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Worrying developments.....

Nothing to do with Gaucin but everything to do with the indifference of government to the will of the people and to the protection of nature.....
Please click on the link below to view an article about the new fracking trespass law which was surreptitiously announced today.....deliberately timed to coincide with the parliamentary vote on air strikes against 'ISIS' or just fortuitous?

Fracking Law slides in under the radar.......

When is a SSSI not protected??
Nightingales under threat....

Monday 22 September 2014, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light-fresh W-NW wind, 25C

A few more Booted Eagle seen moving through today, with 3 at 1430hrs and a total of 6 between 1920-1940hrs; at 1940hrs, a group of 6 Honey Buzzard were also seen. Local Booted and Short-toed Eagle were present, too, and at least one Common/Pallid Swift.

Sunday 21 September 2014, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, calm air-light SE wind, 24C

The weather pattern is definitely more autumnal; there were a few big drops of rain today, but nothing measureable! Little to report for Friday/Saturday but Tim Birkhead recorded 2 (possibly 3) Bonelli's Eagle at Sierra Crestellina and 2 Turtle Dove at the Rio Genal below Gaucin on Friday. The last couple of evenings there have been 100+ House Martin in the Calle Convento/Calle del Pino area.

There was some migration action over the village this afternoon as follows:

1630hrs: 3 Booted Eagle
1645hrs: 5 Booted Eagle, 1 Short-toed Eagle
1700hrs: 25 Alpine Swift
1830hrs: male Montagu's Harrier
1845hrs: female Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard
1930hrs: 7 Common Kestrel

During this time there were at least 3 Common Swift, 1 Barn Swallow and several House Martin around the south of the village.

Thursday 18 September 2014, Gaucin, partly cloudy, calm air-light W wind, 21C

A walk through the mixed woods just to the north of Gaucin from 0930-1030hrs produced a good list of birds including the following:
Great-spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Jay, European Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, 2 Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, European Robin, a roving feeding flock containing Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Blackcap and Chiffchaff; Firecrest was heard.

At the Mirador de Africa (opposite the turning to Benarraba) at 1700hrs there were 3 pale morph Booted Eagle, a Short-toed Eagle and 2 Rock Bunting, plus two Common Swallowtail butterflies.

A late afternoon scan of the skies produced a distant Osprey and 4 Honey Buzzard over Sierra Crestellina at 1830hrs, 50+ Griffon Vulture there at 1845hrs, 1 Pallid Swift and 2 Common Swift over Calle Convento at 1945hrs and 4 Honey Buzzard and 1 Alpine Swift over the village at 2000hrs.

Tim Birkhead reported 80+ Griffon Vulture and 6 Common Raven, presumably feeding on a carcass, near Jimena de la Frontera; also 20+ Alpine Swift near Jimena and 2 Common Crossbill in pines on the north side of Gaucin village.

Spotted Flycatcher

View from Mirador de Africa towards Genalguacil and Jubrique

View from Mirador de Africa to Sierra Crestellina and Gibraltar

Short-toed Eagle

Common Swallowtail

Booted Eagle

Booted Eagle - showing classic 'landing lights'

Wednesday 17 September 2014, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, frequent showers, some heavy, light-fresh SW wind, 19C

Today saw the first measurable rain, after yesterday's drizzle, with 15mm falling. There was little to see bird-wise, though during a brief dry interlude at 1745hrs a male Montagu's Harrier and 3 Common/Pallid Swift were over the village.

A couple of Griffon Vulture from yesterday.......

Cloud over Sierra Crestellina this afternoon

Tuesday 16 September 2014, Gaucin, partly cloudy, intermittent light rain, light SW wind, 26C

Today saw the first 'rain' (very light showers) since 24 June and the frequent brooding skies over El Hacho were a strange sight! Although the temperature did reach 26C at one point, for most of the day it was down in the low 20s. There was some light raptor passage throughout the day with 2 'kettles' of 15 Honey Buzzard just south-east of El Hacho at 1000hrs and small groups, including 10 Black Kite, and singles moving through between 1030-1130hrs. There were two 'local' pale morph Booted Eagle and a Short-toed Eagle around all day and small numbers of Honey Buzzard continued to move through during the afternoon; also seen was one Pallid Swift over Calle Convento and quite a few Griffon Vulture, the largest group being 30+. Tim Birkhead reported 70+ Griffon Vulture and a Montagu's Harrier over El Hacho during the afternoon.

Monday 15 September 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light SE wind, 28C

Yesterday morning there was a Dartford Warbler behind El Hacho (northern side) and there were 2 Swift sp., over Calle Convento at around 2030hrs; Tim Birkhead reported the following:

2 male Common Redstart, one in the village flying south and one at the Rio Genal
1 juv Egyptian Vulture just past Sierra Crestellina
5 Egyptian Vulture (1 juv, 4 adults) over El Hacho at 1830hrs
1 Common Buzzard over the village at 1900hrs
1 Pallid Swift over Gaucin bridge in the morning
100+ House Martin over the village in the morning

This morning Tim and I took a trip out to the track that runs from Casares to Secadero, alongside the Rio Genal and later the Rio Guadiaro. It was a very pleasant start with little wind and good visibility and as we passed Sierra Crestellina, a group of 6 Red-billed Chough flew low over the road. On pylons next to the Rio Genal we had good views of 2 Short-toed Eagle and a Common Kestrel perched on telegraph wire long enough to be photographed. Other birds seen along the track included: Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, a 'kettle' of 17 Black Stork, Red-legged Partridge, Eurasian Hoopoe, Crested Lark, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler and Cirl Bunting; European Bee-eater was heard but not seen.
At the Rio Guadiaro and in the adjacent fields we noted Grey Heron, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Common Buzzard, Honey Buzzard, great views of a Marsh Harrier hunting over Alfalfa fields that were being irrigated by spraying, 6 Green Sandpiper, Little-ringed Plover, 20 Alpine Swift, Common Swift, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped SwallowSand Martin, Common Kingfisher, White Wagtail, Whinchat, Zitting Cisticola, Serin and a group of four or five Rock Sparrow.
On the way back to Gaucin we passed through San Martin de Tesorillo and checked out the track to Marchenilla; it was now quite warm and there were very few birds around apart from a couple of Common Raven, Common Kestrel, a few Corn Bunting (singing their 'subsong'), 3 Willow Warbler, and at the river, a Grey Wagtail. Over 50 species seen or heard, not a bad morning's work.

Tim reported ~100 Honey Buzzard over Sierra Crestellina at 1945hrs.

Common Kestrel

Eurasian Hoopoe

Stonechat - when I started to take this photo it was a Whinchat, but the birds swapped places!

View back to El Hacho and Gaucin

View to Sierra Crestellina

Marsh Harrier - hunting above the irrigation spray!

Marsh Harrier

Saturday 13 September 2014, Gaucin, sunny, light W-NW wind, 30C

The westerly wind and hot days continue....

Yesterday there was a Garden Warbler in the Calle Convento/Calle del Pino gardens at 0900hrs and a single Common Swift over Calle Convento at 2030hrs.

Tim Birkhead reported a Pallid Swift over Gaucin bridge both am and late pm yesterday, also 3 dark morph Booted Eagle and a Eurasian Sparrowhawk in the Genal Valley. This morning he saw a Stonechat on the roof of the old convent and a Northern Wheatear on an adjacent aerial, also a single Black Stork at Estación de Gaucin.

Immature Praying Mantis Empusa pennata - thanks to Tim Birkhead

Tonight's lovely purple sunset

Snake drama!

Thanks to Tim Birkhead for sharing these photos of what looks like a Viperine Snake Natrix maura catching its lunch....

Thursday 11 September 2014, Gaucin, sunny, light W-NW wind, 30C

A visit to the west slope of El Hacho from 0900-1000hrs proved rather quiet but two birds that did show were a female/1st winter Whinchat and a female/1st winter Ortolan Bunting - not bad! Also seen were Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Common Kestrel, Red-legged Partridge, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff sp., and Cirl Bunting.

Tim Birkhead reported 6 Honey Buzzard and several European Bee-eater over the village during the morning.

Wednesday 10 September 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light S-SE wind am, light W-NW wind pm, 31C

The change in wind direction this morning from the prevailing westerlies lasted all of a few hours. Raptor passage is currently VERY high and mostly not visible with the naked eye, so just a few observations to note:

1700-1800hrs: a steady trickle of Honey Buzzard and a few Booted Eagle
1800hrs: 1 adult Egyptian Vulture
1830hrs: 32 Honey Buzzard, 1 Black Kite

Tim Birkhead reported a female Eurasian Sparrowhawk perched on the roof of the Convento building which was harrassed by Starlings for about 15min before flying off; also 2 Swift sp., and 2 Alpine Swift over the village. Tim was down at the Cazalla raptor watchpoint near Tarifa where it was rather quiet but he saw Northern Goshawk, Egyptian Vulture and several Montagu's Harrier, Black Kite and Booted Eagle. Returning via san Pablo de Buciete he saw 20 Alpine Swift feeding with 100+ European Bee-eater.

Article on Wildlife Crime in Spain

Click on the link for an article on wildlife crime in Spain written for Birders Against Wildlife Crime:

Tuesday 09 September 2014, Gaucin, sunny, light W wind, 30C

Watching the skies from 1700-1800hrs I logged the following:

1700hrs: 7 Honey Buzzard
1720hrs: 2 pale morph Booted Eagle, 23 European Bee-eater
1730hrs: 5 Egyptian Vulture (3/4 ad, 1/2 juv), 32 Honey Buzzard
1740hrs: 1 ad Egyptian Vulture, 17 Honey Buzzard, 5 Black Kite
1745hrs: 5 Honey Buzzard, 1 Black Kite, 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 32 European Bee-eater

Monday 08 September 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh W-NW wind, 29C

Continuing westerly winds and poor weather further north means raptor passage remains quite quiet. This morning there were two Blue Rock Thrush around the castle, one singing occasionally. Over Camino de Avedin at 1600hrs there was a Peregrine, 2 local Short-toed Eagle and a pale morph Booted Eagle and moving through:
1625hrs: 7 Honey Buzzard and 1 Black Kite
1720hrs: 29 raptors, very high, but from what I could make out, mostly Honey Buzzard with a couple of Black Kite

Tim Birkhead reported 100+ Alpine Swift at 2000hrs today, hawking newly-hatched flying ants also a flock of 50+ European Bee-eater. I wrote off the Calle Convento Swifts too soon as there was a single Common Swift around at 2030hrs this evening.

There are quite a few butterflies around, especially Wall Brown (what a dull name for a great-looking butterfly), including this rather scruffy individual with part of its hind wing missing!

Short-toed Eagle fron a distance of approx. 150m

Spotted Flycatcher, Camino de Avedin yesterday

Spotted Flycatcher, Camino de Avedin yesterday

Saturday 06 September 2014, Gaucin, sunny, light W-NW wind, 29C

From Wednesday to Friday, three successive days of westerly winds brought very little in the way of migrating raptors over the village with just a few Honey Buzzard to note. Temperatures of 32-34C also meant less inclination to be outside observing, too!

Today it was a little cooler and there was a flurry of activity mid-afternoon, as follows:

1600hrs: 50+ European Bee-eater
1615hrs: 15 Honey Buzzard, 1 Black Kite
1630hrs: 3 Honey Buzzard
1700hrs: 11 Honey Buzzard, 15 Black Kite, 1 pale morph Booted Eagle
1800hrs: 43 Honey Buzzard, 1 pale morph Booted Eagle, 1 adult Egyptian Vulture

There are still are still a few Swift sp. feeding at height during the day, again including one Alpine Swift today, but the last (Common) Swift in Calle Convento was seen on Thursday evening; there are a dozen or so House Martin around and a couple of Barn Swallow. There was an autumnal feel on a walk along Camino de Avedin at 0900hrs this morning as the carob or algarroba harvest was in full swing - though at a reward of just 30 centimos a kilo there wasn't much enthusiasm amongst those doing the harvesting - there were some autumnal birds, too with both Pied Flycatcher and a lovely male Common Redstart both putting in an appearance; also seen were 6 Common Raven, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Spotless Starling, several Firecrest, Short-toed Treecreeper, Eurasian Nuthatch, Crested Tit, Long-tailed Tit, European Robin (numbers increasing as wintering birds move in/through), Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff sp., and Bonelli's Warbler; Green Woodpecker was heard.

Algarroba - Carob

Pied Flycatcher - adult female

View towards Sierra Crestellina and Gibraltar

Tuesday 02 September 2014, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh SE wind, 33C

After a couple of days of light SE winds and temperatures in the late 20Cs with little to report but a trickle of ones and twos Honey Buzzard sightings, today saw some interesting early afternoon passage as follows:

1600hrs: 6 Honey Buzzard, 1 Booted Eagle, 1 Common Buzzard
1650hrs: 116 Honey Buzzard, 8 Black Kite
1705hrs: 28 Honey Buzzard 2 Short-toed Eagle
1715hrs: 41 Honey Buzzard, 1 Booted Eagle
1725hrs: 30 Honey Buzzard, 1 Booted Eagle
1735hrs: 38 Honey Buzzard, 2 Montagu's Harrier
1750hrs: 30+ Swift sp. feeding high above Calle Concento, including 1 Alpine Swift, 1 Short-toed Eagle, 1 Booted Eagle

Saturday 30 August 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh SE wind, 29C

The sun broke through around lunchtime after quite a cloudy morning. Whilst walking near Castellar de la Frontera between 0830hrs and 1130hrs there were lots of Honey Buzzard, Black Kite and Booted Eagle moving through, with great close views of all three species up near the castle; also seen was an adult Egyptian Vulture.

Back in Gaucin during the afternoon a quick look skywards at 1845hrs produced 20+ Honey Buzzard, several Black Kite and 2 male Montagu's Harrier!

Thursday 28 August 2014, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light SE wind, 34C

Whilst walking near San Martin de Tersorillo during the morning sevearl groups of 20+ Honey Buzzard were seen. In Gaucin there were 12 Black Kite at 1830hrs, 9 Honey Buzzard at 1845hrs and, with half-a-dozen Common Swift at 1900hrs, a single Alpine Swift.