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Wednesday, August 31, 2011
A 30 minute watch at 4:30pm from my top terrace produced:
97 Honey Buzzards
2 Short-toed Eagles
1 Booted Eagle
A second watch from 6pm to 7pm produced a lot more:
526 Honey Buzzards
2 Black kites
3 Egyptian Vultures
19 Griffon Vultures
3 Booted Eagles
10 Pallid Swift
Most of these birds passed over very high up and I needed to scope them for ID's. they all passed over the Castle and fleww down the Genal Valley towards Crestellina.
Later I counted 40 Honey Buzards forming a 'kettle' on the thermals at the southern end of Crestellina but they wee probably counted earlier.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I filmed them doing this, so watch the video clip to see how quickly they dive in and out of the water and then look at the fantastic sequence of photographs taken by Martin Murray on Monday 29th August. he was using a canon 500 IS F4. lens, hand held!
Monday, August 29, 2011
View of the countryside around Montejaque
Sunday, August 28, 2011
MARTIN AND LOUISE ARRIVED AT 5PM THIS AFTERNOON FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS BIRDING.
Between 17:30 and 19:30 4 of us sat on my top terrace on the eastern side of the village and we recorded the following:
1250 Honey Buzzards
22 Black kites
5 Booted Eagles (4 pale)
1 Short-toed Eagle
25 Griffon Vultures
2 Pallid Swifts
2 Common Swifts
1 Blue Rock Thrush
Not a bad little start to Martin's and Lou's stay with us. they also visited La Janda earlier in the day and recorde amongst other things the first Roller of the autumn.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
It was a lovely morning with a bit of nip in the air especially down by the river, but the sun quickly rose and warmed us up. At the river we soon logged several species: both Grey & White Wagtails, Chiffchaff, Kingfisher, Cetti's Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher were among the first sightings. A Sparrowhawk flew down to the river bank and landed on the gravel spit much to anoyance of the local Little Ringed Plovers however it flew off before we had chance to photograph it.
We also had great views of Golden Oriole, Spotless Starling, Red-rumped Swallow and a Peregrine Falcon that made a couple of sorties over us. On the distant hillside we logged a flock of 55 Bee-eaters, a Short-toed Eagle and some swift species high up in the distance. A flock of some 25 Rock sparrows was nice as was a smaller flock of Cirl Buntings.
We had brief glimpses of Melodious Warbler but Common Whitethroat, lots of Spotted Flycatchers and Sardinian Warblers showed well. Other species seen included Serin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Crag Martin, Pallid Swift, Jay, Grey Heron, Common Sandpiper, House Martin & Barn Swallow.
By 10:30am we were back in the car and heading up the hill to Gaucin, we both had chores to do, work and all that jazz but we both enjoyed a lovely bright morning with plenty to see.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I collected Jack and Marg from the campo just down the hill from the village at 7:30 am. It was a lovely morning, cloudless sky and a nice cooling breeze. The breeze continued all day but the temperature still rose to over 35 degrees.
Jack and Marg are from the USA, they are staying in the area for a month and wanted to see some Europen species for the first time with alittle guidance from me.
Along the track they were totally overwhelmed as many species popped up at the same time, the sky was full of hirundines and birds of prey. We quickly ticked off Short-toed Eagle, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Booted Eagle and Montagu's Harrier. The number of these eagles and harriers has steadily picked up over the last fews weeks, I counted 7 Montagu's Harriers and 9 Short-toed Eagles today. Back on the ground or on the wires we logged Common Starling, my first for the autumn, with a flock of Spotless Starlings; Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Woodchat & Southern Grey Shrike, Stonechat, Corn Bunting, Red-rumped Swallow, Sardinian Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Tawny Pipit, Whitethroat, Melodious Warbler, Serin, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and several Spotted Flycatchers.
RIO HOZGARGANTE FROM THE BRIDGE
After a lovely couple of hours we walked back to the car and on the way back we logged my first Honey Buzzard of the autumn and also a Black Kite. We then took a quick look at the Rio Hozgargante from a nearby bridge. A good choice I think. We had superb views looking down on a Cetti's Warbler that was singing out in the open, we also had great views of Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher, Hawfinch, Spotted Flycatcher and 8 Griffon Vultures as they drifted over. We also saw Barn Swallow, Common Swift, House Martin, Collared Dove and more Goldfinches.
At San Enrique woods we quickly got onto Jay, Tree Sparrow and Serin. In the woods we watched Great Spotted Woodpecker (3), Spotted Flycatcher (4), Bonelli's Warbler (4), Chiffchaff sp. Blue Tit, Great Tit and lots of House Sparrows.
From the wood we scanned the river Guadiaro and found Kingfisher, Grey Heron and not much else.
RIO GUADIARO FROM SAN ENRIQUE WOODS
We lunched under the shade of Stone Pines at Pinar del Rey and afterwards we walked for a while but only turned up Robin and Chaffinch as new species for the day.
Driving down to Palmones we stopped to look at the White Stork's nests at San Roque and found a huge flock of White Storks up on the thermals, there must have been 300, an impressive sighting, a single Black Kite joined them.
Palmones offered a cooling breeze and an ebbing tide, lots of mud become exposed and many birds covered it. Gull species included Yellow-legged, Lesser-black Backed, Black Headed and Mediterranean, with Sandwich Terns in attendance. Several Little Egrets joined the Cattle Egrets, that we found along the way, onto the list.
Waders we represented by Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Turnstone, Redshank, Greenshank, Whimbrel and the star bird of the day a MARSH SANDPIPER, a great find.
Lastly we stopped at Sierra Crestellina to look for Bonelli's Eagle without success, but we did add Pallid Swift (8) to our list and had good fun watching Griffon Vultures, Black Kite and Booted Eagles playing on the thermals.
Monday, August 22, 2011
But the best one was this lovely beast found and photographed by Jim and Alice down in the valley below the village last week.
This is a female Giant Peacock Moth Saturnia pyri . which is also a very large moth with an wingspan in excess of 100mm. (the hand in view is that of an adult man!!!)
Friday, August 19, 2011
It was interesting to note the change in the number of birds and in the species composition. I think that the Bush Robins have finally migrated, there wasn't a Hoopoe in sight and I didn't see a Melodious Warbler. But chiffchaffs have started to appear in small numbers.
Bee-eater numbers were well down too, however it is still a magical place and a great number of birds were present. Short-toed Eagles sat on every pylon, (7 were in view), there was also Lesser Kestrel (5), Booted Eagle (3) and Montagu's Harrier (4). Woodchat Shrikes were still present but in fewer numbers, the Southern Grey Shrike was present again, probably here for the winter and the Tawny Pipits were still there.
Hirdundines were represented by Barn Swallows, house Martins and Red-rumped Swallows, all in reduced numbers.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Landscape around Montejaque
View up the Guadiaro Valley
We have Richard and Michael staying with us for a few days and they wanted a couple of days out, so we thought that a trip to the coast today would be a good start.
The weather was dry, sunny and very warm - not much of a breeze today.
We left Gaucin at 9am and went straight to the track at SAn Pablo where we logged a lot of superb species and some great sightings.
The best, for rarity value was the Rufous Bush Robin, but for excitement and photography then Bee-eaters, Short-toed Eagle, Montagu's Harrier, Tawny Pipit, Woodchat Shrike, Southern Grey Shrike, Spotted Flycatcher, Red-rumped Swallow, Zitting Cisticola, Melodious Warbler and Hoopoe all gave a good account of themselves.
Short - toed Eagle
Less showy or more distant species included: Booted Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Common Buzzard, Pallid Swift, Sardinian Warbler, Corn Bunting, Crested Lark and Common Kestrel.
Along the road to SAn Martin we stopped to admire Little Owl (3), we also found a lot more Bee-eaters, Serins, Greenfinches and Goldfinches.
At San Enrique we logged the usual Tree Sparrows and found Treecreeper, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackcap, Meldodious Warbler, Chiffchaff, Cetti's Warbler, Grey Heron and lots of BLue and Great Tits.
In Pinar del Rey we took our picnic lunch whilst watching Jay, Chaffinch and Bonelli's Warbler. A short walk didn't produce much else as it was very hot by now.
We spent an hour at Sierra Crestellina looking for Bonelli's Eagle without success, we only saw a few Griffon Vultures but I am not surpirsed in 35 degree heat.
We retired ealry for a few cold ones before settling down to eat a lovely cooked tajine by our chef, Dawn.
Friday, August 12, 2011
It was a little too windy for bats but we did see Lesser Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Peregrine Falcon whilst waiting for the Owl. It got dark and no owl, until John shouted out "I've got it perched". Sure enough the little bugger had sneaked in behind us and landed on the hillside, we watched it for about 10 seconds before it flew off over the hill and that was that.
Summary: Very few bats and a brief glimpse of an Eagle Owl, it did give its 'laughing' call as it flew off - perhpas it was laughing at us!!
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Peter and Annie are staying with us here in Gaucin and Peter is a birder, so we went birding for the day.
The San Pablo track is fast becoming my favourite summer venue, it beats the river by miles! We arrived at 8:15 am and parked at the top of the lane then we walked for 2 hours. What a great time we had, just picture this: we were watching a juvenile Woodchat Shrike on a barbed wire fence when a Wryneck flew in and joined it! The Wryneck after s short while flew onto the track a little further away and joined a Hoopoe, at the same time two Rufous Bush Robins start squabbling right next to them on the track! Within five minutes we have added Tawny Pipit, Thekla Lark, Stoenchat and Linnet - all on the same piece of Track. Above them all the sky was full of raptors and Bee-eaters, a truly memorable time.
Rufous Bush Robin - I can't stop taking pictures of this rare gem of Spain
Yes we had several excellent sightings of Wryneck, Rufous Bush Robins (at least 5 individuals), Meldoious Warblers, Spectacled Warblers, Sardinian Warblers, lots of Bee-eaters and the raptor were tremedous. Short-toed Eagles, Common Buzzards, montagu's Harriers, Lesser Kestrels, Booted Eagles and Griffon Vultures.
The rest of the species count included Spotless Starling, Common Nightingale, Spotted Flycatcher, Goldfinch, Corn Bunting, Crested Lark, Common Raven, Barn Swallow, House Martin and Red-rumped Swallow.
We drove further south towards San Martin, along the way we stopped at a Polo Field where a Montagu's Harrier sat on the turf, there was also a Little Ringed plover there too. Behind us a weedy field held several Zitting Cisticola, a small flock of Serins and a 2nd yr. (male) Western Marsh Harrier, a very active animal resembling both sexes in colour!
At San Enrique we notched up Tree Sparrow, several Short-toed Treecreepers, Golden Oriole, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Common Sandpiper (5) near the river.
Our lunch stop was in the 'stone' pine woods at Pinar del Rey, the trees were covered in birds. As we sat eating our picnic a couple Crested Tits passed overhead, as did a couple of Bonelli's Warblers, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Jay and Chaffinch. A short walk produced all of those again plus Blackcap, Robin, Firecrest (some very tatty looking ones!), Great Tit all in a huge flock, I estimated that there were at least 40 Blue Tits in this flock!!
We made a breif stop at Palmones, but the river and sand-bars were covered with tourists and wind surfers and as a consequence not many birds were found. A flock of some 30 White Storks were loafing on the marsh, a couple of Little Egrets stood motionless on the bank and a flock of 5 Sandwich Terns quartered the pools.
Lastly we stopped at Crestellina to look for Bonelli's Eagle which appeared within 5 minutes but flew over the ridge and disappeared for good. We waited an hour watching Griffon Vultures, Booted Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Crag Martin and Short-toed Eagle but the Bonelli's failed to return.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
a very windy and gusty morning, cloudy with sunshine later. The change in the wind direction continues for its second day, so very little migration passage was on show.
Dawn and I stopped off in San Pablo and visited the 'Bush Robin' track on the way to the coast for a shopping trip. We noticed many Bee-eaters along the wires all the way down to San Pablo from Gaucin and also long the road to San Martin.
At the track many birds were keeping a low profile becuase of the wind but we did find lots of Bee-eaters, Woodchat Shrikes, Spotless Starlings, a single Hoopoe, Booted and Short-toed Eagles, Griffon Vulture and a Common Buzzard. Not much else showed and the windy conditions drove us off after an hour of looking.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
FIESTA AND FERIA WEEK IN GAUCIN - EVEN THE CABALLEROS HAVE TO QUEUE AT THE CASH POINT!
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
I collected Nick, Jo, James & Imogen from their rented finca near San Pablo at 7:30am and we drove the short distance to a track on the other side of the village.
Along the track we spent a nice couple of hours in a lovely warm temperature and we logged some 30 species! The best of which were several sightings of Rufous Bush Robin (at least 5 birds), Montagu's Harrier, Short-toed Eagle, Bee-eaters, Golden Orioles, melodious and Olivaceous Warblers, Zittig Cisticola, several Alpine Swifts, Common Buzzard and both Lesser and Common Kestrel. Common Raven, there were also lots of Corn Buntings, Greenfinches, Spotless Starlings, Red-legged Partridge, Stonechats, Linnets, Crested larks and many Woodchat Shrikes, especially juveniles. As we walked back to the car we had brief views of two Hoopoes that flew passed us.
At San Enrique we added Tree Sparrow, Booted Eagle, White Stork, Kingfisher (2), Common Sandpiper, Short-toed Treecreeper and Jay. Along the road to San Enrique we stopped to watch two superb Little Owls (found by Jo) very close to the road side and a Spotted Flycatcher (also found by Jo).
We drove round to Pinar del Rey and took a picnic lunch at one of the benches provided. Over lunch and during ashort walk afterwards we found Cirl Bunting, Crested Tit, Bonelli's Warbler (one still singing!), Blackcap, Melodious Warbler, Jay, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit and a few Griffon Vultures drifted over. At the emblase near Pinar del Rey we stopped to watch Cattle egrets and a Common Coot.
Our last stop was at Palmones we visited both sides of the marshes stopping in the town-side first. From the promenade in bright sunshine we found Little Egret, Common Ringed PLover, Whimbrel, Kentish Plover, Black-headed & Yellow-legged Gulls and not much else.
On the Algeciras side of the marsh we sat in the hide at the Torrejon Municipal Park where we added agood number of waders: Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Black-winged Stilt, Greenshank, Redshank, Dunlin, Little stint, Curlew Sandpiper, More Ringed Plovers and two more Hoopoes. We also found White Stork (45), Grey heron (3), Greater Flamingo, Mallard, Cattle Egret, Kingfisher (2), Marsh Harrier and another Booted Eagle. As we walked back to the car we found Common Sandpiper (2) and Green Sandpiper (1) sitting on a wire fence!!! incedible, how did they balance?
A lovely day out in glorious sunshine, we amassed 71 species and enjoyed evryone of them! It just shows that Spain is so good whatever the time of year is!
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
A large flock of Griffon Vultures numbering 75+ was the highest count of vultures in the area all summer! We also saw a couple of Melodious Warblers and a flock of some 20 Bee-eaters.
A single Black Kite drifted over us at a very high altitude and a good passage of swifts was seen also very high up.
Monday, August 1, 2011
Sympetrum fonscolombii Epaulette Skimmer
A very scruffy-looking Bonelli's Warbler