Tuesday, 16 February 2016

More Fuerteventura Birds and Butterflies

Late one afternoon we staked out the fig trees on Tindaya Plain, hopeful that a Houbara would turn up. To say it was slow was an understatement, just two Cream-coloured Coursers ambling by.

Then the resident Raven entertained us, dining on the old figs, the heat was soporific but when a large, odd looking, brown animal crossed the road just yards in front of us I was bolt upright and wide awake. I had never seen anything quite like this and between us we hadn't got a clue to its identity, two more appeared, this time behind the car and further away, but I managed a quick shot. Subsequent research reveals that they are Canary Island Wild Dogs, take a look at the coat of arms of the islands - guess what? Two big brown dogs!


The final surprise came as three large Yellow-legged Gulls landed close by and joined the Raven feeding on whatever insects were popping up in what is virtually a desert.

We couldn't leave without a final visit to the agricultural areas around La Oliva. When we arrived a Kestrel was terrorising a flock of Trumpeter Finches, What a hoot, the birds sat on the top of a berm and directed a constant stream of alarm "Paaaaarps" at the post squatting Kestrel.

I finally investigated the Shrike's nest and recorded the juveniles.


As we left, one last Hoopoe graced us with his presence.

Whilst the primary targets for the holiday were avian oriented I couldn't ignore the chance of some exotic butterflies. I knew that Monarchs could be found at Betancuria and that Plain Tigers occurred in the car park at the Oasis Park Zoo down in La Lajita. Also a posting on Sussex Butterfly Conservation by Neil Hulme suggested that the place was alive with the African Grass Blue, Zizeeria knysna  so I was disappointed not to find one. Another mistake was not to photograph the large whites, I had dismissed them as "too common" when they are possibly are a separate species from our UK residents. Tolman states that Pieris brassicae are not known to occur in the Canaries - others disagree.

My holiday list:

Canary Islands Large White, Pieris cheiranthi??   La Oliva but everywhere in shaded 

Small White, Artogeia rapae                                     La Oliva but everywhere

Green Striped White, Euchloe belemia                    La Oliva

Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui                                  everywhere in huge numbers.

Red Admiral, Vanessa atalanta                                 La Oliva

Common Blue, Polyommatus icarus                       Tindaya Plain

Geranium Bronze, Cacyreus marshalli                    La Oliva and Betancuria

Lang's Short-tailed Blue, Leptotes pirithous           La Oliva and Rosa de los Negrines

Monarch, Danus plexippus                                        Betancuria

Plain Tiger, Danaus chrysippus                                Oasis Park, La Lajita

Greenish Black Tip, Elphinstonia charlonia             Rosa de los Negrines and El Cotillo

I haven't done any butterfly photography in hotter climes before and failed to realise just how active and unapproachable they can be. The Plain Tiger never came close enough for a macro shot so I resorted to using my 400mm f5.6 - it was either that or climb up into the ornamental flower beds at the zoo. Well that's my excuse anyway.

The Monarchs were deceptive too - they seemed to flop about but were actually quite quick and never really settled. The most obliging subject was the Lang's I had three and when the sun went in they posed perfectly. Whatever, here is what I managed to capture.

Geranium Bronze

Green Striped White

Lang's Short-tailed Blue


Plain Tiger


1 comment:

  1. Hi Dave,
    What a fantastic birding holiday. Amazing birds and amazing photographs. Thanks for a great 'read'....very enjoyable on a miserable February day. Trevor