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Thursday 30 July 2015, Gaucin, sunny, light W-NW wind, 34C

A morning walk through the cork forest and back along the 'shoulder' of El Hacho mountain above El Peso, from 0815-1115hrs, produced few birds but we did see the following:
Griffon Vulture, 2 Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Wood Pigeon, 10+ European Bee-eater, Blue Rock Thrush, Eurasian Nuthatch, 3 Bonelli's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Cirl Bunting, Greenfinch and Chaffinch; Great-spotted Woodpecker, Crested Tit and Eurasian Wren were heard.
In the village the evening Swift sp. numbers over Calle Convento/Pino are holding steady at 20-30.

Monday 27 July 2015, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light W-NW wind, 37C

After a couple of 'cooler' days i.e. 32-34C the temperature was back up to 'hot' again today. A look at the west slope of El Hacho from 09:00-10:00hrs didn't produce a great deal as most birds were already keeping their heads down. Sightings included: Common Kestrel, 3 Red-legged Partridge, Woodchat Shrike (adult and juvenile), 25+ European Bee-eater (milling around rather then migrating, I think), Crag Martin, Common Swift, House Martin, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler and a family party of Cirl Bunting.

Evening Swift sp. numbers over Calle del Pino/Convento now down to around 20-30 max.
Juvenile Woodchat Shrike

Female Common Kestrel
A Scarce Swallowtail - sadly deprived of its eponymous tails

Cicada - small but voluble!

Wednesday 22 July 2015, Gaucin, sunny, light W-NW wind, 37C

As the heatwave continues, birds are few and far between. Driving down to the coast this morning we had great close views of a Short-toed Eagle as it flew languidly just a few metres above the car, also a Weasel as it ran across the road in front of us. Back in the village there was an Alpine Swift amongst a small flock of Common/Pallid over Camino de Avedin at 2110hrs.
Sierra Bermeja looking good as the sun sets

Sierras Bermeja and Crestellina

Monday 20 July 2015, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh SE wind, 36C

A visit to the Rio Genal from 0815-1000hrs produced some good sightings including:
Some distant Griffon Vulture over Sierra Crestellina, 2 Booted Eagle, 3 Grey Heron, Little-ringed Plover, at least 3 Turtle Dove, 20+ Wood Pigeon, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 15+ European Bee-eater, at least 5 Golden Oriole (4 juv/fem and 1 male), Spotless Starling, Common Swift, Barn Swallow, Common Kingfisher, White Wagtail, Stonechat, Short-toed Treecreeper, European Robin, Spotted Flycatcher, Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff sp., Sardinian Warbler, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and (best of all?) a lovely adult Rock Sparrow.
The river at this point is non-existent, at least above ground, so the Kingfisher must have caught its breakfast further upstream where there is likely to still be some water.
Juv Golden Oriole (and Spotless Starling)
Juv Golden Oriole

Juv Golden Oriole

Rio Genal
Juvenile European Bee-eater

Redundant 'bridge' over the river

Turtle Dove

Sunday 19 July 2015, Gaucin, sunny, light W-NW wind, 35C

It's been a hot week with little opportunity (or desire!) for birding. The most noticeable change in bird-life has been the reduction in Swift numbers as the early returners have already begun to head off back to southern Africa. Most days there are still a few European Bee-eater floating about, particularly early morning, and Griffon Vulture continue to loaf around even in the searing heat of the mid-afternnon sun.

This week was cultural week, or semana cultural, here in Gaucin and if you want to see more you can check out which has been 'resurrected' of late.

Nature under threat in the UK once again!

Quote from the Department of Energy and Climate Change, 27 January 2015:
"The Government’s commitment is to an outright ban on fracking in National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)."

Sad, but no surprise, to see that the UK government has this week back-tracked on its pre-election promise above, made just 6 months ago, to protect sites of special scientific interest (SSSI) from the potential damage caused by Fracking processes........see link below:

SSSI U-turn

Monday 13 July 2015, Gaucin, sunny, light S-SE wind, 34C

An early morning walk to watch the cork cutting produced very few birds, though a Booted Eagle alighting from a nearby tree was a nice sight. Apart from that there were a handful of European Bee-eater and the occasional Sardinian Warbler calling from the scrub.
In close proximity to the village there are at least two pairs of Booted Eagle as yesterday there was a mixed light/dark morph pair displaying low over Bar Pajuelo and this morning a light morph pair just east of El Hacho.

Some photos of the cork cutting, or's still a heavily manual process with mules used to transport the cut sections of cork up the steeply-wooded slopes. The harvest is still weighed using the ancient quintal measure which equates to 46kg.

Cork is still removed using a sharp axe

One of the largest cork oaks, alcornocales, in the area

Loading the mules

Bringing the cork up to be weighed
Traditional weighing apparatus

Wednesday 08 July 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W wind, 38C

Well and truly into Summer now with shade temperatures in the village pushing 40C and the occasional shriek of a Swift punctuating the ceaseless chorus of the Cicadas.  Interestingly, at least one Booted Eagle is still displaying. Other than that there are a handful of European Bee-eater around to the south of the village most days, early morning and late afternoon, and a few disinterested Griffon Vulture drifting about. Swifts are giving some wonderful evening displays, too. Some Common and Pallid  Swift photos from the last couple of days:


Saturday 04 July 2015, Gaucin, hazy sunshine, light SE wind, 31C

A warm and muggy day with some misty cloud drifting up from the south during the morning. The low cloud base meant we had some great views of a pair of Short-toed Eagle over Calle del Pino as they flew in tandem towards the castle, screeching their eerie call at each other as they went. Also around were a dark morph and a light morph Booted Eagle, a Eurasian Sparrowhawk , hassled by a posse of Common and Pallid Swift, and a few Griffon Vulture; several European Bee-eater were heard just south of the village but I didn't manage to catch sight of any of them!
Swift sp. numbers seem up on the last couple of years and there have been some impressive evening displays over the last few days. On Friday evening at about 2030hrs there was at least one Alpine Swift amongst a group of Common/Pallid above the municipal swimming pool.