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Tuesday 26 November 2013, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light SE wind, 16C

This morning at 0320hrs I woke to hear the unmistakeable song of a male Eagle Owl somewhere below Calle Convento/Calle del Pino. I had a quick look through the window but it didn't show. It was singing again at about 0600hrs.

A visit to the west slope of El Hacho from 1015-1130hrs produced a good sighting in the form of at least one, possibly two, Dartford Warbler. Also seen were Blue Rock Thrush, 8 Song Thrush, a minimum of 20 Black Redstart, Meadow Pipit, Thekla Lark, Stonechat, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Rock Bunting but there was no sign of the wintering Southern Grey Shrike.

On the way home I had a look in the cork oak woodland at Salto de Cura, just outside the village on the Ronda road, where I heard both Firecrest and Crested Tit and saw 20+ Griffon Vulture, Chiffchaff sp., and Eurasian Nuthatch. As I was scanning the treetops in the direction of Benarraba I picked up a large bird of prey heading towards me and as it got nearer the diagnostic white underwing patches and terminal tail band of a first-winter Golden Eagle were seen clearly. I watched this powerful, majestic bird for a good 5 minutes as it wheeled away above me, before things got even better and it was joined by a second individual, this time an adult! Both birds circled for a minute or so before picking up speed and heading SE towards the Genal valley. Fantastic birding!

View from El Hacho towards the Alcornocales
One of the many Black Redstart

I've been spotted!

Monday 25 November 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light SE wind, 16C

Friday saw the first rain since 27 October, with some steady drizzle adding up to a daily total of 2Lm2, with the same amount falling on Saturday. Little to report other than a Grey Heron in the valley just south of the village on Saturday - the first time I've seen one there.

Yesterday morning whilst on the bus to Sevilla I saw a couple of Red Kite as we passed near El Coronil and returning home today there were 100+ Griffon Vulture in a couple of groups between Algodonales and Ronda, also Common Buzzard and several Common Kestrel. Between Ronda and Atajate there were two Black Wheatear on the stone wall beside the road.

Wednesday 20 November 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light N-NW wind, 15C

Yesterday morning there was a Eurasian Sparrowhawk being mobbed by a small flock of Spotless Starling over Calle del Pino and in the afternoon a Common Raven in the same area.

This morning I was walking near San Martin de Tesorillo where it was quite quiet birdwise other than a flock of 25 Griffon Vulture, a Common Kestrel, several Song Thrush, Corn Bunting, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Cetti's Warbler (heard) and flocks of 20+ Goldfinch. I was surprised that, after nearly 8hrs walking in the area over the past couple of days, there were no sightings of either Booted Eagle or Short-toed Eagle as you might expect some to be overwintering in the area given its relative proximity to the coast.

Monday 18 November 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W-NW wind, 15C

All rather quiet here at the moment. The wonderful run of dry, warm weather seems to have finally come to an end; this morning at 0800hrs it was just 6C and this evening it was cold enough for us to light our first fire of the winter.

Whilst in Jerez over the weekend there was a nice surprise when 60+ White Stork flew over the city centre on Sunday; also in the centre were a Common Kestrel, Spotless Starling and in the many Jacaranda trees, one or two Chiffchaff sp. but interestingly, no Black Redstart.

A Short-toed Eagle was reported from Sabinillas yesterday, flying up from the Rio Manilva near the Sunday market.

Tuesday 12 November 2013, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light SE wind, 24C

Excitement here on Saturday night/Sunday morning as we were woken by a 3.5 magnitude earthquake; centred on Casares, some 20km to the south, it was enough to shake the house but didn't appear to cause any damage.

Sightings from the past couple of days....Plenty of Griffon Vulture around; a Common Raven over the Manilva road below Sierra Crestellina; Crested Tit, Firecrest, Song Thrush and Black Redstart along La Umbria; two very showy Firecrest and a couple of Iberian Chiffchaff along Camino de Avedin, also tawny Owl calling here again in the early hours of Monday. Lots of butterflies on the wing, particularly the migrant Painted Lady whose numbers have surged in the last few days and that seem to be attracted to Rosemary plants.

Painted Lady

Poor photos but they wouldn't keep still!

Yesterday on the coast at Sabinillas there were 10 Sanderling on the beach along with 20 or so Yellow-legged Gull, a single Black-headed Gull and two Black Redstart; out to sea, amidst plenty more Yellow-legged Gull, were a couple of Great Cormorant and two or three Northern Gannet.

Saturday 09 November 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W-NW wind, 21C

Down at the Rio Genal from 1000-1100hrs I logged the following:
15+ Griffon Vulture, Common Kestrel, Grey Heron, White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, at least 10 Meadow Pipit in the field alongside the river, Black Redstart, Common Kingfisher, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Cetti's Warbler (heard), Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Linnet and Greenfinch. In the afternoon there was a Crested Tit half-way along the Camino de Avedin and in the same area there were two Tawny Owl calling during the early hours.

Tonight's sunset over Sierra Crestellina and Gaucin castle

Friday 08 November 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, fresh N-NW wind, 20C

A quick morning visit to the west slope of El Hacho produced very little, mainly due to the gusting northerly wind that made telescope use pretty much impossible! Despite the conditions, though, there was a count of 75+ Griffon Vulture arriving from a southerly direction, presumably from Sierra Crestellina. Also seen were Southern Grey Shrike, Blue Rock Thrush, several Meadow Pipit, Black Redstart, Stonechat, European Robin, Sardinian Warbler and Rock Bunting. Up towards the summit were 3 adult Spanish Ibex.

Thursday 07 November 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W-NW wind, 24C

After yesterday's unseasonal high of 26C today was a shade cooler, but no less wonderful, at 24C. As if to underline the summery feeling there was a pale morph Booted Eagle just south-west of the village at 1200hrs and presumably the same individual high up but visible from Calle Convento at 1415hrs. This bird, coupled with the intermediate morph seen at the Rio Genal a few days ago, means that it's possible that there are at least two individuals over-wintering in the area.

Tuesday 05 November 2013, Gaucin, cloudy am, sunny pm, light-fresh N wind, 23C

On Saturday afternoon 45 Griffon Vulture flew in single file from Sierra Crestellina towards Sierra del Hacho. Black Redstart numbers are building up in the village and their squabbling calls can be heard frequently. Sunday mid-morning there were 2x Willow Warbler near Cortes de la Frontera and on Sunday afternoon there was a small flock of Crag Martin over Calle del Pino in Gaucin. At 0830hrs on Monday a male Eurasian Sparrowhawk was hunting over the gardens in Calle Convento.

Saturday 02 November 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light SE wind, 22C

Down on the Rio Genal from 0900-1030hrs were the following:
A late-leaving or possibly over-wintering intermediate morph Booted Eagle, Grey Heron, Green Sandpiper, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Spotless Starling, White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Chiffchaff sp., Sardinian Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Serin, 8x Hawfinch and Cirl Bunting.

Sunrise over Sierra Crestellina


Rio Genal