Friday, 24 August 2012

Houbaras and more on Lanzarote

Flying out on a Friday and coming back on a Monday, Lee G and I had a couple of lazy days birding in the sun on Lanzarote. Birding is pretty straightforward, when you find the birds... as usual for the Canaries, it's about the quality and specialities.

We'd been tipped off about a site near Guatiza where Houbaras had become habituated to man, coming to goat pens, feeding on trackside vegetation and showing down to yards. We made a couple of visits to this site where, along with 4 Houbaras, that were so easy to see it was unbelievable, species such as Trumpeter Finch, Berthelot's Pipit, Lesser Short-toed Lark and Hoopoe were also seen, making the most of the free food and drink.

We were also keen to see some Yellow-legged Gulls (yawn I hear you say - you thought this was going to be about Houbaras didn't you?) but amongst the flock at Playa de los Pocillos, Puerto del Carmen, one of the first birds we found was this 1st-summer (moulting to 2nd-winter) Ring-billed Gull: -
Ring-billed Gull Playa de los Pocillos, Puerto del Carmen 17th August 2012
I don't see too many Ring-billed Gulls in August so you can see it's in active wing moult with much of the inner primaries new, P9 regrowing and note old P10 which will be replaced to complete the set. Its secondaries are in a bad way, and you can just note on the inner secondaries the old dark bases that are pretty much worn down. The bill was an odd colour, going from pink to yellow which equated to orange, with slight paling at the tip to create the first signs of a 'ring' coming through. This bird was present on both Friday 17th and Monday 20th, while on this last date it was joined by an altogether fresher vagrant - a beautiful juvenile Audouin's Gull, bearing a Spanish ring: -
juvenile Audouin's Gull white ringed 'BPUY'

Audouin's Gull Playa de los Pocillos, Puerto del Carmen 20th August 2012
Other birds noted during our stay included Eleonora's Falcon (hunting over cliffs north of Orzola), African Blue Tit (in the valley at Tabayesco), a few Cattle Egrets and the odd Stone Curlew here and there.
It was also a pleasure to have some decent food and company on our last night, courtesy of the Spanish birders. They really chose a good spread of tapas for us in a traditional restaurant in Orzola - squid, octobus, limpets all done brilliantly and finished off with a massive tuna steak for 6 euros. And as an added bonus, not a single 'Brit abroad' in site which seems to be the case if you head inland or away from the resorts.
Everyone loves a Hoopoe!


  1. Hi Richard, going to Lanzarote in November. Very interested in your Guatiza site. Any chance of more details? Couldn't find a way to e-mail you privately, sorry.

  2. No worries - my email is richbonser8181 'at'

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