Saturday, February 16, 2013

Las Islas Canarias

The epitome of spontaneity: purchasing tickets to the Canary Islands six days before departing and making no plans whatsoever. That is exactly what I did with my friends Nait and Virginia. Neither of them are birders; our transportation was limited to wherever our thumbs, feet, or public buses could take us. Therefore, I didn't have any chance to see any of the fancy endemics, but nevertheless I saw a few birds.

Barbary Partridge -- three flushed from a roadside on 7 February
Little Egret -- small numbers along the coast
Cattle Egret -- several seen in flight, first near El Golf del Sur and later near Los Realejos
Common Buzzard -- one or two on the north side of the island near Ocotava
Eurasian Coot -- twenty or thirty in the large reservoir between Ocotava and Los Realejos
Whimbrel -- two or three on the rocky coast surrounding Las Galletas (my first experience seeing the Eurasian white-rumped Whimbrel--made me do a double-take!)
Ruddy Turnstone -- a flyby at Las Galletas on 7 February
Yellow-legged Gull -- very common along the coast
Rock Pigeon -- no comment
Eurasian Collard-Dove -- common. I threw my shoe at one that was disturbing us as we tried to sleep in a park in Ocotava
Plain Swift -- several swirling overhead near Cantaras on 8 February as we sat along a roadside munching on Nutella and tuna sandwiches
Eurasian Kestrel -- the first bird of the trip, actually, a dead bird in the gutter as we walked away from the airport late in the night on 6 February. Afterwards I found them to be extremely common (I saw 20+ in ~15 kilometers of walking on 10 February.)
Southern Gray Shrike -- one near El Fraile on 7 February
African Blue Tit -- a couple in urban trees in El Taco on 8 February
Canary Islands Chiffchaff -- abundant in the countryside around Cantaras. I saw and heard a few others in subsequent days in the vicinity of Ocotava
Spectacled Warbler -- Fairly common in the coastal desert outside Las Galletas where we hung out. 
Eurasian Blackbird -- these buggers woke us up singing nearly every morning at four.
White Wagtail -- one or two
Berthelot's Pipit -- common, particularly in the arid areas on the southern end of the island.
Eurasian Linnet -- small numbers in the countryside between Cantaras and La Laguna on 8 February
Island Canary -- very common, particularly in the north
House Sparrow -- a few

So, it could be said that the trip was a failure in the birding department. But, of course, there is more to life than birding. Perhaps I'll return someday; I doubt it, though.