Promoting observation, free range exploration, sense of place and citizen science, through the field notes of a naturalist.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Street art and wildlife: Another trip to Fuerteventura

First things first, I don't do birding holidays. Holidays have always been for the family, doing things dads do on family holidays does not include the self indulgent pursuit of birds. But now my children are adults with their own lives, holidays have more flexibility. So while my wife absorbs the benefits of sun shiny days I can take myself off for an hour here and there to track down the local wildlife.

Last November we took ourselves off to what has become our second home. We have been holidaying in Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands for the last ten years or so using the same apartments, frequenting the same nights spots and dining in the same restaurants. We are just like swallows returning to the same farmhouse porch year after year, creatures of habit. 

So the following holiday report is based, not on a race around the island chasing the many endemic species that are present, but more on opportunist encounters fitted in around conventional holiday activities.

Day One

After a delayed flight and a hotel transfer that took an age, we arrived late evening, so, predictably,
day one started mid morning. There's a patch of rough land just on the outskirts of town that is part unfinished development and bare part volcanic rock. Here, on a previous holiday, I was surprised to find a couple of stone curlew. This time there was no such joy, but a Canarian crested grasshopper provided the compensation.

On the way back I drifted through the now largely disused water park. Unkempt and unmanaged this theme park is abandoned apart from a few satellite buildings including one that appears to be a heavy metal club, decorated with half decent street art. Street art that is somewhat more eye catching than the Sharon loves Kevin en-devours of the South Wales valleys. A hoopoe glided between buildings, alighting on patches of available grass. 

The afternoon was arranged around a coastal walk. This provided the first opportunity to make contact with the wading birds that are so accessible in this part of Fuerteventura. Totals for this walk included, 6 turnstone, 13 Sandwich tern (two with metal rings), 2 common sandpiper, 1 whimbrel, 2 ringed plover and 4 or more yellow-legged gull.

Our hotel complex contained the expected community of urban birds, collared dove and Spanish sparrow were widespread. To my surprise a walk through the grounds produced a Monarch butterfly easily the largest butterfly I've seen.

Day Two

I said we are creatures of habit so day two retraced our footsteps of the previous day. The two mile beach walk was populated by 3 little egret, 1 grey plover, 2 greenshank, 1 Kentish plover, several ringed plover and numerous yellow-legged gull. On the return journey a couple of hoopoe flapped through the holiday homes and a great grey shrike showed briefly.

Day Three

Today we went to Flag Beach where there are more naturists than naturalists. I felt a bit uneasy carrying binoculars and a camera, but its their choice to take their clothes off not mine. The now busy road to the beach skirts a National Park that consists mainly of sand dunes. For the first time I picked up a couple of cattle egret. No need for binoculars as they were running across the road chasing what appeared to be geko type lizard. Thankfully they survived. On the shore there were a few colour-ringed Kentish plover. Seems there is n on-going a colour-ringing project on Lanzarote. 

Day Four

Today the bird haul included, a party of up to 20 sanderling, a number of whimbrel, several grey plover and the usual kentish and ringed plover. Singles of common sandpiper, turnstone, raven and Berthelot's pipit. Back at the hotel, both little egret and great grey shrike put in an appearance. On the invertebrate front it was home from home with a single red admiral.

Day Five

This was a more overcast and breezy day than the previous one. A low tide produced the now somewhat familiar community of wading birds, including turnstone, ringed plover, grey plover, Kentish plover, dunlin, common sandpiper, whimbrel and black tailed godwit. Off shore there was a good raft of Cory's shearwater with regular Yellow-legged gull.

Day Six

The last full day of birding was all about improving my stock of photos - so here we are.

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