“Nothing is black-and-white, except for winning and losing, and maybe that’s why people gravitate to that so much.”
– Steve Nash
Back in Sweden after a week in Lanzarote, it’s time to evaluate the trip and see how to improve it in the next years. Even we have not seen any megas, the pelagic has been a success: very nice views of a Fea’s petrel Pterodroma feae and loads of the commoner stuff: the 3 species of storm-petrel which are always the main target of the trip (White-faced Pelagodroma marina, Band-rumped Ocenaodroma castro and Wilson’s Oceanites oceanicus), some nice migrants (Long-tailed skua Stercorarius longicadus, Sabine’s gull Xema sabini, Red phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius, etc…), some cetaceans (Bryde’s whale, Sperm whale, and 3 species of dolphin: Stripped, Atlantic spotted and Common) and some unexpected sightings such as several quails, 1 nightingale, 1 reed warbler and 1 Common Kestrel migrating 70mn offshore.
The 2 sailing boats departed from La Graciosa on Friday night and arrived to La Concepción Bank at 10 in the morning. After some Cory’s shearwaters, Bulwer’s petrels and an adult Sabine’s gull, the first bird we saw was a stunning Fea’s petrel. The bird came together with a Band-rumped storm-petrel, flew over the chum for a couple of times (beating the wings just once!) and went away as it had come: nobody had seen it coming, it just suddenly appeared.
The shape of the bill was perfect for a Fea’s/Desertas, with the nail starting in the bases of the narines and an overall deep impression. Even it doesn’t look so pot-bellied in the photos, in the field the bird didn’t look like a Zino’s. Aggg Zino’s… one of the most longly-awaited species in Spanish waters!
The challenge was, once again, between Fea’s and Desertas. Moult timing should be diagnostic if we know the age of the bird, but this was not the case. However, some body feathers where retained, what may rule out a juvenile bird. Keeping in mind Fea’s is a winter breeder and Desertas a summer breeder, the fresh primaries should point to Fea’s. This species should be coming back from the other side of the Atlantic together with Grant’s storm-petrel and both should show a similar state of primary’ wear.
Talking about Grant’s, we saw all sort of birds: extremely fresh (summer breeder juveniles?), quite fresh (winter breeder adults?), worn and actively moulting (summer breeder adults?) and a bird with intermediate primary wear and growing secondaries (f*** knows).
White-faced storm-petrels were more straightforward. All the birds we saw were adults except for one recently fledged juvenile. It still showed the white edges in the primaries and secondaries and an ever more naive expression. Is impossible to get tired of seeing them. Both Fea’s petrel and White-faced storm-petrel were a lifer for all the crew in the boat I was leading, but the reaction was much more exaggerated after the White-faced tick. Definitely, one of the most impressive birds in the world.
In land, very good views of Houbara bustard, Stone-curlew, Laughing dove, Plain swift and of course Lanzarote landscape.
Even there’s been no megas this year in Lanzarote Pelagics, the species list is still impressive and Fea’s petrel has been seen in 2 out of 3 pelagics trips this year. Gadfly petrels were one of our main challenges and it seems we are starting to get the way of attracting them. Let’s see what happens in 2014, but I think this has only started.