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Bird Report from a week in Lanzarote in late February,Chris Stamp
My wife and I visited Lanzarote in late February, having been to Fuerteventura the previous summer. Although this wasn't primarily a birding trip the moderate weather at this time of year was more suitable for walking and birding than snorkelling and beach visits.
The north of the island is more vegetated and more mountainous than the south, including some impressive sea cliffs, and supports a greater range of birds although perhaps a lesser chance of seeing the Canary Islands' desert specialities. The cliffs feature some spectacular species such as Egyptian Vultures, a pair of which we observed from close range at the top of the cliffs near Haria. These birds had been seen at dusk circling high with the gulls a couple of days previously but it took another closer daytime visit to confirm the identification. Apparently Ospreys and Peregrine/Barbary falcons are also found on the cliffs, but these we didn't see. Around the village of Haria, Spectacled Warblers were common and Black Redstart, Turtle Dove, Hoopoe and Song Thrush were all present around the cultivated land. Blue Tits are common in the palms in the village and interestingly some had the dark vertical breast-stripe which is supposed to be a feature of the North West African variant rather than the Canaries variant.
Ravens were seen around most of the high ground on the island, and is the only crow. Kestrels are extremely common and much less wary of people than in the UK, so their behaviour can be observed more easily. They obviously feed very well on the small lizards which occur everywhere. Kestrels were often seen overhead carrying off lizards. A possible Lesser Kestrel was also seen on high ground, alternately perching on a bush and running around on the ground after small prey.
Berthelot's Pipits and Spanish Sparrows are very common around the towns, and the pipits and Lesser Short-toed Larks and Linnets are widespread out in the countryside. Several Hoopoes were seen, all around the towns and villages. Great Grey Shrikes are apparently common although we only saw 2 during the week. Trumpeter Finches are also supposed to be common but we only saw one flock at the small volcano next to Playa Blanca. Collared Doves and Feral Pigeons/Rock Doves are not difficult to find, particularly the latter. At the Jardin De Cactus a Chiff-chaff was heard but not seen, and the Spanish Sparrows and Linnets could be observed bathing in the artificial pools at close range.
Around the coast Yellow-Legged Gulls and Common Sandpipers were ubiquitous and Grey Plover, Turnstone and Grey Heron were also observed at various coastal sites. The Salinos de Janubios which are reportedly a very good site for waders didn't quite live up to expectations, probably due to the time of year. However Kentish Plover, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Little Egret, Black-tailed Godwit & Greenshank were observed well on a very windy day. Later in the week, on a much calmer day, around two dozen Black-winged Stilts were also present, scattered in small groups around the perimeter of the lagoon, compensating for the earlier lack of unusual species. Conflicts between Kestrels and gulls were observed, although it was difficult to work out which was mobbing which.
A small estuary close to Club La Santa looks promising and held Greenshank, Little Egret, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Grey Plover and Sandwich Tern during a brief visit.
Desert specialities such as Houbara Bustard, Black-bellied Sand Grouse and Cream-coloured Courser can be found on the island but are elusive and we didn't make a concerted effort to find them on this trip.
Chris Stamp, Dundee