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Friday 27 November 2015, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light S-SE wind, 20C

After the 'cold spell' at the beginning of the week, the northerly winds contributing to night-time temperatures of 3C on Tuesday/Wednesday and day-time temperatures of 13C, the last couple of days have been rather warm again.

Down on the Rio Genal on Thursday morning there was a Redwing (first of the winter) amongst a small group of Song Thrush but sadly little else due to the close proximity of hunters; late afternoon there was a Firecrest in the small oak trees opposite Bodeguita Chaparro. There are quite a few Paperwhite Narcissus around which look wonderful in the winter sun.
Paperwhite Narcissus

female Black Redstart
This afternoon at 15:30hrs there were at least 150 Griffon Vulture below the Brenaverde restaurant on the Gaucin-Algeciras road. I went down to have a look but the only carrion I could see was a small snake so not sure what the attraction was! They were flying in from all directions, forming several large swirling kettles, so an accurate count was difficult but 150 would be a conservative estimate; it was quite a spectacle.

On the west slope of El Hacho the highlights were a pale morph Booted Eagle, Peregrine, a covey of 8 Red-legged Partridge, Blue Rock Thrush, 10+ Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, 10+ Stonechat, Black Redstart, 2 male Dartford Warbler and Cirl Bunting.

Some of the many Griffon Vulture seen this afternoon:

Saturday 21 November 2015, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, occasional light drizzle, light-fresh W-NW wind, 13C

Today saw a big change from yesterday when it was 21C and people were sunbathing on Estepona beach! Friday's trip to the coast was rewarded with a sighting of a female Hen Harrier, above the Utrera gorge near Casares. The gull flock on the beach was quite small (around 180 individuals), in part due to the number of sunbathers and dog walkers, and included Lesser black-backed, Yellow-legged, Black-headed and Mediterranean gulls; a single Sandwich Tern flew by, there were a few Great Cormorant and Northern Gannet out to sea, and three or four Sanderling along the shore.

Although this morning started sunny and warm it soon morphed into a more typical November day and we were lucky to get a short walk in before the cloud base fell. Checking out the limestone cliffs, bushes and fields along the 'Siete Pilas' track above Algatocin from 10:30hrs produced Griffon Vulture, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 2 Red-billed Chough, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Blue Rock Thrush, a flock of 20+ Song Thrush, Crag Martin, Crested/Thekla Lark, Meadow Pipit, Stonechat, Common Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, a wonderful male Brambling, Serin, Cirl Bunting and Rock Bunting. A quick look along the track opposite Venta Socorro at 17:00hrs produced Griffon Vulture, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Song Thrush, plenty of Chaffinch, a couple of Black Redstart and a Siskin.

Mediterranean Gulls and a Lesser black-backed Gull


Mixed gull flock - Estepona beach

Random photo of the Moon
Gibraltar and Djebel Musa from Gaucin - Fri 20 Nov

A nice sunset - Fri 20 Nov

male Brambling

male Brambling

Rock Bunting

Thursday 19 November 2015, Gaucin, sunny, calm air-light S-SE wind, 20C

A morning walk along the mist-shrouded tracks to the north of the village produced the usual array of species, the highlights being Firecrest, Crested Tit, Common Crossbill and, amongst the burgeoning numbers of Chaffinch, a Siskin. In addition to the increase in Chaffinch numbers, there are now more Serin, European Robin, Blackcap and Common Chiffchaff around. With cold weather predicted for the weekend, these populations may swell even more.

Saturday 14 November 2015, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light E-SE wind, 15C

No sooner had I said that there were no winter species around, than an afternoon stroll along the tracks just north of Gaucin produced both Brambling (a single femail) and Siskin! There were small roaming mixed flocks of Chaffinch, Brambling, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Crested Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Firecrest, Siskin and Serin, Also seen were Griffon Vulture, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Black Redstart, European Robin, 5 Common Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Sardinian Warbler.
Long-tailed Tit enjoying the olive harvest!

Friday 13 November 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light S-SE wind, 19C

A visit to the west slope of El Hacho from 09:30-11:30hrs proved relatively quiet, though a pale morph Booted Eagle was a good 'winter' record. The continuing mild weather belies the fact that we are almost half-way through November and is likely keeping some of the true winter visitors away though Black Redstart numbers have built up to 15+. Other species seen today were 40+ Griffon Vulture, Blue Rock Thrush, 3 Song Thrush, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Crag Martin, Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff and Cirl Bunting. Red-legged Partridge and Dartford Warbler were heard.

Reports of a couple of Short-toed Eagle around in the past week or so with one near the Rio Genal below Gaucin and another in the Alcornocales National Park. There were 3 Common Buzzard (two adults and a wonderfully-plumaged juvenile) over the village on Tuesday.

At the Rio Genal yesterday morning there were at least 6 Hawfinch, also a Common Kingfisher (but no sign of the otters, other than prints and spraint).

Some good news concerning Black Vultures in Andalucia, with the latest survey showing a population in excess of 350 pairs, see the link below for more details:

Good news for Black Vulture in Andalucia

Wednesday 11 November 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light S-SE wind, 22C

After the surprise sighting of a European Otter on the Rio Genal last week, a visit to the same spot this morning in warm autumn sunshine was rewarded with some great views of not one, but two of these amazing animals! They seemed quite content splashing around together along the river bank and paid me little heed as I watched them for a good 10 minutes.

Birds were in short supply with Common Kingfisher and Short-toed Treecreeper the highlights; other species seen included Grey Heron, Eurasian Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Black Redstart, European Robin, 5x Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, Chaffinch and Greenfinch.
European Otter
At this point they were just 2metres away
Short-cut to the 'rapids'

Friday 06 November 2015, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light E-SE wind, 23C

A lovely warm autumn day today, with the rains of last weekend (almost) a distant memory! There are suddenly a lot of Black Redstart in the village and they can be heard bickering every morning as they flit from roof to roof. Birding highlight today was a Red Kite, seen around mid-day quite low over Calle Convento - a good bird for the area and presumably wintering somewhere nearby.

Wednesday 04 November 2015, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light SW wind, 18C

After the deluges of the last few days, more than 120mm of rain falling since Saturday, today was dry, quite sunny and relatively warm. A visit to the west slope of El Hacho from 09:30-10:30hrs produced a single Griffon Vulture, Common Kestrel, Southern Grey Shrike, Blue Rock Thrush, 2 Song Thrush, 10+ Black Redstart, Stonechat, Crag Martin, European Robin, lots of Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, a nice flock of 15 Linnet, and Cirl Bunting.
Aside from the birds, there was a party of 4 Spanish Ibex high up amongst the rocks with 2 female/juv, one youngster and a wonderful male, sporting two huge antlers (sadly, too far away to get a photo).

Sunday 01 November 2015, Gaucin, cloudy, rain, E-SE wind gusting to gale force, 15C

Just a weather report today as Gaucin experienced some serious rain mid-afternoon on Sunday that resulted in some flooding of houses. Despite a 'yellow' weather warning it had all been quite subdued, if a little windy, until the skies turned a darker shade of black just before 17:00hrs and the rain began to fall heavily; over the following 45min a total of 45mm of rain fell, overwhelming some of the drains and forcing its way into several houses.

Callejon (Rio!) del Pino

Cars struggled along Calle Convento

Fire brigade called to pump out
Water entered houses and forced its way out

Weight of water enough to smash through double glazed doors
Water was an uninvited guest at this house