Saturday, March 03, 2012

Tenerife weekend, Tenerife, Sunday 26th February 2012

For our last day in Tenerife (it went so fast!) we had planned to see both the White-tailed Laurel Pigeon and Blue Chaffinch. We headed first then to Erjos. But try as we could we didn't find any laurel forest locally. I wonder if the bird is going to be around long, that being the case, as this was one of two sites on the whole island and it is endemic...

We walked into the nature reserve, enjoying the weird almost Martian landscape on the walk up:

Even the local Blue Tit is a much darker bird than ours, surely again another species?

Here another Tenerife Kinglet:

Still no sign of the Laurel forest but we were very pleasantly surprised to encounter Blue Chaffinch on our ascent, we expected to see this species much later in the day and at another place altogether:

This species is both endemic and rare, we were lucky to see the female too:

Another unexpected encounter, a juvenile Red-footed Falcon:

You can see how plants get established even in a mostly barren landscape:

Leading to a habitat like this:

We got about 3 miles up the trail to basically lava fields with occasional greenery before heading back down:

The Blue Chaffinch seemed determined to be seen. here alighting above us and singing:

From the walk we drove up to the top of the island and the lava fields and volcano atop Tenerife:

The landscape is truly spectacular:

As the time we had left shortened we headed back down to the coast, this time the East coast for a coffee, seeing
Spanish Sparrow for the first time on the trip:

And last but not least, Berthelot's Pipit:

It was a brief visit but we both enjoyed it and made the most of it. I think that's probably it for the Canary Islands now...


Tenerife weekend, La Gomera, Saturday 25th February 2012

We had decided ahead of the visit that a highlight would be a Pelagic trip, i.e. sea-bird watching from a boat.

There are two boats, the fast one:

And the slow one we caught, between Tenerife and La Gomera. Well the quick one was quicker but seeing birds would be much tougher. On the trip across we weren't disappointed, spotting our first ever Shearwater, this one a Cory's Shearwater:

It was the only species of Shearwater we encountered in either direction...

La Gomera is another volcano though this one extinct (Tenerife last blew in 1909 apparently!). The views on the way inland were stunning:

This one is much higher up:

We stopped at the visitors' centre in the national park, for a planned walk, and enjoyed seeing the local Chaffinch really close:

As far as I'm concerned this should be a distinct species, it certainly looks like one, but right now it's considered only a race of the species. Humbug. Anyway the local Goldcrest is endemic and a species in its own right, the Tenerife Goldcrest or Tenerife Kinglet, depending on your taxonomic preference:

Part of the the forest was overtaken by lichen:

The strong sunlight illuminated parts of the forest:

The volcano may be extinct/inactive but all is not well on La Gomera:

After our walk, lunch and some more stops, we settled in a natural inlet/harbour area for drinks, enjoying the local

More of the endemic Canarian Chiffchaff:

And of course Berthelot's Pipit, which really are quite common:

On the trip back we added Yellow-legged Gull:

We also saw distant dolphins both ways on the trip. We thoroughly enjoyed our day trip to La Gomera and made it back to the hotel only 30 minutes before dinner, somewhat sunburned and salty from the seawater while sea-bird watching. A quick turnaround for dinner and then another early night.


Tenerife weekend, Friday 24th February 2012

It's time for a long weekend break... of course it is! This time it's Tenerife, an island with some endemic species found nowhere else on the planet. It's the largest island in the Canaries, a territory of Spain, and a volcano.

Here it is on approach (roughly a 4-hour flight from the UK):

We landed, picked up our hire car and headed o the first place we'd identified for birding. We didn't see much to be honest, but some Berthelot's Pipits were showing well:

And our first lifer, a Canary Island Chiffchaff:

We had a Spanish omelette lunch but I was so tired we decided to head first to the port to check the ferry timetable and then on to our hotel for a few beers before dinner and then an early night. The sunset before dinner, over La Gomera, was spectacular:

The fading but orange light created some good effects on the coastal water: too

Dinner was good, the typical Canary Island resort buffet with some decent and very keenly priced Rioja.