Tuesday 31 January 2023

Lanzarote - Day 1

A trip to a small island is unlikely to feature a massive number of birds, and Lanzarote is no different. As such the main focus was on a small number of specialty species for which the wider Canary Islands are known, particularly the inhabitants of the large sandy plains like Cream Coloured Courser and Houbara Bustard. Mick and I started at the Jable de Famara in the north-west of the Island. As you descend towards the plain from its eastern edge it does not look particularly large, but as you head into it the size becomes apparent. A few main tracks that are perfectly easy to drive cross it east to west, and there are then innumerable smaller paths that with care you can also drive along in order to cover a bigger area. I don't know how many Bustards and Coursers inhabit this area, but in two hours that morning we didn't see a single one! In short, hard work. Berthelot's Pipit and Short-toed Lark were very common, and we also encountered a few Raven, a ringtail Hen Harrier and several Great Grey Shrikes

Berthelot's Pipit

Approaching mid-morning we gave up, and after a bite to eat in a nearby village we went to explore La Isleta on the west coast. This was pretty good for waders, and per eBird is one of the better sites on the island. This was simply for a breather really, and we were soon back on the plains for round two. Another hour and a half trying new tracks netted excellent views of a party of Coursers on the western side, but even that was brief, and as for Bustards!

Slightly to the east of the Jable de Famara is the Jable del Medio. This is greener and less dusty, with more agriculture, and amazingly we found a Houbara after a few hours of searching. Getting anywhere near it, even in the car, proved almost impossible, and whilst we gave it a go we lost the light. As dusk approached, the original Bustard joined three others that must have been lurking nearby and we got clear if distant views as they fed unconcernedly in a field.

Houbara Bustard! Five seconds of opportunity after a day of looking!

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