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Friday 29 April 2016, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light-fresh SE wind, 19C

The forecast, and imminent threat of rain, didn't discourage Rob and I as we set off this morning to check out the Marchenilla track behind San Pablo de Buceite. It turned out that we made the right decision as, despite some very black clouds over towards the Alcornocales National Park, it remained warm and dry; plus we saw some great birds, too!
Star species seen were Egyptian Vulture, Rufous Bush Robin and Western Olivaceous Warbler. Other species seen included Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard, 25 Honey Buzzard, Common Raven, White Stork, 4 Turtle Dove, European Bee-eater, Woodchat Shrike, Crested Lark, Red-rumped Swallow, Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola, Common Nightingale, Cetti's Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Spanish Sparrow, Serin and Corn Bunting.
White Stork in the Rio Guadiaro

female Stonechat

Corn Bunting

Melodious Warbler

Melodious Warbler

Thursday 28 April 2016, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light S-SE wind, 23C

The highlights of a morning visit to the Rio Genal were two stunning male Golden Oriole; it was good to see that they are still around despite the clearance of many of the Eucalyptus trees that they have favoured in previous years. Quite a large, productive (for birds) area to the west of the river has been cleared of scrub/bushes and is now a rather desolate wasteland but hopefully things will grow back in time. Other species seen were Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, 5 Black Kite, 20 Honey Buzzard, 5 Canada Goose (presumably strayed from a captive population), Grey Heron, Turtle Dove, European Bee-eater, Little-ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Red-rumped Swallow, Grey Wagtail (including at least 3 young), Common Nightingale and Cirl Bunting.
Little-ringed Plover adopting a typical 'aggressive' stance

Little-ringed Plover
Wall Brown

Tuesday 26 April 2016, Gaucin, sunny, light SE wind, 21C

Today saw the first Honey Buzzard of the year with 5 over the village at 14:30hrs; also 1 adult and 1 juvenile Egyptian Vulture at 15:00hrs. On Friday 22 April Janys saw the first Turtle Dove, with one on wires at the Asalto de Cura.
During the afternoon Griffon Vulture numbers to the south of the village increased steadily until there were 90+ in the area between the 'hills' of 'El Nobo' and 'Rosa Alta', presumably attracted by carrion.
Griffon Vultures on 'God's thumb' - El Hacho (per Tim)

Thursday 21 April 2016, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light S-SE wind, 18C

A morning walk through the cork oak forest to the north of El Hacho, with three Swedish guys on holiday in the area, started with a great sighting, a male Golden Oriole that flew into the Eucalyptus trees just beyond the petrol station. It didn't get any better than that and was relatively quiet but we did see 20+ Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, 2 Booted Eagle, a group of 20 Black Kite, Peregrine, Great-spotted Woodpecker, 2 Mistle Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush, Eurasian Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Iberian Chiffchaff, Bonelli's Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap and Cirl Bunting; Green Woodpecker was heard.

Tuesday 19 April 2016, Gaucin, cloudy, rain, light SE wind, 12C

A wet,cold day with 15mm of steady rain falling but it didn't stop the local Blackbird singing almost continually!

On Sunday morning a walk through the mixed cork/pine woods around La Umbria produced Booted Eagle, 5+ Bonelli's Warbler and 2 Iberian Chiffchaff all singing, plus Firecrest, Eurasian Nuthatch and Short-toed Treecreeper.

Some excellent observations (and photos) from last week from Tim who is on holiday in Gaucin:

Mon 11 April
We had two montagu's harriers as we drove from Manilva to Gaucin. Once here, we had a black stork over the village. We then headed off down towards the bush robin track. We had a goshawk amongst a large number of raptors (booted eagles and black kites) soon after setting off on the Jimena road; then at San Pablo large numbers (100+) of swifts, swallows, house martins and bee-eaters. Plenty of woodchat shrikes. A sparrowhawk plunged in where the bee-eaters were. We also had a single beautiful male Spanish sparrow amongst a bunch or 'ordinary' house sparrows. White wagtail and blackcap. After turning off at the garden centre we had good numbers of yellow wagtails (3 races), northern wheatear, 10-20 booted eagle; a pair of short-toed eagles, common buzzard and kestrel.
Tue 12 April
In the same general area (San Pablo) as yesterday we had:
two wryneck, four purple herons, one grey heron, one subalpine warbler, several whitethroats, melodious warblers, huge (c200) flocks of white storks, and around one hundred booted eagles and black kites, at least 100 red-rumped swallows, two northern wheatears, a little owl, a single black stork in a field, and a lesser kestrel.  
Black Stork
European Bee-eater
Little Owl
Wed 13 Apr
Two common crossbills in the pines behind the house this morning.
At San Pablo at the far end of the track from the Coca Cola bar, near the water/hydro works: a common cuckoo, 100+ bee-eaters, 100+ white storks, 100+ black storks; a sparrowhawk carrying prey; plenty of booted eagles and black kites.
Up the road behind Jimena up to the radio station - there were two pairs of black-eared wheatears up there. And on the way down, an alpine swift and a Monarch butterfly.
Black Stork
female Black-eared Wheatear
male Black-eared Wheatear

Thu 14 Apr
We walked behind El Hacho (El Peso): wryneck, green woodpecker and Bonelli's warblers - also two short-toed eagles and two common cuckoos.

About noon 100+ black kites very high over the village.

Friday 15 April 2016, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light W-SW wind, 18C

A morning trip down to tracks/fields behind Marchenilla/San Pablo produced the following sightings:
Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Common Raven, 80+ European Bee-eater, Woodchat Shrike, Thekla Lark, Crested Lark, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Red-rumped Swallow, Tawny Pipit, Stonechat, Common Nightingale, at least 5 Common Whitethroat, 5 Melodious Warbler, Willow Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, House Sparrow, a small flock, less than 10, of Spanish Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Serin and Corn Bunting.

Back in Gaucin there was a male Montagu's Harrier over Calle Convento at 15:00hrs and 6 Black Stork (in and out of the gathering clouds!) at 17:15hrs; also a Bonelli's Warbler and the now 'resident' Common Cuckoo along Camino de Avedin.
Crested Lark
Common Whitethroat
Corn Bunting
Willow Warbler - in the middle of a serious preen
Corn Bunting with nesting material
Zitting Cisticola with nesting material - sheep's wool
Spanish Sparrow
Sierra del Hacho from San Pablo/Marchenilla track

Thursday 14 April 2016, Gaucin, mostly sunny, calm air-light S-SE wind, 18C

Better weather over the last couple of days.
On Tuesday there was a pair of Common Cuckoo along the Camino de Avedin, with the female's bubbling call responding to that of the male.
A late afternoon visit to the Rio Genal on Wednesday was largely uneventful though a mixed 'flock' of 200+ birds, European Bee-eater, Swift sp., Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow and House Martin, was quite a spectacle as they hawked for insects. Just one Little-ringed Plover seen but with the river level rising they've probably moved along a bit.
Back in the Gaucin there were 40+ Black Kite and 2 Montagu's Harrier over the west of the village at 14:00hrs and 6 Booted Eagle over Camino de Avedin at 19:00hrs - they weren't behaving like migrants but could have been taking a break after a long stint!

Monday 11 April 2016, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light rain, light NW wind, 11C

It's been a busy week so I'm playing catch-up with the blog posts.....
Monday was damp throughout but a couple of breaks in the cloud produced the following migrants:
15:00hrs: 10 Booted Eagle, 1 Black Stork
17:30hrs: 2 male Montagu's Harrier, 1 Eurasian Sparrowhawk

Saturday 09 April 2016, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light W-SW wind, 20C

Whilst out running this morning there were at least 2 Common Nightingale singing in the scrub alongside the Ronda-Algeciras road; also in full song were Blackcap, European Robin, Sardinian Warbler, Corn Bunting and Serin. There were also at least 2, possibly 3, Common Nightingale singing in the valley below Gaucin over the past couple of days. A good sighting today by Janys as she spotted a Eurasian Hoopoe flying over the Plaza de Santo Niño at about 11:30hrs! There were small groups (the same one several times, I suspect) of 10-20 European Bee-eater over the village throughout the day.

An adult Egyptian Vulture was reported from Sierra Crestellina yesterday.

During the afternoon a visit to the west slope of El Hacho in warm, calm conditions proved surprisingly quiet although a Peregrine mobbing a Griffon Vulture was worth watching; presumably the vulture strayed too close to the falcon's (proposed?) nest site. Also seen were 27 Black Kite, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, at least 8 singing male Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler and Cirl Bunting.

There are plenty of orchids around at the moment with lots of Mirror Ophrys and Yellow Ophrys on the path up to El Hacho; last week there were these two species plus Man Orchid and Dull Ophrys along the 'Smugglers' path west of the village. Everywhere you go in the campo there is a profusion of the plainly-named pretty Barbary Nut.
Mirror Ophrys Ophrys ciliata

Mirror Ophrys and Yellow Ophrys Ophrys lutea

Mirror Ophrys 

Gorse and the view from El Hacho to Gibraltar and beyond

Barbary Nut Gynandriris sisirynchium
Dull Ophrys Ophrys fusca
Man Orchid Aceras anthropophorum

Tuesday 05 April 2016, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light-fresh NW wind, 17C

After yesterday, the wettest day of the year to date with 58mm of rain falling in 24hr, today was dry and bright. There were a few migrant raptors moving through against the wind, with an Osprey and a couple of Black Kite at 14:30hrs and a further 10 Black Kite at 18:00hrs. Mid-afternoon there were 70+ Griffon Vulture just south of the village, also a Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle and several European Bee-eater.
Down at the full-flowing Rio Genal at 19:00hrs there were 2 Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel, Common Cuckoo, just a single Little-ringed Plover, 60+ European Bee-eater, 2 Red-rumped Swallow, Common Nightingale, Cetti's Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff and 7 Hawfinch.

Saturday 02 April 2016, Gaucin, sunny am, cloudy pm, calm air-light S-SE wind, 17C

A morning check of the west slope of El Hacho produced a good list of species:
It started well as a male Montagu's Harrier flew over whilst I was at the petrol station! Later, at El Hacho: 30+ Griffon Vulture, very low, there may have been some carrion around as one or two landed and squabbled with each other, 3 pale morph Booted Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Black Kite, lovely pale Common Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, 6 Common Raven, Eurasian Jay, two groups of 30 and 21 European Bee-eater, a couple of Crag Martin, male Common Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, female Black Redstart, at least 4 pairs of Stonechat, Blackbird, Great Tit,  several Sardinian Warbler (at least a couple singing), male Dartford Warbler, Linnet, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Cirl Bunting; Red-legged Partridge and Common Cuckoo were heard.
Cirl Bunting

Griffon Vulture

Griffon Vulture
Griffon Vulture