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Saturday 28 May 2016, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light rain showers, light NW wind, 18C

On what turned out to be a cool, occasionally damp (2mm of rain), late Spring day, Paul, Claire and I set off for a morning's birding along tracks to the west of Casares, down to the Rio Genal. The best bird of the trip was Western Olivaceous Warbler, with two singing and showing quite well in the tamarisk along the riverbank. Also seen were Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, several Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard, a single low Honey Buzzard, Common Kestrel, 6 White Stork in the river, Mallard, Grey Heron, 5+ Little-ringed Plover, 5+ Turtle Dove, good views of European Bee-eater, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackbird, Spotless Starling, 5+ Woodchat Shrike, Spotted Flycatcher, European Robin, Golden Oriole (heard), Crested Lark, Common Swift, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, (Cettis Warbler and Common Nightingale were heard), Blue Tit, Great Tit, House Sparrow, Linnet, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Cirl Bunting and Serin.

We checked on the old Bonelli's Eagle nest on Sierra Crestellina and, as others have reported, the site now seems to be occupied by Griffon Vulture; as yet there are no clues as to where the eagles have gone.

In the village over the past couple of days there have been a scattering of Honey Buzzard, most notably around mid-day on Thursday when 20+ flew very low over Plaza del Santo Niño. There were two juvenile Blue Rock Thrush and an adult male on a ruin in Calle Convento, suggesting that they most probably bred there this year - a good record for the centre of the pueblo following breeding in 2015 in a ruin adjacent to cafe/bar El Puente.

Wednesday 25 May 2016, Gaucin, sunny, light NW wind, 26C

Still some good numbers of Honey Buzzard moving through Gaucin with 300+ between 18:00-19:00hrs last night (also a dozen or so Black Kite) and 50+ over the Rio Genal at 09:30hrs this morning. Also seen at the river were 20+ Griffon Vulture, 2 Booted Eagle, White Stork, 5 Canada Goose (escaped?), Mallard, at least 3 Little-ringed Plover, 2 Turtle Dove, 10+ European Bee-eater, at least 2 male Golden Oriole, Common Swift, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Short-toed Treecreeper, Grey Wagtail, Western Olivaceous Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Common Nightingale, Sardinian Warbler, Serin and Cirl Bunting.
European Bee-eater

One of the 5 escapee Canada Goose

male Cirl Bunting

Sunday 22 May 2016, Gaucin, sunny, light NW wind, 25C

This afternoon there was a juvenile Blue Rock Thrush begging for food from a male on one of the ruins in Calle Convento:
juvenile Blue Rock Thrush

male Blue Rock Thrush

Saturday 21 May 2016, Gaucin, sunny, light SE wind, 25C

Today continued a nice run of clear, warm days during which there was very little bird news! On Wednesday lunchtime there was a single White Stork high over Calle Convento and on Thursday at 20:30hrs 3 Honey Buzzard were heading north over the centre of the village.

A walk down the Camino de Gibraltar from 18:00-19:00hrs today produced a good sighting in the form of a male Golden Oriole singing from poplar trees between Calle del Pino and the water treatment station; also seen were Griffon Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, 3 Black Kite, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Jay, Spotless Starling, Pallid Swift, Common Swift, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Sardinian Warbler, Chaffinch and Serin ; Bonelli's Warbler, Cetti's Warbler, Common Nightingale and Cirl Bunting were all heard.

Sunday 15 May 2016, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light S-SE wind, 24C

A walk around La Umbria produced the usual array of warblers including Iberian Chiffchaff (heard), Bonelli's Warbler (heard), Blackcap and Sardinian Warbler; also Common Cuckoo (heard), Booted Eagle, Common Buzzard, Eurasian Nuthatch and Firecrest but the best sighting was a very vocal male Golden Oriole.

In the village during the afternoon there was some reasonable passage of Honey Buzzard with numbers as follows:
17:30hrs - 31
18:00hrs  - 17 (central but very high), 6 to the east and 3 central
18:20hrs - 120+ to the west, 20 to the east

There was a male Common Kestrel cruising around and vast numbers of Swift sp., many taking advantage of the exponential increase in insects since the recent rains, also a good number that looked like migrants as they were very high and heading determinedly northwards.
Long-horned beetle Plagionotus arcuatus that visited our lounge
Bee orchid Ophrys apifera at La Umbria

Saturday 14 May 2016, Gaucin, mostly sunny, light NW wind, 20C

After 9 consecutive days of rain (the Mays of the previous 3 years had just 3 days each) today was dry, if you discount the 1mm that fell in the early hours!

There were 2 Black Kite just north of El Peso during the morning and another 4 low over the village around mid-day. 3 Common Crossbill flew over Calle Convento late afternoon but the star performance was by 4 Red-necked Nightjar that hawked insects low over our terrace between 21:45 and 22:00hrs. We used to see these wonderful birds each Spring around this time but in recent years they've not been so reliable; great to see them back!
Nice to see the streams running again

View from the cork oak woods near El Peso

Tuesday 10 May 2016, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, frequent rain showers, light SW wind, 11C

After experiencing temperatures of 25C+ in London over the weekend, it came as a bit of a shock to return to a cold, damp Gaucin. The past five days have all seen significant rainfall, with more than 60mm falling in total since Friday when 3 Black Stork were reported over the village.  On Saturday a European Roller was reported (thanks to Julie and Pete) on telephone wires between San Pablo de Buceite and Los Angeles (Estacion de Jimena) - pretty much in the same place where one was seen in July 2012 and not far from other sightings in July 2013; couple this with a juvenile seen about 5km away in late July 2013 and it adds up to a strong possibility of breeding in the area.

Some good vulture news for a change!

Three Bearded Vultures released in Andalucia

Wednesday 04 May 2016, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light SE wind, 22C

Very little to report over the last few, sunny and warm, days. A handful of Honey Buzzard and the usual 'local' Booted and Short-toed Eagle sightings but no big migration numbers - as others in the region have also reported. This afternoon there was a Blue Rock Thrush singing away on a rooftop in Calle Convento and also a male on the building next to cafe El Puente - this could mean there are two pairs breeding within the village, which would be great. Down on the Rio Genal on Monday there were at least 3 Little-ringed Plover but no sign of the Common Sandpiper from the other day; also Golden Oriole singing but not seen.

Some nice flowers around the north of El Hacho this morning:

Early Purple Orchid Orchis mascula

Wild Peony Paeonia mascula