Sunday, 18 February 2018


During my week off work, the birding at Maspalomas was the least memorable but that was circumstance (I know it can be very good on the islands). It was only a stop-over for me before my main birding trip to Laayoune in Western Sahara.

Indeed I birded out of my lodgings and didn't head for any known hotspots near-by in the interior. 

However, I did make it to Charca Malpalomas which is a saline lagoon in the dunes. Furthermore, I added five species to my small but growing Spanish list so it wasn't all bad.

There were relatively few species at Charca but one of them was a Mediterranean gull which was an addition.

Mediterranean gull 1

I am not alone in finding it difficult to separate immature Mediterranean gull from Audouin's gull. I know this was personal correspondence. 

If I am lucky there will be a black-headed gull present which sets the size comparison up. Audouin's is obviously larger but Mediterranean gull is marginally so.

Mediterranaean gull 2

Both can have a dark mask though no Audouin's gull has one quite as large as the one in this bird. The line of bleached brown juvenile wing coverts marks it out as Mediterranean gull too.

Mediterranean gull 3

Also, the mantle is very pale. I must say that I don't find the sloping head on an Audouin's gull as easy to judge as it is often made out.

Audouin's gull

There was an adult Audouin's gull present.

lesser black-backed gull

Lesser black-backed gull was another addition.

yellow-legged gull

There were also black-headed gull and yellow-legged gull present. So that make four types of gull among the only eight or so there.


At the far side of the lagoon were three greenshank. These were also additions to my Spanish list which has reached the mediocre heights of 91. However, that will change over the years with me having a relatively new second home near Valencia.

African collared dove

Just like an earlier visit to Las Palmas, last year, I found many more African collared dove than European collared dove. This is in stark contrast to records from some other visiting birders.

However, I am confident. I have large scale experience in separating these birds in Dhofar, Oman, south west Saudi Arabia and Nouakchott, Mauritania. I have worked in all three countries and there are few other places where they naturally overlap.

I implore visiters to look closely at these doves. Having said that I have only visited two urban areas in Gran Canaria. The situation may different elsewhere.

The pure white vent and under belly is characteristic of African collared dove. It is also more feminine and slightly smaller.

African collared dove

I understand that the African collared dove are introduced and were domesticated. They are sometimes called barbary dove. This domestication seems to have introduced genes which give them more colour variation than wild birds. In that sense they are a little like feral pigeon. The bird above is a good example.

laughing dove

While on the subject of doves, I found four laughing dove. I believe this is by far the easiest place to get this species on a Spanish list.


Birding the dunes near the lagoon proved impossible. There were too many nudists around. I felt overdressed especially with my binoculars.

 INear the dunes, it was good to see blackbird and quite tame ones too.

Spanish sparrow

Spanish sparrow are the default sparrow on the island.

Sardinian warbler

Spring must be in the air on Gran Canaria. This sardinian warbler was carrying nesting material.

Gran Canaria is my main flight hub for travel outside Mauritania so I will be visiting again. I hope to do some more serious birding one time soon.

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