Sunday, March 4, 2018

Golden Oldie

Still the weather stops me from birding so I'm hitting the memory trail from the warmer, drier days of Lanzarote and January 2015.

Remember to click the pics for a light box slide show of Lanzarote.

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 prevailing 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 the centre of the island Teguise and drove north towards the spectacular cliffs of Famara, stopping or diverting the Corsa across rough tracks to look for 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 of the 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 mainland North Africa west of the Nile and 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 gives a bird the 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 the eggs 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 road Lanzarote

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

Linking today to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.


Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Even their sparrows are colorful! I've been reading about your weather -- hope you are staying warm and not going too stir-crazy. Your archival pictures and information are lovely to see and learn about; thank you for sharing .

Angie said...

I enjoyed your tour very much. Including your car in some of the shots made me feel like I was part of the trip - not sure why. Somehow I expected Lanzarote to be greener. The chick was quite a find - still getting its feathers!!!

David Gascoigne said...

Good morning Phil: it is not hard to understand that revisiting these images from sultry vacations past is comforting given the truly awful weather you have been having over there. When European weather makes the news here you know it is bad!

mick said...

A very nice idea to go over an enjoyable holiday. Very interesting how grapes were traditionally grown. I especially liked the Curlew photos.

NC Sue said...

I love that Spanish sparrow - wish we had him over here in the states!
Thanks for sharing at

Fun60 said...

Some of those bitds are so well camouflaged you did well to spot them. Nice to be able to look back at photos of sunnier climes during this particularly cold spell.

Stewart M said...

Great set of pictures. Looks a wonderful place to bird.

I assume you have been clobbered by The Beast from the East. Crazy pictures from the Lakes.

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Lady Fi said...

Nice shots!

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil:) When I set out to find certain birds and actually find them, it makes my day, and I'm sure you were pleased to find the Houbara Bustard, the Stone Curlew, and the Cream-coloured Courser, which you shared on a previous post. All three are remarkable species, none of which I have actually seen, but I have, visited Lanzarote many years ago. Unfortunately I was not interested in nature photography at the time, which is my loss, but we had a great time, so thanks for bringing back happy memories. All your bird images are beautiful and the Spanish Sparrow is very fine indeed.

Russell Jenkins said...

Magnificent scenery and birds. I really love that picture of the Little Egret and I could do with that lunch right now, thanks, Phil.

A Colorful World said...

A very fascinating place! So happy you took us along! How interesting about the way the grape vines are grown in the winery! And I loved all the beautiful birds. I've only seen a Bustard in the zoo. have a great week!

Powell River Books said...

I love the sound of a dove calling. I've never seen one around here. - Margy

A Colorful World said...

Phil...I didn't realize that you thought I still live in Arizona. I bet a couple of other people are still thinking I am there as well. We moved over a year ago to Oregon (went from Marie-AZ to Marie-OR) I knew a couple of birds mentioned as a possible ID were much further south than here. I think Eileen (Saturday's Critters) might be right, and it might be a bushtit. Have an awesome weekend! Thanks for trying to ID it for me!

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