Thursday, 27 January 2011

Tenerife - December 2010

A brief stay on Tenerife, early December 2010...

Probably the best bird in the world...
Managed to get a week's holiday on Tenerife in early December, but only just thanks to a combination of severe snow and striking Spaniards. It wasn't really a birding trip although naturally I did manage to persuade my wife to let me drive to some hopeful spots...

Accommodation was courtesy of Eduardo Garcia-del-Rey who let us stay in a fantastic room in his family business on the outskirts of Santa Cruz. A very useful location - great for getting out and about and for walking to town for food and booze.

The weather for the week was variable, but mostly poor - frequent rain and always thick mist rolling in to shroud the views. However, as Tenerife is not (too) massive you can always drive to the sunshine!
Canary flock at Punta Hidalgo
We deliberately visited the more remote locations, generally at extremities of the island, in the hope of avoiding any tourists - and we certainly did not want to go anywhere near the Christianos/Americas area, or Shameless-by-the-Sea as it is known.
Bolle's pigeon
Most dramatic area by far was the Anaga peninsular, a verdant region of impressive peaks covered with misty laurel forest dripping with bryophytes. It is here that the most untouched remnants of the once widespread pristine forest can be found and, of course, their characteristic bird species. Any time spent walking within the forest will turn up the endemic forms of Chaffinch and Goldcrest, as well as Blackbird, Blackcap and the ubiquitous Canary Islands Chiffchaff. The two endemic pigeons, Bolle's and Laurel, are much trickier but time spent at suitable viewpoints is well worth it and likley to result in at least in-flight views.

The other end of the island, within Teno Natural Park, is just as stunning and again supports good quality laurel forest as well fayal-brezal, a distinct vegetation zone dominated by Myrica faya and Erica arborea. The approach road to the lighthouse at Teno is a tad hairy, but just ignore the 'road closed' signs and plough on. This is a good spot to view coveys of Barbary partridge.

The star bird of Tenerife, indeed the entire archipelago, is of course the Blue chaffinch and this chunky bird is found solely within forests of Canary pine. Thanks to the constant mist on the west coast, the prime location of Las Lajas was not great for good views - the birds were there but looking a bit bedraggled. A better spot by far was La Caldera picnic spot, where you can see both Common and Blue feeding together as well as Goldcrest, Blue tit and Grey wagtail.
Berthelot's pipit at Punta Hidalgo

tintillon Common chaffinch at La Caldera

Sardinian warbler at Tejina

superbus Robin, Anaga

An underwatched spot is Punta Hidalgo, situated on the north-east coast near Tejina. This area of tamarisk scrub, euphorbias and abandoned plantations is a real migrant trap and is home to large flocks of Canary - several hundred were present, alongside a wintering Black redstart. The rocky shoreline here also held Whimbrel, Grey plover, Ringed plover and Turnstone.

Eduardo and I took a couple of trips down south to the various migrant hotspots - Amarillo Golf, Ten-Bel and El Fraile - and managed to turn up a wintering Golden plover, Gadwall and an unidentified Aythya duck plus species such as Barbary falcon, Kestrel, Berthelot's pipit, Hoopoe, Little egret, Spoonbill, Common sandpiper, Greenshank, Coot and Moorhen. Ten-Bel holds the usual mix of weird exotics such as Ring-necked and Monk parakeets.

A few hours spent wandering around Tejina pools and other nearby reservoirs turned up several Common snipe, Greenshank, Teal, Laughing dove, Sardinian warbler and a Waxbill.

A short trip to the lagoon, La Mareta, at El Medano turned up Teal, Sanderling, Common sandpiper and Dunlin.