Tenerife, Canary Islands - 9/2/19 to 16/2/19


This was a short winter break with my wife, to Garachico, a lovely small town on the North coast of Tenerife. We went on 3 walks in places where I thought I could pick up some of the endemics of the island, which was pretty successful. Also spent a day driving around the North side, and across the lava fields of the enormous (3,400m !) volcano in middle of island - not a single bird seen in this area. I only spent a couple of hours one afternoon in a car trying to find birds on my own, and this was the only time I got my Telescope out.

Monday 11th Feb 2019

- Walk 18/17 'Tenerife car tours and walks' Sunflower guide, from Restaurant Fleytas, Erjos.

The ponds at Erjos had some water in them and had a few Moorhens and also 2 Snipe. There are a flock of about 20 Rock Doves by the restaurant, which range out over the valley. (Rock Doves are very common everywhere here.) A Common Buzzard (Canarian subspecies insularum) and a Kestrel (West Canarian subspecies canariensis) also here. After climbing up the far side of the valley (Walk 18), we then made a wrong turn on a path that took us into lovely cool Laurel tree woods. We kept on this track and joined Walk 17, walking as far as the junction of paths PR TF 52 and PR TF 54, before retutning on same route. 3 separate Bolle's Pigeon clapped out of the trees here, one seen well in flight above the trees. Also a pair of Tenerife Kinglet, 'African' Blue Tits and a pair of Robins (ssp. Superbus) which we fed banana to ! A female Chaffinch in the trees here seemed to be the nominate race. (The cold Spanish Omelette in the Restaurant Fleytas is gorgeous !)

On way home, stopped off at Mirador de Garachico, and a Laurel Pigeon flew in and landed out of sight below the viewpoint. (Despite scanning this ridge from Garachico below all week, I never saw another here.)

View from Mirador de Garachico, looking along the north coast towards Puerta de la Cruz.

This Canary Speckled Wood butterfly was at Erjos - it is endemic to the Canary Islands.

Tuesday 12th Feb 2019

- Walk 20 in Sunflower guide, section from Teno Bajo to Teno Alto and back, 8 miles, 4 hours but 800m ascent/descent. (Scafell Pike is 900m ascent !)

The best part of the walk for birds is around the first farm, where there is a lovely ravine. Here a Blackcap was singing and I took a video. ("Yes, I do have my suntan cream on, thanks!".) I presume it is the sub-species 'heineken', as I did not immediately recognise what the song was. There were also 6+ Corn Bunting around the farms here, Common Buzzards, Kestrel, 3+ Raven and my first Berthelot's Pipit running along the footpath. On the climb near the start were 6+ Sardinian Warbler.

Thursday 14th Feb 2019

- Walk 20 in Sunflower guide, section from Buenavista to Punto del Fraile and back, 4 miles, 2 hours, flat.

The only birds of any note were a female Blackcap and a Whimbrel was reported on the rocks. There was also a flock of c20 Canary. They are the bird that I most commonly saw. A flock of 5 even landed on the aerial over the roof terrace as I sat on it - video here, where you can hear them twittering.

Other birds seen during the week from the terrace: a Canary Island Chiffchaff singing constantly (common everywhere), 2 Grey Wagtail daily, Pied Wagtails, Common Buzzards, Kestrels, a Little Egret commuting west->east in morning and reverse in evening, a raft of 30+ Yellow-legged Gull out at sea on the one windy day and a Swallow on 14th. (No sea birds seen, apart from daily YL Gulls, despite scanning every dusk, near the Rock of Garachico just offshore, where petrels and shearwaters breed in summer.)

The only Spanish Sparrows I saw were in Garachico and one other town, not common. Also had a Monarch butterfly from the terrace ! And 2 in the park nearby. There is a wild population here, thought to be from trans-Atlantic survivors !

Friday 15th Feb 2019

- Drive along north coast, eastward, to San Juan de Rambla and Icod el Alto

The Barranco de Ruiz Recreation Area (i.e. picnic site + cafe on TF5) is a nice place to sit and look up a steep gorge. After 10 minutes of seeing only Rock Doves, 3 Laurel Pigeon flew in and landed on some old pines on the right of the gorge, by 2 concrete water tanks. I got some video of one.

It was a showery day and a flock of 25+ Swift sp. distant at the top of the gorge under a dark cloud, were probably Plain Swifts.

I tried to drive up to where I could see the top of the gorge, but instead found the Mirador de El Lance (on the TF342). The view is superb !

After 5 minutes scanning, I picked up a Barbary Falcon flying along a steep cliff below the viewpoint. Following it, I couldn't believe my luck when it settled on a pylon, on the right and just below, to preen ! I got some pretty good video of it, showing the rusty-red on nape (making it a male, I think).

Also 3 Barbary Partridge flew and landed just below the viewpoint. I then started scanning the 20 or so small concrete water tanks in the view below for herons. I eventually got excited when I found one on the edge of one of the largest tanks - but it turned out to be a juvenile Grey Heron, and an adult flew past it also. (This tank would be worth a look on the ground - it is by a go-cart track, just West of Hotel Rural Bentor, Los Realjos.)

Other Wildlife

The West Canaries Lizard is common everywhere. They eat fruit, so come to picnickers. As this video shows !

The flora on Tenerife is other-worldly and gives you a 'darwin moment' when you first see it. There are about 200 endemic species of plant ! There are a lot of drought tolerant plants, like cactii and Euphorbias


The iconic Dragon Tree (the ones below are young ones)

And I haven't had time to identified these plants yet . . .

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Last revised: 23 Feb 2019.