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A Report from

Tenerife 14th August to 21st August 1998,

Jan Vermeulen


-          Introduction
-            Flight
-            Visa
-            Money
-            Accommodation
-            Food and Drink
-            Safety
-            Health
-            Roads and Transport
-            Equipment
-            References

-          Las Lajas Recreation Area
-            Erjos (Monte del Agua)
-            Boat Trips




This report covers a visit to Tenerife from 14th August to 21st August 1998.

I was accompanied by my ladyfriend Willemien van Ginneken. Having neglected my Western Palearctic list for the last six years despite the availability of such inexpensive holidays, I decided to make a visit to the Canary Islands, a destination I should have visited a long time ago.

This 80-km long island, rising to more than 3700 m at the active volcano Pico de Teide, is the best base for a visit to the Canary Islands. Our aim was to see the (Tenerife) endemic island species and a few seabirds.

Four of the five Canary Island endemics, as well as Plain Swift, Berthelot's Pipit and Island Canary, occur on Tenerife. We did not try to see the desert species, because I had already seen these birds on my trips to North Africa and Israel. The visit was mostly a holiday for swimming and sun, but we managed to see all the birds I had hoped for.


There are plenty of charters to the Canary Islands and we travelled to Tenerife via Amsterdam. Our return-ticket (Air Holland) including the week in an apartment at Playa de las Americas cost us ¦ 1025,--. The flights were punctual and troublefree.


Politically, the Canary Islands are part of Spain, and entry requirements are the same as for that country. A passport is essential for non-EU citizens. No visa is required for European or North American visitors.


The currency is the Spanish peseta. The peseta fluctuated between 71 - 74 to the guilder at the time we visited Tenerife.

All major credit cards and traveller cheques are accepted at banks and in the larger hotels.


There is a very wide choice of accommodation on Tenerife. Most birdwatchers who visit the islands have accommodation as part of a package holiday. All sites have convenient hotel facilities fairly close by.


On Tenerife there is every kind of restaurant and reasonable meals were available almost everywhere. Drinks can also be found anywhere.


Lock your car at all times, never leave valuables in open sight.


Beware of the sun. Wide-brimmed hats and long‑sleeved shirts are essential kit.


Tenerife is very easy to travel round. The primary routes on Tenerife are well maintained, the only VERY rough road being the track to the laurel forest near Erjos. The 'road' from Erjos to Monte del Agua is diabolical, but it is possible with a saloon car.


A telescope is useful at coastal sites and very useful for viewing canopy species especially from roadsides.



-              James F. Clements. Birds of the World. A Check List
-              Heinzel, Fitter and Parslow. Birds of Britain and Europe with the Middle East and North Africa.
-              Nigel Wheatley. Where to Watch Birds in Africa. Useful at the planning stage.

Many reports have been written about the Canary Islands. I found the detailed notes by EricJan Alblas most useful, with additional information from the report by Peter Boesman.


-              Peter Boesman. Canary Islands 16th August 1989 - 27th August 1989.
-              EricJan Alblas. Canary Islands 10 - 24 August 1990.
-              Stephen R. Mawby. The Canaries - August 1995.



This is the software I use since 1996 to keep track of the birds I have seen and to make lists of any country, labelling endemics and birds previously seen in that country, outside it, or both.

BirdArea can produce checklists of the birds of any country of Clements' world birds.


August 14    Chaam * Amsterdam (Air Holland) * La Palma * Tenerife * Playa de las Americas
August 15    Playa de las Americas
August 16    Playa de las Americas
August 17    Vilaflor * Las Lajas Recreation Area * Erjos (Monte del Agua)
August 18    El Médano
August 19    Boat trip
August 20    Puerto de la Cruz
August 21    Tenerife * Amsterdam * Chaam


For a detailed report of species and numbers please refer to the systematic list at the end of this report.



This is the best site for CANARY ISLANDS FINCH (BLUE CHAFFINCH). This popular picnic area is situated 10.8km from Vilaflor, the highest town in Tenerife, en route to Mount Teide National Park.

Turn in at the main entrance signposted "Zona Recreativa Las Lajas".

The Canary Islands Finch is often heard before being seen, but you can find them in the trees or around the water taps near the barbecues.

Birds seen during our trip:

Common Buzzard, Rock Dove, European Turtle-Dove, Plain Swift, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Raven, Canary Islands Kinglet (Tenerife Goldcrest), Eurasian Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Canary Islands Finch (Blue Chaffinch).


This is one of the few remaining patches of laurel forest on Tenerife and is an important site for the two endemic pigeons, BOLLE'S PIGEON and LAUREL PIGEON, which are confined to this habitat.

The access track to this area leads off the Santiago del Teide to Garacicho road, only 200m after the turning to the Erjos ponds. The track is on the left just, before the "casa forestal" and Erjos sign which are on the right.

Probably the best vantage point is 4.9km from the start of the rough track where there is a conspicuous rock on the right hand side of the track with a green rain gauge on the top.

From the top of the rock and the edge of the track there are excellent views over the forested valley in which the pigeons live.

Birds seen during our trip:

Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Bolle's Pigeon, Laurel Pigeon, Plain Swift, Pallid Swift, Eurasian Blackbird, Canary Islands Kinglet (Tenerife Goldcrest), Blue Tit.


The specialities to look for on a boat trip are BULWER'S PETREL, LITTLE SHEARWATER and MADEIRAN PETREL. The majority of birdwatchers use the Gomera Ferry from Los Christianos (Tenerife) to San Sebastian de La Gomera. The crossing usually takes about one hour and twenty minutes, but is dependant on weather conditions.

We made a boat trip with the "Tropical Dolphin" and made a six hours trip along the coast of Tenerife and to find the Pilot Whales we were rather far from the coast. During this trip we saw all the specialities including the rare Madeira Petrel.

Birds seen during our trip:

Madeira Petrel, probably European Storm‑Petrel, Bulwer's Petrel, Cory's Shearwater, Little Shearwater, Yellow‑legged Gull, Sandwich Tern.


Friday, August 14

At the unearthly hour of 3.00 a.m. found us checking in at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam for our five hours flight with Air Holland via La Palma to Reina Sofia airport on Tenerife. We were lucky, the Park Royal apartments which by the way were excellent, were in the new, Torviscas end, of Playa de las Americas, and as we were to find out, relatively quiet.

Saturday/Sunday, August 15/16

No birding activities, although I did see Plain Swift and Berthelot's Pipit.

I rented a car at the Avis office.

Monday, August 17

We left Playa de las Americas at 7.00 a.m. towards Mount Teide National Park to find the next endemics on my list.

We made a few stops en route to the mountains and amongst the birds we saw were Sardinian Warbler, Island Canary and Berthelot's Pipit. At Las Lajas, a picnic site with accompanying bar/restaurant high in the pine forests, we made a stroll and within five minutes we had seen two endemics: Canary Islands Kinglet (Tenerife Goldcrest) and Canary Islands Finch (Blue Chaffinch).

Also around the site were Common Buzzard, the local race of Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Raven, Eurasian Chiffchaff and the local race of Blue Tit.

We did not see many birds at Mount Teide NP, but her lava flows were photographed from several angles. Leaving the main tourist circuit we headed to Erjos, one of the remaining patches of Laurel Forest on Tenerife and a stake-out for the two endemic pigeons, which are confined to this habitat.

The 4.5km track to the appointed observation site was uneven and heavily rutted, but eventually we reached the spot.

From the top of the rock we had excellent views over the forested valley. Within five minutes we had seen both pigeons: Bolle's Pigeon and Laurel Pigeon. The white tail of Laurel Pigeon is unmistakable and two flew at just below eye-level, straight across the valley in front of us.

Amongst the other birds we noted in this habitat were Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Pallid Swift, Eurasian Blackbird, Canary Islands Kinglet (Tenerife Goldcrest) and Blue Tit. After an hour and a half we had enough of the excitement of pigeon watching, so rapidly running out of endemics we returned to Playa de las Americas.

Tuesday, August 18

After a comfortable night at the hotel I had a pre‑breakfast stroll at El Médano along the only natural pale-sand beach on Tenerife. Amongst the birds I did see were the rare Barbary Falcon, Eurasian Hoopoe, Northern Shrike and Berthelot's Pipit.

Wednesday, August 19

Today we had a six hour long trip on the "Tropical Dolphin" along the coast of Tenerife. We were soon enjoying marvellous views of Bottle‑nosed Dolphins whilst all around us rafts of Cory's Shearwaters were driven off the water by the boat. The sea was flat and calm but my diligent watching was rewarded with sightings of four Little Shearwaters, a single Bulwer's Petrel and two storm-petrel species either European Storm-Petrel or Madeira Petrel, but too far away to identify. In the late afternoon when there was a bit more wind we had good views of Pilot Whales and at last a storm‑petrel came quite close to the boat with no white on the underwing, a Madeira Petrel, not an endemic, but almost so, and tick number eight.

Thursday, August 20

Today we spent all day at Puerto La Cruz at El Oro Parque and saw many Parrots and Parakeets I would see six weeks later during my trip in Papua New Guinea.

Friday, August 21

And then our vacation/birding trip was over and we flew back to Amsterdam.


This list follows the taxonomy, names and sequence of James F. Clements (July 1991, Birds of the World. A Check List and Supplements No. 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5, April 1998).

This specific treatment follows Dr. Charles Sibley and Dr. Burt L. Monroe, Jr (1990, Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World, Yale University Press). Species in brackets are the English names in "A Birdwatchers Guide to The Canary Islands" by Tony Clarke & David Collins, but only mentioned when these differ significantly from the Clements Check List. The Dutch names follow the "Complete Checklist, Vogels van de Wereld" of Michael Walters.

Data are estimates of the minimum numbers seen.

 1.            MADEIRA PETREL (MADEIRAN STORM-PETREL), Pterodroma madeira, Madeira Stormvogel
                Two storm-petrels were too distant to specifically identify, however a single one was confidently identified as this species during the boat trip along the coast, as the bird was very close to the boat and the upper and underwing were clearly seen.

 2.            BULWER'S PETREL, Bulweria bulwerii, Bulwers Stormvogel
                A single one during the boat trip along the coast.

 3.            CORY'S SHEARWATER, Calonectirs diomedea, Kuhls Pijlstormvogel
                Very common during the boat trip along the coast.

 4.            LITTLE SHEARWATER, Puffinus assimilis, Kleine Pijlstormvogel
                4 during the boat trip along the coast.

 5.            GREY HERON, Ardea cinerea, Blauwe Reiger
                A single one near Los Cristianos.

 6.            EURASIAN SPARROWHAWK, Accipiter nisus, Sperwer
                A single bird was seen over the laurel forest at Erjos.

 7.            COMMON BUZZARD, Buteo buteo, Buizerd
                A pair was seen at Las Lajas Recreation Area.

 8.            EURASIAN KESTREL, Falco tinnunculus, Torenvalk
                Up to 3 a day.

 9.            BARBARY FALCON, Falco pelegrinoides, Barbarijse Valk
                A splendid observation near El Médano.

10.           COMMON MOORHEN, Gallinula chloropus, Waterhoen
                One only seen briefly at a pool alongside the road close to Erjos.

11.           SANDERLING, Calidris alba, Drieteenstrandloper
                A single one on the coastal pool at El Médano.

12.           SNOWY PLOVER, Charadrius alexandrinus, Strandplevier
                2 on the coastal pool at El Médano.

13.           YELLOW-LEGGED GULL, Larus cachinnans, Geelpootmeeuw
                Common along the coast.

14.           SANDWICH TERN, Sterna sandvicensis, Grote Stern
                5 along the coast near Los Gigantes.

15.           ROCK DOVE, Columba livia, Stadsduif
                Widespread and common.

16.           BOLLE'S PIGEON, Columba bollii, Bolles Laurierduif
                Endemic species. 8 during a one hour watch at Erjos.

17.           LAUREL PIGEON, Columba junoniae, Laurierduif
                Endemic species. The "white‑tailed " pigeon of the laurel forests. 3 seen at Erjos.

18.           EUROPEAN TURTLE-DOVE, Streptopelia turtur, Tortelduif
                Common at fairly high altitude (pine forest belt) around Mount Teide.

19.           EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE, Streptopelia decaocto, Turkse Tortel
                Fairly common at Playa de las Americas and at Puerto de la Cruz.

20.           MONK PARAKEET, Myiopsitta monachus, Monniksparkiet
                Introduced species. 2 at Puerto de la Cruz.

21.           PLAIN SWIFT, Apus unicolor, Madeiragierzwaluw
                Endemic species. Seen most days in small numbers, with only large numbers in the mountains.

22.           PALLID SWIFT, Apus pallidus, Vale Gierzwaluw
                At least 3 of this species identified in the mountains.

23.           EURASIAN HOOPOE, Upopa epops, Hop
                Only one seen near El Médano.

24.           GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, Dendrocopos major, Grote Bonte Specht
                3 at Las Lajas Recreation Area.

25.           COMMON RAVEN, Corvus corax, Raaf
                2 at Las Lajas Recreation Area.

26.           NORTHERN (GREAT GREY) SHRIKE, Lanius excubitor, Klapekster
                A single one near El Médano.

27.           EURASIAN BLACKBIRD, Turdus merula, Merel
                Only one bird seen at Erjos.

28.           CANARY ISLANDS KINGLET (TENERIFE GOLDCREST), Regulus teneriffae, Tenerifegoudhaan
                Endemic species. 4 at Las Lajas Recreation Area and 1 at Erjos.

29.           EURASIAN CHIFFCHAFF, Phylloscopus collybita, Tjiftjaf
                A few at Las Lajas Recreation Area.

30.           SARDINIAN WARBLER, Sylvia melanocephala, Kleine Zwartkop
                A single observation near Vilaflor.

31.           BLUE TIT, Parus caeruleus, Pimpelmees
                6 at Las Lajas Recreation Area and 2 at Erjos.

32.           SPANISH SPARROW, Passer hispaniolensis, Spaanse Mus
                A common and widespread species.

33.           GREY WAGTAIL, Motacilla cinerea, Grote Gele Kwikstaart
                A single one near Playa de las Americas.

34.           BERTHELOT'S PIPIT, Anthus berthelotii, Berthelots Pieper
                Endemic species. Small numbers almost daily.

35.           CANARY ISLANDS FINCH (BLUE CHAFFINCH), Fringilla teydea, Blauwe Vink
                Endemic species. Common at Las Lajas Recreation Area.

36.           ISLAND CANARY, Serinus canaria, Kanarie
                Endemic species. 2 at Playa de las Americas and 3 at Vilaflor.

Chaam, 1 November 1998,
Jan Vermeulen
Bredaseweg 14
4861 AH Chaam
The Netherlands
Telephone:   (031) - 161 - 491327

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