Europe – Spain – Canary Islands – Lanzerote

The Canary Islands have a lot more to offer the visitor than you might guess from their reputation as a boozy holiday destination. The islands boast over 650 endemic plant species, 6 endemic birds, 3 near endemics plus dozens of endemic subspecies, a few unique reptiles, and about 15,000 species in total. However, it is not only the species count that makes the islands special, but their huge range of habitats, ranging from costal sand dunes to alpine scrub.

Lanzarote is a Spanish island, the easternmost of the autonomous Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 125 km (78 mi) off the coast of Africa and 1,000 km (621 mi) from the Iberian Peninsula. Covering 845.94 square kilometres (327 square miles), it is the fourth largest of the islands in the archipelago. With 141,938 inhabitants, Lanzarote is the third most populous after Tenerife and Gran Canaria. In the centre-west of the island is the Timanfaya National Park, which is one of the main attractions of Lanzarote. Its capital is Arrecife.

El Golfo by Stefan Krause Wiki Commons

It is located 11 kilometres (7 miles) north-east of Fuerteventura and just over 1 km (0.62 mi) from Graciosa. The dimensions of the island are 60 km (37 mi) from north to south and 25 km (16 mi) from west to east. Lanzarote has 213 kilometres (132 miles) of coastline, of which 10 kilometres (6 miles) are sand, 16.5 kilometres (10 miles) are beach, and the remainder is rocky. Its landscape includes the mountain ranges of Famara (2,201 ft) in the north and Ajaches to the south. South of the Famara massif is the El Jable desert which separates Famara and Montañas del Fuego. The highest peak is Peñas del Chache rising to 2,198 ft above sea level. The ‘Tunnel of Atlantis’, the largest underwater volcanic tunnel in the world, is part of the Cueva de los Verdes lava tube.

Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata John Fox (Birdwatch Ireland) Lanzerote Active Club

Lanzarote has a subtropical-desert climate. The little precipitation is mainly concentrated in the winter. Rainfall during summer is a rare phenomenon (there has never been any recorded rainfall in July), and several summers are totally dry without any precipitation.

It is the easternmost island of the Canary Islands and has a volcanic origin. It was born through fiery eruptions and has solidified lava streams as well as extravagant rock formations. The island emerged about 15 million years ago as product of the Canary hotspot. The island, along with others, emerged after the break-up of the African and the American continental plates. The greatest recorded eruptions occurred between 1730 and 1736 in the area now designated Timanfaya National Park.

Trumpeter Finch  Bucanetes githagineus John Fox (Birdwatch Ireland) Lanzerote Active Club

Lanzarote and the Chinijo Archipelago to its North are the place to go for the Eleonora’s Falcon, and Barbary Falcon, as well as recent colonisers such as Cattle Egret and Little Egret. It is also the island to dream of rediscovering the extinct Black Oystercatcher. The biggest draw for many birders is the Houbara Bustard.

Apart from bats and other mammals which accompanied humans to the island (including the dromedary which was used for agriculture and is now a tourist attraction), there are few vertebrate species on Lanzarote. These include birds (such as falcons), and reptiles. Some interesting endemic animals are the Gallotia lizards, and the blind Munidopsis polymorpha crabs found in the Jameos del Agua lagoon, which was formed by a volcanic eruption. The island is also home to one of two surviving populations of the threatened Canarian Egyptian vulture.

Canarian Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus Majorensis John Fox (Birdwatch Ireland) Lanzerote Active Club

All the islands boast an impressive range of migrants and stragglers, with shorebirds, African and European species predominant on the Eastern islands and American stragglers making it to the Western ones. A growing number of exotics, including seven parrot species now breed on the islands, along with Common Myna, Common and Orange-cheeked Waxbills and Sacred Ibis. Recent colonisers and accidental breeders include the House Sparrow, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Black Winged Stilt, Little Bittern and Barn Swallow.


Major Source: Fatbirder

Photo Source: Lanzerote Active Club

Map Source: Googlemaps

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