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A Report from

Tenerife 19th March - 2 April 2005,

John Girdley

This was a family holiday to Tenerife. However, I fully intended to target all possible new species and I carried my binoculars with me at all times. If a bird was there to be seen then I intended to see it.

We based ourselves in the dry SE of the island at Los Christianos. This was reasonably positioned for targeting Blue Chaffinch (45 minutes away), but less so for the Pigeons (60+ minutes away).  I suspect that the much greener North of the Island would have given more species. Other targeted species like Island Canary, Canary Island Chiffchaff, Tenerife Blue Tit, were very easy to see in most habitats.

I confess to finding the birding quite hard going, managing just 42 species in two weeks. Ironically I saw exactly the same number of species on Fuerteventura in just one week a few years back

Daily Log

Sunday 20th March.

Got up late: Seen near hotel:

Spanish Sparrow
Collared Dove

Drive up to Mt. Teide NP.

1 Kestrel
Feral Pigeons

Las Lajas – recreation area

Sunday Afternoon: heaving with people – no birds

Vilaflor (View point just N of village)

2 Canary (L)
1 Canary Island Chiffchaff

Monday 21st March

Amarilla Golf Area

1 Greenshank
1 Grey Heron
14 Cattle Egret
Spanish Sparrow
4 Berthelots Pipit
2 Spectacled Warblers
2 Blackbird
1 Lesser Black-backed Gull
1 Yellow-legged Gull
2 Ringed Plover

Exotica Cacti Garden and Zoo (2 miles N of Los Christianos)

c30 Plain swift
Spanish Sparrow
2 Kestrel

Tuesday 22nd March

Masca area (1.5 hours from Los Christianos)

Canarian Chiffchaff
Tenerife Blue Tit
2 Buzzard
1 Raven
Turtle Dove

Tena Peninsular (2 hours from Los Christianos)

Apparently the whole of the Tenerife population of Rock Sparrow winter on the Tena Peninsular. Several large and mobile flocks were seen around some ruined buildings about 1km from the lighthouse. I never saw this species anywhere else.

c100 Rock Sparrow
1 Sardinian warbler
1 Linnet

Wednesday 23rd March

Las Lajas (45 minutes from Los Chrisianos)

Early morning visit, almost no other people present, all birds very easy to see and in good numbers. The blue Chaffinch love to drink from the dripping taps. However, no sign of Tenerife Kinglet.

Blue Chaffinch (Lots)
Tenerife Blue Tit
3 Turtle Dove
Great-spotted Woodpecker

Thursday 24th March

Barranco del Infierno – Adeje

Very low cloud at entrance to valley meant that we couldn’t do the walk. However a large flock of Plain Swift appeared.

On a p.m. visit later in the week the gorge was closed again because only 200 people are allowed to do the walk each day! However 2 Plain Swift again seen at gorge entrance.

Plain Swift
C.I. Chiffchaff

Friday 25th March

Loro Park (1.5 hours drive from Los Chrisianos)

A must visit for Parrot fanciers with 250 species on show.

Monk Parakeet!

Saturday 26th March

Monte Del Agua (1 hour to the start of the track)

Early morning visit to “the” Pigeon stakeout. The approach Rd. is directly opposite Erjos sign at Southern entrance to village. It is 5km to the obvious flat topped rock viewpoint. The first 400m of the track is the worse. I drove it slowly (about 20 minutes) in a Peugeot 307, which was just about adequate for the job. Saw nothing in first hour, whilst looking mainly south. Followed a path behind the rock for about 50m to a boulder perched on the top of a cliff looking down onto a Laurel filled valley to the north. Saw several individual (or same?) Bolles Pigeon flying across the tops of trees below. Saw one Laurel Pigeon very poorly as its white tail disappeared into a tree. It is absolutely essential to be able to ID the pigeons on brief flight views. It is unlikely that you will see them perched.

Bolles Pigeon (6 individuals or same one flying about?)
Laurel Pigeon
Canary Island Chiffchaff (Lots)
1 Sardinian Warbler
Accipter Sp. Sparrowhawk?

Afternoon: Los Christianas Harbour

6 Sandwich Terns

Sunday 27th March

Ammarillo Golf Area

Little Ringed Plover
Common Sandpiper (Both on pool by approach Rd.)
Berthelot’s Pipit

Monday 28th March

Day trip to Anaga National Park in far NE of Island. This is all prime Pigeon habitat – not that I saw any!

1 Chaffinch (F.C.Tintillon) distinctive sub-species
1 Robin
Blue tit

Tuesday 29th March

Waste land near El Fraille.

This was an attempt to find the largest reservoir in the south of the Island. (Where others have seen American Ducks) Unfortunately it is now surrounded by high walls and behind private no entry signs on a large Banana plantation. I could see no way of getting a view without some serious trespassing.

1 Southern Grey Shrike
1 Hoopoe
Berthelot’s Pipit

Pond near Amarillo Golf:

Little Egret
Common Sandpiper

Wednesday 30th March

Boat trip from Los Christianos Harbour to Los Gigantes. Billed as a five hour trip (that lasted nearly six) to see Short-finned Pilot Whales and the spectacular 400m cliffs of Los Gigantes. The boat reached far enough off shore to be in the Shearwater zone on the outward journey. We headed directly out to the Whales and saw about 20 of them at very close range, about 2km out of harbour. The boat then paralleled the shore up to Los Gigantes. We stopped there for a meal (included) and returned close to shore.

I was unsure what sea birds would be present in late march. Did see lots of Cory’s Shearwaters, including a large raft of 100+ but little else. In Autumn, others have seen all the possible target seabirds from this trip.

Yellow-legged Gull (lots)
Lesser Black-backed Gull
150+ Cory’s Shearwater
1 Gannet
1 Sandwich Tern

Thursday 31st March

Las Lajas

Another look at the Picnic Area (and other pull-ins nearby) gave exactly the same species as before. No sign of Kinglet. A pull in on farmland on the way back resulted in the only Barbary Partridge of the trip

Friday 1st April.

A trip to La Gomera had to be cancelled due to my wife pulling a back muscle. We instead took the opportunity to go up the Teide Cable Car which was open for the first time during our trip. It was utterly birdless high on the mountain.

After coming down we explored some more of the high Pine Forest near the Crater rim, specifically around the Chio Picnic Area. This yielded the same species as Las Lajas and although I was fairly confident that I was hearing distant Kinglets, once again I failed to connect.

Saturday 2nd April.

Return home.

(A sudden dark cloud near the airport resulted in another flock of Plain Swift – I only ever saw these in poor weather.)

Annotated Species List: (Click links for Photos)

Cory’s Shearwater: Never seen closer than a mile off shore.
Grey Heron
Cattle Egret: A very unexpected flock of 14 at Amarillo Golf Course
Little Egret:
Buzzard: Island Sub-species seen very regularly in upland areas.
Kestrel: Island Sub-species seen very regularly in all areas.
Accipiter Sp. Sparrowhawk?
Little Ringed Plover
Ringed Plover
Common Sandpiper
Greenshank: All the above waders only seen as individuals at a small pond / reservoir a mile north of Amarillo Golf.
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
Sandwich Tern
Great-spotted Woodpecker
Barbary Partridge: Pair seen in farmland on road 20 minutes down from Las Lagas.
Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove)
Collared Dove
Turtle Dove
Bolle’s Pigeon (L) and Laurel Pigeon (L): Both Pigeons seen only in one area of Laurel Forest at Monte Del Agua. Viewing conditions are very difficult. A day trip to La Gomera is probably more reliable.
Plain Swift: Flocks seen on three occasions, each time associated with periods of overcast.
Monk Parakeet: One seen in the much greener north of the island.
Berthelot’s Pipit: Very common (commonest bird?) in desert areas in south of Island
Robin: Just one on Anaga Peninsular.
Blackcap: Common
Sardinian Warbler: Seen in Laurel forest and Tena Peninsular only
Spectacled Warbler: Two seen at Amarillo Golf
Canary Island Chiffchaff (L) Arguably the commonest bird on the island in all areas except desert.
Tenerife Blue Tit (L) Easy to see in all woodland habitats.
Island Canary (L) Common in all woodland areas.
Southern Grey Shrike: Just one seen
Spanish Sparrow: Common in towns only
Rock Sparrow (Petronia): Large flocks at the Tena Peninsular, not seen anywhere else.
Chaffinch: (F.C.Tintillon) Just one at Anaga National Park
Blue Chaffinch (L) Only seen at the two high Pine Forest picnic areas where they were common.


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