Shrubs, birds and aeroplanes

Sunday 19 April: Arrecife

Feeling a bit beaten up after falling over yesterday, I couldn’t quite face another long walk on La Graciosa as I had planned, even though that is not exactly hard walking. So, I decided to go back to Arrecife and see what I could find on the coast there. As ever I was up bright and early and out of the apartment by 7.45 so I could have a final look at the plants on the sea front at Órzola before getting the bus. It was decidedly cold and grey and there was just enough time to try and identify a couple more of the shrubs and succulents that had so far eluded me before enjoying the warmth of the bus. Then, as we drove through the lava fields it was nice just to sit and dreamily observe the plants in the landscape, now being a bit more certain about what they were.

Arriving at Arrecife bus station forced me to wake up and then, without a map, try to figure out how to get to the hotel. After a bit of meandering I eventually reached the sea, but a big town was not really what I wanted after my solitary few days. It was all rather noisy, though that didn’t seem to disturb the waders, which were incredibly close to the centre of town. First off was a Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) right by the sea wall, and then the more I looked the more I could see, as everyone else was bustling past. On the sand, shingle and rocks, especially near the old fort were one or two Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucus) and Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius), as well as masses of Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) and Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola).

Picture of Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)

Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)

Picture of Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)

Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)

Picture of Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucus)

Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucus)

Encouraged at the prospect of finding something to look at, I dumped my bag at the hotel, the sun came out and I walked, this time heading west along the coast path. Unlike the path through the lava fields, this time it was paved and had a cycle lane, with intermittent joggers and families out for a nice gentle stroll.

The gardens edging the coast provided plenty of opportunities to see the Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis) up close, often only a couple of feet away. Similarly, the rocky shoreline was ideal for photographing other birds, being remarkably close yet little disturbed by the steady stream of people passing by.

Picture of Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)

Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)

Picture of Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)

Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)

Stopping to look at plants, you couldn’t miss the mass of butterflies along this part of the coast, including Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus) and Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus), as well as several I could neither recognise nor photograph.

Finally, on the shore at the very end of the runway was a lovely group of Sanderling (Calidris alba) which I sat watching for ages, intermittently disturbed by the roar of jet engines just the other side of the perimeter fence.

Picture of Sanderling (Calidris alba)

Sanderling (Calidris alba)

Now walking back towards the town, emerging from among the Launaea and Traganum came a very inquisitive Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis).

Picture of Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

But I was getting a bit weary. I think I must have walked about 50 miles over four days, so needed to stop. There were a few more plants to look at, though many of them I’d seen before: Euphorbia balsamifera, Polycarpaea nivea, and the massive grass Arundo donax. A Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis atlantis) stood on the rocks, and a Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis koenigi) was the last thing I recorded as I passed through some waste ground just before getting back to the city.

picture of Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis atlantis)

Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis atlantis)

The blog posts on the Lanzarote trip

  1. Sand and lava
  2. Following Humboldt
  3. A long walk to the cliffs
  4. Shrubs, birds and aeroplanes [this current post]
  5. A Lanzarote album
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