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A Report from

Lanzarote - 16 to 23 October 2002,

Bob Biggs


My wife, Lorraine, and son, Philip, accompanied me to Fuerteventura in March and we had a good holiday, with good birding when I/we got the chance.  We have become tired of getting too hot in the Summer in the likes of Menorca so decided that early Spring and Autumn trips to the Canaries would be a better option. The Autumn trip was to Costa Teguise in Lanzarote.

This was a fairly quiet trip, birding-wise. I don't know whether we were just unlucky or whether Lanzarote is not at its best at this time of year. Certainly, you would not go there for the birds!


It was very windy and far more so than when we were in Fuerteventura. I suppose this could be down to the time of year. We also had a few cloudy days and some rain - just when I didn't want it!


We went with Thomson staying at the Oasislanz Apartments, which were fairly good. There was a depressing amount of building going on in Costa Teguise, no doubt at the expense of former birding habitat.


16 OCT - Left Newcastle at 2pm ; arrived Arrecife 6.20pm
17 OCT - Walked Coastal path in morning
18 OCT - Picked up car : Golf Club : La Cocoteras Saltpans
19 OCT - National Park : La Jubilo Saltpans
20 OCT - El Jable ; Cactus Gardens ; La Cocoteras Saltpans
21 OCT - Golf Course ; Returned car: Coastal Path
22 OCT  - Coastal path and dry river bed
23 OCT - Left 7pm : Arrived Newcastle 11.30pm


Arrived at Apartment an hour before dusk. A swallow flew over as we went to check in.


Great start for migration! A Redstart in the Gardens was the first bird I saw. This turned out to be the only migrant passerine I saw for the whole week! The first of several Collared Doves and Spanish Sparrows followed quickly.

A walk along the nearby coastal path added Yellow-legged Gull, Little Egret, Whimbrel [2], Turnstone, Sandwich Tern [3], and several Feral Doves.


Got the car [pre-booked through Hertz] and drove to the Golf Club Car Park described in Tony Clarke and David Collins' "A Birdwatchers' Guide to the Canary Islands". I was disappointed to see that the only way onto the Golf Course was through the Reception area so I decided not to ask permission as there were so many Golfers there, I think I knew what the answer would be!

I had a wander around the edge of the approach road/car park and soon saw a number of Barbary Partridges. My only lifer for the trip! Despite a thorough search, the only other bird I saw was a Kestrel.

We then drove around, stopping here and there, and saw the first of many Berthelot's Pipits and the occasional Great Grey Shrike from the car.  Eventually, we headed for Guatiza and drove to the La Cocoteras Salt - Pans where we saw Yellow Legged Gull [10], Greenshank, Redshank [2], Little Egret, Kentish Plover [4], Common Sandpiper and Turnstone. On our way out, we nearly ran over two more Barbary Partridges!


It was very windy when we left for the Timanfaya National Park and it was still windy when we returned seven hours later! We stopped at the Camel ride area and Lorraine and Phil took the ride, while I added Raven [2] and a female Trumpeter Finch to my list.  The birds were above the Restaurant/toilets entrance and appeared to have found a small pool of water. There was also a large number of Rock Doves in the area and a few Berthelot's Pipits.

We moved on to the National Park entrance and queued for half an hour to get in. Having finally arrived at the car park, we had a quick look around and watched the demonstrations of how hot it was below ground. Pretty impressive stuff although the wind was howling. Lorraine glimpsed a Great Grey Shrike amongst it all, which was also quite impressive!  We then caught the bus for a trip around the area, stopping occasionally to see the results of volcanic activity over the years.

Having arrived back, we then drove to the Laguna de Janubio.  From our first vantage point, it appeared as though there were no birds at all in the Saltpans area. We drove around to look from the other side of the road. I immediately picked up a large bird at the edge of the main lake. My first thought was Spoonbill but once I had my binoculars, it was clear that it was a Flamingo. The wind was still howling and I only had my small Kowa 'scope [20x] with me. However, I got enough detail to know that it was not a Lesser Flamingo as it had a pink bill, with a fair amount of black tip. It was unringed and I was fairly sure that it was a Greater. Unfortunately, I had a blank as far as Chilean was concerned and just didn't know whether it was a possibility that it was an escape.

When I returned to England, I e-mailed Tony Clarke to ask whether he knew of any escapes, particularly Chilean Flamingos. He was kind enough to reply that Lessers [likely escapes] had been seen. He added that a Greater had been seen in August on La Gomera. I knew it wasn't a Lesser and had already eliminated that. Now comes the stupid bit. I had checked my books for details of Chilean and had found that they are smaller than Greater. However, I only had sketches rather than pictures - I've never been to South America so have no books on that part of the world. It was a full two weeks before I was talking to a fellow birder about it in a cold hide in Northumberland. As I rambled on about the size of the bird and how difficult it had been to assess from a distance, he listened kindly to my story before telling me that Chilean Flamingos have pink knees and not pink legs! This one had pink legs from top to bottom! I couldn't believe that I had missed such an obvious point and, of course, I started to use my brain for the first time in three weeks and came home to try the internet, which gave me a number of photographs of Chilean Flamingos - Clincher after all this time. Shown as "Accidental" in Clarke and Collins, it was a good record after all. Phew!

As an aside, there were a few Berthelot's Pipits and Gulls there as well!


Another windy day with some rain. This was to be my Houbara Bustard day but it was a total failure. Having driven up and down various tracks in the El Jable area for over two hours, the best we could do was Lesser Short-Toed Lark, White Wagtail, Berthelot's Pipits, Great Grey Shrikes and Linnet [10]. We saw no steppe species at all but the weather was very unkind.

We gave up and drove to the Cactus Gardens near Guatiza, where we had a fly-over Hoopoe, Kestrel and two more Linnets.

We then drove to the La Cocoteras Saltpans and saw similar birds to those seen on 18th, although there were now 2 Greenshanks and several Kentish Plovers.


An early visit to the Golf Course car park gave me at least 6 Barbary Partridges, Lesser Short-Toed Lark and a Robin! I drove back to Costa Teguise, returned the car and then walked back via the coastal path, adding Ringed Plover [2] to my list. I spent the rest of the day on the beach.

In the evening as I sank a glass of San Miguel from the balcony, I'm sure that I scoped 2 Cory's Shearwaters from our balcony.


The day started with an amount of excitement from the balcony when a Chiffchaff/Willow Warbler showed briefly in a tree opposite. The strong wind meant that it soon disappeared. We went for a walk along the coastal path, seeing nothing new but there was a White Wagtail, which was a new tick for the coastal path list!

Later on in the morning, I walked further along the beach and came to a rocky area where I saw Sandwich Tern [11] and a few Berthelot's Pipits. Walking along a road, I saw a butterfly zip past me, which could have been a Monarch or Plain Tiger. I came to a dry river bed near to the Lanzarote Gardens Complex, not far from the beach. There was little there but for more Pipits.

I was bored in the early afternoon so went back to the river bed area to try to see the butterfly again. I didn't but I did see a stonking male Spectacled Warbler.

In the early evening, with the wind still blowing, I went down to the coastal path in the hope of getting confirmation that there were Cory's about the place. I took my scope and waited.and waited.

As I was waiting, a wader flew close to where I was standing. Automatically, I looked through my bins to look at a Common Sandpiper - bad move! In a flash, I heard the sound of crashing tripod and scope, which had been blown over as soon as I let go! There was slight damage to the lens, a snapped tripod - and still no Cory's. I was not a happy chappy!!


Last day.  I went for another walk to the same area as yesterday and saw nothing of any consequence. Left the Apartments at 4.45 and got an early take-off slot [I cannot remember that ever happening before] getting us back to Newcastle half an hour ahead of schedule.


Cory's Shearwater - Possible 2 over sea on 21/10
Little Egret - Seen occasionally near coast
Greater Flamingo - 1 at Laguna de Janubio 19/10
Kestrel - 1 at Golf Course 18/10
Barbary Partridge- Always near Golf Course. Also near La Cocoteras
Ringed Plover - 2 near CT
Kentish Plover - Small numbers at La Cocoteras
Whimbrel - Usually at least 1 on rocks in CT area
Redshank - Seen occasionally at coastal sites
Greenshank - Seen at La Cocoteras on both visits
Common Sandpiper - Seen a couple of times at coastal sites and at La Cocoteras
Turnstone - As above
Yellow Legged Gull - Seen regularly
Sandwich Tern - Seen regularly at the coast, max 11 CT
Rock Dove - Ferals seen every day, with probable pure Rock Doves at National Park
Collared Dove - Everywhere!
Hoopoe - One flew over Cactus Gardens
Lesser Short-toed Lark  - Seen occasionally at appropriate sites
Swallow - One seen at Apartment on two occasions
Berthelot's Pipit - Common as the proverbial!
White Wagtail - Seen twice
Robin - One at Golf Course car park
Redstart - One in Apartment Gardens 17/10
Spectacled Warbler - One male near Lanzarote Gardens Hotel 21/10
Chiffchaff/Willow Warbler - Seen from Apartment 20/10
Great Grey Shrike - Seen regularly at several sites
Raven - Two at Camel Ride area
Spanish Sparrow - Common
Linnet - At least 10 at El Jable ; 2 at Cactus Gardens
Trumpeter Finch - One at Camel Ride area


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