After a gap of 6 years I finally managed to make a trip back to the Canaries. I undertook some fieldwork there back in 2001 and 2002 and had been wanting to return ever since. Well, I booked myself a week on the islands in order to see all the endemics and whatever else turned up...and the Canaries never fail to disappoint.
El Medano is a prime example of the strangeness of Tenerife birding experiences - here you have a Canarian version of Clacton-on-sea, full of bars, fast-food joints and sunbathers (although the Spanish generally tend to look more attractive with few clothes on) - and yet it is the last stronghold of breeding Kentish plover on the island. The birds are resident all year, and when the beach is packed they mooch off into the nearby sand dunes to escape. Unluckily I didn't manage to see them this time due to the prevalence of dog walkers - maybe their time is really up??
The saltwater pool behind the beach is usually good for a few migrant waders but again the beach traffic was too much and the site was empty, bar a couple of whimbrel on the nearby rocks. Compensation came in the form of a steady passage of westward-heading Cory's shearwaters just off the coast.
Of Tenerife's four main ecological zones, the Pinars are perhaps the most exciting for me personally as they are home to my all-time favourite bird, the Blue chaffinch. There had been a major forest fire in the north of Tenerife and the evidence was clear to see - in some areas the pines were totally hammered with no crown left at all. In other areas though the regeneration was well under way...
Due to the fire, the available feeding areas for Blue chaffinch have been reduced and so the birds seem to be forming small groups and exploiting the scattered crops of pine seeds - I saw one group of about 8 birds, mixed male and female.
A most unexpetced find in the pine forest was a herd of 15 Moufflon - about 75% of the entire Tenerife population (feral of course...don't think medium-sized herbivores could drift across the Atlantic on vegetation mats).
Regenerating Canary pine in the fire-damaged zone...the needles seem to act as the perfect mulch for the growing seedlings.