18-25 August, Gran Canaria

I like islands as a rule, especially if they have lots of birds, preferably easily accessible in my physical state. I So, in a vain attempt which may best be described as going from frying pan to fire after the hottest July in Spain  since records began (no, it wasn't last year), with temps. around 2.4ºC above the mean and with the oldest inhabitants daying that they have never known anything like it, my friend (female) and I hied ourselves off to Maspalomas at the south-eastern end of Gran Canaria. This is not an island renowned for its birding and this wasn't helped by the heat, the god-awful mountain roads (even worse than Madeira) and a general lack of easily accessible habitat. Not a good birding tourist ad., is it?
So what did we see? The basic answer is not a lot (shades of Eric Morecombe!). We stayed in a very nice little bungalow in the huge complex but very spacious and well planned tourist area of Maspalomas. We were visited every morning by one or two extremely flighty Canary Islands Chiffchaffs (mosquitero canario).
Canary Islands Chiffchaff
There were occasonal visits from a male Canary (the real thing) (canario) and regrettably there were also the now ubiquitous Monk Parakeets (cotorra monje/argentina), although these were outnumbered by the Rose-ringed Parakeets (cotorra de Kramer) (why did they change the name from Ring-necked?). There were considerable numbers of migrant Common Swifts (vencejo común) the first evening there and although numbers varied over the days, with obvious influxes, there were few identifiable Plain Swifts (vencejo unicolor).
We did a 2 hour pelagic, ostensibly in search of dolphins, of which we saw a a couple of pods of Spotted Dolphins (delfín moteado) but not geat views, nowhere as good as in the Strait, and I'd seen and swum with a biggish pod of 50+ of these when I lived on Andros. There were also 3 distant blows from some species of whale, but not Sperm and which may well have been from Bryde's, which the skipper informed were the most likely. as also being the most common in those waters.

The only common seabirds were Cory's Shearwaters (pardela cenicienta) (above) but these were not particukarly cooperative when it came to photos. These were seen from every place and particularly visible in the channel between Gran Canaria and Tenerife. There were very few Yellow-legged Gulls (gaviota patiamarilla), and - big surprise - a juvenile Black-headed (gaviota reidora) (below)! Bet that thrilled you, it didn't me.
There there is a huge protected dune area of some 4 sq. kms at Maspalomas which makes one feel like Lawrence of Arabia when staggering through it and which did my knees no good at all. On the western side of the dunes there is standing fresh water in the form of La Charca de Maspalomas and which we visited twice, both times in late afternoon. The first visit on 19 August produced some 12 Whimbrels (zarapito trinador), which had reduced to 5 by the second on 24 August and was reduced to zero by the time we left as the birds took off in the general direction of Africa as dusk fell. A pair Greenshanks (archibebe claro) remained on both visits, as did 13-14 Kentish Plovers (chorlitejo patinegro) and a single Ringed Plover (chorlitejo grande) which I see is now being called Great Ringed Plover by some, makes me imagine a plover the size of a Moa!, while the second visit also produced 2 Sanderlings (correlimos tridáctilo) one still showing the remains of breeding plumage.
We saw 2 Buzzards (busardo común) in the whole trip, and the best bird was seen at Puerto Mogan whilst my friend was cooling off in the sea. I had taken a coffee and was strolling when there was a bit of a kerfuffle and panic amongst the feral pigeons when an immature Barbary Falcon (halcón tagarote) flew over.
And thus back home, with the first migrant Chiffchaff (mosquitero común) of the the autumn in the garden on 30 August. Otherwise, the action is down in the Strait with records of Rüppell's Vulture (buitre moteado), probably 2, and I am going to try and get down there one day soon and take a look at La Janda. I shall also try and get some info. in the blog from time to time, so if you are totally bored take a shufti - just in case!
Good birding!

1 comentario:

Tom Hyde dijo...

Very pleased to read of your recent holiday, I was missing your blog, thanks for all your efforts. It is interesting to read about the other end of Andalucia and compare with Almeria. Tom.