind, 11C: Yet more rain, with 31L/m2 falling between 2100hrs Wednesday and 1900hrs today. Spain just had its wettest March for 60 years; can someone please work out how to move the Jet Stream back to its rightful place so the weather can return to 'normal'?! Driving up from the coast this morning there were a couple of Woodchat Shrike on the fences alongside the wind turbines and a pair of Raven on a pylon beside the Casares turning.
Wednesday 03 April, Gaucin, rain, light-fresh W-SW wind, 13C: Despite the 11L/m2 of rain that fell during the day I did mange to hear my first Common Nightingale of the summer at 0830hrs just below the public spring on the Gaucin-Algeciras road; also a female Spanish Ibex that allowed me to get within 3m before it sloped off into the bushes - great stuff!
Tuesday 02 April, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light E-NE wind, 16C: Three or four small groups of 4-6 European Bee-eater passing through during the day and the 'local' Booted and Short-toed Eagles around. The west slope of El Hacho from 1830-1930hrs produced Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, 3 pale morph Booted Eagle, Common Kestrel, 2 Red-billed Chough, female Blue Roack Thrush, Stonechat and Sardinian Warbler; there were large numbers, 100+, of Swift sp. very high up and Peregrine, Thekla Lark and Cirl Bunting were heard. Again, no sign of the Southern Grey Shrike which I now think just uses the area as a stop-off on the way to its main wintering grounds further south.
Monday 01 April, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light W-NW wind, 14C: Easter Sunday was another birding write-off with persistent light rain all day, so no opportunity to go birding and avoid the annual 'bull run', then a wild night with gusting winds and 16L/m2 of rain. Today the only thing of note was a Sparrowhawk being mobbed by a couple of Swifts over Calle del Pino.