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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk
Lanzarote, New Year 2010,
After a cold snap in the UK at the beginning of December, we all decided that we would like some post Christmas winter sun. Internet research showed that the only place in Europe where the temperature was guaranteed to be above 20oC would be the Canary Islands. As we have visited here before, with members of our party holidaying on Tenerife and Gran Canaria, we wanted to try a different holiday destination, and so we chose Lanzarote. From a birding point of view I had a number of target species, Houbara Bustard, Cream-Coloured Courser, Barbary Partridge and Barbary Falcon.
The weather was generally warm and sunny, if a little windy at times, with daytime temperatures over 20oC. We wore shorts and T shirt daily but the hotel pools were too cold for swimming and only for the adventurous.
We used the car hire company Cabrera Medina which has numerous outlets across the island. We picked up the car from central Costa Teguise and left it at the airport. Total price for 6 days was £150. There were many excellent roads and many of the unpaved tracks were passable with care.
We stayed half board at the Sands Beach resort in Costa Teguise. This was a nice hotel which was conveniently located for easy access out of town. It was also adjacent to the coast. It had its own seawater lagoon, and it was adequate for all our needs.
A Birdwatchers Guide to the Canary Islands by Clarke and Collins (essential reading!)
Day 1 29th December 2009
We flew on time from Gatwick with Monarch Airways and 4.5 hours later we arrived in Arrecife. By then it was dark and we took a pre-booked taxi to our hotel in Costa Teguise. We had missed our dinner but the hotel provided us with a ‘packed dinner ‘ to sustain us to breakfast
Day 2 30th December 2009
After breakfast we walked into town along the coastal promenade. Collared Dove and Spanish Sparrow were obvious around the hotel and lagoon. As we walked along I noted a number of waders on the rocks and the sandy beach. Yellow Legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Turnstone, Grey Plover, Whimbrel, Ringed Plover and Dunlin were all present. An Immature Gannet fished offshore. After a tea break in a local cafe we booked a car for collection at lunchtime the following day from Cabrera Medina. We walked back to the hotel along the promenade where I noted Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and Little Egret. After a siesta and swim in the very cold hotel pool we decided to take a late afternoon walk east of the hotel. After the promenade ended we followed a prominent track along the coast. Birds seen in the vicinity included numerous Berthelot’s Pipits and a party of Lesser Short Toed Larks. A Spectacled Warbler was seen well in a gully leading down to the sea.
Day 3 31st December 2009
We again walked to town along the promenade and picked up our Opel Astra. I heard a Chiffchaff singing near the town centre. To get used to the car and roads we stayed local and drove to the beautiful Jardin de Cactus in Guatiza where Feral Pigeon, Collared Doves and Spanish Sparrow were prominent. On the way back we stopped off at Los Cocoteros Salt Pans. I left the main road and followed the track which bought us to the south of the salt pans. A Great Grey Shrike flew in front of the car. Many of the salt pans were free of water but in the pans with water Redshank, Kentish Plover and Ringed Plover were noted. We finished the year with a nice New Years Eve sea food meal at the hotel.
Southern Grey Shrike
Yellow Legged Gull
Day 4 1st January 2010
Today we spent the day in the west of the island. We stopped initially at the attractive port of Puerto Calero before moving on to the Parque National de Timanfaya. A Hoopoe and a number of Kestrels were noted on the way. We paid our entrance fee to the Park and drove up to the visitors centre where we took a coach to see the impressive geology of this National Park. We enjoyed this and then left for El Golfo where we had an extended lunch and visited the turquoise Lagos de los Clicos. Many Yellow Legged Gulls were evident in the area, as were the ubiquitous Berthelot’s Pipits. On the way back we passed the Salinas de Janubio where I had distant views of a solitary Greater Flamingo and many Black Winged Stilts. Finally, having dropped some members of our party in Playa Blanca, we went to see if we could find my first target bird, Cream-Coloured Courser. Previous internet correspondence with another birder had revealed a good site just north of Playa Blanca.
Taking the Avenue A Femes out of Playa Blanca and heading east we came to a very large roundabout. We turned left at this island onto a track and followed this as it headed North West. After a while the track began to head due West in the direction of the LZ2. We drove slowly along the track, stopping occasionally and scanning the general area. I was just getting despondent, as all I could see was the usual Pipits and Larks, when a sudden movement caught my eye. It was a Courser and then another and another!! We had excellent views. Eventually 7 in total were noted. Linnets were also present. Elated I picked up the rest of our party and we returned to Costa Teguise. One target down!!!
Day 5 2nd January 2010
This was to be another main bird target day. We woke early and drove to El Jable plain. On the way Thomas noted a White Wagtail.
From Costa Teguise take the road out of town that passes the Aquapark and the Golf course. When you get to a traffic island turn right towards Tahiche. Then after a few miles take a left turn just after entering Nazaret. Follow this to a T junction with the LZ30, turn right and at the roundabout turn left. After a few hundred meters take the prominent track on the left. You are in Bustard country!
It only took about 10 minutes to find the first one, which was displaying. We just drove along the track for about a kilometer, stopping and looking at points where there was a good view of the plain. We think we saw maybe 5 individual Houbara Bustards, along with the same ubiquitous Larks and Pipets. We arrived at about 8.15 and left at about 9.30. Happy after finding another Canary Islands target bird, I drove back for a late breakfast and to join up with the rest of the party.
NB Paragliders were in the area on the day we visitied and one bustard was clearly flushed by this activity.
The rest of the morning was spent on the beach. After lunch we headed north stopping initially at the Jameos del Agua for its endemic Blind Cave Crabs and geology displays. We stopped at a number of the viewpoints overlooking the neighbouring island of La Graciosa and finished the day with a further sighting of Houbara Bustard in the same general area as the morning (5pm).
Day 6 3rd January 2010
Spent the morning at Teguise market and the rest of the day at the beach.
Cattle Egrets were often seen near the main traffic island in Costa Teguise, labelled Los Colinos on Google Earth, from where the road leads to the aquapark and the the Campa de Golf.
Day 7 4th January 2010
Woke early again and drove to Los Ajibes Campo de Golf in the hope of finding Barbary Partridges. By taking one of the roads to the south of the golf couse it was possible to get good views of the fairways. Over the next few years, these roads will undoubtedly eventually lead to further holiday developments in the area adjacent to the golf course.
We left the car and headed towards the golf course. A Hoopoe and a Great Grey Shrike were noted. As soon as we got out of the car we flushed a party of Barbery Partridges which gave excellent views as they settled a few hundred meters away. Another one in the bag!!
Later in the day we visited Orzola at the north of the island with its’ dried up saltpans. A Grey Heron was noted and two swifts flew overhead which I presumed were Pallid Swifts. As we walked around the harbor a large falcon, with what appeared to be a red crown with the naked eye, soared overhead. Did we have the full set of target birds? Well it was either a Peregrine or a Barbary Falcon but we will never know.
I dropped the rest of the party off at the hotel and made a final visit to the Los Cocoteros Salt Pans. I parked as before and noted very little initially but was soon drawn to a flock of Redshanks and a bird I did not expect to see in the Canary Islands. Feeding continually in one of the saltpans in the company of a Ruff and Greenshank was a Grey Phalorope! This was nice way to finish the holiday, a Spanish rarity.
Day 8 5th January 2010
We had a few hours in the morning before catching our plane home, so we again drove to El Jable plain for more Bustard sightings. Problems with our plane and snow at Gatwick meant that we spent another night in Lanzarote which wasn't too arduous!!
Overall a nice relaxing holiday where I saw a number of speciality birds of the Canary Islands - Houbara Bustard, Cream-Coloured Courser and Barbary Partridge. Confirmed Barbary Falcon can wait till another visit!!
Beach waders (Grey Plover, Ringed Plover & Dunlin)
Black Winged Stilt
Yellow Legged Gull
Lesser Short Toed Lark
Bertholet’s PipetWhite Wagtail
Great Grey Shrike