Monday, 17 May 2010

Lanzarote Trip Report - Part 1 Logistics and Sites Visited

Lanzarote Trip Report 3rd – 15th May 2010

Approximately 2 weeks on Lanzarote (Canary Islands) with a couple of birding trips made, mainly morning (0700 – 0930 – it wasn’t light till 7ish) or evening (1900 – 2045) however as we were driving around the island visiting some of the sights several birds were seen at random times/locations, birding trips were not made on every day.

The two weeks weather was generally hot (24-29oCs) with several of the days been quite to very windy (generally NW wind) and a couple of early morning showers (typically on the days I’d gone to the better birding locations in the north/east of the island!). Most days started off cloudy and this gradually cleared throughout the day and more cloud was noted in the northeast of the island and inland (if anywhere can be classed inland on an island this small?).

This was my first trip to the Canary Islands so I was looking forward to getting a few new species and some new endemic sub-species/races etc and I wasn’t to be disappointed. We were based right in the south of the island, just outside Playa Blanca where we hired a villa on the La Goleta complex. This worked very well as it kept costs down (e.g. we went to the supermarket to buy food, had our own private pool etc and it was lovely and peaceful!). We hired a car from a local firm that had been recommended to us, we got “upgraded” from a brand new Citroën C2 to an old Ford Fiesta! It was a rubbish car but got us from A-B, and occasionally C, this cost a little over £150 for 2 weeks hire. It was the first time I’d ever driven on the wrong side of the road but Lanzarote proved a good place to learn, with good roads and hardly any other cars!

From our base in La Goleta, Playa Blanca travelling around was easy and nowhere was really that far away. Locations visited included with species accounts to follow:

La Goleta, Playa Blanca: Location of our villa, good for close-up views of Spanish Sparrow, Kestrel, Trumpeter Finch, Collared Dove, Linnet, Berthelot’s Pipit, Stone Curlew, Southern Grey Shrike and ‘Azorean’ Yellow-legged Gull. The gulls would roost around the villas and bathe in the communal swimming pool giving great views! Barn and Red-rumped Swallow were recorded flying over the villa and House Martin and Hoopoe were seen over the town.

Hoyo Azul/Caleta Negra/Punta Pechiguera: Great location for sea-watching. A non-stop supply of Cory’s Shearwaters and ‘Azorean’ Yellow-legged Gull with Rock Dove, Common Tern, Gannet and 19 Bulwer’s Petrel also seen from this location on one evenings watch.

El Rubicon: Excellent site but under threat from constant and continued development. Houbara Bustard was ridiculously easy here as was Cream-coloured Courser, Stone Curlew, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Kestrel, Berthelot’s Pipit, Pallid Swift, Trumpeter Finch, Hoopoe, Linnet and Southern Grey Shrike.

Janubio (Salinas and Laguna): An excellent location only 8/9Km north of where we were staying. I made several trips here; most of my birding time was spent here as it was close enough to get to and from before breakfast/after dinner. Wader passage was noticeable here with birds present for a day or so then moving on. Highlights here were undoubtedly Baird’s Sandpiper, Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Greater Flamingo, Ruddy Shelduck, Barbary Falcon, Barbary Partridge and Iberian Yellow Wagtail. Other waders seen here included Sanderling, Turnstone, Whimbrel, Oystercatcher, Kentish Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper. The coast here was also great for sea-watching with Cory’s and Macaronesian Shearwater and Bulwer’s Petrels all recorded. Osprey was found roosting on a disused windmill. Several Sand Martin were seen here.

Campo de Golf Teguise (Tachiche): A friendly set of ground staff let me wander all around the golf course. It wasn’t particularly exciting in terms of migrants but species such as Chiffchaff, Sardinian Warbler, Southern Grey Shrike, Hoopoe (c65+, including flocks of 11 and 23!), Cattle Egret, Barbary Partridge (100+), dozens of Kestrel and Blackbird recorded. According to the literature I’ve found there seems to be little reference to Blackbirds on Lanzarote (eg. It’s not referred to within Clarke & Collins A Birdwatchers Guide to The Canary Islands as occurring on Lanzarote). I’d be grateful to get peoples opinions on this record. There were at least two males singing at different areas of scrubby woodland. The birds were much more secretive than those in the UK, and the song was much more melancholy, are these birds likely belong to the western Canary Islands race or the North African race? Barn Swallow seen here too.

Campo de Golf Tias: A young golf course with a lot less vegetation than Teguise, again the friendly staff let me on for a couple of hours birding, highlights here included a flock of 65+ Lesser Short-toed Lark, a dozen or so Hoopoe, two Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Pallid and Common Swift, Cattle Egret, Trumpeter Finch with the highlight being 3 Collared Pratincole roosting on some rough land.

Mirador del Rio: Spectacular views from here, the Barbary Falcon and Rock Dove made then slightly more interesting too! 50 Barn Swallow where noted too hawking along the cliff-top fields.

Mirador de Haria: More spectacular views with good looks at Canary, Raven, Kestrel and Linnet.

Jameos del Agua: Excellent views of the Lanzarote race of African Blue Tit and Pallid Swift.

La Caleta de Famara: Spectacled Warbler in the dunes here.

Driving around the island: Did quite a few miles best birds seen from the road included Black Kite (1 adult at Llano de zonzomas), Turtle Dove (fairly common), frustratingly a probable Eleonora’s Falcon was lost as I was driving through a village near Mirador del Rio. Quite a lot of Swift sps. were seen whilst driving, these were not checked properly.

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