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Friday 29 August 2015, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light SE wind, 28C

An extremely humid, muggy day with little air movement.
A visit to the west slope of El Hacho from 09:30-10:30hrs produced the following:
Booted Eagle, 2 Short-toed Eagle, 45+ European Bee-eater, Woodchat Shrike, Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, female Common Redstart, Stonechat, Short-toed Treecreeper, Sardinian Warbler and Cirl Bunting.

Back in the village in the afternoon:
15:55hrs: 16 Honey Buzzard
16:15hrs: 4 Honey Buzzard

Short-toed Eagle
Short-toed Eagle - typical trailing legs attitude

Black Wheatear

Black Wheatear

Thursday 28 August 2015, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh SE wind, 28C

Sightings over the village as follows:
10:30hrs: 6 Honey Buzzard
14:45hrs: 80-100 Griffon Vulture - these were very low over the south of the village and were seen by several residents and visitors. It seemed as if they had homed in on a food source but as they reached the outskirts of the village they all lifted up and drifted away. Slightly odd behaviour not seen before - perhaps there was a food source but they were spooked by something?
14:45hrs:150+ Black Kite, 30+ Honey Buzzard
15:40hrs: Red-rumped Swallow low over Calle Convento/del Pino gardens.
16:45hrs: 2 juvenile Egyptian Vulture (over El Hacho)
18:10hrs: 5 Honey Buzzard - heading NW!
20:15hrs: 7 Honey Buzzard


TODAY - SATURDAY 29TH AUGUST 2015 - over cast, heavy cloud at noon with light rain S-SE light wind
From my top terrace on the eastern side of the village I noted the following:

2:30 - 3:30   - 642  Honey Buzzards, 2 Booted Eagles, 5 Black Kites
3:45 - 4:15  -  119  Honey Buzzards, 1 Booted Eagle, 11 Black Kites, 9 Griffon Vultures

The heavy cloud and rain may have instigated this short flurry of activity, nevertheless it is starting to get exciting now, watch this space for more big numbers of Honey Buzzards.

Note from Paul:
It's good to have another pair of eyes doing the work! Today I had little time to scan the skies and saw just 30+ Honey Buzzard between 11:30 and 12:30hrs. As Bob mentioned, we were experienced a few drops of sandy-coloured rain but not enough to measure on the rain gauge.

Wednesday 26 August 2015, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh SE wind, 28C

Scanning the skies every so often from 16:00hrs-18:00hrs produced the following - all very high and only visible with binoculars:

16:45hrs: 63 Honey Buzzard, 3 Black Kite
17:15hrs: 1 Common Buzzard (superb 'white' individual), 25 Honey Buzzard, 2 Black Kite
17:25hrs: 111 Honey Buzzard
17:40hrs: 37 Honey Buzzard, 15 Black Kite, 1 adult Egyptian Vulture

Only a handful of Swift sp. around Calle Convento/Pino this evening.

Tuesday 25 August 2015, Gaucin, sunny, light S-SE wind, 27C

A bit of raptor movement over the village today:

11:30hrs: 17 Honey Buzzard, 1 Black Kite, 1 female Montagu's Harrier
14:45hrs: 2 Honey Buzzard
17:00hrs: 54 Honey Buzzard

Monday 24 August 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light -fresh NW wind, 25C

Yesterday was the first day of the new hunting season (for quail, doves, including Turtle Dove, and corvids) and it has already been reported to me that two vultures were illegally shot on the La Almuña estate; not a good start.

The weather has taken quite an autumnal turn with cool mornings/evenings and evbut good new is that the Western Olivaceous Warbler is still hanging around the garden, particularly fond of the fig tree.

Western Olivaceous Warbler

Saturday 22 August 2015, Gaucin, partly cloudy am, sunny pm, light-fresh W wind, 26C

A change in wind direction brought fresher weather from the west; the morning was quite misty/cloudy and it even looked like it might rain - it didn't.

Returning to the Las Pilas track above Algatocin at 10:00hrs to pick blackberries gave me another chance to see the Black Wheatear family and they didn't disappoint, flitting around from rock to rock (and bush and fence) just about close enough for some photos. Also around 20+ Griffon Vulture, 6 Black Kite moving through, Common Buzzard, 20+ European Bee-eater on the wires, Common Swift, Alpine Swift, Stonechat, Common Whitethroat, Sardinian Warbler and Cirl Bunting.

Back in Gaucin at 18:30hrs there were Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, the usual troupe of 25+ European Bee-eater were wheeling around, also 30+ Common/Pallid Swift in amongst which was a single Alpine Swift which once again came in very low over Calle Convento affording great views.

A misty start over Benarraba
Some Black Wheatear photos: For a ground/rock-dwelling species they spent a lot of time in bushes!

Friday 21 August 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light SE wind, 30C

Back to hot and steamy weather today with a bit of Honey Buzzard action over the village during the afternoon:

16:45hrs: 100+ Honey Buzzard
17:00hrs: 2 Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, Booted Eagle

Wednesday 19 August 2015, Gaucin, sunny, light S-SE wind, 29C

The highlight of a morning walk close to Algatocin village was a family group of 4 Black Wheatear, also seen were Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Common Kestrel, 20+ European Bee-eater on wires, Common Swift, Barn Swallow, House Martin, female Common Redstart, Stonechat, Chiffchaff sp., Sardinian Warbler and Cirl Bunting.

Back in Gaucin there was a Red-rumped Swallow low over Calle Convento/Calle del Pino gardens late afternoon but the best sighting was a first for the village (certainly for me): an unfamiliar Stonechat-like call from the jungle of walnut, fig and bamboo that passes for a garden in front of our house had been bugging me for a couple of days but I'd had no luck in seeing the bird amidst all the foliage. This evening it finally showed itself to be a Western Olivaceous Warbler - presumably passing through on its way south as its usual habitat would be near a watercourse (there is a small leaky 'stream' running through the garden, hence the prolific shrubs and trees).
Algatocin village from Camino Las Pilas

Rather scruffy European Bee-eater

Recently-harvested cork oak

Tuesday 18 August 2015, Gaucin, sunny, light W-SW wind, 27C

Watching the skies above Gaucin on and off throughout the afternoon produced my first returning  large group of Honey Buzzard and a lot more Black Kite. Observations as follows:
15:15hrs: 180+ Black Kite, 3 Honey Buzzard
15:50hrs: 200+ Black Kite, also 'a few' Honey Buzzard
17:15hrs: 50+ Black Kite, 31 Honey Buzzard
18:10hrs: a single Alpine Swift very low over Calle Convento
18:45hrs: 12 Black Kite, 1 Honey Buzzard

Local birds included pale and dark morph Booted Eagle and a Short-toed Eagle.

As seems to be the case with westerly winds, the Black Kite and Honey Buzzard were very high, most barely visible to the naked eye, hence the 'a few' count! It makes for quite uncomfortable birding looking directly overhead at what are little more than passing black dots!

Sunday 16 August 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W-NW wind, 28C

Just a single migration event to report today with 100+ Black Kite and at least 2 Honey Buzzard moving NE-SW over the north side of Gaucin at 19:00hrs; at the same time there were a few Common Swift and 2 Alpine Swift low over Calle Convento.
Yesterday morning a visit to the west slope of El Hacho was curtailed by the strong gusty NW wind but I did manage 25+ Griffon Vulture, 2 Common Raven, a Eurasian Sparrowhawk (mobbed by 2 Crag Martin), 4 Blue Rock Thrush (2 ad male, 1 juv male and 1 female), Stonechat, Blackcap and  Cirl Bunting.
Around the village during the afternoon there were 2 Booted Eagle (1 pale morph, 1 intermediate morph) and one Short-toed Eagle.

Friday 14 August 2015, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh W-NW wind, 29C

A walk along the first kilometre or so of dry riverbed of the Rio Genal from 09:00-10:30hrs produced the following:
Griffon Vulture, Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, White Stork (presumably one of those that others have seen over the past week or so; initially flying upstream, then standing forlornly in the middle of a field), 2 Grey Heron, Golden Oriole (heard), Great-spotted Woodpecker, Common Kingfisher (including 2 fighting in a small pool of water), Common Swift, Alpine Swift, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Grey Wagtail, Spotted Flycatcher, Cetti's Warbler, Blackcap, Melodious Warbler and Cirl Bunting. In the village there was an Iberian Chiffchaff attempting to sing.

This afternoon there was a large campo fire on the coast in the Alcaidesa/Torreguadiaro area, clearly visible from up here in the mountains, see photo.

The 'end' of the Rio Genal

White Stork

Fire on the coast

Thursday 13 August 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh W-NW wind, 32C

A very warm day yesterday, but mercilessly less humid than the past week or two during which there were even a few drops of sandy 'desert' rain. Little time for birding but I did see 120+ Black Kite over the village at 18:45hrs and a Eurasian Sparrowhawk, carrying what looked like an unfortunate Blue Tit, close to houses in Calle Convento.
Today was a little cooler and much clearer, with Gibraltar clearly visible for the first time in a couple of weeks. The only bird news of note was a group of 30+ Griffon Vulture heading west from around El Hacho at 08:30hrs.

Good sighting at the weekend by Bob Buckler who saw a Black-winged Kite at the confluence of the Rio Genal and Rio Guadiaro. It's a couple of years since we have seen this species in our area so hopefully it will hang around a bit like last time.

Monday 10 August 2015, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, calm air-light SE wind, 32C

After reports of 3 White Stork in a field beside the Rio Genal, I headed down there from 08:15-09:15hrs; despite the fact they had been there for several days they were, of course, absent this morning! Other species seen included:
Common Buzzard, European Bee-eater, Golden Oriole, Spotless Starling, White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Spotted Flycatcher and Cetti's Warbler.
Back in the village in the afternoon there was a pair of Booted Eagle and a pair of very vocal Short-toed Eagle around and 200+ Black Kite moved through at 18:30hrs.

Friday 07 August 2015, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, calm air-light SE wind, 32C

Another very hot, humid and sticky day; unusual weather for a Gaucin summer. After Wednesday's heavy Black Kite passage, yesterday saw very little action, just a handful of Black Kite around mid-day, but today migration was back in full swing, albeit a little less spectacular. Numbers as follows:
13:00hrs: 100+ Black Kite
13:15hrs: 500+ Common/Pallid Swift through in under 2min.
15:45-16:05hrs: 250+ Black Kite in a 'kettle' just south of the village, then 700+ moving through.
16:25-16:35hrs: 115 Black Kite
The gloomy view from Gaucin

Wednesday 05 August 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light SE wind, 31C

A visit to the 'Rio' Genal (now totally dry in the area I watch) from 09:15-10:30hrs was oddly calm with a murky covering of hazy cloud, a stark contrast to the action to come! Species seen included: Booted Eagle, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Grey Heron (stirred up by a truck driving along the dry riverbed), Little-ringed Plover, several flocks of 10-20, and one of 75, Wood Pigeon heading northwards, a single Turtle Dove, 10+ European Bee-eater, at least 6 Golden Oriole (inc. 2 males), Great-spotted Woodpecker, juvenile Woodchat Shrike, Red-rumped Swallow, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Cetti's Warbler and Cirl Bunting. On the way back up to the village 3 pale morph Booted Eagle flew southwards but they looked too low and not focussed enough to be migrating.

It all kicked off in the village from 16:00hrs. After a slow start with 50+ Common/Pallid Swift then 5 Black Kite (first returning birds of the Autumn), the Black Kite numbers heading NE-SW built up to an impressive total, with more than 3600 individuals over a 2.5hour period. The numbers are an underestimate as I wasn't watching continually over the whole period and keeping track of wave after wave of birds was not easy!

Numbers as follows:
16:30-16:45hrs: 400+
16:45-1715hrs: 2200+
18:00-18:10hrs: 400+
18:20-18:45hrs: 450+ also 1 adult Egyptian Vulture
18:45-19:00hrs: 150+

Tuesday 04 August 2015, Gaucin, sunny, light-fresh S-SE wind, 31C

Some signs of Autumn migration today with many Common/Pallid Swift heading south, including 300+ at 18:00hrs and 150+ at 18:15hrs; also, a migrating Common Kestrel at 1900hrs. Yesterday at 09:30hrs there were two Common Nightingale in the trees where Calle del Pino becomes the Camino de Gibraltar; presumably these birds were moving through, too.

Sunday 02 August 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light SE wind, 29C

Following a month where most days saw temperatures around the mid-30s or above, August has begun with a couple of cooler days at 'just' 29C. Despite Wingspanner's sighting of two Honey Buzzard yesterday there has been no other sign of southward raptor migration; by this time last year we had seen several hundred Black Kite on their way back to Africa.
Common/Pallid Swift numbers around the village are slowly dropping off, though this evening there were 40-50 above Calle Convento/Pino at 21:30hrs, also 2 Alpine Swift at 20:15hrs, and there are still a few House Martin and Barn Swallow, too. Occasional small parties of European Bee-eater can be seen above the village but there hasn't been any significant movement so far.
The 'local' raptors include a couple each of Booted Eagle and Short-toed Eagle, the latter displaying close to the southern edge of Gaucin this morning; also a Eurasian Sparrowhawk cruising around late on Saturday evening.

Saturday August 1st 2015 - Gaucin Castle

A shift in the wind to the North-East and a series of  very bright nights with a lovely full moon produced some changes in the local bird numbers.

Most of the swifts, both Common and Pallid left overnight from this east-end of the village and good numbers of Chiffchaff sp. and Blackcaps came through but the most surprising of all was the appearance this morning of two HONEY BUZZARDS! These very early migrants area heading back to Africa they drifted fairly low over the castle at 8am before flying off down the Genal Valley towards the coast. This has to be my earliest sighting of returning Honey Buzzards since I've been here, how about you Paul.