donderdag 30 augustus 2012


It has been a while since I posted something on this blog. Since my gap year has ended I have to start studying again. Exactly one year ago I was sat in my cabin in the Pennsylvanian woods, banding birds at Powdermill! A weird thought!

 Last week I had my introduction week to Wageningen University where I'm going to study Forest en Nature Conservation. This week I've been busy with my introduction period to a student's union and coming week will be my first week of college, and I will also be busy with the students union so there's not much time for birding!

In between all the student things I've had some time for birding. Last week I had a new species for my county: two Tawny Pipits near the Hoge Veluwe. A very nice observation. Yesterday, at the same location, I went to see an Ortolan Bunting that had been present there for a day. Together with my dad and Maarten we saw and heard the bird briefly. Also a county tick.

Since a few days 2 Dotterels have been present at the Kootwijkerzand, together with some Tawny Pipits. This morning I cycled to the Kootwijkerzand to try and find the Dotterels. And after some intensive searching I was lucky!

I spent a few hours lying next to the birds, enjoying every moment of it! 

Dotterels (Charadrius morinellus), both 1cy birds

dinsdag 14 augustus 2012

Day 9: Rara Rara Houbara

26th of July:

In the morning the Houbara place was visisted - not much luck though. One bird was seen walking in a field next to the car, but the light was bad. After this quick visit we went to Arrecife, to do some shopping. We found a Ruddy Turnstone in a canal with some muddy edges, nice addition to the list. The city center was quite small but we spent a couple of hours there. Bought some non BTW parfumes and had a good café con leche with some pie!
Special light early in the morning

As usual in the afternoon, we swam in the lovely sea. It was a real privilege to have a small beach (with not so many people) near our apartment. It was just a minute walk to the beach, so no despite the heat, we didn't become overheated;)

My dad and I did a trip in the evening - it was supposed to be a 'quick round' but in the end it took longer than expected. Near Mirador de Haria I see a distant Eleonora's Falcon heading North and just before Teseguite we have great views of another dark morph Eleonora's that passes the road just in front of us. We stop the car and see the bird very well. Only the second dark morph seen here so far! We also see a couple of Fuerteventura Blue Tits.
Sharp and clear sight from up 'hills' to the coast

As we drive along the road near our Houbara site we suddenly see Houbara's walking just next to the road! We stop the car and with 5 Houbara's foraging on a very close range, we have the time of our life!

And this is the result.... still sharp photos despite my shaking hands..

And this is how we saw them...

zondag 12 augustus 2012

Day 8: The wine of La Geria

25th of July:

The morning was spent near Playa Blanca - mum and sis went shopping in Playa Blanca and the other half went to do some birdwatching (of course what else). After some fruitless seawatching and Punto de Pechiguera in which we saw just few tens of Cory's we proceeded to the Salinas de Janubio. 30 Black-winged Stilts were observed and also a single Redshank was seen. We did quite some walking around the salinas on the western side, but numbers of birds were dissappointing. This should be a good place for Trumpeter Finches, but so far this trip we hadn't been lucky with those..
 Black-winged Stilts 
Birding at Salinas de Janubio

Around 12.00 we drive back again, pick up the women and proceed to La Geria. Here we stop at a Bodega Rubicon where we taste some wine from Lanzarote and afterwards we have a great meal there. Ravens show well here, eating from some garbage off the road.
 The family.
La Gería

The rest of the day was spent swimming in the sea, doing some snorkling and that was about it!

vrijdag 10 augustus 2012

They taste good

I couldn't resist writing a blog post on this week's events in between the trip report posts. I spent this week ringing at the Ooijse Graaf together with Bram. We had a session every morning and in the night we had nets open for Quails.

Highlights this week were:

Quail 7 (3 on 06-08, 1 on 08-08, 2 on 09-08 and 1 on 10-08)
Spotted Crake (1 on 07-08 and 1 on 10-08)
Common Sandpipier (1 on 09-08)
Water Rail 2 (1 on  06-08 and 1 on 09-08)
Moorhen 2  (1 on 06-08 and  1 on 08-08)
Icterine Warbler 2 (2 on 09-08)
Tree Pipit 2 (2 on 09-08)
Savi's Warbler 2 (1 on 08-08 and 1 on 09-08)

Totals from the some commoner birds:

Grashopper Warbler 15
Sedge Warbler 23
Marsh Warbler 32
Reed Warbler 212 (84 on 09-08, 74 on 10-08)

Daily totals:

06-08:: 53 birds of 11 species  (44 new 9 retrap)
07-08: 12 birds of 5 species (12 new)
08-08: 46 birds of 14 species (42 new 4 retrap)
09-08: 140 birds of 19 species  (133 new 7 retrap)
10-08: 117 birds of 14 species (110 new 7 retrap)

Total for the week: 368 birds (341 new 27 retrap)

Especially the last two days we clearly had good migration at night, as we had good numbers of birds. Despite good weather on Monday and Wednesday there were few birds. On Tuesday the wind was too strong, making the nets vulnerable in the reedbed and there was not much arrival of birds. Every night we caught birds with the wader nets positioned in a meadow. 

Here is a selection of photos from this week:
 Quails (Coturnix coturnix); amazing birds in the hand...
 Obvious size difference in 1cy Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) and 1cy Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)
 Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana); 1cy
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos); 1cy
Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca)
 Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus); both 1cy birds, the right bird is very odd cold-coloured
Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis); both 1cy
 Savi's Warbler (Locustella luscinoides); 1cy
Icterine Warbler (Hippolais icterina)
 Yesterday's busy first round. Luckily we had help from Erik Ernens and Frans Schepers.
 Bram admiring an amazing looking 1cy Moorhen
 Faab is happy with the Quails.

My dad joined us today (10-08). Pictured here with a new species for him in hand.

donderdag 9 augustus 2012

Day 7: Quality birding

24th of July:

Photographing a Houbara Bustard was one of our most-wanted wishes for this trip. So we give it a try this morning. We visit the site where we saw the Houbara's our first night. Whilst we are on the way we already see a Houbara Bustard passing the highway, on the plains a few km south of Guatiza! What a start! The bird flies right over our car, fantastic! As on most mornings, there is a good cloud cover, which keeps the heat waves away and provides good light conditions for photographing.

While we're driving on a dirt track I see a large bird circling. As the light is not that good yet, I first think it's a  Raven but it turns out to be a nice female Barbary Falcon

As we drive on we suddenly discover a Houbara Bustard walking in front of the car! The bird sees us and walks away but it's not shy and starts foraging at a good range! Our first close encounter!
Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata fuerteventurae)

Next stop is Haría where we visit the cultivated fields south of the village. From Haría we walk a path towards the north (this path eventually goes up into the Barranco). As we'd observed before, there are many Spectacled Warblers around and we are offered some good photo oppertunities:
Spectacled Warblers (Sylvia conspictilla)

We see 5 Fuerteventura Blue Tits. These show really well, just like the warblers:
Fuerteventura Blue Tit (Cyanistes degener)

When we're almost back at the car we see large panic amognst the Feral/Rock Pigeons. It doesn't take long for us to see what's the cause: a (presumably) pair of Barbary Falcons is hunting them! We don't see if they have any succes as they disseappear to the cliffs after a while. 

We drive back through the Barranco the Chafaris again, where we see another 4 Fuerteventura Blue Tits. Also we observe 4 different Eleonora's Falcons at the same spot where we saw the one the day before. They're hunting above a small reservoir of water in a corner of the barranco. They're hunting on dragonflies and showing well. Great raptors! Later on the photos we see that one of the falcon's is ringed, where would this bird come from??
Bad light... 

And in the mean time an Egyptian Vulture passed by:
Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus majorensis)

In the early evening we visit Jameos del Agua. A cave with shallow water. It's a really nice place with the endemic Blind Crabs, that occur in the water in the cave. We see tens of them in the water, really special. A must to visit! A Fuerteventura Blue Tit is observed in the gardens there and over a 1000 Cory's Shearwaters pass by.
 One of the Blind Crabs
Fuerteventura Blue Tit (Cyanistes degener)

A Grey Heron  is observed flying over the highway near Guatiza on our way back.

What what what what a great day!

woensdag 8 augustus 2012

Day 6: On top of de Risco

23rd of July:

Another walk was made this morning, this time we didn't pick the wrong track:) We drove up to the Hermita, on top of the Risco de Famara. These are the cliffs you see when you are in Famara. But you can also get on top of them! From Los Valles you drive to Los Nuevos where you come near the edge of the cliffs. We parked the car near the Hermita and got out of the car to make the walk. First we enjoyed the view from there. The wind was very strong, it blew my sunglasses off... at least 6 bft.
 View to the south
 Tammo in the wind!
And myself

We started our walk, and walked parralel to the cliffs in a northern direction. Our walk would lead us to another viewing point (even prettier than near the hermita).

As we walked we came by a weather station, which amongs others, measures the volcano activity. Almost everywhere on the island, you can see this building, located on top of the cliffs. During our walk we saw Linnets, Turtle Doves, 3 Lesser Short-toed Larks, 1 Hoopoe, Stone Curlew, Spectacled Warbler and near the very nice viewing point we had two Egyptian Vultures soaring below us, patrolling the cliffs. Two migrating Red-rumped Swallows were seen here as well. Mum and sis went back to the car, and my dad and I went on to Haría, where the girls would pick us up again with the car. We descended down to Haría through a very beautiful barranco, probably the greenest on the island.

In the cultivated fields, just south of Haría (and at the end of the barranco) we had our first Fuerteventura Blue Tits, some 20 Canaries, many Spectacled Warblers and a few Turtle Doves. Certainly a spot to come back to some time later!

In Haría we had some drinks and then went home again. We passed Barranco the Chafaris (Tabayesco) and here we found a light morph Eleonora's Falcon hunting! Quick stop with the car delivered us good views.
Here's one of them:
Eleonora's Falcon (Falco eleonorae), light morph 

In the evening we did some seawatching east of Orzola, resulting in 1500+ Cory's Shearwaters, but also 5 Bulwer's Petrels. The observations of the Bulwers were however, very brief and quite distant, as they were  dissappearing behind the waves all the time, making it extremely difficult to follow them. Near the harbour of Orzola we see a dark morph Eleonora's Falcon flying over the sea, probably going to its nesting colony north of Lanzarote. Furthermore we see a Little Egret and two Redshanks.