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Thursday 29 May 2014, Gaucin, sunny, light W-NW wind, 26C

After a chilly damp day yesterday, 4mm of rain fell mostly in the early hours of Wednesday, today it was back to a warm summery feel. A Common Nightingale has taken to calling persistently, and singing occasionally, from the Walnut tree in the garden; in the same tree at 1630hrs was a striking adult male Hawfinch, unusual in the garden at this time of year. At 1930hrs 4 Honey Buzzard drifted over the west of the village in front of El Hacho.

Monday 26 May 2014, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light W-SW wind, 26C

Great to hear that the Sierra Crestellina Bonelli's Eagles have a chick - clearly I wrote them off too soon!

This morning there was some early Honey Buzzard movement with singles passing through at 0750hrs and 0900hrs then a group of 9 at 1000hrs. Along the Camino de Avedin from 0830-0900hrs I saw Booted Eagle, Eurasian Jay, a single European Bee-eater mixed in with a flock of Common and Pallid Swift, Eurasian Nuthatch, Long-tailed Tit, Sardinian Warbler and 2 Garden Warbler.

Sunday 25 May 2014 - SIERRA CRESTELLINA


"From Malaga we drove 70km along the coast towards Gibraltar, at Manilva we turned off and headed inland towards Gaucin which is nestled nicely in the coastal mountains. We stopped at Sierra Crestellina to look at vultures which turned out in good numbers to greet us. Griffon Vultures have a healthy colony of about 20-30 pairs on this huge mountain and a pair of Bonelli's Eagles also breed there. After a few minutes we located two of the eagles and one dropped down onto the nest and fed the single chick which sat up nicely for us after the adult had gone. This was the first sighting of the chick this year after fears that the eagles hadn't bred."

Friday 23 May 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh W-NW wind, 18C

Driving back from Ronda at 1700hrs there were both Black Wheatear and Rock Sparrow on the roadside wall just past the Encinas Borrachas pass. Whilst scoping Sierra Crestellina from our terrace at 1930hrs I picked up 20+ Griffon Vulture, 8 Honey Buzzard, Booted Eagle and a White Stork.

Thursday 22 May 2014, Gaucin, mostly cloudy am, sunny pm, light W-NW wind, 19C

Not much to report, with no Honey Buzzards seen since those that passed through on Monday; presumably they had all been held up in Morocco and came over as soon as the wind was favourable. Yesterday saw the first significant rainfall since 21 April with 10mm recorded.

A morning walk around La Umbria produced few sightings but I did hear Common Cuckoo, Iberian Chiffchaff, at least 3 Bonelli's Warbler, and Crested Tit.

I meant to post this photo last week; it's a Red-striped Oil Beetle, several of which were seen whilst walking near Castellar de la Frontera.

Monday 19 May 2014, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light SE/W-SW wind, 22C

The cooler weather of the weekend continued today (on Saturday there was even 1mm of rain!) and the wind direction finally swung from easterlies to westerlies bringing with it a subsequent increase in Honey Buzzard passage. Today's sightings as follows:
0915hrs: 1 Black Kite
1145hrs: 9 Honey Buzzard
1430hrs: 16 Honey Buzzard, 2 Black Kite
1500hrs: 20 Honey Buzzard
1600hrs: 10 Honey Buzzard
1620hrs: 7 Honey Buzzard and a 'local' Peregrine
1645hrs: 10 Honey Buzzard
2030hrs: 3 Honey Buzzard - not sure which thermals they were riding at this time of the evening!

Most of the Honey Buzzard were pretty high up and barely visible to the naked eye. During the afternoon there were at least a couple of Booted Eagle and a Short-toed Eagle around, plus small groups of Griffon Vulture drifting about.

Friday 16 May 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, fresh-strong SE wind, 22C

I took advantage of a mid-morning trip to the coast to drop in at the gorge at Canuto de Utrera near Manilva/Casares. Unfortunately, the wind was gusting strongly, particularly where it was channelled by the gorge but I did see Griffon Vulture, Short-toed eagle, Booted Eagle, 12 Honey Buzzard (10 kettling west of the gorge and 2 directly above it), Common Buzzard and 2 Black Kite that didn't appear to be migrating; also, Blue Rock Thrush, Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, Common Swift, Woodchat Shrike, Blue Rock Thrush, Sardinian Warbler and Serin.

On the drive back to Gaucin I checked out the Bonelli's Eagle nest and there was an adult on it eating its prey; it didn't seem to be incubating eggs.

Canuto de Utrera

View NE towards Sierra Bermeja

male Serin

Sierra Crestellina - site of the Bonelli's Eagle nest

Bonelli's Eagle nest - adult just visible!

Thursday 15 May 2014, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh E-SE wind, 24C

Despite the fresh easterly wind there were 12 Honey Buzzard over the centre of the village at 1200hrs. A walk along the Camino de Gibraltar from 1630-1730hrs produced Griffon Vulture, 2 Short-toed Eagle, Common Kestrel, Stonechat, Short-toed Treecreeper, Coal Tit, Sardinian Warbler, 2 singing Bonelli's Warbler and Cirl Bunting.

I had a report of a Eurasian Hobby, seen two or three times recently during the morning just east of El Hacho, visible from the Gasolina Bar.

Camino de Gibraltar

Cork Oaks Quercus suber

Wednesday 14 May 2014, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh E-SE wind, 25C

A visit to the west slope of El Hacho from 0900-10000900-1000hrs was pretty uneventful but I can report that the local Peregrine pair have three chicks that are on the verge of fledging; also seen were Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Common Raven, Blue Rock Thrush, several pairs of Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler and Melodious Warbler (2 singing); Common Cuckoo and Cirl Bunting were heard.

Again no Honey Buzzards seen over the village and this is unlikely to change with the continuing easterly wind; there have, however, been reports of reasonable numbers crossing the straits in the Tarifa/Punta Carnero area.

Monday 12 May 2014, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light S-SE wind, 28C

Notable Honey Buzzard passage with 110 circling on themals just west of the turbines at Casares before heading up the Genal valley in front of Sierra Crestellina at 1000hrs. At least one pale morph Booted Eagle was present throughout the day and around 1300hrs there were 3 Short-toed Eagle together above the village - presumably non-breeding birds as breeding adults should have paired up by now.

Sunday 11 May 2014, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light SE wind, 31C

Summer has arrived early with today's temperature reaching 31C; a little warm for the re-enactment of the bandoleros re-taking the village from the French invaders! Since the Walnut tree in the garden got its leaves a Common Nightingale has been visiting in the early hours and having a good sing. At 1500hrs a group of 16 Honey Buzzard moved over the village.

Last set of photos from Extremadura

Woodlark nest
Great Bustards at dawn

Great Bustards - as big as sheep!
Great-spotted Cuckoo - note the long tail

Great-spotted Cuckoo

Sand Martin


More photos from Extremadura

Castillo de Monfrague

The Peñon at Monfrague

Blue Rock Thrush

Blue Rock Thrush

Geological folds above the Rio Tieter

Rio Tieter and snow on the Gredos mountains

Spanish Imperial Eagle

Spanish Imperial Eagle

Saturday 10 May 2014, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light SE wind, 25C

Whilst coming back from the coast I checked the Bonelli's Eagle nest on Sierra Crestellina and was surprised to see an adult sitting on it - it's possible that there's an egg there, I suppose; worth monitoring over the next couple of weeks......also a Black Kite over the wind turbines at Casares; other than that, a Peregrine patrolling the south of the village during the afternoon and a single Honey Buzzard drifting over at 1800hrs.

Some photos from Extremadura.......

European Tree Frog - that refused to turn around!

Distant displaying male Great Bustard

European Bee-eater


European Roller

European Roller

White Stork

Last set of photos from Coto Doñana

Female Lesser Kestrel

Male and Female Lesser Kestrel!

White Stork

Black Kite

Madre de Las Marismas, El Rocio, Coto Doñana
Punta Umbria, Huelva

More photos from Coto Doñana

Melodious Warbler

Black Kite

Greater Flamingo

Great Reed Warbler
Short-toed Eagle

Squacco Heron

Lesser Short-toed Lark

Egret/Glossy Ibis Colony

A typical scene in Coto Doñana

Friday 09 May 2014, Gaucin, hazy sunshine, light E-NE wind, 24C

Back in Gaucin after the trip to Coto Doñana and Extremadura, where we saw 171 species and heard a further 5, followed by three days in Madrid where I added Monk Parakeet to my 'trip list'! Here are a few photos from the trip.......

Black-winged Stilt
Pied Avocet

Thekla Lark

Woodland path - Coto Doñana        
Beach at Matalascanas