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Saturday 29 November 2014, Gaucin, cloudy, rain showers, light NW wind, 12C

Heavy rain and electrical storms on Thursday and Friday with over 100mm rain falling. Today was more showery with just 11mm of rain. During a dry spell there were 3 Blackcap, 2 Black Redstart and a Common Chiffchaff in the Calle Convento/Calle del Pino gardens; the Chiffchaff even broke into song!

Casares wind turbines emerging from the clouds - taken from Gaucin

Wednesday 26 November 2014, Gaucin, partly cloudy, rain late pm, light W-SW wind, 17C

A look at the west slope of El Hacho from 0900-1030 was pretty uneventful, not even a single Griffon Vulture, but good to see the Southern Grey Shrike hanging in there. Also, 10+ Black Redstart, 2 Rock Bunting and Cirl Bunting.

9mm rain fell between 2000-2200hrs.
Rock Bunting - as often seen, in a tree!

Tuesday 25 November 2014, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light W-NW wind, 18C

Highlights of a walk along the Camino de Gibraltar from 0900-1030 were:
20 Griffon Vulture, male and fem Common Kestrel, 5 Meadow Pipit, 6+ Black Redstart, Stonechat, Song Thrush, Short-toed Treecreeper, Firecrest, Sardinian Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, 2 fem/imm Common Crossbill and 1 Hawfinch.

11mm of rain fell during Monday 24 November.

Misty cloud over Sierra del Hacho

Sunday 23 November 2014, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light rain pm, light SE wind, 21C

After a couple of dry, warm days with fresh easterly winds, today was very warm, 21C; though, as I write this, the rain has arrived and it feels a lot cooler!

On Friday there was a Dartford Warbler in the scrub below the track that follows on from Camino de Avedin and a Common Raven over the camino.

This morning from 0930-1200hrs I checked out the track that runs from opposite Algatocin school up to 'Las Pilas'. Despite the presence of a couple of hunters I managed quite a good list:
20+ Griffon Vulture, adult Bonelli's Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, male Lesser Kestrel, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Jay, Blue Rock Thrush, 2 Black Wheatear, 3 Song Thrush, Blackbird, 20+ Spotless Starling (one imitating a Golden Oriole), 45+ Crag Martin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, White Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Thekla Lark, 6 (presumed from those that called) Common Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, male Dartford Warbler, Blue Tit, Serin, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Linnet, House Sparrow and Cirl Bunting; Red-legged Partridge and 2 Woodlark were heard.

Los Castaños (chestnut trees) looking great despite the gloom!

There's a Bonelli's Eagle in this foto!

Bonelli's Eagle

Griffon Vulture

Thursday 20 November 2014, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light-fresh E wind, 17C

Highlight of a visit to the west slope of El Hacho from 0910-1030hrs was the reappearance of the Southern Grey Shrike; also seen were 10+ Griffon Vulture, Red-legged Partridge, Blue Rock Thrush, 3 Song Thrush, 10+ Black Redstart, 6 Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Chiffchaff sp., Sardinian Warbler, 6 Blackcap, 25+ Goldfinch, 3 Corn Bunting and 2 Cirl Bunting.

first winter male Blue Rock Thrush

Monday 17 November 2014, Gaucin, sunny, light NW wind, 19C

A cold start to the day, just 6C, but warming up quickly in the pleasant winter sunshine. A visit to the Rio Genal below Gaucin, from 0900-1030hrs, was pretty uneventful with just the usual suspects seen: 45+ Griffon Vulture above Sierra Espartina, Grey Heron, Green Sandpiper, White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, 20+ Spotless Starling, 3 Song Thrush, 3 Black Redstart, Sardinian Warbler, 6 Chiffchaff sp., (those heard calling were Common Chiffchaff), 5+ Blackcap, 10+ Greenfinch, 20+ Goldfinch, Chaffinch and 5 Hawfinch; Great-spotted Woodpecker and Cetti's Warbler were heard.

male Black Redstart

Large Tortoiseshell

Sunday 16 November 2014, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light NW wind, 16C

Saturday and Sunday were dry after light rain on Thursday with heavy overnight rain into Friday (49mm). A new species for the 'garden' list when a Meadow Pipit stopped for a rest on our terrace railings; also in the gardens, several Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Black Redstart and a Blue Rock Thrush. Whilst driving between Atajate and Ronda yesterday morning there were 2 Black Wheatear on the roadside wall; on the return journey in the afternoon I stopped for a quick scan of the meadow and rock face at Encinas Borrachas and saw Southern Grey Shrike and no fewer than 5 Black Wheatear. This morning at Jimena de la Frontera there were 20+ Griffon Vulture, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Sparrowhawk and 10+ Crag Martin around the castle. Back in Gaucin this afternoon there were several Griffon Vulture, a Grey Heron, juvenile Peregrine, Black Redstart, Meadow Pipit and a couple of Common Chiffchaff along the track opposite Venta Socorro.

View over Jimena from the castillo
From Jimena castillo towards the Alcornocales National Park

Jimena castillo
Sierra de Libar and Cortes de la Frontera from Venta Socorro track

Wednesday 12 November 2014, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, rain showers, light W-NW wind, 15C

A succession of weather fronts from the NW over the past couple of days has brought cool, damp conditions to the area and birding opportunities have been few and far between. This afternoon from 1700-1800hrs a walk along the top section of the Camino de Gibraltar produced 15+ Griffon Vulture over Sierra Crestellina, Song Thrush (in song), 2 Meadow Pipit, 3 Black Redstart, Eurasian Robin, 6+ Blackcap, 4 Chiffchaff sp., Sardinian Warbler and Serin.

One of the two Meadow Pipits

Sunday 09 November 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light N-NW wind, 17C

Some much-needed rain fell overnight on both Friday and Saturday (16mm in total), leaving the days clear and warm, though cool in the northerly wind. A visit to the Rio Genal from 1600-1730hrs produced 40+ Griffon Vulture over Sierra Crestellina, Peregrine, 2 Grey Heron, Green Sandpiper, 20+ Spotless Starling, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, at least 1 Barn Swallow, a flock of about 15 Crag Martin that included at least 2 House Martin, White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Black Redstart, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, at least 6 Chiffchaff sp., several Greenfinch and Goldfinch, and a single Hawfinch. Unfortunately, there was once again hunting in the vicinity so most birds were keeping a low profile!

Oleander still flowering along the river
Double rainbow above the Rio Genal

Thursday 06 November 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh W-NW wind, 19C

A walk along the Camino de Gibraltar below Gaucin from 0900-1030hrs produced the following:

80+ Griffon Vulture (streaming over from the direction of Sierra Crestellina towards El Hacho), Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel, Black Stork, Eurasian Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 10+ Black Redstart, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaff sp., (including one very grey individual), 20+ Goldfinch and 1 Hawfinch; Green Woodpecker was heard.

The Black Stork was initially 'accompanying' the Griffon Vultures but veered off towards the SW as they approached Sierra del Hacho; this was the first Black Stork I've seen in the Gaucin area in November with the previous latest being 06 October 2012 at Encinas Borrachas near Ronda.

Wednesday 05 November 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh W-NW wind, 18C

A dry day today after 32mm of rain fell during Monday night/Tuesday morning and Tuesday's temperature struggled to reach 14C. This morning at 0830hrs it was just 6C and in the stiff breeze felt colder than the high of 18C.
This evening from 1730-1830hrs I checked out the west slope of El Hacho (I was lucky as there was no one hunting today, but combinations of Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Rock Dove, Common Starling, thrushes and ducks can be shot on any day between 02 Nov and 15 Feb); it was rather quiet, presumably not helped by recent hunting activity, but I did see 20+ Griffon Vulture, 2 Common Kestrel, at least 10 Black Redstart, 3 Song Thrush, Meadow Pipit, Stonechat, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Common Chiffchaff (1 seen, 2 heard), Cirl Bunting and Rock Bunting.

A couple of sunset photos from Monday evening, a prelude to the overnight rain...

Griffon Vulture having a good look around
 More photos of Griffon Vultures just before sunset this evening.....

Saturday 01 November 2014, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh E-SE wind, 25C

After a very warm and mostly sunny October, November started in much the same vein. Whilst walking near Castellar de la Frontera yesterday at least 120+ Griffon Vulture passed by the castle and one of our group spotted a Short-toed Eagle; on the drive down at 0730hrs a Tawny Owl drifted across in front of us between Gaucin and San Pablo de Buceite. There have been a couple of male/first winter Blue Rock Thrush entertaining us around Calle Convento the past couple of days, see photos below. Wood Pigeons are on the move with 70+ flying W-E across the valley below Gaucin early this morning.

This afternoon I visited the Utrera Gorge near Manilva; it was very windy up near the turbines and not much better down in the valley but there were a lot of birds around including:
25 Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Common Kestrel, Black Whetear, 200+ Common Staling, at least 8 Black Redstart, 200+ White Wagtail, 50+ Meadow Pipit, several Corn Bunting, 50+ House Sparrow, 2 Rock Sparrow, 50+ Goldfinch and Crested Lark  in a recently-ploughed field, 6 Chiffchaff sp., Sardinian Warbler and Stonechat; Cetti's Warbler was heard.

Blue Rock Thrush

Blue Rock Thrush - large bill is diagnostic at some distance!

Utrera Gorge

One of the impressive linestone karst formations

Black Wheatear

Black Redstart

Mandrake - there are loads about this autumn

Common Starling - pre-roost gathering