Bird, bug, butterfly and a wild variety of photos from Belarus, Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Scotland and Spain by Irish wildlife photographer Patrick J. O'Keeffe and invited guests

Sunday, 28 June 2015

YELLOW LEGGED GULL (Larus michahellis subspecies L .m. atlantis) adult at El Cotillo, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

Click external link here for detailed species information
 Click external link here to see distribution map and to hear calls
The Yellow Legged Gull (Larus michahellis) is of the family Laridae which is in the genus Larus. Up until recently it was considered as a race of Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) but has now been given full species status. Post breeding populations disperse north and east. From July onward it occurs in good numbers in southern Britain but is an uncommon and scarce species in Ireland.
There are two subspecies recognised:
  • Larus michahellis michahellis - breeds in parts of western and southern Europe, as well as the Mediterranean Basin.  
  • Larus michahellis atlantis - known as Atlantic Gull, breeds on the Atlantic coasts of France, Iberia, Morocco, Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores where a dark headed form occurs.
 Patrick J. O'Keeffe / Raw Birds
Yellow Legged Gull (Larus michahellis) distribution map

  Year round resident         Breeding        Non breeding-winter
Cephas, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

EL COTILLO HARBOUR El Cotillo, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

Situated in the north west of Fuerteventura Island is the small coastal town of El Cotillo. It has largely escaped the tourism fueled building boom which has taken place on the south and east coasts. At the mouth of the harbour is the islet of Roca de la Mar. During the Spring it is carpeted with the yellow flowering fleabane Pulicaria canariensis which is endemic to the Eastern Canary Islands. It has now been joined to the mainland with a high sea wall which forms the western side of the harbour. This is a good area for early morning or late evening seabird watching. Birds regularly seen from March to September include Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris borealis). On the lava coastline to the north of the harbour, a number of passage migrant/wintering shorebirds, including Sanderling (Calidris alba), can usually be found. South of the harbour, a Martello type tower was built in the early 1700’s and is now a tourist attraction. Further south, there is an extensive coastal stony arid plain where most of the sought after land bird species on Fuerteventura can be found, including Cream Coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor) and Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata). Text ©

Sunday, 21 June 2015

SMALL WHITE BUTTERFLY (Pieris rapae) Tindaya, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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The Small White Butterfly (Pieris rapae), also known as Small Cabbage White Butterfly, occurs very commonly through out Asia, Europe and North Africa. It is also found as an introduced species in Australia, New Zealand and North America. This very worn individual is nectering on European heliotrope (Heliotropium europaeum).

Thursday, 11 June 2015

EURASIAN STONE CURLEW (Burhinus oedicnemus Subspecies B. o. insularum) La Olvia, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

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World-wide, there are nine species of Stone Curlew (also known as Thick-knee or Dikkop). They are found in both tropical and temperate regions. On the Iberian Peninsula, the Eurasian Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus) is sedentary but in the rest of Europe it is mainly a summer resident which winters in North Africa. The endemic subspecies Burhinus oedicnemus insularum occurs on the Canary Islands and its cryptic coloration help it blend in very well with the semi desert type habitat on Fuerteventura. 

Thursday, 4 June 2015

SARDINIAN WARBLER [Male] (Sylvia melanocephala subspecies S. m. leucogastra) Barranco de Betancuria, Betancuria, Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, Spain

Click here for detailed species information
Click here to see distribution map and to hear calls

The Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala) is a small mainly insectivorous warbler of the family Sylviidae which is in the genus Sylvia. It is commonly encountered in southern and eastern Europe as well as in countries bordering the Mediterranean Basin. It is also resident on the Canary Islands. Some authorities recognise up to five subspecies. The female, typical of most sylvia warblers, has drabber plumage, it is grey headed with brownish upper parts and the under parts are washed buff. This species normally occurs in shrubby type habitat as well as in parks and gardens.
    Text © Patrick J. O'Keeffe / Raw

Up to five subspecies are generally recognised:
  • Sylvia melanocephala melanocephala - Iberia across the northern Mediterranean to western Turkey. Extends into the Maghreb from Iberia, and into Libya from Italy via Sicily. Migrates to the Sahel and oases in the Sahara in winter.
  • Sylvia melanocephala leucogastra  - Canary Islands, resident, probably some vagrancy between eastern islands and Maghreb.
  • Sylvia melanocephala momus - Near East. Resident, some local movements. 
  • Sylvia melanocephala norissae - Fayyum Warbler - probably only a local morph of momus  - Nile Delta region. Extinct since around 1940.
  • Sylvia melanocephala valverdei - Morocco south to the Tropic of Cancer, inland to the edge of the Sahara. Resident, but some seasonal movements.