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A Report from

Show me the way to Amarilla, Tenerife - Oct/Nov 2001,

Mike King

This was a family holiday with my wife, Bridgette and son, Michael, on our first visit to Tenerife. I planned to watch birds and wildlife whenever I could. We stayed at Sunset Bay in Torviscas. This report concentrates on the birding I did on the trip. The weather remained hot all week generally around 28º.


DAY 1 F 26th October , Quedgeley, Glos to Tenerife, Canary Islands.
DAY 2 S 27th October , Torviscas, Las Lajas and Mt Teide.
DAY 3 Su 28th October , Torviscas.
DAY 4 M 29th October,  Guaza & Puerto Colòn to Los Gigantes aboard "Shogun".
DAY 5 T 30th October , Erjos & Loro Parque.
DAY 6 W 31st October,  Amarilla Golf Club.
DAY 7 Th 1st November, Amarilla Golf Club & Erjos & Monte del Agua.
DAY 8 F 2nd November,  Tenerife, Canary Islands to Quedgeley, Glos.
DAY 1 F 26th October Quedgeley, Glos to Tenerife, Canary Islands

Weather: Very hot and sunny 

We flew from Gatwick at 6am on a Boeing 767. The flight was on time but because of the recent security problems check-in was at 3am so we were all pretty tired having driven from home at 9pm on Thursday night. We touched down early at Reina Sofia Airport on Tenerife ahead of time. As we left the plane the heat hit us like a blast furnace. We were all sweltering in fleeces and jeans. It took about an hour to reclaim our luggage and find our hire car (a Citroen Saxo, which sounded like a lawnmower). Our first job was to open the case and retrieve so me cooler clothing. My first sighting in Tenerife was of a Painted Lady amongst the many beautiful flowers. As we changed I noticed two small bird's just feet from the car; they were Berthelot's Pipits, a life tick for me and one that has never come easier. As we got underway I heard a Canary Islands Chiffchaff calling as we left the airport, it was very loud and slightly reminiscent of Cetti's Warbler. 

As we had arrived so early and couldn't get in to our apartment until 4pm I suggested we drove the short distance to El Medano, where we could get some lunch, Michael could get on the beach and I could look for birds. We found a nice café near the seafront where we ate a light lunch al fresco. It did not take me long to realise that I was going to have to work harder than usual to find birds for unlike Spain they were in very short supply. Apart from the odd Feral Pigeon the skies were empty. After we had eaten we walked the short distance to the beach stopping to watch a very fast long-tailed lizard (Wall Lizard?) on a low wall. Whilst Michael and Bridgette paddled I examined the nearby rocks and soon found a few birds to interest me. Yellow-legged Gulls of the race atlantis were just offshore. They appeared to be very dark grey on the back and wings. The rocky foreshore held a few familiar British species in the shape of two Ringed Plovers, six winter-plumaged Sanderlings and a Whimbrel. Three Sandwich Terns flew around just offshore occasionally landing on the rocks. Another Berthelot's Pipit was on the seafront.

After an hour or so we left for our apartment in Torviscas. A Kestrel of the island race canariensis was hunting near to the airport as we passed. We made one final stop at La Mareta, near the Red Mountain, on the way. This small lake in the middle of a parched and fiercely hot desert of sand and rocks had all but dried away and was devoid of any life. I did see another pair of Berthelot's Pipits on my way back to the car.

When we had checked into our apartment, after unpacking we went into the town for a walk. Again there were few birds around, but a small party of Spanish Sparrows were only my second encounter with this species since the 1997 Cumbrian long-stayer. There was an adult male, two juvenile males and four females. A pair of Canary Islands Chiffchaffs were a new addition to my life list, if a little uninspiring. They certainly sound different though even if the differences in appearance are only slight nuances. The only other birds were lots of Collared Doves and a few Feral Pigeons. We all fell into bed at around 8:30pm and slept like logs. 

DAY 2 S 27th October Torviscas, Las Lajas and Mt Teide

Weather: Very hot and sunny

I got up at sunrise and left the apartment whilst the others were sleeping. As I usually do when I am abroad I decided to explore my immediate surroundings to see if I could find a "local patch" for the week. No chance, hotels and shops gave way to building sites back as far as the sharply rising mountains. The beach and promenade were awash with unspeakably healthy people out running and swimming (On Holiday!). Any areas of greenery were small sterile gardens and grass was almost non-existent. However not one to be beaten I figured there must be some avian life out there, and there was, but finding it was hard work. My first birds were a few Blackbirds, closely followed by the first of four of the loud Canary Islands Chiffchaffs and a lone Berthelot's Pipit. The chiffchaffs and pipits seemed to be the only common small birds around the town. There were quite a few Yellow-legged Gulls on the beach clearing up the previous day's detritus.

At last I came to a small planted area, full of exotic trees and bushes. Just a couple of feet from where I was standing a Hoopoe was feeding, probing in the dry dusty soil for anything edible. I love hoopoes and this was some of the best views that I have ever had. It was so close I couldn't focus my bins and as is typical in situations like this my camera was in the apartment. After enjoying this pleasant interlude I walked on a bit further discovering a small party of six Spanish Sparrows near a building site. A loud raucous chorus drew my attention to a long hedge of conifers. The noise could have only come from a parrot of some sort. Suddenly two medium-sized parakeets flew down and landed on a street lamp near where I was standing. I was none the wiser after seeing them for they were neither Ring-necked nor Monk Parakeets. They were mainly green with black faces, red feathered boots and some blue in the tail. I did not actually identify them until I got back to England when I found them in David Sibley's "North American Bird Guide". They were Black-hooded Parakeets (also known sometimes as Nanday Parakeet). They had most probably bred ferally for others called from the depths of the trees without showing.

I headed back towards my apartment then as it was getting very hot and I wanted my breakfast. A Grey Wagtail of the canariensis race flew over. As I neared the apartment a Ring-necked Parakeet flew over and landed in a tree. All in all a long walk for little reward but things could only improve, and they soon did.

We had decided to visit the volcano, Mount Teide (Spain's highest mountain at 3718m), today just in case the weather deteriorated later in the week. We set off with Bridgette driving on the long drive towards the top. As we drove through the village of Chayota three Little Egrets flew over the road. A Berthelot's Pipit was on wires here and the first of four Kestrels was seen. As we slowed to negotiate a bend I saw a Southern Grey Shrike on top of a telegraph pole. I was able to watch it through my bins until we drove out of sight. This was a lifer for me although I had seen a probable in Spain in April also from a car, but that was only a fleeting view. As it turned out this was the only shrike of the week so I was pleased to have had reasonable views.

We stopped at a viewpoint just before Pino Gordo so that we could take some photos. I quickly found some of the huge Canary Islands Lizards (Gallotia galloti), some were at least a foot long, with varying coloration but predominately dark brown with golden eyes. They looked like small versions of monitor lizards. There were also some of the small quick wall lizards. A familiar call drew my attention to a Blue Tit on the other side of the road in a pine tree. I located it easily but it looked nothing like our British ones. It was of the race teneriffae and had an attractive dark blue cap, an overall darker blue coloration and no white wing bar. A pleasant song coming from the pines led me to another lifer. It was a Canary, two in fact, both trilling away. They were nothing like the familiar yellow cage birds we know so well. They were attractive green and grey birds, which were well camouflaged in the trees. This was another life tick for me, unfortunately they were backlit by bright sunshine so the views were not great but I knew I would see some more.

We drove on until we got to Pino Gordo (Fat Pine) an immense and very old pine tree. Immediately I found two Canaries and this time I got good close views. Also flitting around the scrub here were at least six Blue Tits and a Canary Islands Chiffchaff. Better still I found a male Blue Chaffinch sat at close range in a bush. It was a lovely shade of cobalt blue but in all other respects just like our Chaffinch. I managed to show it to Michael before it flew away across the road and into a garden. Another life tick and probably the one I wanted most. Just before we left a Great Spotted Woodpecker of the canariensis race flew past and into the woods at high speed.

Our next stop was at Las Lajas where we decided to break for lunch. We ate at the small café where we were too early for cooked food so we settled for sandwiches, crisps and drinks. If you are a woodpecker fan then this is the place to go. There were at least six Great Spotted Woodpeckers calling, drumming and squabbling in the pines around the café and many more further back and all seen without once leaving my beer! After we had eaten a walk around the picnic tables by the huge barbecues was profitable. We found some more Blue Chaffinches, this time seen by Bridgette as well; there were two males and a female.  We also saw six Canaries, two pairs of Ravens (surely a smaller race than British ones?) and a female/juvenile Pied Flycatcher, which was a little unexpected.

We left then and headed on up towards the volcano, stopping at an obvious viewpoint to take photographs. The landscape was almost lunar, the lava fields certainly impenetrable and totally lifeless. We drove on until we reached the cable car station. A pair of Berthelot's Pipits was in the car park and seven Rock Doves sat in the sun on the lower slopes. We took the cable car to the top where my decision not to wear a jumper was a bad one. The temperature was several degrees cooler and a chill wind whistled around the passages cut through the lava field to a viewpoint, which was in the shadow of the peak. Steam seeped from the top of the volcano and through fissures in the rock lower down near where we were where deposits of sulphur yellowed the rocks. The view was spectacular and for the first time we could see the north coast of the island. The only sign of life at the top were a few flies and a Kestrel, which hovered in the sky just below the station.

Returning in the cable car to the bottom it got warmer with every foot we dropped. We were entertained with a James Bond-like episode when an engineer leapt from one of the pylons onto the top of the cable car for a lift to the station. After food and drinks and parting with our pesetas in the gift shop we took a steady drive back to Torviscas stopping on the way at Roques de Garcia. Here a spectacular collection of rock pillars was reminiscent of Monument Valley. We also stopped at Los Azulejos to look at the cliffs of pale green rocks. A Canary Islands Chiffchaff and a pair of Berthelot's Pipits were at the former site. The only other wildlife encounter of the day was a Brown Rat, which quickly crossed the road in front of the car as we approached Torviscas town. 

DAY 3 Su 28th October Torviscas

Weather: Very hot and sunny

I got up early again and the hot weather lulled me into the idea that there may be a few birds around the town. Well there were a few, but again it was hard work in the heat, even this early in the day. Spanish Sparrows were again around in small numbers and Canary Island Chiffchaffs were very vocal. A Ring-necked Parakeet was beside the garden where the Hoopoe had been, but because I had the camera, the Hoopoe wasn't today. On the rocky shores at the far end of Torviscas a Whimbrel and two Turnstones feasted on some leftover prawns. A Grey Wagtail drank from one of the many watering systems that were around. After a long walk as far as a large hotel atAdeje I spent several minutes trying to identify a singing bird in the top of a palm tree. Eventually I saw it, it was a male Blackcap. The song was very odd; it must have been a regional accent.

A walk around a scrubby area was fruitless but when I crossed the road a dry rattlesnake-like call in a dried-out barranco alerted me to the presence of a bird. I saw it flit briefly between the thorny scrub bushes. I felt sure it was a Sylvia warbler. Gingerly crossing the barranco getting scratched to pieces in the bargain I followed the bird until it flew up a steep bank and out of sight. I climbed the bank and on reaching the top realised that it must have dropped down onto the beach the other side. Edging forward slowly I peered over the edge and just below me perched in full view on a buckthorn was a cracking male Spectacled Warbler. This was worth all the scratches as it was a life tick for me. I eventually walked round onto the beach and gained another good view before it disappeared into deep cover again. I also saw a Wall Lizard here.

On the return walk I saw three Berthelot's Pipits and today there were three Black-hooded Parakeets showing well in the same spot as where I first saw them. As I approached the apartment a trio of Blue Tits showed well in a garden.

Whilst I ate breakfast outside Michael spotted a raptor approaching, it was a Sparrowhawk of the race granti. We spent the rest of the day in and around Torviscas, chilling out on the beach after a leisurely Sunday lunch. I did add a fly-over Grey Heron to my Tenerife list, which after three days had reached the heady heights of 28 species excluding the Black-hooded Parakeets and Feral Pigeons. I also had a new butterfly species; it was a Plain Tiger, a large red butterfly very similar to a Monarch. 

DAY 4 M 29th October Guaza & Puerto Colòn to Los Gigantes aboard the "Shogun"

Weather: Hot and sunny some cloud 

Despairing of finding many more good birds around Torviscas I set out in the car and braved the morning rush hour and headed for Guaza. I found the site easily enough but when I walked up to the base of the mountain I was dismayed to find that all the footpaths up to the plateau had been closed because of building work at the base. This was a particular disappointment because this was the only site for Trumpeter Finch with any real chance of success. I had a walk round to look for other options but all the paths were very definitely closed. I did see 30 Rock Doves and Berthelot's Pipit but that was it. I decided to find Amarilla Golf but unfortunately the book I had said it was off J72 of the motorway, in fact it's a long way further than that at J24, so I didn't find it. I returned home very frustrated after spending almost two hours in the car to no avail.

After breakfast we set off for Puerto Colòn where we booked a five-hour cruise aboard the "Shogun". Two Sandwich Terns were in the port as we set off. We headed up the coast towards Los Gigantes. Our first stop was to see the school of Short-finned Pilot Whales. We had excellent close views of about fifteen whales including a couple of mothers with calves. The only birds I had seen at this point were the abundant Yellow-legged Gulls. As we neared Masca we found a flock of around 50 Cory's Shearwaters. I had nice close views of these shearwaters, the kind you never get when sea-watching at home. Unfortunately these were the only other seabirds I saw, it was just out of season for anything else. Other birders I met later in the week had also dipped on all the rarer, more sought after seabirds from the Gomera ferry.

The seas on the outward journey were fairly lumpy and Bridgette and Michael were feeling a little queasy, Bridgette was particularly green. As we approached Los Gigantes I could see the cliff base and floating pontoons were covered in white birds, my first thought was gulls, but on closer inspection they were all Little Egrets. It was a massive count of sixty birds. We stopped in the shadow of the cliffs and the hardier amongst us were able to swim in the sea. They must have been certifiable, you could see from the faces that it was freezing. After this lemming-like display, paella or chicken and potatoes and beer and soft drinks were served. It was very tasty, Bridgette stuck to chewing a dry bread roll, but Michael and I enjoyed the food. The journey back seemed to be with the current and much smoother and Bridgette even began to enjoy it. I'm sure that in the spring this voyage would probably help you to clean up on the rarer seabirds. Nevertheless it was enjoyable, the whales were terrific, the food good and the crew friendly and knowledgeable.

When we left the boat we spent a while watching an array of colourful fishes in the harbour, including a huge shoal of small silvery fish which attacked thrown slices of bread like a pack of piranhas.

We spent the rest of the day on the beach and swimming in the sea (much warmer when shallow and near land). Three Ring-necked Parakeets flew over as we swam.

DAY 5 T 30th October Erjos & Loro Parque

Weather: Hot and sunny 

I had an early morning wander around the town before breakfast but again saw little. All the usual suspects including Grey Wagtail, Spanish Sparrows, Canary Islands Chiffchaffs, two Black-hooded Parakeets and a Ring-necked Parakeet and a Turnstone on the rocks. Four Goldfinches in a lone pine were new for Tenerife.

We had decided to see something of the North of the island and headed off towards Puerto de La Cruz. A stop from a viewpoint above Santiago del Teide showed an abundance of Canaries in the valley below, I saw at least six and many more were singing.

We stopped again just after Erjos having half-heartedly tried and failed to find the track to the laurel forests. A small lay-by on a bend at the bottom of the hill looked to be superb habitat. I could hear lots of birds but couldn't see a thing in the deep cover. I decided to try a spot of pishing and the results were instant and amazing. Almost instantly from the bushes appeared a Canary, three Canary Islands Chiffchaffs, four Blue Tits and best of the lot a Canary Islands Kinglet. This was a life tick for me and looked like a cross between Firecrest and Goldcrest. Michael joined me and decided to try his luck and immediately called up a male Spectacled Warbler and started a Tenerife Robin singing, but we didn't see it. There was also a Canary Blue butterfly (Cyclyrius webbianus)  here. As we climbed back into the car a Sparrowhawk was overhead.

We decided to spend the rest of the day at Loro Parque in Puerto de La Cruz. Loro Parque is well worth the visit. It has a huge collection of parrots, a fine colony of Gorillas, a Penguinarium, both spotted and black Jaguars, a brilliant Dolphin show and an excellent collection of flowering plants, trees and cacti. A Canary and a Ring-necked Parakeet were seen within the grounds.  

DAY 6 W 31st October Amarilla Golf Club

Weather: Hot and sunny but cloudy during the afternoon 

This morning after two attempts and asking my way in broken Spanish I finally found Amarilla Golf Club. It was an oasis of greenery and birds amidst a bit of an avian desert. I stopped first by the small lake at the top of the entrance road to the club. There were loads of birds here. Herons were the most noticeable; there were six Spoonbills, 14 Little Egrets and a Grey Heron. There were also a few waders here, a Greenshank, six Ringed Plovers and two Common Sandpipers.

Pleased with this early success I drove on down towards the golf club and parked up in a small lay-by just before the Country Club, on the left-hand side of the road next to two small ponds. The ponds played host to another Common Sandpiper and a Grey Wagtail. As I started to walk around the edges of the fairways I saw the first of four Berthelot's Pipits. A Hoopoe flew over and perched in a small tree, I saw three more whilst here. On a stony barren area I found flocks of twelve and seven Lesser Short-toed Larks. They were a life tick for me and it was nice to get such good first views. Their light sandy coloration made them perfectly camouflaged on this barren area. They ran about busily, occasionally flying short distances and giving short bursts of their trilling song. A Golden Plover was also on this stony ground together with a Dunlin and ten Little Ringed Plovers. I decided to return to the car for a drink, on the way a White Wagtail landed on the fairways, a couple of Spanish Sparrows fed in the scrub and five Rock Doves flew past. I rang Tony Clarke to ask for help with the wintering Red-throated Pipit flock. He said that so far the flock comprised of one bird, which he had found on Saturday together with the Golden Plover. He kindly gave exact instructions as to where to look and after exchanging bird news I headed back towards the course. Within minutes of walking to the right area a pipit had flushed from under my feet and giving a high-pitched call, which I hadn't heard before, it encircled the golf course and returned to a spot just a few yards from where I stood. It was the Red-throated Pipit. I got my scope onto it, although it was hardly necessary, and enjoyed stunning views. It even had a hint of a red throat. I should think most people's first view of this species in Britain is as a fly-over, so I was justifiably pleased to have seen my first so well.

I resolved to return tomorrow with the video camera and try to capture some of these birds on film. There were also three Painted Ladies here today. I returned home well pleased with the morning's haul.

We spent the rest of the day at the Aquasplash Waterpark (very cold water!).

DAY 7 Th 1st November Amarilla Golf Club and Monte del Agua

Weather: Very hot and sunny 

Today produced the best days birding of the holiday. If only I'd discovered Amarilla on day one. I got up early again and drove to Amarilla. I stopped for a quick check on the small lake. It was quieter today but there were still 14 Little Egrets and a Common Sandpiper. Parking in the same lay-by as yesterday I checked the two small ponds, which again hosted a Common Sandpiper and a Grey Wagtail. As I got out of the car a Rock Dove flew past, as did the first of five Hoopoes. There was a least ten Berthelot's Pipits in the rough area at the edge of the course this morning. I walked over to the area where the Red-throated Pipit was yesterday but there was no sign. The only pipit here was a Meadow Pipit, which flew off into the distance, I saw a second later. I went back to the area of rough vegetation and found four Spanish Sparrows and a male Spectacled Warbler. Then I decided to check the rough stony area where the larks had been yesterday. I looked up the track alongside the fairway and glimpsed a large bird run across it onto the stony area. I refound it with some difficulty; it was a Stone Curlew and a very well camouflaged one at that. At this point I noticed a couple bird watching on the other side of the fairway so I beckoned to them to come over. It turned out that they were Canadians, although originally from Britain, they were pleased to see the Stone Curlew but were especially hoping to see the Red-throated Pipit. I showed them the best place to look for it and on the way pointed out the Lesser Short-toed Lark flock, which today numbered ten.

I left them to their own devices then and set off around the top of the course. I found a good selection of birds and it seemed like there had been a bit of a fall overnight as there were quite a few migrants around. I found a Yellow Wagtail, two White Wagtails, a pair of Whinchats, a female Blackcap and saw a fly-over Swallow. I also had some cracking views of Hoopoes. On the fairway was a flock of two Ringed Plovers and six Little Ringed Plovers. I walked back to the stony plain and met another birder with his daughter. He was looking at the Golden Plover. I told him Tony Clarke had found it on Saturday. He said, "I know, I am Tony Clarke". After introducing myself we scrutinised the plover and although it was a very odd grey bird we came to the conclusion that it was just a Golden Plover and not something more exciting. We went together to see what else we could find. Two unidentified pipits, which flew into a tree, interested us greatly. Eventually they both flew out, one was a Tree Pipit and the other flew down onto the fairway and landed. When we caught up with it, we could see that it was a Tawny Pipit (only my second) and it had landed right next to the Red-throated Pipit. We called over the Canadian couple and we all had super views of these two scarce pipits together. An excellent mornings birding with an unprecedented five species of pipit in one place and also it was nice to meet Tony and put a face to the voice. I also managed to get some reasonable video film of several of the species seen.

After breakfast I had managed to persuade Bridgette and Michael to go to the laurel forests, as it was something we should all see. They were happy to go along with the idea and knew it was a visit high on my agenda. Bridgette agreed to drive and we rode up to Erjos in quick time see three of the island Kestrels en route. However when we got there we couldn't find the track for the forests at Monte del Agua. Our first foray down a back road proved to be wrong however it was very fortuitous. I looked up at the clear blue sky and at last there was a small flock of Plain Swifts. There were fifteen in all; smaller and greyer than our Swifts and with deeply notched tails. I had just about given up on this species, for although the guidebook said they were resident year round, I hadn't seen them anywhere. This was another life tick for me. Whilst we were watching the swifts we also saw a Blue Tit, two Canaries, a Canary Islands Chiffchaff, a Canary Islands Lizard (Gallotia galloti) and a Canary Blue butterfly (Cyclyrius webbianus), in the adjacent allotments.

We drove back up the road and decided to ask for directions. A local was stood outside his house so we pulled up and in my best Spanish I asked, "Donde esta (where is) Monte del Agua, por favor?" we sat smiling as a torrent of unrecognisable high-speed Spanish accompanied by a flurry of arms directed us on our way. I did recognise "right" and "left" and "De nada". I thanked him and still smiling we drove off stopping just around the corner out of view. We again consulted the book and tried coming back in to Erjos from the start. A landslide on a sharp bend by roadworks and a lone pine tree turned out to be the right track although it was nothing like a proper road. The book advised a four-wheel drive vehicle and we soon found out why as we bumped up and down in our Citroen Saxo. Once we had to stop while I removed to huge rocks that had fallen onto the track but eventually we carefully arrived at our first stop. It was about 5k into the forest where a rain gauge sat atop a large rock. The view was breathtaking it was almost primeval in appearance and it was silent apart from the occasional bird call. It would have been easy to imagine dinosaurs moving up the valley through the trees. I walked off a little to the right of the viewpoint climbed up a bank and set my scope up on a laurel tree where a dark patch looked odd. Unbelievably the dark patch was a Bolle's Pigeon preening. I couldn't believe my luck I watched it for a minute before calling the others, unfortunately a four-wheel drive vehicle came down the track and the pigeon flew before they got to me. I agreed for Bridgette and Michael to abandon me here and I would walk down to the coast the other side, we both had our mobiles so we could keep in touch.

So they left me, with a large bottle of water, and went off to explore on their own. Once the car had gone around the first bend everything fell silent. After ten minutes and seeing only a small group of five Canaries fly over I headed down the mountain track. I hadn't gone more than ten metres when I heard a Buzzard call and by running to where there was an overhead gap in the trees I was able to see it. It was of the race insularum. As I walked down the track I had five unidentified pigeons crash out of the trees and fly away without gaining any decent views.

I stopped on a corner where I could hear a few small birds so I decided to try pishing as it had worked so well before. In no time at I had called out two Canary Islands Chiffchaffs, two Blue Tits, a Canary Islands Kinglet and a Tenerife Robin, which I was especially pleased to see having only heard them before. They do look a bit different, much greyer, and sound different and moves are afoot to elevate this bird to full species status.

In a quarter of an hour I arrived at a cliff-face, which is given as another favoured pigeon spot. I soon began to see lots of Bolle's Pigeons; there much have been at least twenty. I also got some amazing perched views, something I hadn't expected to do. Eventually after checking every pigeon that flew past I got my first Laurel Pigeon, given away by its white tail tip, and shortly after a second. I was able to follow the first with my bins for a least a mile up the valley. Both pigeons were life ticks for me, making it three for the day. On the treetops here were two Chaffinches of the race tintillon, which were certainly different to British ones.

I carried on down the mountainside continuing to see more Bolle's Pigeons. I eventually met a British birder who told me that I was about forty minutes walk from the bottom and also that there was a Redstart down the track. I chatted with him for a few minutes and he told me he had his scope and tripod stolen from his car the previous day. He advised me not to leave valuables in the car in this area, I said I'd left my family in mine so I was sure it would be OK. We saw another four Bolle's Pigeons whilst we chatted. I headed on down and soon found the juvenile Redstart together with a few lizards and a Painted Lady, the most common butterfly on the island. I rang Bridgette and she drove up to meet me. Just before we met I saw another pair of Buzzards, a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk.

We started the journey back via La Vica and the pretty village of Masca around some horribly windy roads with long drops over the side. At a photo stop at La Vica Bridgette spotted some small birds amongst the prickly pears. There were two Canaries, a Canary Islands Chiffchaff, a Blue Tit and a stunning male Sardinian Warbler, the only one of the week and the last new species for the holiday.

The petrol light came on on the journey up the windy road out of Masca and we became increasingly concerned as we were stuck behind a coach, which had to make three-point turn-like manoeuvres to even get around the corners making things even slower. However we reached the top and with some relief were able to coast down into Santiago del Teide where we filled up.

Without doubt the best birding day of the holiday and well worth the wait. 

DAY 8 F 2nd November Torviscas

Weather: Very hot and sunny 

Today we packed up and spent the day in Torviscas as we were due to fly home at midnight. Michael and I went parascending (eye-level with Yellow-legged Gulls) then we all looked at the fish in the harbour again. The rest of the day was spent shopping, loafing on the beach and in the sea and travelling. I saw a Canary Islands Chiffchaff, half a dozen Spanish Sparrows and a Sandwich Tern also a deep-voiced parakeet flew over which may have been Monk, but I'm not sure.

So a very enjoyable holiday with plenty of relaxation, some good birds (eventually) including 12 lifers and a lot of new island races seen. 

Advice to Visitors

Make sure you always wear a hat and are sensible with sun creams, it gets very hot and it is easy to burn. 

If visiting the North of the island, the laurel forests or Mt Teide try to check the weather beforehand. It can be wet and miserable in the North at this time of year. I rang Tony Clarke from the beautifully sunny south on the Wednesday and he said it was pouring down up North and you couldn't see the peaks.

Make sure you have plenty of petrol before venturing out into the wilds although it is a comparatively small island you might get caught out like we nearly did. 

If visiting Loro Parque please note they do not as a general rule accept Credit Cards. The restaurant will however, if you have your passport with you. There is a cash machine by the main gate. 

If visiting the Aquasplash Waterpark there is a café just opposite the main entrance that sells reasonably priced packed lunches. They will probably approach you. You are not supposed to take food in with you but the lunches come in a carrier bag and they do not seem to check at the pool. The water in the pool is cold and saline. 

© Mike King 2001

The Gloster Birder

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