Tuesday 30 November 2021

Fuerteventura Dragons and Damsels.

 With Matt finding the birds, my task was really to try and find some of the smaller creatures, and although the variety of dragonflies and butterflies was quite limited there were still some nice things on offer.

The first odonata species I spotted was the Sahara Bluetail. A stunning damselfly which allowed a close approach most of the time but didn't pose in a particularly clear setting most of the time. Eventually I did track one down later in the week that did pose very well and also in very good lighting that really brought out its colours.

Male Sahara Bluetail.

There were also several Emperor Dragonflies seen during the week, called the Blue Emperor over there  the best posing one was in the gardens of the hotel we were using. 

Male Blue Emperor.

The most common dragonfly was the Red-veined Darter. Still classed as a rarity in the UK so good to get some nice sightings of these. Females were the most evident, although a few males were also encountered during the week.

Male Red-veined Darter.

Female Red-veined Darter.

We did expect to see more Scarlet Darter, especially around the swimming pool, but only 4 were seen during the week and none of these were near any swimming pool.

Scarlet Darter.

As far as the odonata species went, that was about it, but a couple of other interesting insects, which included my favourite of the trip, which was a very colourful grasshopper. This is called 'Dericorys lobata luteipes' and I believe is a sub-species of an African grasshopper that is only found on Furteventura and Lanzarote. Walking along a track it landed in front of me and would have been easy to ignore, but when looking closely at it the spectacular colours came to life.

Dericorys lobata luteipes.

Around the swimming pool one of the guests spotted a small species of Praying Mantis. I haven't yet found out what this one is called, but it was quite enthralling watching it.

A small Praying Mantis species.

Saturday 27 November 2021

On The Beach.

 We had several trips to the beach during our Fuerteventura trip and several interesting species were seen in and around there on the volcanic coastline.

Several Lizards were seen running about and hiding under the rocks when disturbed including this rather delightful one.

Lizard on the rocks.

Waders we encountered on the coast consisted of Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Turnstone and Common Sandpiper as well as some very showy Whimbrel. The Whimbrel were pretty good at catching the local crabs and were pretty good at taking them apart to find the meaty bits. Most Whimbrel kept their distance but on the last day one did show very well on the shoreline.


At the same location we had our best views of the Yellow-legged Gulls. This was the main species of gull there, and although I am not a gull fanatic, unlike Matt, I must confess the adult Yellow-legged Gull is a very handsome Gull and was worthy of several photos.

Yellow-legged Gulls.

On a different day, and slightly away from the beach a very confiding Spoonbill sat nicely for us, as ever with this species it did sleep quite a bit, but it did the decent thing and woke up for a photo.


Friday 26 November 2021

The Birds in Fuerteventura.

 During our week in Fuerteventura the main target was birds, and Matt done a great job finding many species over the week. This even included a couple of real rarities for the island. A Hawfinch that he heard calling in the hotel grounds on a morning search, which was then seen in flight by several of us was one such bird. The first Hawfinch seen on the island was only back in 2009, and there have been very few sightings seen since. On another day a Crag Martin was seen hunting insects over quite a long period of time, and with this bird several of us got some photos too.

We also had several attempts at finding the Houbara Bustard. Eventually we found a site where several were seen and we visited this site a 2nd time to enjoy the birds again. Such a fabulous species. Black-bellied Sandgrouse also caused us a few issues due mainly to the very dry conditions. The hoped for close views didn't materialise, but we did see a large flock in flight consisting of around 50 birds as well as a few much smaller groups.

6 Houbara Bustard together. Another 2 were also out of picture.

Crag Martin.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse.

Everywhere we went we seemed to find some Berthelot's Pipits. This species is only found on the Canary Islands and Madeira. A lovely little bird that was often quite confiding.

A Berthelot's Pipit doing some aerobics.

Berthelot's Pipit.

On our first and last day we went to a site that was visited a few years ago by a Dwarf Bittern. Such a rarity that Matt actually went there to twitch the bird. The Bittern is long gone but this was the only site where there was still a small amount of standing water and this had attracted a few waders. Black-winged Stilts were found here along with Greenshank, Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper as well as a few other species such as Hoopoe. Sardinian and Spectacled Warbler were also found here as well as the Canary Blue Tit.

Black-winged Stilts as well as a Greenshank and Little Ringed Plover.

The Hotel grounds had good numbers of Spanish Sparrow as well as a good number of Corn Buntings. A Hoopoe was also seen a couple of times.

A group of Corn Buntings and a Spanish Sparrow.

Egyptian Vultures were a regular sight, mainly at distance, but occasionally one would fly near enough for a photo. The two below on the mast were taken on the final morning.

Egyptian Vultures surveying the scene.

Juvenile Egyptian Vulture in flight.

Adult Egyptian Vulture.

Tuesday 23 November 2021

The Courser and the Shrike.

 Last week Matt and I were on Fuerteventura leading a tour for Naturetrek. During the week we had many highlights, but the 2 that really stood out were close encounters with a Cream-coloured Courser and a Great Grey Shrike. The Shrike I photographed with my macro lens!!

I will be posting other photos from our trip over the next few days, but to start with a small selection of the Courser and the Shrike.

The beautiful Cream-coloured Courser.

Great Grey Shrike.

Friday 12 November 2021

Mild Moths

 With several very mild nights for the time of year, as well as most of them being quite calm as well I have been putting the moth trap out more often than I usually would at this time of year.

Although I haven't really caught anything of particular significance I have had a few nice moths. Some of these are migrants that have flown across from the continent and this has included the Palpita vitrealis which is one of the larger 'micro moths'. Also known as the Olive-tree Pearl this moth is becoming a more regular sight in the UK particularly along the south coast. One of them I found hiding under a Clematis leaf and this gave me one my favourite photos of the year so far. On the photo the wings can be seen to be see-through, showing how delicate the species is.

Palpita vitrealis (Olive-tree Pearl).

Another migrant that is also increasing in number each year is the Radford's Flame Shoulder. This too is a migrant moth and this is the first year I have caught one in my garden, although I have seen a small number before from other gardens.

Radford's Flame Shoulder.

Many other species have been caught in the mild weather and the following are a selection.

Barred Sallow.

Rusty-dot Pearl.

November Moth.

Red Green Carpet.


Mottled Umber.

Large Wainscot.

Angle Shades.


Friday 5 November 2021

Devil's Octopus.

 A couple of years ago I was given details of two areas where the Octopus Stinkhorn could be seen. Despite many visits all I had for my efforts was one that had been eaten by slugs and another that was well past its sell by date!!

The other name for this peculiar fungus is the Devil's Fingers. Easy to see why it was given that name. Anyway, on Wednesday I visited the site again with Nigel and David, also sworn to secrecy about the site as I had heard a rumour recently that one was dug up last year??  Incredible what some people will do these days!! Here follows a selection of photos of other fungi, and a larva, that we have found over the past few weeks during the searches.

First the larva. This is a Fox Moth larva and the largest one I have ever seen of this species, and I would guess it will become a female moth as they are much larger than the males. It was also unusual to see it feeding on a small Willow as I normally only see these on the ground.

Fox Moth larva.

So far this year I have seen very few Fly Agaric fungi, and none of them have been good enough for photography, so maybe in the next few weeks more may appear.
One tree was partly covered in a beautiful Lichen that I believe is Cladonia chlorophaea, also known as Trumpet Lichen.

Cladonia chlorophaea.

A small selection of the more interesting fungi. I really should spend more time learning about these, but I say this every year and I still know next to nothing about them!!

Possible Laccaria laccata?

Mycena arcangeliana.

Amanita excelsa.

Amanita rubescens.

Amanita rubescens.

I apologise if any of the species are incorrectly identified. My fungi friends will hopefully put me right of any errors.

Then we come back to the Octopus Stinkhorn. After a really good search around Nigel and I were just about to give up and get back in the cars, when David came over saying he had found one. At last this spectacular species had appeared in front of my camera.
This species did appear in the recent Autumnwatch programmes on the BBC, so many of you would have possibly seen that feature.

Octopus Stinkhorn.