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Today I met up with Paul and Claire who have also purchased a house in Gaucin and have been regular companions on my day tours and birding holidays. We met early because we expected the temperature to be very hot by midday.

As luck would have it the temperature was quite cool at 7am with a slight cooling breeze too. We drove straight to the 'drunken oaks' track which is found a few kilomteres west of Ronda. 

the very dry landscape still held its beauty in the morning light

It was Corn Buntings that we saw first although we could hear Crested Larks and Linnets too. Within the first few minutes we located Southern (Iberian) Grey Shrike, Black-eared Wheatear (juvenile) and then a Woodchat Shrike, also a juvenile. 

a juvenile Woodchat Shrike, very pretty in its first summer's outfit

High up on the mountain rocks we saw three Red Deer as well as Black Wheatear and Blue Rock Thrush. The very dry landscape still held its colourful beauty, the exquiste light helped us to identify birds sitting 1/2 a mile away on the cliff tops. 

We walked across the open rocky area towards the heathland of broom and gorse and came upon an unuasual find in the shape of a Eurasian Nuthatch, this bird was foraging in the broom shrubs and must have come from the nearby oak woodland, nevertheless it was a good find by Claire.

Eurasian Nuthatch

Walking through the heath failed to produce the usual Dartford Warbler sighting but we did see Sardinian Warbler, more Woodchat Shrikes (adults included) and a very nice Spectacled Warbler. Both Crested and Thekla Larks showed well but we failed to find a Woodlark that sang fr4om the scrub.

The sun came up over the mountainside and warmed us up, it also encouraged the emergence of several butterfly species: Meadow Brown, Grayling, The Hermit, Small Heath, Bath White and Sage Skipper were seen in good numbers. Further scnning of the mountain tops produced Rock Sparrow sightings and more Black Wheatears and Blue Rock Thrushes but we failed to find the Common Rock Thrush which is obviuosly not so common here.

A Bath White

Cleopatra (the mediterranean version of the Brimstone - although both are found here)

We made it to the oak woodland and discovered a number of delightful  species,  the beautiful Subalpine Warbler made us wait a while before showing well but Bonelli's Warblers sang from many perches. A family party of Orphean Warblers gave us the run-around for a while but we all saw them very well in the end. A Eurasian Hoppoe was a fly over, as was Eurasian Jay and sveral common woodland birds went onto the day list.

The Hermit Butterfly

As we made our way back towards the car we notched Short-toed Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Common Kestrel and we heard European Bee-eaters. During our walk back e tried once more for the Dartford Warbler without success, a Eurasian Nuthatch flew over us (assumed to be the one we saw earlier) and more Black-eared Wheaters showed up.

It was getting very warm by 12:30 as we returned to the car so we jumped in and driove back to Gaucin, it had been a very pleasant morning with lots to see.