Friday, 27 September 2013

THE GOOD OLD DAYS: Playa de las Canteras, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands. 1st December, 2007.

Doreen and myself was on a cruise to the Canary Islands and on the 1st December, we stopped off at Gran Canaria. In beautiful weather we decided to walk along the coast to a rocky headland at Playa de las Canteras.

It was an enjoyable walk and we looked at several local attractions on the way, arriving at the headland late morning. As we were making our way around the headland we both noticed together a Heron standing on some rocks just off the headland which we immediately identified as a First-winter Tricoloured Heron. This proved to be the first record for the Canary Islands and only the third record for the Western Palearctic, with the previous two records were both from the Azores with the first being seen in October, 1985 and the second in October, 2007, and both these individuals were also in first winter plumage.

Realising the importance of the record, we immediately started to photograph it and also to release the news to David so he could inform, which is the European rare bird news service. After spending some time watching and photographing the Heron we quickly returned back to the liner to collect another photographic memory card and I returned back to the headland only to discover that the Heron had departed. There were now several fine adult Yellow-legged Gulls of the Canary Island race atlantis, which were present on the rocks, and I therefore took the opportunity to photographic these while I was searching the area for the Heron. We left Gran Canaria at 5.00 pm to continue on our cruise.

Tricoloured Heron is a coastal species which breeds in America south to Northern South America. The northern population migrate south for the winter and most birds north of North Carolina migrate. Some time after I released the news of our sighting, it was discovered that the Tricoloured Heron was in fact photographed on the 15th November by a local tourism website organiser who placed it on his website but not realising what it was, or the significant of the record.

Although several birders tried to twitch the heron without success, it again resurfaced in February, 2008 on Tenerife some 80 miles to the west, from where we found it, and where it was twitched by a number of birders from the UK, Belguim, Denmark and Spain.

Our first sighting of the Tricoloured Heron on Gran Canaria.
Must rank as one of our best finds ever, and proved to be the
third record for the Western Palearctic.

Managed to work my way nearer to it, and it took no notice
of me.


First winter Tricoloured Heron on Gran Canaria.


Adults Yellow-legged Gulls of the Canary Island race atlantis
on Gran Canaria