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Tuesday 30 July 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light E-SE wind, 32C

A morning visit to the west slope of El Hacho from 1000-1130hrs didn't produce anything spectacular but as it was already feeling quite warm I didn't climb up through the field but stuck to viewing from the roadside. I was pleased to see the return of the 'over-wintering' Southern Grey Shrike perched, as usual, on one of its favourite trees. Also seen were Griffon Vulture, three or four Common Kestrel, all female/juvenile, Raven, Short-toed Eagle, Thekla Lark, Stonechat and Sardinian Warbler.

Whilst on our terrace at 2145hrs I got a brief glimpse of what appeared to be a Eurasian Hobby in amongst a small group of Swift/House Martin above Calle del Pino. Ten minutes later it returned and confirmed its ID showing well as it headed south in a fast shallow dive directly overhead. I've seen them from the terrace before but just once in June 2012 and another near the bridge at Venta Socorro in May 2011.

Sunday 28 July 2013, Gaucin, partly cloudy am, sunny pm, light-fresh W-SW wind, 27C

A fresher feeling day today and, with the westerly (poniente) wind, much clearer views. There were a couple of booted Eagle milling about the village most of the day and during the afternoon a Short-toed Eagle flew in and landed on a tree just below Calle del Pino; Short-toed Eagles rarely venture so close to the village but one hot afternoon last summer a bird, possibly the same one, landed in the same tree.

On Saturday evening I found a Common Swift fledgling on our terrace; I presume it fell out of a nearby nest but couldn't locate it to return it. It was too young to fly and sadly, despite taking some water from time to time, it wasn't interested in feeding and it died this evening.

Common Swift

Friday 26 July 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light SW wind, 30C

A visit to the Rio Genal from 0930-1030hrs produced a good record in the form of a White Stork that was flushed from the river bank. Other species seen included Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, 2x Little-ringed Plover (numbers down from last week so probably already moving on), Turtle Dove (still singing), 10+ European Bee-eater, Golden Oriole (still one or two males singing), Red-rumped Swallow and a family party of Grey Wagtail.

Rio Genal from the Camino de Gibraltar

Turtle Dove

Thursday 25 July 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light SE wind, 30C

Whilst walking between San Martin de Tesorillo and Castellar de la Frontera at 0800hrs there was a great sighting in the form of a juvenile European Roller. The bird was perched on a telegraph wire and stayed for a couple of minutes before flying about 200m to another wire. This bird may be connected to the adult seen earlier in the month although they were about 5km apart. Walking up the old road to Castellar through the cork oaks there were at least 4 Bonelli's Warbler still singing.

Sunday 21 July 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light SE wind, 30C

Another trip to Malaga airport, another visit to the Guadalhorce reserve. An hour or so from 1800-1900hrs so just time to check out the Laguna Grande. The Greater Flamingo that were there last Wednesday had gone but there were a few more waders including a Whimbrel, Black-tailed Godwit and two or three Greenshank. Also White-headed Duck, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Dunlin, Little-ringed Plover, Redshank, Black-winged Stilt, European Bee-eater and Monk Parakeet. The best bird was an adult Little Bittern, seen flying over the reserve near the footbridge then spotted flying along the river. On the drive to the reserve a Hoopoe flew low over the A-7 motorway.

A sleepy-looking Audouin's Gull

Saturday 20 July 2013, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light E-SE wind, 30C

An 0730hrs start saw Wingspanner and me heading to the Barco Morena/Marchenilla area hoping for some Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin action - and we weren't disappointed! It took a while, but eventually two or three individuals appeared including one obliging adult catching insects in the middle of the track and displaying its fanned tail. As well as this great species we also saw Griffon Vulture, two or three Short-toed Eagle (great close overhead views), pale morph Booted Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Little Owl, Crested Lark, Thekla Lark, Woodchat Shrike (including several juveniles), European Bee-eater, Common Swift, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Blackbird, Common Nightingale (some short bursts of song, too), Zitting Cisticola, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet and Corn Bunting. Turtle Dove was heard. On our way back to Gaucin we checked for the Black-winged Kite and Roller that we had both seen near San Martin de Tesorillo but neither showed; we know the kites bred but have not seen a juvenile Roller for confirmation - it would be a great record for the area.

Wednesday 17 July, Gaucin, sunny, light SE wind, 30C.

An afternoon trip to Malaga airport meant an opportunity to drop into the Guadalhorce reserve. There from 1730-1915hrs sightings included the following: Greater Flamingo (adult and ~ 1 year old), Little Egret, White-headed Duck, Red-crested Pochard (all female/juv or eclipsed male), Little Grebe, Yellow-legged Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Audoiun's Gull, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, several Black-winged Stilt including juveniles and chicks, 3 Pied Avocet, Redshank, Dunlin, Little-ringed Plover, Monk Parakeet, European Bee-eater, Spotless Starling, Red-rumped Swallow, Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola and Sardinian Warbler.

Notable by their absence were raptors; I'd expect at least a Booted Eagle.

Zitting Cisticola

 Greater Flamingo 1cy

Greater Flamingo adult

Greater Flamingo and Audouin's Gull

European Bee-eater

Black-winged Stilt chicks

Tuesday 16 July 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light SE wind, 30C.

A trip down to the Rio Genal from 0845-1015hrs produced Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Collared Dove, 4 Turtle Dove, Wood Pigeon, 15+ European Bee-eater, Eurasian Jay, Little-ringed Plover (at least one juvenile), Great-spotted Woodpecker, Common Swift, House Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Grey Wagtail, Blackbird, Spotless Starling, Spotted Flycatcher, Blue Tit, Cetti's Warbler, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Greenfinch, Goldfinch (lots of juveniles), Chaffinch, Serin, House Sparrow and Cirl Bunting. The Golden Oriole were mostly quiet or absent with just one heard briefly. Following the wet Winter/Spring there is still a reasonable amount of water in the river. I had a report of a Golden Eagle above the wind turbines near Casares several days ago - would be long-gone now, though!

Turtle Dove

Gaucin castle emerging through the morning mist

Agave inflorescence

European Terrapin taking some early sun

Thursday 11 July 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light E-NE wind, 30C.

Back in Spain after a week in the UK (Berks/Wilts/Somerset) where it was sunny and temperatures reached 29C. Other than enjoying the many Red Kite and scanning the Swifts for a stray Pallid or Alpine I didn't do much birding; it was great, though, to have breakfast outside listening to a Skylark. Here in Gaucin the only change I've noted so far is the presence of European Bee-eater nearer the village, presumably beginning to disperse away from their breeding sites.

Wednesday 03 July 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light SE wind, 28C

Strictly a sighting for 0530hrs there were two Eagle Owl around Calle Convento/Calle del Pino. The male was 'singing' somewhere in the gardens just below Calle del Pino and the female was flying around and calling above our house and the gardens in Calle Convento.

Tuesday 02 July 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light E-SE wind, 27C

Whilst carrying out dog-walking duties this morning at 0930hrs I added Euasian Jay and Red-rumped Swallow to my recent Rio Genal list. There was also a notable movement of Wood Pigeon with two groups totalling about 50 birds heading North up the valley in front of Sierra Crestellina. European Bee-eater numbers were up to 20+ and the Golden Oriole were very vocal, if difficult to see, with just a fleeting glimpse of a brightly-coloured male to show for my efforts. In the village the Swift numbers are building up towards their maximum with impressive early evening 'screaming party' displays.

Sunday 30 June 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh E-SE wind, 27C

A visit to the Rio Genal from 0800-0930hrs produced the following sightings....Griffon Vulture, pale morph Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle (a sleepy-looking individual hiding in a tree), Little-ringed Plover, Turtle Dove, Collared Dove, European Bee-eater, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Short-toed Treecreeper, Golden Oriole, Common Swift, Spotless Starling, Blackbird, Great Tit, Blue Tit, White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Bonelli's Warbler, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, a party of 5 Hawfinch, and Cirl Bunting. Despite the relatively early hour it was already almost 20C and there were quite a few butterflies about, including several Wall Brown.

Cirl Bunting

Little-ringed Plover

Wall Brown
Saturday 29 June, Gaucin, sunny, fresh E wind gusting to strong, 26C: On an afternoon visit to Setenil de las Bodegas, NE of Ronda, sightings along the route included Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Raven, European Bee-eater, Woodchat Shrike and Red-billed Chough. In the village itself it was strange to see Alpine Swift passing a couple of metres overhead as they entered their nest sites in the rock crevices just below which the cave-houses are.