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Sunday 19 March 2017

Slavonian Grebe, 3 Black-necked Grebe, male Scaup
Not what I'd planned to be seeing this Spring, but makes a change from migrating eagles, I guess! All three were seen this afternoon at Staines Reservoir, just a 10min drive from Shepperton where we're currently staying. It was cool (13C), windy (waves big enough to completely obscure large ducks!) and very dull but these three species more than made up for that. Also seen were Goldeneye, Gadwall, Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon, Shelduck, Great-crested Grebe, Redshank, Black-headed, Cormorant, Common and Herring Gull, Common Crow, Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail.
Some dodgy photos, I blame the poor light and strong wind....
Slavonian Grebe - size comparison with Goldeneye - I'd forgotten how small they are

Slavonian Grebe

Saturday 04 March 2017

A couple of sightings from last Tuesday, 28 Feb as we drove to Benalmadena...there was a Short-toed Eagle over the Utrera gorge at Manilva and a Eurasian Hoopoe flew over the N-340 at Calahonda. Also a Common Chiffchaff singing in the village up near the petrol station.

Well, Janys was finally given the go-ahead to travel and so here we are, in the UK where we'll be for the foreseeable future whilst she recuperates. Hopefully, others will continue to send me reports of Gaucin bird sightings that I can put on the blog.

Saturday 25 February 2017, Gaucin, partly cloudy, light W wind, 17C

A change in the wind direction brought the first returning Black Kite of the year over the village. Janys saw them first whilst sitting on the terrace; she called me but by the time I'd run upstairs, crashed my knee into a door frame and uttered the usual 'where are my f***ing bins?', they had gone. Still, a few minutes later there were more:
15:00hrs 50+ Black Kite
15:30hrs 10 Black Kite
Whilst hanging out the washing mid-afternoon (someone has to do it) I was treated to the wonderful sound of two first-summer Blue Rock Thrush having a sing-off. Marvellous.
female Stonechat
Blue Rock Thrush
Blue Rock Thrush (the same one)

Wednesday 22 February 2017, Gaucin, mostly cloudy, light-fresh SE wind, 14C

Dull and damp for the past few days in a succession of easterly winds. This morning the first 2 Barn Swallow of the year were over Calle Convento and House Martin numbers in the same area are up to 20+. The highlights of a look at the west slope of El Hacho this afternoon were a pair of Peregrine, Southern Grey Shrike and Cirl Bunting; also a Dull Ophrys orchid. There are still a few Song Thrush and Black Redstart around as a reminder that Winter isn't yet over, but Blackcap and Stonechat in full song tell you that Spring is around the corner.

Wednesday 15 February 2017, Gaucin, partly cloudy, fresh SE wind, 15C

The weekend and Monday brought a good amount of steady rain to the area which had cleared by Tuesday morning to leave a chilly feel in the fresh levante wind.
Yesterday down in urban Benalmadena a few House Martin and a single Barn Swallow were the highlights, though a small park with some 'heathland' produced Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Chiffchaff sp., Black Redstart, Linnet and Serin.
This afternoon a walk around La Umbria was pretty quiet, largely due to the strong wind, but most of the usual woodland species I'd expect to see showed up:
35+ Griffon Vulture between El Hacho and Gaucin village, Common Buzzard, 2 Common Raven, Eurasian Jay, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Crag Martin, Eurasian Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Firecrest, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Crested Tit (heard), Eurasian Wren, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff sp., Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Serin.
Large Tortoiseshell

Friday 10 February 2017, Gaucin, cloudy, light NW then SE wind, frequent light rain, 8C

A damp, chilly day today, but the rain stopped long enough mid-afternoon for a quick walk below the village, the highlight of which was 7 Hawfinch in poplars in the Prado de Leon area. There were plenty of Black Redstart and Song Thrush still around, also Common Kestrel, Blue Rock Thrush, Meadow Pipit, Firecrest, mixed flocks of Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Serin. At least 3 House Martin over Calle Convento when I returned just before the rain set in for the evening.
This morning two or three Common Crossbill flew over Calle del Pino/Convento.
Yesterday there was a probable Iberian Chiffchaff calling on the north edge of the village.
As yet, no Black Kite, or other returning raptors, but it won't be long.

Wednesday 08 February 2017, Gaucin, sunny, light NW wind, 17C

Nipped out a couple of times over the last few days, enjoying the beautiful, warm, afternoon sunshine. Birding highlights have been few and far between but there were Green Sandpiper, 10+ House Martin and 60+ Griffon Vulture over the Rio Genal on Monday afternoon, also a Short-toed Treecreeper in nearby oak tree; a pale morph Booted Eagle over the Gaucin-Ronda road just on the edge of the village and a Firecrest along the Camino de Gibraltar on Tuesday; a Peregrine around El Hacho on Wednesday.

Still plenty of Song Thrush and Black Redstart around but Spring is on its way evidenced by the increased number of singing species, mainly Blackbird, Blackcap, Sardinian Warbler, occasional Song Thrush and Black Redstart; no singing Chiffchaff yet but there are a lot to be seen.
Some random photos....
Almond blossom

female Black Redstart

Gibraltar from El Hacho

El Hacho ridge from its west slope