Thursday, 23 August 2012

Just got back from a week in Tenerife, it wasn't really a birding trip it was a relaxing holiday with the girlfriend, I spent a fair amount of time by the pool each day, can't think why can you?

 Nice Spanish scenery!

Despite the obvious attractions of the poolside I managed 7 seawatches, a trip on the Tenerife to La Gomera ferry, a Whale and Dolphin boat trip and a day traveling round the island looking at endemics!  not bad for a not a birding holiday!!!!

As you can see my main priority were the seabirds, I had four targets Bulwer's, Little Shear, Madeiran Petrel and White faced Stormie.  I thought I'd get the first 2 easily and the other two would be tricky with the White faced a long shot.  As it turned out they were all difficult and I was a little disappointed with the views of everything I saw, except the millions of Cory's.  All the interesting birds were distant and having no previous experience of them I felt I was identifying things because you know they occur there.  My totals for the week were 6 Bulwer's, 2 Little Shears, 2 Madeiran Petrels and I failed on the White faced.  Actually 2 of the Bulwer's were close enough that if I'd found them in Britian I would have felt confident claiming them, and one of the Madeiran's was nearly so, but everything else would have been birds that got away, although I suppose we all have different standards, I can think of a few who would have claimed the lot!

My impression of the island was that birds are pretty thin on the ground my species list was about 30ish, Massive eh.  OK so I saw some good birds in that and I didn't bother going to a lot of sites but even so it's low.

I didn't bother with the Pigeons because they are shit, I hate Pigeons, and in any case the forest fires have meant the track to the site nr Erjos is closed to the public and this is the only site I went near, well I think it is, I didn't actually read the book to find out if there were any other sites near anywhere I went. 

I visited the pools at Erjos but they were nearly dry and unproductive. 

The picnic site at  Las Lajas was open despite some evidence of fires nearby, I found the best strategy here was to fill one of the troughs from the taps and sit nearby with the camera.

 I had an abortive attempt at a seawatch from punta de teno in the north but there wasn't a breath of wind and it was impossibly hot and I just couldn't stand sitting there.

 Even though I was close to it every day I didn't bother going to the Roquita del Fraile reservoir, simply because I wasn't desperate to add Greenshank or something similarly shit to my trip list I wanted to spend as much time as possible gazing out to sea.

With this in mind I tried to find a good seawatching point that didn't involve a lot of walking therefore I didn't abandon Alison for any longer than necessary, brownie points you see!  The guide book suggests that the lighthouse at Punta de la Rasca is the best place in the south but it's a fair walk and I'm not convinced it's got that much going for it

View Larger Map

As you can see the lighthouse is halfway along a fairly straight section of coast which I don't think makes it ideal, it has good height though, but I reckon either end of this flat area of coast will be as good if not better.  With this in mind I usually just parked at Palm Mar and walked south to the obvious point.  I also spent a few hours at the south end of the town at a sewage pump station (a round stone turret) that in all honesty seemed as good as anywhere and was right next to the car so perfect for a flying visit, in fact I saw 2 Bulwer's and both Madeiran's from here, it did stink of shit a bit though, but no worse than the seawatch hut at Spurn when it's full!

The ferry trip was OK but the only birds that came close were Cory's, I guess you just have to be lucky.  I saw a European Stormie a Little Shear and 2 Bulwer's but views weren't good, I decided seawatching from land was gonna be just a s productive so didn't bother with the 39 Euro return trip cost again

I thought the Whale and Dolphin trip would be good for photography if nothing else ans the boat was small.  I also hoped that being on a slow boat for a couple of hours would offer a good chance of the target species.  In the end it was shite, 3 Cory's came close and were always into the light, I saw nothing else!  They also made no attempt to look for Dolphins despite claiming we had a 75% chance of them, I'd seen them from land and we didn't go close to where they hung out.  The simply took us to the Pilot Whales which are lazy and don't move much, therefore guaranteed , then killed time for an hour by going very slowly back to port but really close in to the cliffs.  I still think these trips have potential but don't use the travelin' lady boat, the othe boatr went out to the Dolphin area and spent longer much further out to sea than we did so would be a better bet.

Here's a few pics of the things that kept me away from the poolside.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Meet the new BOSS!!!

It's a few weeks ago now but what a win in the Tour for Bradley Wiggins, epic and truly an amazing achievement being the first British winner.  Then he went and won another gold medal in that there London! I wonder if next year it'll be a case of same as the old boss?

With the exception of Mark Cavendish who couldn't manage to win the road race and Vic Pendleton who seems to have been on the receiving end of some pretty harsh decisions the whole of team GB cycling seems to be unstoppable, hang on is that something we really are world beaters at?  Certainly looks like it Mark!

All this cycling on telly made me want to get out on my bike, I certainly need to get fitter and lose a few stone!  Trouble is mountain bikes are shit on the road, they really are no fun.  And around here the paths are all straight round the edges of fields with the only decent singletrack in woodland around the edges of the Wolds necessitating at least 10 miles on the road in order to get to anything worth riding.  Also at this time of year they are terribly overgrown with nettles and in winter the mud is so sticky it;'s impossible to ride through as it clogs your wheels up to the point they won't turn.  The other option is to stick the bike in the car and drive to somewhere like Dalby Forest or west Yorks but then you need at least half a day spare.  The upshot of this is you don't end up riding very often, well I don't.  So I've gone and done something I never thought I would, I've bought a road bike!  It's rather smart actually and amazingly fast.

I'm never gonna be a Bradley Wiggins but hopefully it'll help me do more exercise.  I've even thought that at some point I might try to do the odd race if I feel fit enough.  I've only ever done 2 cycle races, a cross country and a downhill on the mountain bike.  To be honest it wasn't much of a downhill, it was in Dalby and is now part of the black run there.  The cross country was an excellent course at Owler Bar nr Sheffield and I was knackered after it but the buzz was good.  I finished 18th in both weirdly.  I might have soem pics somewhere I'll try to dig out and scan.