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Wednesday 26 February 2014, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light-fresh NW wind, 13C

There were 30 Black Kite heading north between San Martin de Tesorillo and Castellar de la Frontera at 1030hrs; another 3 Black Kite at 1100hrs. At the top of the ridge, between Cerro de Galgo and Cerro Gordo, many of the Black Kite joined a small group of Griffon Vulture on the thermals before moving off.

Tuesday 25 February 2014, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light NW wind, 11C

An unscheduled visit to Estepona (never let a dog get hold of a varifocal glasses lens!) gave me an opportunity to check out the town beach gull flock; there were 150+ Yellow-legged Gull, 30+ Black-headed Gull, one Audouin's Gull (first I've seen on the beach here, I think), at sea 100+ Yellow-legged Gull and 25+ Lesser black-backed Gull, plus a handful of Northern Gannet. In the small park near the lighthouse there were 3 Chiffchaff sp., and a couple of Black Redstart; no Crag Martin this time, presumably they have headed up to their breeding areas.

Monday 24 February 2014, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light -fresh NW wind, 12C

This morning whilst walking between San Martin de Tesorillo and Castellar de la Frontera I saw my first Black Kite of the year (though it doesn't count as a 'Gaucin tick'!), also a Short-toed Eagle, 20+ Griffon Vulture, Common Buzzard, 3x Common Kestrel, Crested Lark, lots of Stonechat, Cetti's Warbler (heard), Zitting Cisticola, Serin, Cirl Bunting and Corn Bunting (plenty of them singing).

Sunday 23 February 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, fresh E-SE wind, 11C

More House Martin around today, at least 20 in and around the village, also a group of 15+ Crag Martin and one Barn Swallow over Camino de Avedin in the afternoon, plus 25+ Griffon Vulture over Sierra Crestellina.

Walking below the castle again this morning I realised that I haven't seen the Red-billed Chough around the village since last September, hopefully they are around somewhere - there have been a lot more people climbing on the rocks below the castle lately and the disturbance may have an effect on the Raven, Chough, Eagle Owl and Blue Rock Thrush nesting success.

As well as the Dull Ophrys seen yesterday, today there was a lovely Green-winged Orchid Orchis morio subsp. picta on the old stone footpath below the castle.

Green-winged Orchid Orchis morio subsp. picta

Saturday 22 February 2014, sunny, calm air-light S-SE wind, 13C

Still waiting for the first Black Kite of the year but there are now at least a dozen House Martin around and this morning there was a Barn Swallow singing from a TV aerial in the centre of the village. There is noticeably more birdsong around, the Common Chiffchaff along the Camino de Avedin is being heard more and there was a Sardinian Warbler giving its all in full view on a bare branch below the castle. Walking below the castle this morning there was a pair of Raven, one perched on a large rock and the other flying around nearby; in addition to the usual 'Cronk' call the perched bird was emitting a repeated single note that could only be likened to a trumpet! Ravens do have a variety of calls, and also perform some mimicry, but this is the first time I've heard anything like that.

The Dull ophrys had survived the local sheep and goats and I managed to get a passable photo with my phone:

Dull ophrys Ophrys fusca

Wednesday 19 February 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light NW wind, 12C

Another run of cold, damp days since the weekend with little of note bird-wise; Monday saw 7mm rain and Tuesday, after a bright start, saw 1mm during a very cold, just 6C, afternoon. Birds are trying to convince themselves that Spring is around the corner with Serin, Blackcap, Blackbird, European Robin, Wren (a couple of males were having a singing duel on Monday) and Chaffinch all singing well; even a few short phrases from Common Chiffchaff. The Green Woodpecker in the 'Avedin' valley is quite vocal; there are still a fair number of Song Thrush around, though Black Redstart numbers are dwindling as they begin to move back up into the mountains. Below the castle there was a Dull Ophrys Ophrys fusca orchid in flower and also several small groups of the delicate Paper-white Narcissus Narcissus papyraceus.

This afternoon I saw my first Barn Swallow of the year in the valley below Calle del Pino and a little further away, towards the Rio Genal, a Northern Goshawk was performing its undulating display flight.

The Almond blossom hints at the arrival of Spring

Paper-white Narcissus (taken with phone!)

Saturday 15 February 2014, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light W-NW wind, 11C

This morning at 0830hrs there were no fewer than 8 Hawfinch on the Poplar tree along Camino de Avedin; also Common Chiffchaff singing. I checked out the Bonelli's Eagle nest on Sierra Crestellina on the way back from the coast in the afternoon - no birds present, so presumably not incubating yet.

Friday 14 February 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny am, mostly cloudy pm, fresh W wind, 15C

After two more rainy days in the cloud, with 15mm falling on Wednesday and 5mm on Thursday, today was at least dry. The highlight was a first Short-toed Eagle of the year, to the NE of the village over Camino de Avedin; also in the area during the late afternoon were several Griffon Vulture, Common Buzzard, Peregrine, Green Woodpecker and Hawfinch.

I was told today of a failed attack on a domestic cat by an Eagle Owl at a house along Camino de Avedin several days ago; coincidently, at 2315hrs today I heard a male Eagle Owl singing from the side of the castle facing Camino de Avedin, see photos below.

View of castle from Camino de Avedin on a cloudy day

Castle view this morning.......

Tuesday 11 February 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny am, rain pm, fresh W-NW wind, 7C

A crisp, cold walk, just 0C, along Camino de Avedin at 0830hrs produced a single Hawfinch at the top of their favoured Poplar tree, also Song Thrush, European Robin, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff, Wren, Crested Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Serin, Goldfinch and Chaffinch. The Song Thrush, Robin and Wren were all in full song. It soon clouded over and by noon the rain was back with the temperature struggling to reach 7C; so far a classic Gaucin February!

Monday 10 February 2014, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light NW wind, 11C

Nothing much to report after a weekend of almost continual rain; when it wasn't actually raining we were still in cloud. Saturday produced 20mm and Sunday a whopping 70mm, with 67mm falling between 1000hrs and 2200hrs. It was also very windy on Sunday afternoon-early evening with a force 6 strong breeze occasionally gusting to force 8/9 gale/strong gale. There've been no Black Kite so far but I'm sure they won't be long in coming if the weather improves.

Friday 07 February 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W-SW wind, 11C

Along the Camino de Avedin at 0830hrs there were 2 Hawfinch, also seen were Griffon Vulture, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Wren, Chiffchaff sp., Blackcap and Chaffinch. Just outside the village to the south, along the Camino Arroyo del Moro, there were 2 House Martin in with a small flock of Crag Martin.

Thursday 06 February 2014, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, fresh SW wind, light rain late pm, 11C

A wet Wednesday spent mostly in cloud saw 16L/m2 rain fall. Today a morning walk around La Umbria produced Griffon Vulture, Common Buzzard, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Black Redstart, Eurasian Nuthatch, Firecrest, Crested Tit, Blackcap, Iberian Chiffchaff and Common Chiffchaff, including one singing.

Tuesday 04 February 2014, Gaucin, cloudy, light-fresh W-NW wind, 9C

A morning walk along the Camino de Avedin produced Griffon Vulture, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 5x Eurasian Jay, a distant Blue Rock Thrush on the castle walls, Song Thrush, Black Redstart, a small group of Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Blackcap, Chiffchaff sp., including a short song from a Common Chiffchaff, Goldfinch and Chaffinch. Both Great-spotted and Green Woodpecker were heard drumming.

In the afternoon a female Common Kestrel was hovering over the allotments below Calle del Pino.

Sunday 02 February 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light NW wind, 13C

A short morning walk along the track opposiote Venta Socorro produced Griffon Vulture, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Chiffchaff sp., Blackcap, Wren, Firecrest, Chaffinch, Cirl Bunting and a distant Blue Rock Thrush on the rocky slopes of El Hacho. Back in the village there was a Peregrine and a Common Kestrel over the southern fringes around lunchtime.

In the afternoon I went to check out last winter's haunt of the Black-winged Kite along the Rio Genal/Casares-Secadero track but, again, there was no sign of them; there were at least 4 Common Buzzard and a Common Kestrel, though. On the drive back to Gaucin I scanned the Bonelli's Eagle nest on Sierra Crestellina and was pleased to see an adult flying close by, a good sign that they will be breeding there again this year.

Almond blossom now in full flow

Some of  today's orange crop near Secadero

Friday 31 January 2014, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, persistent light rain, light NW wind, 8C

The last five days of January were generally mild, 8-12C, and damp with rainfall between 2 and 15L/m2 per day. There's been little to report in terms of birds but dog-walking duties have taken me along the Camino de Gibraltar early most mornings and afternoons and the following have been seen:
Griffon Vulture (15-25 most days between Sierra Crestellina and Sierra del Hacho), Common Kestrel (a female hanging around Calle del Pino for a few days now), Black Redstart, Song Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush (on a roof in Calle del Pino), Great-spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Jay, Spotless Starling, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Eurasian Nuthatch, European Robin, Blackbird, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Firecrest, Chiffchaff sp., Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Hawfinch (seen most mornings with a max count of 6 in the poplars below the old convent), Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Serin and Cirl Bunting. Cetti's Warbler and Green Woodpecker were heard.

On Thursday lunchtime there was a Peregrine flying around the summit of El Hacho and a Blue Rock Thrush lower down but nothing else of note.