Thursday 2 February 2023

Lanzarote - Day 3

We were up early packing, put all the stuff in the car, and set off for some final birding. We made a quick stop at another water treatment plant, this one imaginatively called EDAR Arrecife II, which is on the way to the Jable del Medio from the main town. More Cattle Egrets here, tons of Short-toed Larks, and a Grey Wagtail within the compound itself.

The Hoopoes were still attending their nest, and very pleasingly were perching on the rock we had placed on the junction box the evening before. The light was nice and the birds were constantly returning with food. We positioned the car between us and the sun and sat tight. I love it when a plan comes together! 

We could not stay long as we had an early afternoon flight, but we did our best with the Hoopoes and then explored a nearby quarry. This had lots of Trumpeter Finch, seemingly preferring the rocky environment, but we couldn't take the car into it and attempts to close the distance on foot proved tricky. A few grab shots and then we had to go. Gear packed up, changed clothes, checked the car for anything left in it, and headed the relatively short distance to the airport. It had been a fun couple of days, warm, decent food, and good birds.

Trumpeter Finch

Wednesday 1 February 2023

Lanzarote - Day 2

After the frustrations of the previous day we went south, to the Salinas de Janubio, a large area of salt pans and a lagoon on the coast. This was heaving with birds, and although we wished for a scope we were still able to add many waders to the list. There are a series of shallow intertidal pools between the beach and the salt farm, but rather frustratingly there were signs asking people not to walk to the edge, so we had to view from a bund some distance away. I guess this is to protect a fragile habitat, there were some quite interesting looking plants growing in the black volcanic sand. Anyway, no photos, but we did manage 19 species here, which in Lanzarote terms is a decent list. The Salt Pans themselves held a few Ruddy Shelduck and a decent number of Black-necked Grebe. Viewing the pans is very distant, you really do need a scope.

At Playa Blanca hopes of a sea watch were dashed instantly - zero birds other than a few Sandwich Terns and Yellow-legged Gulls. Plan B was to go look for Egyptian Vulture and lunch on the nearby hillside. On the way we stopped at a small water treatment plant, EDAR de Playa Blanca. Amazingly (or I thought so at least) I picked up a Yellow-browed Warbler on call at the southern end where there is a small recycling centre. These birds travel far beyond Shetland! Also present here were a family of Great Grey Shrikes and a Song Thrush.

As it happened any Egyptian Vultures were hidden in low clouds, so we stopped and had some lunch whilst admiring the view (the post header from a few days back) and contemplating our next move. This was to head back to the plains via Punta Lima (just below the airport) where African Collared Doves were known to hang out. This is not a great tick of course, but it does count, and listing fiend that I am I was keen to try and pick one out from the numerous Collared Doves. The two-note song is the best indicator, as lots of the birds seemed unusually pale, and eventually a couple of birds did the decent thing though I lost them quiet quickly as the birds moved around a lot. 

Hoopoe. Pre rock.

Back at the Jable del Medio we couldn't refind the Houbaras, but we did notice that a Hoopoe was returning to the same spot near a small junction box with food. I guess birds breed all year round in Lanzarote, and sure enough we found a hole whilst the adults were away. Positioning the car for a nice shot we waited here for the rest of day and in the absence of a better plan decided to return the following morning, hoping that there would be some sunshine. Spiders, and quite large ones at that, seemed to the most common meal, but sometimes they came back with an enormous fleshy grub. Before we left we hit upon the great idea of placing an attractive rock on top of the junction box in the hope that the birds would naturally perch on this before entering the hole. I've used this tactic before with good results in the UAE and Cyprus for Wheatears, turning crappy situations into good ones. I expected that a rock, whilst different, wouldn't prove problematic for the birds. A good one was duly sourced from the surrounding habitat and placed on top of the concrete, after which we left for the day.