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Monday 21 September 2015, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light SE wind, 29C

Yesterday morning saw one of my biggest local counts of Griffon Vulture, with 150+ above the hills to the north of the Rio Guadiaro near Estación de Gaucín. 

Today saw the start of a mini-early autumn heatwave as Michael, Mike, Kate and I headed up towards Ronda to do some birding at Encinas Borrachas.
A quick stop at the cork oak forest just outside Gaucin wasn't very productive with Eurasian Nuthatch and Sardinian Warbler the highlights! Another stop below the limestone cliffs above Algatocin produced the first Griffon Vulture of the day, a couple of distant Blue Rock Thrush and a few assorted common passerines. Once at Encinas Borrachas things began to look up as we immediately located Southern Grey Shrike, Whinchat, Northern Wheatear and a male Black-eared Wheatear - what a start! Here we also saw Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Bonelli's Eagle (a 2yr bird that was a target species for our visit!), Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 25+ Red-billed Chough, Red-legged Partridge, Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, Thekla Lark, Woodlark, House Martin, Barn Swallow and Sardinian Warbler. Flying over at great height was a group of 11 heron sp. that, despite only seeing them in distant silhouette, were most probably Purple Heron. We also heard Red Deer bellowing out their rutting calls but they remained steadfastly well-camouflaged amongst the rocks and trees.

It was now rather warm so we had a nice lunch and then a stop on the way home at the Mirador de Africa opposite the turning to Benarraba on the Ronda road. From this wonderful vantage point we saw Griffon Vulture, Common, Pallid and Alpine Swift plus Stonechat and a rather shy male Dartford Warbler. There was also a couple of lovely Common Swallowtail butterflies.

What a great day's birding!

Tim's sightings today:
6 crossbills here this morning. Two kingfishers on the river at Estacion de Gaucin, and one Alpine Swift over the village this evening.
And a male common redstart under El Hacho by the road as we drove back.
An obliging Short-toed Eagle by the river, see photos.

Autumn Crocus near Estación de Gaucín yesterday
Lovely Cork Oak near Estación de Gaucín yesterday
Northern Wheatear
Northern Wheatear
Short-toed Eagle - by Tim

Short-toed Eagle - by Tim

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