Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Gran Canaria

After a long winter in the UK we decided we needed a 'winter sun' break so headed to Gran Canaria for a week, an island not famed for it's wildlife. Gran Canaria although off the African coast is a Spanish Territory so the birds count as European sightings :)

The nature of the holiday mitigated against much birding, but we made the effort to go out for a walk at the start of the holiday and to nip out of the hotel at dawn a couple of mornings running. We found some delighful birds we hadn't seen before, the following 3 posts show some of what we found:

Where else to start but with the Canary? I snapped this bird while on an Island tour - the only cloudy day of the week.

Blue-eyed Glossy Starling:

The commonest bird of all was the Collared Dove, certainly in inhabited areas, closely followed by the Spanish Sparrow and the Blackbird. Being full blown spring in Gran Canaria the mornings and evenings were full of bird song to the extent that even some of the hardened sun bathers were noticing it.

We got back home to reports of a Great North Diver in the local reservoir... I hope it's still there on Sunday...

Gran Canaria 2

Some more of the birds from Gran Canaria. This first snap of a Common Waxbill is taken just after dawn, literally outside of the hotel itself on some undeveloped land in Maspalomas. One wonders how long this plot will remain undeveloped.

A pair of pink birds (any help in improving this classification much appreciated!):

Again just outside the front of the hotel we found 4 Hoopoe, 2 fighting, one watching and one perched aloft and singing, now we know where the name Hoopoe comes from :)

A blurry snap but it shows the bird with the crest down:

Another dawn snap hence the flash, but a much better view of the crest:

Gran Canaria 3

This post completes the Gran Canaria series. First up a Willow Warbler snapped on a short walk around the perimeter of the hotel complex:

We went looking, a couple of times, to the 'nature reserve' (one side is fenced off unfortunately toursists were padding around the other side - so not exactly pristine or protected) looking for the fabled Kentish Plover, however we only found one Plover, this Little Ringed Plover and he proved very hard to get close to:

This bird is a mystery to me, the nearest I can find in either my European or (admittedly Southern) African fieldguides is the Sardinian Warbler but it just doesn't look like he has a crest, so I am baffled. Any ideas greatly appreciated:

Easy this one, a Laughing Dove, although judging by its wintering territory, quite a way from home:

Finally a pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls in the quite bit of the nature reserve.

In summary a surprising number of birds considering the reputation. Seeing and hearing the Hoope was just magic, a really majestic and elegant bird and a thirlling experience. We did get one blurry snap of what we think was a Blue Chaffinch, so I think we'll have to go back and get back up into the mountains to find one and get a better more definitive snap ...

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Another Great Week :)

A new species in the garden - as winter grinds on and the food gets scarcer - Long Tailed Tit - unfortunately it didn't hang around long enough for me to grab my camera :(

Today (Sunday March 5th 2006) we went to Rutland Water for a 5 mile walk, and then popped into one of the nature reserves in Egleton, adding a total of 7 new birds to our UK list (to add to yesterday's Common Buzzard):

Water Pipit
Goldcrest (the smallest bird in Europe!)
Common Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Snipe and
Smew - I managed to get snaps of the ChiffChaff and the Goldcrest :)