Monday, 31 January 2011


Our third day in Lanzarote, found us taking our longest walk of the week.  We set out with a spring in our step, to walk to the capital of the island, Arrecife.  The town dates from the fifteenth century when it was no more than a fishing village taking it's name from the black, volcanic reefs which line the shores and provided shelter from passing pirates.
By the looks of the sheltered inlets filled with brightly coloured boats, fishing is still a popular pastime.  Amid the narrow streets of the town, the church known as San GinĂ©s.  The original building has been flooded, remodeled and rebuilt several times in it's history, but as it stands now, it looks almost new.
The seafront is dominated by the imposing presence of the Castillo De San Gabriel.  The original fortress was built in 1573, but it's wooden construction and light artillery were not enough to repel invaders, so the whole thing was rebuilt soon after with stone-lined, paved roads out to the strengthened castle, complete with drawbridge.
Judging by the imposing stone walls sitting on the rocky outcrop and canon standing guard at front, the rebuild was far more effective.  It still looks impressive to this day, despite it's diminutive size.
Having walked all this way, stopping for a coffee and sit down in a small, town-centre cafe, we set out for the walk back.  By the time we had got back to the apartment, we had covered nearly 12 miles and were ready for a more restful afternoon.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Costa Teguise

Our second day in Costa Teguise, saw us exploring a little further towards the outer extremities of the resort.  On the wasteland surrounding the town, we were delighted to find a number of different bird species, most of which were keeping their distance.  Not least of which were the Barbary Partridges (Alectoris barbara).  Difficult to see amongst the rocks and dry vegetation, they were making their presence known with their constant 'chuckar' calls.
A smaller bird was to be found in fairly large numbers around the area.  One which Malcolm would (and did) describe as a LBJ (little, brown job), this was a Berthelot's Pipit (Anthus berthelotii).  This one was hopping around in the gravel surrounding a new development of villas.  The strange name comes from a French naturalist 'Sabin Berthelot' who lived on the Canary Islands.
One of the more common species and also one of the more colourful, is the Hoopoe (Upupa epops).  These birds can be rather difficult to see, despite their bright colours and the patterning on their wings, but they are truly gorgeous birds when you get close enough.
A more familiar bird to us was the Linnet (Carduelis cannabina).  Several of these birds -well known to us here in Britain - were to be found twittering around the cacti and Ficus trees which line the town streets.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Finding Our Feet

As with any holiday, the first day or two are always spent finding your way around the area.  With some of these holiday resorts, it can be difficult even with the aid of a map, as new roads, streets and building developments seem to spring up at such a rate, that any map is immediately out of date as soon as it's printed.
In Costa Teguise however, we soon found our way about and headed, on our first day, down to the sea-front for a stroll along the prom.
As almost everywhere on the island, the black, volcanic rock is in evidence as gravel for footpaths, sand on the beaches, boulders strewn across the landscape and as building blocks.  The sea wall and look-out tower here are no exception.  Further along, someone had been busy creating strange pillars of loose stones, balanced precariously on top of one another in ever taller sculptural pinnacles.  They had a weird attractiveness to them as they were silhouetted against the sky.

Looking further along the coast in the direction of the capitol Arrecife, we could see a large cruise liner docked in the port (just visible in the picture above).  Zooming in closer, it was quite a ship.  The Aida Diva.
In the afternoon, having walked along the prom in the morning, we decided to explore inland a little and found ourselves walking uphill towards the ash-cone of Tahiche.  The road was good with a footpath along it and it all looked pretty new.  Thankfully there were very few cars on the road, so our walk was very enjoyable as it took us past the water-park and golf course - there always has to be a golf course!

Friday, 28 January 2011


Malcolm and I returned last night, from a week in the sunshine of Lanzarote.  We have had some lovely walks around the area of Costa Teguise, just to the North of the Island's capitol, Arrecife.
Over the next few days there will be some of my photos from our travels, but as there are over 200 of them to sift through, it will take a while.  For the moment, here are a couple.  Firstly the view from our apartment corridor.
The volcanic ash-cone in the centre is called Tahiche and stands at 1053ft high.  In the evening light, it almost seemed to glow with a reddish tint making a picturesque backdrop to the day's end.
More to follow....

Sunday, 16 January 2011


...water everywhere.
It was warm, dry and windy again this morning.  The forecast was for rain, so that's about right then!  Despite the fine weather, the ground remains waterlogged and it's wet all over.  The footpaths are wet and muddy and the ground around them is so soggy that anyone venturing off the path, is almost bound to be lost forever in the mire.
Excess water is tumbling from the small reservoirs around these parts into the feeder channels which once fed the industrial canals.
Peering through the gloom this morning, this small waterfall was looking rather picturesque, despite being entirely man-made.  It was so dark, I didn't think the pictures would be any use, but they turned out to be not too bad.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Looking Back

It's often nice to look back at what we were doing on this day in years gone by and with the weather still grey, cloudy, windy and a bit miserable, I thought it would be good to look at a few 'sunny' pictures from the last two years.  Last year at this time (was it really a year ago?), we were staying at the Playa Azul Apartments in Benidorm and getting some wonderful views from our 13th floor balcony, especially at dusk.
We were treated to the sight of displaying Ravens, flying around the rocky outcrops of the coastline nearby.  They were calling to each other and flipping over in mid-air to lock claws before tumbling out of the sky together before recovering at the last minute and starting again.
It was around the same rocks where Malcolm spotted the glorious flowers of these Sawfly Orchids amid the stones.  They certainly added a bit of colour to the scene.
Two years ago on this very day, we found an Almond tree in blossom around the same bit of coastline and reminded us of the Spring to come back home.
These Friars' Cowl plants were to be seen all over the place and also provided a welcome bit of floral decoration to the Winter months.  It all seems so distant when you look out of the window at the grey skies here.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


As it was so mild this morning, we had a longer walk along the Nutbrook Trail, past Kirk Hallam.  We don't often walk along this route as it takes you past the Kirk Hallam school and this is not usually for the feint hearted.  Today however, we took the chance and enjoyed the walk.  Passing the lake known locally as the 'Beauty Spot', we were surprised to see ice still covering the largest part of it.
All was quiet as we gazed out across the icy waters and were serenaded by the Long-tailed Tits, Robins and Goldfinches.
In the past, we have seen Kingfishers flitting low across the lake, but there was no sign of them today.  Kingfishers have a lot of problems in icy weather and tend to migrate closer to the coast to avoid the worst of it.  It was nice to get a good walk this morning, but it was still very wet everywhere - best to keep to the tarmac footpaths.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


Yesterday saw Malcolm and I doing a bit of shopping and taking our good friend Winnie out to do some shopping too.  After which, Malcolm had an appointment with the nurse for his asthma review.  So no walk in the country yesterday.  We made up for it today however and had a nice walk around the lakes of Straw's Bridge and back through Peewit Carr nature reserve.  Despite the temperature reaching nearly 6 degrees, the wind was very strong and kept us both shivering as it searched through our clothing for any way in it could find.  And it did find a few too!
The wind also made for some choppy conditions on the lakes too.  The Coots didn't seem to mind as they squabbled among themselves and engaged in all sorts of fighting and kicking.  There was a calmer presence on the water too, in the shape of a Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) resplendent in it's winter plumage.
It often crosses my mind, when watching the birds on the water, how they manage to cope with the icy chill.  As we stand freezing on the shore wondering how much colder it would be if we spent our lives standing in the water.  Brrrrrrrrrrrrr!  Still, the Coots were keeping warm with their battles and constantly falling out with each other.
As we turned homeward, we were once again delighted to see a flock of Waxwings twittering in the treetops. These gorgeous birds have been about for weeks now despite having stripped the bushes clean of berries.
It was so dull this morning and the Waxwings remained stubbornly high in the trees, that it was impossible to get a good picture, but these are the 'best of a bad lot' today.  The flock has dwindled from it's peak of over 100 birds, to about 30 now.
What little stunners they are!

Sunday, 9 January 2011


A bitter wind was blowing this morning as Malcolm and I set out for a walk around Shipley Lake.  But, the sky was blue and the sun was shining, so things could have been a lot worse.  A little frost was to be found decorating the grass and the few leaves still clinging to the bushes.  Today's pictures are taken from previous frosty walks, but the scene is the same.
Amid all the cold, there are signs of Spring to be found.  The Snowdrops have started to poke their heads above ground in our front garden and the Hazel trees around Shipley Lake are bedecked with very young catkins.  The Ivy leaves and Holly are still providing a little green to the otherwise grey landscape.
Among the mud and half-frozen puddles along the verges, a few smaller plants still retain a leaf or two where they have been given some protection from the worst of the Winter's chill.

Friday, 7 January 2011


I was going to title today's blog entry 'Snow', but having had a brief walk through it, 'Slush' it is.  The snow started to fall at 8.15 this morning and quickly started to cover the ground with a duvet of white.  Just as quickly, it became obvious that it was very wet snow and wasn't going to last.  Still, it did look good for a while.
Snow is always very picturesque when it's fresh and still white.  But, when it becomes slushy, wet and difficult to walk in, it starts to be a bit of a drag.
Footprints from our door towards the path down to Malcolm's mum's house show how wet it all is.  What a shame!  But it's still Winter, so plenty of time for more snow yet.

Thursday, 6 January 2011


Another frosty start to the day.  Malcolm and I set out for town, via the lakes and canal and through the golf course.  With the sun looking 'watery' and very low in the sky, there was not much comfort to be had from it's feeble heat.  But it wasn't putting the golfers off.
As we passed one of the lakes, a Heron was to be seen among the dead reeds, keeping it's beady eye on us as we walked by.
Everything looked grey this morning - not just the Heron - and a light mist swirling around the lakes made things appear even more chilly.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011


A chilly walk this morning, but it was good to be able to get out and about again.  The Christmas decorations are now all put away again and the house looks bare.  I always hate this time of year, it's so depressing after all the festivities and Christmas lights.  The trees around Shipley Park are all bare too.
We were surprised to see Shipley Lake still frozen solid and devoid of waterfowl.  Even after more than a week of temperatures above freezing, it's still like a skating rink.  Bad news for the ducks and geese.  There's not much colour in the surrounding landscape at the moment, mostly browns and dirty greens.
At least the ground was frozen again this morning, making things a bit more easy under foot and the skeletal trees make it easier to spot the birds in them.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Look Back

Looking back at my life lists, I thought I would put together a picture of just some of the 'ticks on my life lists from 2010.  So here are 16 of them, click the pic for a larger version.
1.   Waxwing
2.   Fan-tailed Warbler
3.   Common Waxbill
4.   Red-whiskered Bulbul
5.   Caspian Tern
6.   Green Cucumber Spider
7.   Great Reed Warbler
8.   Squacco Heron
9.   Silver-striped Hawkmoth
10. Scorpion Fly
11. Common Crossbill
12. Blue Rock Thrush
13. Purple Swamphen
14. Egyptian Grasshopper
15. Dianthus broteri
16. Lotus berthelotii

Here's hoping that 2011 will prove to be just as productive in the area of 'life lists'.