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Tuesday 31 December 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W-NW wind, 17C

Down at the Rio Genal at 0830hrs it was just light and a chilly 4C.....I logged the following:

7x Great Cormorant (flying upstream), Grey Heron, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, 3x Raven, 2x Green Sandpiper, 3x Wood Pigeon, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Common Kingfisher, Spotless Starling, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, European Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush (just three or four, nothing like the large numbers of a couple of weeks ago), Black Redstart, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff sp., 14x Hawfinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Cirl Bunting.

At 1630hrs there were 70+ Griffon Vulture over Sierra Crestellina.

This morning's sunrise over Gaucin

Monday 30 December 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light E wind, 14C

During a mid-morning walk from the Rio Hozgarganta to Castellar de la Frontera the following were logged:
Griffon Vulture (more than 50 milling around E-SE of the castle at Castellar), Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel (strange to be at the castle in the absence of the summer noise of the Lesser Kestrel colony), 2x Raven, 3x Common Buzzard, Green Sandpiper, Song Thrush, Crag Martin, Crested Lark, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, lots of Black Redstart up near the village, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff sp., Cirl Bunting and Corn Bunting (including a flock of 20+ in a stubble cotton field where there were also a few Chaffinch, but no Brambling).

Sunday 29 December 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light N-NW wind, 16C

This morning I took a walk along my nearest 'local patch' the Camino de Gibraltar; when I set out at 0830hrs it was a chilly 3C and I was thankful that the northerly wind was blowing only lightly. Bird life was thin on the ground and, with nothing remarkable to note, sightings included:

Griffon Vulture, Spotless Starling, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 20+ Song Thrush, Thekla Lark, White Wagtail, Chiffchaff sp., Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Serin and Cirl Bunting. Towards lunchtime there were 35+ Griffon Vulture over the southern end of Sierra Crestellina.

Sadly, whilst along the camino I met a couple of kids with a gun who sheepishly allowed me to see their sole 'trophy', a ragged-looking male Cirl Bunting.

Early morning view over 'El Nobo' to Gibraltar, Ceuta and Morocco

Saturday 28 December 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light NW wind, 13C

Very little to report birdwise over the Christmas period. The predominant W-NW winds brought the tail-end of the weather systems that hit the UK over the southern Iberian peninsular; overnight on the 24th there were gale-force 9 winds and 54L/m2 rain fell; last night another front passed over and deposited 13L/m2. Yesterday morning there were 4 Spanish Ibex along the Ronda-Algeciras road, just by the spring beyond the 'Brenaverde/Mirador' restaurant; two youngsters were on the far side of the road but an adult male and an adult female waited until I was no more than 10m from them before casually crossing the road to join the others. A short afternoon walk through the woods behind the petrol station produced Firecrest, Long-tailed Tit, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Eurasian Nuthatch; Green Woodpecker and Chiffchaff sp. were heard.

Saturday 21 December 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light S-SE wind, 15C

Although it turned out to be a lovely warm winter's day it was a chilly 3C as I headed down to the Rio Genal at 0830hrs. It was fairly quiet, perhaps due to the nearby gunfire of the local hunters, the highlights being 15 Hawfinch and a single Redwing; also seen were Grey Heron, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Great Cormorant, Green Sandpiper, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, 10+ Song Thrush, Spotless Starling, Meadow Pipit, Black Redstart, Firecrest, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Cirl Bunting, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Greenfinch. Chiffchaff sp., was heard.

Thursday 19 December 2013, Gaucin, cloudy, rain pm, light-strong breeze, W-NW wind, 11C

Following a couple of cloudy days with occasional light rain showers this afternoon saw the first significant rainfall since 23 October. This morning I had a look at the west slope of El Hacho just before the rain started; it was pretty quiet but there were a dozen or so Griffon Vulture, a Common Kestrel, quite a few Black Redstart, several Song Thrush and Meadow Pipit, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler and Cirl Bunting. The best sighting was the 'return' of the Southern Grey Shrike that I hadn't seen on the last couple of visits; great to hear its plaintive but far-carrying song again.

Yesterday there was a Cattle Egret in the valley just south of the Gaucin (a village 'tick' for me, I think) and a Blue Rock Thrush was tucking into the decaying Persimmon fruits in the Calle Convento/Calle del Pino gardens.

Clouds below Gaucin

Sunday 15 December 2013, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light S-SW wind, 15C

During a short stroll along the Rio Guadiaro at Estacion de Cortes this morning I logged the following:

20+ Griffon Vulture, Common Kestrel, 2 Grey Heron, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Crag Martin, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Jay, Black Redstart, Crested Tit, Firecrest, Thekla/Crested Lark, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Cetti's Warbler (heard), flock of 30+ Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Cirl Bunting.

Back in Gaucin during the afternoon there were 2 Common Raven over the castle and Green Woodpecker calling and drumming in the Las Pallas valley.

Rio Guadiaro, Estacion de Cortes

Persimmon tree favoured by the Mistle Thrush

Saturday 14 December 2013, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light E-SE wind, 18C

Currently house, dog, cat and chicken-sitting just on the edge of Gaucin. This morning whilst feeding the four remaining hens (we 'lost' two to an unknown daytime predator, most likely an Egyptian Mongoose) I had good views of a Short-toed Treecreeper as it flitted around an almond tree. During the afternoon I scanned the Sierra Crestellina peaks on and off for a couple of hours looking for last week's Golden Eagle but only 30+ Griffon Vulture and a pair of Common Raven to report.

Sunrise over Sierra Bermeja

Tuesday 10 December 2013' Gaucin, partly cloudy, fresh E-NE wind, 15C

Down at the Rio Genal from 0930-1100hrs were the following:
20+ Griffon Vulture, 2 Grey Heron, 2 Little Egret, 2 Great Cormorant, Common Kestrel, 2 Green Sandpiper, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Common Kingfisher, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Song Thrush (fewer than last visit), Spotless Starling, Black Redstart, Blackcap, Chiffchaff sp., Greenfinch, Chaffinch, 4 Hawfinch, Serin - several in mixed flocks with Goldfinch - and Cirl Bunting.

Unexpected sighting in the river....

Monday 09 December 2013, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light-fresh E-SE wind, 12C

A much cooler day today but the continuing, mainly easterly, winds mean there's still no rain. Over the Camino de Avedin today there were Peregrine, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and Common Kestrel.

Friday 06 December 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light E-SE wind, 18C

This morning I visited the Rio Genal alongside the Casares-Secadero track from 0845-1045. Although the day turned out to be wonderfully warm it was a chilly 4C when I arrived and there was a light mist rising off the river; unfortunately the cold hadn't put off the hunters so there was a lot of gunfire nearby which no doubt spooked many birds. As I arrived a flock of 60+ Great Cormorant were heading upstream, presumably the same birds that I saw near Gaucin on Wednesday. Despite the shooting I did manage to see 3x Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, 3x Grey Heron, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Northern Lapwing, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Common Kingfisher, Song Thrush, Black Redstart, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Crested Lark, Stonechat, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Cirl Bunting and Corn Bunting. I thought I might see the Black-winged Kite that overwintered last year but they didn't show; hopefully they are around or will be back later.

On the drive back to Gaucin I stopped off to have a quick look at the southern end of Sierra Crestellina thinking I might catch an Egyptian Vulture. I didn't see the Egyptian but there were 40+ Griffon Vulture and it was better than that; as soon as I put my bins up I spotted a first winter Golden Eagle! Given the scarcity of this bird in the area I would imagine that this is the same bird that I saw in Gaucin nine days ago heading off towards the Genal/Sierra Bermeja area. I wonder if the adult was with it again.

Back in Gaucin village in the afternoon there was a Common Kestrel hovering close to the houses in Calle Convento; not a common sight these days.

Northern Lapwing

Rio Genal looking back towards Sierra El Hacho

A distant Gaucin from the Casares-Secadero track

Thursday 05 December 2013, Gaucin, sunny, light E-SE wind, 16C

Good record of a Hawfinch flying towards the centre of the village over Calle del Pino/Calle Convento at 1700hrs. Small numbers of Crag Martin, less than 10, are now daily visitors. In the gardens, just a Chiffchaff sp., (probable Iberian due to prominent yellow supercilium) of note.

Wednesday 04 December 2013, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light-fresh E-SE wind, 12C

Finally managed to shake off the 'man flu' and get out into the field! I visited the Rio Genal from 0815-0945hrs and logged the following:

20+ Griffon Vulture, Common Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 2x Grey Heron, 5x Little Egret, 2x Green Sandpiper, Eurasian Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker (heard), 20+ Crag Martin, at least 35 Song Thrush (the shingle bank was alive with them, drinking and bathing), Blackbird, Black Redstart, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, House Sparrow, 20+ Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and 3x Hawfinch. Birds of the day were a single Redwing, amongst the many Song Thrush, and a flock of 40+ Great Cormorant, heading upstream, the most I've seen in the area by far.

Yesterday there was a Eurasian Sparrowhawk just south of Calle del Pino that was being mobbed by a group of about 15 Spotless Starling; as the Sparrowhawk lost altitude the Starlings were joined by about 8 Feral Pigeon that not only helped with the mobbing but tracked the Starling 'murmurations' seamlessly for at least two changes of direction- a strange sight indeed!

Saturday 30 November 2013, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh SE wind, 16C

Since the excitement of the Golden Eagles on Tuesday there's been nothing much to report as I've been largely out of action with 'man flu'! Thursday was a cold 8C with a bitter E wind with 2L/m2 drizzly rain falling; a first winter Sparrowhawk came hunting right over the gardens between Calle Convento and Calle del Pino.  The temperature picked up dramatically on Friday when it reached 18C and today it was a pleasant 16C. There have been a few Crag Martin around the village and occasional groups of Griffon Vulture drifting high between the Sierras of Crestellina and El Hacho. A couple each of Black Redstart, Blackcap and Chiffchaff sp.' mess around in the garden walnut tree which still has most of its leaves. We've had some lovely sunsets, photos of last night's here........

Gaucin - east

Sierra Crestellina

View south to Gibraltar, Djebel Musa and Morrocco