Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Birding on a Bike!! - Lanzarote

The weather has been changeable on Lanzarote and very windy. The island does not have a natural supply of water so when there is rain it is like gold falling from the sky and every opportunity to collect it is taken by the local people.

This is my fourth visit to Club La Santa (CLS) with Lou and Layla and the object of the visit is to indulge in the array of sports and fitness training that this offered by this sports facility. There is also the opportunity to take a bike ride and do some birding on the Teguise Plains near Soo (10mins ride from CLS).

This afternoon was cloudy therefore it was bike ride time. Lou and Layla on their hired go faster racing bikes and myself on a mountain bike (good for traversing the plains). The road to Soo is a slog uphill but the wind was behind us which helped. Las chicas! left me in Soo and I went off road in search of some Lanzarote specials.

I had another note to self moment within a couple of minutes down the track as I flushed a Hoopoe who displayed its crest before flying off.... Camera and bins were in my ruc-sack on my back!! Dooh!
(Berthelot's Pipit)
Berthelot’s Pipits were everywhere on the sandy and rock covered plains. They will even do a lap of the running track with you at CLS if you ask nicely! The picture was taken by our apartment. A Kestrel was seen flying towards a volcano and a noisy group of Linnet and Spanish Sparrow were seen near a farm building.
(Southern Grey Shrike)
I could hear a shrike calling and started to check the pylons but found the bird a Southern Grey Shrike (closely related to but smaller and darker than the Great Grey Shrike) sitting on a low bush.
(Houbara Bustard)
I cycled down the sandy path away from the building and crossed the road into the plains. I saw a pair of Houbara Bustard in a mixed area of small bushes and sandy scrub. This incidentally was where I saw them a couple of visits back.

I scanned the plains but could not see any Cream-coloured Courser on this occasion. The dark cloud was moving in and the rain was beginning to fall so I donned my fluorescent yellow jacket (Not bird friendly attire!!) and turned tail to head for CLS. The torrential rain stopped within a few minutes and I continued slowly back to base. A pair of Raven was the next species added to my very short list.
(Cattle Egret)
Whilst having a look at the Linnet, two Cattle Egret made an appearance flying onto a rocky area near some buildings. They looked out of place in this almost barren landscape!
I returned to the area I had seen the Hoopoe and jammed into two Stone-curlew, which is another resident species in this area. One bird played hide and seek freezing behind a wall whilst keeping its large eye on me until I had passed by.
(Bet he can't see me!!)
Dusk was on its way and I had to get the bike back by 1745hrs so I made my way back down the hill with a gale blowing straight into my face. That advantage was lost but it made The Green Team bike staff chuckle as I arrived back completely wrecked (having trained earlier in the day!)

Not a bad couple of hours birding and there are salt pans at Janubio which is a short car journey away (Hire cars are reasonably priced at e30 for a day). Viernes hay una tormenta grande!!” which may be a good time to visit as it will be indoor playtime for some part of the day at least!!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Day two for Grey Phalarope at Beddington Farm!

I went to the Farm at reasonable O’clock this morning and walked into an empty hide. Dodge, Frank and Mike were already on the mound ringing. Glen had wandered over to the enclosed lagoons in search of the Grey Phalarope.

The North Lake was littered with waterfowl but out of the corner of my eye I spied a small white bird on the water near the island to the right of the hide. A quick look through my binoculars gave conformation that the Grey Phalarope had moved from the lagoons and was moving slowly along the margins by this island. I put the news out and then took to my camera and then set up the heavy artillery (Digi-scope) which doesn’t get much use these days!

Throughout the morning there were several visitors to the Farm, all had fantastic views of this London / Surrey rarity. The two Bearded Reedling (3rd week at the Farm) were also very obliging showing well to the small group of birders. A Cetti’s Warbler and a Garganey were also present the latter was on the South Lake.

As the day progressed the Phalarope decided to take a small flight back to the lagoons but returned shortly afterwards and was last seen back on the North Lake in front of the hide! Will this bird stay another day? Gull pressure could be a deciding factor once the refuse tip starts up again tomorrow!

Not a bad days birding at all!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Spinning Around MEGA at Beddington Farm!!

Stormy weather overnight with a front coming in from the SW provided the Farm with another MEGA. Nick “Pyro “Gardner was doing his 100mph rounds when he spied a Grey Phalarope in flight over the Enclosed lagoons.

He phoned Dodge who was in the hide trying to coax out a Cetti’s Warbler that was giving out the odd brief contact call. Dodge’s whispers soon ceased when the news was relayed about the second record for Beddington Farm. The first record was in October 1987 where an adult winter stayed for three days arriving on the 19th and remaining until the 22nd.

The usual chaos of getting the news out ensued and then the heavens decided to open up which took another casualty in the form of a brolly which turned inside out on the first gust of wind. I made it over the mud bound mound and joined Frank Prater who incidentally used to be in the same class as me in infants and junior schools (over 100yrs ago now!!). I took a quick look through his telescope shook hands and then contemplated a soaking in order to get some pictures of the MEGA. Pinpoint and Swift arrived soon after.

I made the decision to make my way down to the lagoons and bumped into Pyro and Derek along the way. After brief congratulations I decided to dig in by some machinery on the edge of the lagoons. The heavens made me very welcome as I huddled under the now wrecked brolly and I sat out the short down pour.

The Phalarope seemed content on the sludge lagoons which had plenty of small pools on it for the bird to practice its spinning top feeding action. I moved further back to a set of concrete steps and set myself up waterproofs and all and waited for the right moment to capture some shots of the bird.

The bird would take irregular short flights over the lagoons and luckily enough for me in landed about 20m away on a dry piece of sludge. The camera work went into overdrive for a few minutes with plenty of setting changes in an attempt to get the best results in far from ideal conditions.

By now I was slightly soaked having crawled commando style in some “Gunk!!” and decided to quit while I was ahead and return to the hide. This bird is my third Beddington tick of the year, incidentally my second tick the Bearded Reedling are still present on site!! The Phalarope was still present this afternoon so fingers crossed it will stay into tomorrow Woo hoo!!