Thursday, March 1, 2018

Blast From The Past

The whole country seems to have come to a standstill via The Beast from The East. Here on the Lancashire coast we escaped the worst of the snow with just a smattering of snow showers but days of minus temperatures. The easterly wind chill factor has made for bitterly cold and unfavourable birding weather. Even the garden has been devoid of birds except for Starlings and one or two Goldfinch.  Sue spent most of yesterday looking through the window but then about 4pm, I let her in the house.

So in the absence of any news and until the weather relents, I’m posting about our holiday to the warmer climes of Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands in January 2013. 

Although holding a certain attraction, the beaches of Fuerteventura weren’t the sole interest in our holiday. A hire car for a few days gave a chance to explore the island although at approximately 650 square miles there’s a lot of ground to cover, and a pure white car isn’t the best colour for approaching cautious birds. Remember to "Click the pics" for a close-up tour of the birds and the island.

Exploring Fuerteventura

Over the Plains Fuerteventura

The plains above Costa Calma and La Pared hold Houbara Bustards, Cream-coloured Coursers and Stone Curlew, but in a couple of tries we didn’t have much luck apart from 3 distant Stone Curlew and brief views of a running Courser. 

Cream-coloured Courser

There were lots of Lesser Short-toed Larks on the dry, open plains with small gangs of Linnets and occasional Southern Grey Shrikes. The Linnets are very unapproachable, as are the Goldfinches that can be glimpsed in greener parts of the island. 


Southern Grey Shrike

Lesser Short-toed Lark

We journeyed through the centre of the island through the village of Betancuria and on to the highest parts of the island at 600 meters, giving a spectacular outlook on the landscape below and distant views of an Egyptian Vulture. This species is apparently now rare on the island as they are elsewhere in its range and we had just two sightings of the vulture in two weeks. 

Egyptian Vulture

Exploring Fuerteventura

Exploring Fuerteventura

A walk exploring the outskirts and the village of Betancuria provided Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Kestrel, African Blue Tit, Spectacled Warbler and Trumpeter Finch. The latter three were all new birds for me with the wary Trumpeter Finch a particular favourite, due to its slightly comical appearance. 

Betancuria - Fuerteventura

Betancuria - Fuereventura

Trumpeter Finch

Trumpeter Finch

A few Spectacled Warblers were in song, and I guess the breeding season is quite early in these parts. 

Spectacled Warbler

The so named Canary Islands Stonechat is actually found on Fuerteventura only where it is said to be best found in the dried up river beds, the barrancos, dotted around the island. I found them in a couple of locations where houses ran down to the beach, one time finding one feeding on the tide wrack with Berthelot’s Pipits, until I disturbed it whereupon it flew chat-like to the nearby fence. To me they appeared much like a very dark-headed Whinchat rather than a Stonechat. 

Berthelot's Pipit

Berthelot's Pipit

Berthelot's Pipit

Canary Islands Stonechat - By Frank Vassen [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Exploring Fuerteventura

It seems were are stuck with the Arctic weather for a few more days but there will be a little local birding and ringing soon. Don'y miss it.

Linking today to Anni's Birding Blog and Eileen's Blog.



JP A Quiet Corner said...

Phil, it's hard to even fathom being there but thanks to the photos, I can see another world to get lost in. That little Warbler is my personal favorite...:)JP

David Gascoigne said...

Kevin, our bird bander and his wife are leaving for there tomorrow, if they can get out that is, because a major snowfall is predicted overnight. I will forward this post to him. He is only going for a week so any delay will certainly seriously restrict his vacation plans.

Jenn Jilks said...

I heard about your storm! We're in a melt. VERY unusual for Feb.

Stuart Price said...

Even more exotic than the Fylde.

We've had continuous snow cover for 3 months and it barely got above freezing during that time. My relatives back in the UK have been posting like crazy on facebook about the snow. Man up for crissakes!

Phil that last comment was directed at my relatives, not you!

Wally Jones said...

Curse that global warming! Huh? Record snowfall? Freezing temperatures? Oh. Never mind.

Loved re-living your sunny vacation! That Courser is stunning!

Who is the guy standing with you in the courtyard?

We truly hope your weather returns to proper British standards as spring is quickly approaching. There is ringing to be done!

Phil, thank you for sharing your warm vacation. Be careful in all that wintry messiness.

Angie said...

For one, I am grateful the Beast from the East has limited your birding at home so that we had the chance to see this compilation from the Canary Islands. Many new birds for me - the courser is quite a handsome fellow, and it appears that the Egyptian vulture is much more attractive than any of our State-side vultures! Hope your birding improves with the weather! (My elderly in-laws in the UK have not left home for several days due to road conditions ...)

Gayle said...

Today I choose the spectacaled warbler. Great capture.

Linda aka Crafty Gardener said...

Good to hear you escaped the worse of that storm, family in England have been sharing photos of the snow with me. Lovely series of photos.

Jane said...

Some great photos here, we are effected by the "Beast of The East" here in central scotland too, did some shovelling with my sister this morning but its about 2 ft in places!

sandyland said...

i want that beautiful courser - ny lapwing gone for now??

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil!:) As from today, I'm back to visiting, and many thanks for your visit. It's been almost three weeks since Americo and I felt the first symptoms of flu, and it's taken us until now, to feel better.

It's been stormy weather here, no snow, but torrential rain every day. We need it, but..the grey skies are a downer. It's a nice change to see some blue skies in your sunny holiday photos. The Courser is a splendid looking bird, and I love all your small bird portraits, especially the Stonechat and the Spectacled Warbler. Great finds in a beautiful, but treeless landscape!

Judy Biggerstaff said...

Thanks for sharing your series of bird pics. Nice to see birds i different places of the world.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Phil! It is nice to travel the world virtually. The birds are all beautiful, I especially love the Cute Cream-colored Courser and the Vulture. Neat sighting of the Shrike. The Trumpeter Finch is a pretty bird. Great collection of scenery and bird photos. Our power went out yesterday morning, Thankfully hubby got our generator working long enough for me to make a few comments. I will catch up on all links and blog comments asap. Thanks so much for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

Love seeing these photos and the variety of birds you saw. I hope the weather improves soon and you can get back out. It's so bad in so much of the US today...a good time to live in the far South! Enjoy your weekend!

Anni said...

I just fail to picture ANY of England with snow. And I am still rolling on the floor laughing about you letting Sue in, finally!!

Loved going back in time with you today...and all the sights. Your shrike looks identical to ours here in Texas

Sharing this blog post with us at I R B B this weekend is much appreciated, thanks!

Jean said...

Hope your weather improves soon! Enjoyed your all your pictures today, especially the Egyptian Vulture.

David Gascoigne said...

Follow up comment about Kevin’s plans. When they got to Pearson International Airport in Toronto they were advised that Dublin airport, their connecting flight location, was closed. Their money was refunded and they immediately booked a trip to Costa Rica, which is where they are right now.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Poor Sue :>))) (maybe this answers my concern expressed in my comment on your later post above where I worried about you going stir-crazy. Guess I should have been more worried about somebody else. Again, take care (of each other) and stay warm.

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