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Friday 30 October 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light SE wind, 23C

Ahead of a predicted spell of wet weather, today was a lovely, warm autumn day. Down in Estepona there were quite a few people enjoying the late warmth on the beach but there were still a reasonable number of gulls around, 200+ Yellow-legged with 20+ Lesser-black Backed, 80+ Black-headed and 10+ Mediterranean; also a couple of Sandwich Tern, Great Cormorant and, offshore, a few Northern Gannet.

A couple of visist to the Rio Genal, yesterday morning and this afternoon, were very quiet with the highlights being a Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Grey Heron, a single Hawfinch, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Black Redstart, 10+ White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff sp., Cirl Bunting and, a little unusual at this site, Rock Bunting.

Wednesday 28 October 2015, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light-fresh N-NW wind, 19C

A walk along the tracks and paths to the north of the village didn't produce many birds, a pair of Common Buzzard and a Firecrest being the highlights, but we did spot a Common Genet - this was only the second (live) one I've seen in 11years so a rare treat.

This afternoon I intended to bird the west slope of El Hacho but forgot to factor in the fresh northerly wind which kept most birds out of sight! I did see Griffon Vulture, Common Kestrel, 10+ Crag Martin, 5+ Black Redstart, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap and Cirl Bunting. A Spanish Ibex lingered for a few minutes high up on the ridge.

Sierra Bermeja and Sierra Crestellina from El Hacho
male Black Redstart
male Spanish Ibex

Sunday 25 October 2015, Gaucin, cloudy, calm air-light SE wind, 18C

Down on the Rio Genal this morning there were 150+ Griffon Vulture in the air, with 95 over Sierra Crestellina that were joined by at least 55 that came in from the Sierra del Hacho direction. Also 20+ Crag Martin, Cetti's Warbler, White Wagtail and 8 Hawfinch.

The best sighting wasn't a bird but a European Otter, the first I've seen on this stretch of the river, possibly brought down from further upstream by the heavy rains of last week or, hopefully, a youngster looking to set up a territory.

An interesting video from the Vulture Conservation Foundation about Griffon Vultures and the continuing threat to them from the use of Diclofenac ....

Click here for short article and video

The Rio Genal, flowing once again
Looking towards Sierra Crestellina
A couple of photos of today's interesting terrace visitor......a Praying Mantis Mantis religiosa:

Praying Mantis
Praying Mantis

Saturday 24 October 2015, Gaucin, cloudy, a few spots of rain, calm air-light SE wind, 18C

Whilst driving down to the coast yesterday there were 60+ Griffon Vulture above the north peak of Sierra Crestellina and a pale morph Booted Eagle near Estepona; at Estepona port there were 20+ Crag Martin around the lighthouse, a couple of Black Redstart and several Chiffchaff sp. in the surrounding trees.

From 16:00-18:00hrs I walked along the Las Pilas track above Algatocin which was pretty quiet. I didn't see a single raptor until I was almost back to the car when I spotted a distant pair of adult Bonelli's Eagle perched on the rocks on the top of the ridge and then a couple of Kestrel sp. flew by. Other species seen included Common Raven, Blue Rock Thrush, Song Thrush, Stonechat, Black Redstart (10+), Meadow Pipit, Firecrest, Common Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler and Cirl Bunting.

In the village at around 12noon, 2 Common Crossbill flew over Plaza del Santo Niño.

Algatocin from the Las Palas track

distant adult Bonelli's Eagle (at 200x magnification!)

Thursday 22 October 2015, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light SE wind, 22C

This morning I enjoyed one of the few benefits of being a light sleeper as I was woken at 05:55hrs by the evocative sonorous song of an Eagle Owl which was hanging out in the scrubby area somewhere just below Calle del Pino.
As another warm autumn day began I had a quick look at the west slope of El Hacho, quick partly because I had other things to do but also because there were several hunters in the area! Griffon Vulture and Eurasian Sparrowhawk were the only raptors around and other species included Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush, 5+ Song Thrush, Black Redstart (at least 6), Stonechat, Thekla Lark, lots of Sardinian Warbler and Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Serin and Cirl Bunting.

Wednesday 21 October 2015, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light N-NW wind, 23C

At last a dry, warm day after four consecutive wet ones (during Saturday and Sunday more rain {80mm} fell than in the whole of October 2014!), though temperatures remained around 17-18C.  Needless to say, birding opportunities have been scarce. I saw a single House Martin heading south yesterday evening but several Song Thrush sightings were a reminder that autumn has arrived. This evening a short walk along footpaths to the north of the village produced Griffon Vulture, superb views of a Peregrine in low flight, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, male and female Black Redstart, at least 4 Common Chiffchaff, 2 Common Crossbill in the usual area near the petrol station, and a pair of Serin.

A view at last....yesterday afternoon

male Black Redstart

Friday 16 October 2015, Gaucin, partly cloudy, calm air, 23C

Very quiet the past few days with a fair amount of light-moderate rain from time to time (14mm on Sunday, 20mm on Monday and 9mm on Tuesday) but still nice and warm when sunny!
On Tuesday at around 18:30hrs there were 250+ House Martin over the Las Palas valley just north of Gaucin, also a Common Chiffchaff.
The first Song Thrush of the autumn yesterday, with one below Sierra Crestellina in Casares and earlier in the week a Peregrine there in amongst the Griffon Vulture. There were a couple of Common Crossbill in pines just on the Ronda edge of the village this morning and Crested Tit and Firecrest around La Umbria plus a Common Kestrel over the south of the village; also the strange sight of a Great-spotted Woodpecker working its way along a telegraph wire, towards a couple of feral pigeons, in full view.


Cortes de la Frontera from La Umbria

Gaucin from the 'Smugglers'' track

'Pata Negra' pigs at the Asalto de Cura

Saturday 10 October 2015, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light rain late pm, light SE wind, 21C

Little to report after Thursday's Short-toed Eagle passage with just 3 seen yesterday (plus a couple of Kestrel sp.) and nothing today. Still a few Barn Swallow moving through and plenty of House Martin around high above the village. When I left the house this morning just before 08:00hrs there was a Blue Rock Thrush calling from a neighbouring rooftop - a sure sign that autumn is underway - and this afternoon there was a pair of Common Buzzard displaying over the valley below Calle del Pino.

Thursday 08 October 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh S-SE wind, 24C

For the first time in a while I had the opportunity to scan the skies mid-afternoon and was pleasantly surprised to see that there was still some raptor migration with 60+ individuals moving through between 15:00-16:00hrs; they were all very high but those that were low enough to ID (at least 35) were all Short-toed Eagle. There were also 2 Kestrel sp. that were too high to ID and a single Booted Eagle plus a steady trickle of Barn Swallow heading south throughout the afternoon.
Between 18:30-19:00hrs there were 200+ House Martin and 2 Alpine Swift above the village and a juv Blue Rock Thrush just above the water catchment reservoir opposite the Guardia Civil building - despite the warm weather they are already moving into their winter quarters.

Wednesday 07 October 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W-NW wind, 26C

The rather warm start to October continues (30C in Malaga city Sunday/Monday - just a few Monk Parakeet to report from there!) albeit with a few very light showers on Monday/Tuesday, totalling just 2mm. A late afternoon walk along the top section of the Camino de Gibraltar was predictably quiet but did yield Griffon Vulture, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Short-toed Treecreeper, Sardinian Warbler, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Serin. There were at least 50+ House Martin high above the village amongst which was a single Alpine Swift.

Friday 03 October 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light E-SE wind, 26C

No change in the weather pattern as we move into October and the calm, sunny and warm conditions prevail. Gaucin avoided the violent rain events that hit Ronda and surrounding areas last week and, apart from a couple of very light showers, it has remained dry.

This morning Alan (staying in Estepona on holiday) and I went up to the Encinas Borrachas track near Ronda and spent a few hours birding the limestone cliffs and plateau of rocky fields. On our way we stopped off to check the cliffs above Algatocin where we saw a handful of Griffon Vulture, a Lesser Kestrel, Blue Rock Thrush, a lovely male Common Redstart, 50+ House Martin, Crag Martin, Cirl Bunting and several Serin. Although the bulk of autumn migration is over, we still picked up some nice transient species including a juvenile Marsh Harrier, 2 Northern Wheatear, at least 3 Whinchat and a female Common Redstart. Also seen were 20+ Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel, 30+ Red-billed Chough, Southern Grey Shrike, Thekla Lark, Woodlark, Blue Rock Thrush, Black Wheatear, lots of House Martin, Barn Swallow, Stonechat, Willow Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Dartford Warbler, Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Serin, 6+ Corn Bunting and Rock Bunting; Common Buzzard and Red-legged Partridge were heard.

Moon above the limestone cliffs above Algatocin

a shy Whinchat

Whinchat still refusing to pose for the camera

Ronda from Encinas Borrachas