Monday, 25 April 2011

Lanzarote April 2011

This was a holiday not a birding trip and I did bog-all research beforehand although I soon did a bit when I hadn’t found HBusta or CCC by day 6/8!  Didn’t think I’d see much to be honest but was pleasantly surprised in the end!
Stayed in a blinkin hotel too, yes not a tent as usual.  Its a 4hr flight from Mani too which I didn’t register until the pilot said so. 
Anyhow, stayed in west part of Playa Blanca right at the south of the island with Fuerteventura in view across the water.  I did what most pasty Brits do and got flame-grilled on the first day.  Had Spanish Sparrow, Collard Dove, Sandwich Tern, Turnstone, YLG, Bertie’s Pipit, Common Kestrel, Linnet on the first day.
Spani Spozza
C Dove altough most were different
We had a walk up Montana Tinasoria in the La Geria (lava field vineyard) area on Monday and saw plenty shrikes, Bipits, Spectacled Warbler, 2 Raven and 5 Barn Swallow fed in the lee of the summit out of the wind.
I took a trip up to Salinas de Janubio the saltpans about 7km north and found 25+ B-wing Stilt, 4 Kentish Plover, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Redshank, 20+ Greenshank, 4 Common Sand, and wow finally; Trumpeter Finch, ten of them feeding on the rocky spit.  Driving back I saw two cream-coloured flying things with distinct black underwing and pratincole-type flight jizz although by the time I got the car to a stop off the road they disappeared and those views really were unsatisfactory. UTVs of my first CCC wasn’t a good thought to dwell on.  I headed back to the digs and had a scan offshore and saw 40+ Cory’s Shearwater.  What an amazing species, I could sit and watch them all day oscillating effortlessly through the constant wind.  2 Swift sp were seen around Rubricon at dusk.

Salinas de Janubio

Cur Sand

Day three saw us head to the north, stopping for a shot while at Playa de Famara.  The plains on the way NE of Teguise looked bob-on for Houbara Bustards...but not today.  A Hoopoe passed in front of the car and Sanderling and Spoonbill were on the beach.


Whats going on with the Shrikes out there? I saw  what I thought were algeriensis and one possible meridionalis but a few trip reports state Southern Grey.  I didnt see what I would call SGS-black forehead, white on tertials etc? Any help?

Playa de Famara

A walk from Haria to the viewpoint to the NW provided 5 Laughing Dove at the edge of the village, their call a distinct curu-curu-curu-curu-curu.  Several Bipits and Speccies were also seen on the walk and teneriffae Blue Tit, another easy call to pick out.
Up at Mirador del Rio 30 Swifts fed around the headland which I thought looked good for Plain.
Isla Graciosa from Mirador del Rio
On day four I had an early effort for CCCs at a site near the tip north of Playa Blanca but drew a blank.  I did see 2 Stone Curlew with two well grown young.  On the way to Papagayo Beach I saw a few more Trumpeter Finches, Lesser-short-toed Lark, and more Bipits.  A laze on the beach kicked off with an approaching large raptor- looked a bit Osprey like on-coming.  I got the bins out and a cracking adult Egyptian Vulture flew overhead and east. 15 Cory’s offshore that evening.
The following day we had a walk in the Timanfaya NP area which is pretty much a lava field and some of the area out of bounds with guided access only.  We did nip into one of the areas but got scared and retraced our steps and went to climb Mancha Blanca to the north.  Inside the 1km wide crater were 30+ Trumpeter Finches, 2 Kestrel and 2 Raven until the Kestrel mobbed them out again.
Common Blue
Clouded Yellow?

On day 6 I got up early to see what the Cory’s were doing at Punta Punchiguera the lighthouse to the west.  There seemed to be a build up in the evenings and that morning I had another 30+, some very close in.  We, (well I convinced my better half) should have a drive around the plains NW of Teguise to finally see Houbara Bustard.  Several rough tracks and 2 hrs later, nothing apart from loads of LSTL and a few Common Swift.  Then heading for a bit of culture at Cesar Manrique’s place I pulled over the car on the LZ408 near Nazeret and scanned the last good looking bit of habbo only to find a Houba having a preen 300 metres off into the haze.  Got a bit closer and mentally punched the air.  Also had another Stone Curlew here.  Also Cattle and Little Egret on the way back near the tip at San Bartolome.
In the morning we had a stroll along the coast west of the lighthouse at Punchiguera.  There was a strong NW wind blowing onshore and Cory’s were everywhere, a beautiful sight along this barren coast.  Another Stone Curlew, Whimbrel and 12 Sanderling flew east.
On the last morning it was make or break for the CCCs.  I fanctically researched a few trip reports as to where was best and most detailed the Rubricon Plain around Playa Blanca.  What was I doing wrong?  Was I looking in the wrong habbo?  I took the road to Papagayo as this looked right. I had a couple of reconnaissance walks leaving the car and hot-footing it at 90 degrees to the road but still no joy.  I went through the barrier to go towards the beach and tried again.  There were a good few LSTL and Bipits blaring out as the sun came up, another Stone Curlew crouched and hid behind some scrub and on my last scan a cream coloured blob sat amongst the low vegetation off in the distance and the relief was instantaneous.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  I took a few paces and scanned again to see two, then four birds, presumably a pair with two well grown young.  Another long awaited, much read-about since a kid lifer.  Back for breaky and our drive to the airport.  On the way 30 metres to the east of the main LZ2 road and not half a mile out of town, I must have had my eye in, as I spotted another CCC!  I’d driven past here nearly every day before and hadn’t seen them but there isn’t anywhere to pull in so best use the LZ701 which runs parallel and walk across.



  1. Hi there,
    With regard to the shrikes, the birds resident on the Canary Islands were formerly treated as a distinct taxon, koenigi, but they are now lumped in with algeriensis from coastal Northwest Africa by most(?) authorities. Whatever subspecies the birds belong to, they are part of the 'Southern Grey Shrike' grouping.

  2. Sounds like you had a good time Rob. How many lifers there? Now your task is to find a Southern Grey Shrike in Wales!!!

  3. Some top birds there Rob. Glad you caught up with Trump after the Blakeney disaster and saving tickable views of CCC until the last morning too, very cool.