11 Jul 2010

Day 4. La Gomera.

Having delayed our trip to La Gomera by one day this was to be our last day in the Canary Islands and our last chance for Little Shearwater - another target bird. We decided not to take the car on the ferry but to get taxi's to the Bar Carbonera where Carke & Collins say both species of endemic Pigeon could easily be seen from the terrace. What more could we want. Good views of both Macronesian endemic pigeons whilst enjoying a cold beer.

The trip to La Gomera was disappointing seabird wise with only a single Bulwers Petrel amongst the common Cory's. The Cory's provided fantastic views as they sheared alongside the ferry.  We did see two more species of cetacean on this crossing with Bottle-nosed Dolphin and Short-finned Pilot Whale being added to the list.

 Finding two taxis standing idle Eddie started negotiating in his best Spannish for them to take us to the Bar Carbonara. Starting off at   €50.00 per taxi we eventually settled on a more reasonable € 20.00 and the news the bar had been closed for two years! This meant if the taxi's didn't return we were stuffed so we stopped and bought some water and asked the drivers to meet us again at 13.30. As we intended to get the last ferry at 18.15 we at least had time to either walk or hitch the 12 km back to San Sebastian if we were abandoned.

Rather than sitting on the deserted bar terrace we walked a short distance alongside the footpath running alongside to a point where we had good views over the hills and valley on the opposite side of the road. Within minutes we'd seen the first of 12 Laurel Pigeons but only saw a single Bolles in nearly three hours.

Pigeon territory.
Wirral pigeon fanciers chilling out.

Laurel Pigeons - as good as it gets!

Once again there were penty of Butterlfies to keep us interested with Bath White, Canary Blue, Indian Red Admiral, Canary Grayling Cleopatra & Queen of Spain Fritillary all around us. Sitting with my back against my rucksack I became aware of a buzzing around me and found that for the last two hours I'd been sat against a Wasps nest!

Our taxis arrived as planned and we headed back into San Sebastian for a sustaining lunch before trying to find somewhere to shelter from the sun and wind until our ferry left. Deciding enough was enough we decided to take an earlier seemingly unscheduled ferry and left just after 16.15 for the return journey. Whilst waiting to leave the port we spotted a Barbary Falcoln circling the cliffs opposite and it settled on a rock face just below the radio mast.

After 4 days intensive birding we were bone tired and our enthusiasm was flagging. Still, we stuck at it and following the suggested port out starboard return positioned ourselves in a prime spot. This was to be the last roll of the dice for Little Shearwater. Once again Cory's were the main species seen and we also spotted 3 Bulwers on this leg.

With rafts of Cory's lifting off the sea as we approached Los Cristianos we expereinced a surge of interest as we scanned the floating birds for something smaller and darker.................

Then it happened. Fate once again intervened and the Gods smiled on our endeavours. Not only had we changed the ferry time but the day of our trip to La Gomera. Just as we started thinking it wasn't to be our intrepid tour organiser  yelled TWO LITTLE SHEARWATERS STRAIGHT OUT in a slightly higher pithced voice than usual. Success! We all got onto these dimunitive Shearwaters and incredibly I even got a couple of record shots as they flew away from us. Cometh the hour cometh the Little Shearwater. Almost right at the end of our trip.

Amazing  - we'd got nearly 100% of our target birds.

A very happy but dog tired and filthy bunch of Wirral's finest disembarked at Los Cristianos and headed up the seafront to a good bar I knew for a refreshing couple of beers before returning to the hotle for a shower and change of clothes before going out celebrating to the McGuniness Bar to listen to some live music and reflect on our trip.

Nest day we'd leave the Canaries after an exhausting few days but having seen some quality birds (perhaps having opened up a new route for Western Palearctic birders looking to add White-faced Storm Petrel to their lists), having some good laughs and enjoying some superb company.

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