Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Birding Day Lanzarote Style

Today I’m posting more words and pictures from our Lanzarote adventures 18th January to 1st February 2015. Remember to click the pics for a light box slide show.

We drove north and west heading for the coast at Famara hoping to find Houbara Bustard, Cream-coloured Courser, Stone Curlew and other bits & bobs along the way. After breakfast we said goodbye to the hotel’s Collared Doves and Spanish Sparrows, the two species which dominate the grounds and where the few Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs stay mostly hidden amongst the greenery. Passing Kestrels may take a brief look at what’s on offer. 

Collared Dove


The male Spanish Sparrow is a rather handsome chap who inevitably bears the brunt of camera clicks while the less photogenic females look on. 

Spanish Sparrow

Spanish Sparrow

We took the road via La Geria, the wine growing area with its traditional methods of cultivation. Single vines are planted in pits 4–5 m wide and 2–3 m deep, with small stone walls around each pit. This agricultural technique is designed to harvest rainfall and overnight dew and to protect the plants from the winds. The vineyards are part of the World Heritage Site as well as other sites on the island. This landscape is pretty much devoid of birds although the ubiquitous Berthelot’s Pipit or a patrolling Kestrel is often encountered. 


La Geria, Lanzarote

Berthelot's Pipit

We passed through farmland near Teguise and drove north towards the spectacular cliffs of Famara, stopping or diverting the Corsa across rough tracks to look for the speciality birds of Lanzarote. Near Teguise a Stone Curlew flew across the road and landed in an uncultivated patch of land near to a half-grown chick - a nice find indeed. The chick crouched in an attempt to become invisible while the adult walked off and tried to distract me from its offspring.

Stone Curlew

Stone Curlew

Stone Curlew chick

Johnny Cash fans will know there was a Boy Named Sue. In Lanzarote there is also a place named Soo, not far away from the Riscos de Famara and it’s a good area in which to look for Houbara Bustards. With just a small population in the Canary Islands, this species is mainly found in North Africa west of the Nile in the western part of the Sahara desert region in Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. 

A Town Named Soo, Lanzarote

Houbara Bustard

Near Famara, Lanzarote

Looking for bustards, Lanzarote

As you might expect from a species historically hunted in large numbers the Houbara Bustard is very shy and will either hide or run from a vehicle, the cryptic plumage giving a chance of escaping detection. 

Houbara Bustard

Houbara Bustard

We stopped at the windy Wild West town of Famara to survey the rugged cliffs and sandy dunes where we found Yellow-legged Gulls and a single Little Egret along the rocky shore near the jetty. We followed up with a light lunch before hitting the road back south taking detours along the many dusty trails in search of more birds. 

Little Egret

Sand dunes at Famara, Lanzarote

Lanzarote lunch

The Desert Grey Shrike was a lucky find, the bird diving into a grey, thorny bush that upon inspection held a newly built, lined nest ready for eggs, and which from the female’s behaviour were surely imminent. I took a number of shots and left the bird to her domestic duties. 

Desert Grey Shrike

Desert Grey Shrike

It had been a great day of exploration and discovery but time to head back to Peurto Calero and a well-earned rest. 

The LZ2, Lanzarote

There’s more news, views and photos soon from Another Bird Blog.

In the meantime linking to  Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.


eileeninmd said...

Wonderful post on the birds from your trip.. The Stone Curlew and the Bustard are two of my favorites. The scenic views are lovely.. What a gorgeous place for a vacation.. Happy Birding!

eileeninmd said...

Wonderful post on the birds from your trip.. The Stone Curlew and the Bustard are two of my favorites. The scenic views are lovely.. What a gorgeous place for a vacation.. Happy Birding!

Stuart Price said...

You lucky bustard Phil!

Nice Shrike pics too..........

David Gascoigne said...

I really like bustards and I have seen over half of the world's species, but Houbara is not among them. So, that would have been my A bird on the list for Lanzarote. A good post, Phil, lots of information and interesting background detail about the island and its wine growing methods. Given that you are a wealthy chap, I know that you will want to take me with you next time, all expenses paid of course.

TexWisGirl said...

the spanish sparrows are beauties! love the bustard!

Margaret Adamson said...

What a wonderful post and I loved seeing the baby Stone curlew.

Linda said...

All your birds here are delightful, Phil, and the Spanish sparrow has such gorgeous markings and colour!!!

Bob Bushell said...

I loved the Shrike, my fave.

Breathtaking said...

What great finds, and splendid shots of the birds and the island. The Stone Curlews, and the Bustard really stand out for me,..would love to see them in the wild. The baby Curlew is so sweet, and it's a cracking shot of the Spanish Sparrow.

Russell Jenkins said...

Thank you for such a nice outing, Phil. The sparrows certainly are handsome and I reckon you did well to capture pictures of the bustards as well as the shrike. You never seem to go empty-handed. Like the lunch too!

Fun60 said...

The shrike is y favourite.

mick said...

Great photos of the birds and the landscapes are spectacular. I was especially interested in the Stone Curlew and could see similarities to the ones around here - especially the way the young one tries to hide by flattening itself on the ground.

Adam Jones said...

I do like the Spanish Sparrow and fantastic Stone Curlew too.

carol l mckenna said...

Wonderful photography of nature's birds from your trip! Always great shots here!

Happy Week to you,
artmusedog and carol

Mary Cromer said...

The Bustards and Stone Curlews how magnificent they are. The way the Curlew chick behaves and much of the look of the adult Curlew, reminds me of our Plovers a bit. The scenery is so pretty and the sun shinning, oh I want some sun. Have not had much snow here,but so cold. Hmm, so that looks like a sweet lunch to me. Thanks for sharing Phil, and take care~

Findlay Wilde said...

I would really like a trip like that. They are great pictures.

Wally Jones said...

I feel as though I just completed a very satisfying day of birding!

Terrific post, sir!

Nice finds of the bustard and curlew with chick! I know most think the male Spanish Sparrow is the most photogenic but your finely detailed image of the Senora is very appealing.

I hope you didn't become too addicted to all of that sunshine. It sounds like a wonderful vacation!

Looking forward to Spring migration soon here and more reports from home there.

Take care, Phil.

Gunilla Bäck said...

Wonderful birds and beautiful landscapes.

Karen said...

Lots of cool birds wherever you go!

Irma said...

What a wonderful series of images of landscapes and birds.
My favorite are photo 3, 17 and 20.
Best regards, Irma

Janice Adcock said...

So many wonderful birds!

Marie said...

What a fantastic place! Loved seeing the bustards, the pipit and the shrike! Great photos!

Hannah said...

What an exciting place to go birding. The baby curlew is so nicely camouflaged. It's great you could find the Bustard to photograph, I looked at You Tube videos of the fantastic display.

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