Wish You Were Here

There are not a vast range of species to be seen on the Canary Isles, especially Lanzarote where we are seconded for a week, but the black lava strewn hills and beaches do hold a surprise or two. We are based in a very small village called Puerto Calero towards the southernmost tip, and our hotel complex (and it is a complex business to find your way around) is the last building before a range of sparsely grass-clad fields slope gently into the Atlantic Ocean.

On our first morning here we walked a few kilometres along the coastal path in the increasing heat of a mid morning sun to find the apparent uniform yellowing grass interspersed liberally with low growing plants of many kinds. I'm no botanist and can't even begin to provide names for these plants, but close inspection showed the whole landscape to be a mosaic of tiny flowers, purple, red, white, yellow and blue hidden from a cursory glance. Where there is nectar there are bound to be insects and such was indeed the case. Many butterflies and day flying moths flitted around us, some familiar such as painted lady and clouded yellow, but others a mystery. Grasshoppers were plentiful and small lizards darted away from us into the safety of a crevasse in the rock. Where there are invertebrates there will be birds, and sure enough we were serenaded by constantly warbling short-toed larks and the wagtail-like calls of Berthelot's pipits. Yellow-legged gulls patrolled the low cliff face where below on the rocks common sandpipers fed. Where there are small birds you will undoubtedly find predatory birds, and yes, there are kestrels, buzzards and larger falcons dispersed thinly around the island. What at first seems a deserted landscape devoid of life can, on closer inspection, provide much of interest.