Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A reflection on the birds we saw on Lanzarote.

Collared Dove at Take Off

I've bemoaned the disappearance of Collared Doves from our garden in Worcestershire for some years so was delighted when we arrived at Club Tahiti in Costa Teguise and found a healthy population of these graceful and beautiful birds living feather by jowl with us tourists. They perched regularly on our balcony rails, drank very gracefully from the swimming pools and tidied up any crumbs dropped. 

Very Hostile Cactus

Pigeons were not as obvious but were eventually spotted nesting under road bridges. There was the occasional wandering seagull and a great many sparrows.
Very Bizarre Cactus
The Lanzarotean Sparrows seem to thrive particularly in the touristy areas, attracted I suspect by the availability of easy food. There was a healthy population nesting in the cave roof of the Jameos de Agua (see previous post) and heroic birds which seemed to enjoy living in the very thorny Jardin de Cactus.
Cooling off in the Cactus Garden Pool

What impressed us was their plumage which was more vivid and bold than on those which frequent our seed  feeders at home. We took lots and lots and lots of photographs,many of which ended in the editing bin, due to the sparrows inability to stand and pose when having its picture taken (nothing to do with the skills of the photographer!). I never dreamed one of our pastimes in Lanzarote would be photographing Sparrows.

Subtle sign. Gents Loo Jardin de Cactus
Not to be outdone by the Curious Fishes commitment to reporting on the immaculate state of Lanzarotean Loos. I guess the above is another work by Cesar Manrique. Visit the Curious Fish blog on http://www.randomwritingsofacuriousfish.blogspot.com/ for a view of the Ladies door sign.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Little White Crabs in Big Black Caves

Any one reading the previous post will know that the Curious Fish and me have just returned from two weeks in Lanzarote. We had a great time and met lots of lovely people (locals, ex pats and tourists).
We soon realised the extent of the islands volcanic heritage.  There is Black Ash everywhere, great rocks sticking up through the ash, Volcanic cones, Lava flows and Lava streams. The landscape is raw, awesome,  beautiful and pre pubescent. The last volcanic eruption was only 270 years ago.
It is not, in my opinion, a landscape/environment geared by nature towards survival for people and animals, that is unless you wanted to open a business for Aggregates and Rockery stones.
People however, have survived here (sometimes with difficulty and danger), and embraced the terrain. The whole island is a testimony to their ingenuity and courage. It is also the only one of the Canary Islands we will definitely visit again.
Crops are grown under layers of ash (as the locals recognised that the ash gathered moisture from the night air enabling plant survival). There are vineyards with vines planted in deep holes with semi circular windbreaks around each hole. Vineyard hillsides look as though they are covered in black stone eyebrows.
There are flocks of goats and little fishing ports all around the coast. Also now there are tourists and reassuringly,a considerable number of Volcanic monitoring stations and laboratorys.
Tourism has enabled the enterprising Lanzarote people to capitalise on many of the features created and left behind by volcanic activity.
Blind pure white Crab
One tourist attraction is called the Jameos de Agua. This has been created in the seaward end of a 5km long subterranean lava tunnel. It is a huge cave with its own landlocked lagoon. It has been developed through the enterprising foresight of the late Cezar Manrique (Artist and Architect) and is breathtakingly beautiful. The lagoon which has been cut off from the sea and natural light for thousands of years has a unique population on tiny blind albino crabs each one only about the size of a 50p piece. They are very sensitive to pressure on their environmant and notices are posted everywhere asking people not to throw coins into the lagoon as this has a negative impact on the water quality. Guess what!! there are considerable numbers of coins in the water...human beings can be idiots.

Jameos de Agua with people not throwing coins
We are taking our Motor Home to France in a few weeks so the CF and I are busily tying up loose ends, preparing and trying to learn French. Watch this space I'm sure there will be more to tell.   GH