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A Report from

Tenerife 2nd – 9th May 2003,

Chris Stamp

This is a report of birds seen during a week in Tenerife with a mixture of casual birding and other holiday activities. We found Tenerife quite a contrast from Fuertevetura & Lanzarote. The resorts we found less appealing but the landscape of Las Canadas around Moun Teide is fantastic and the flora more interesting (although a visit in the spring probably helped with this). We had no birding guide to Tenerife with us, so apart from a few clues picked up off the web these sightings were mostly a result of chance and exploration.

First trip was up the winding road from Los Cristianos to Las Lajas picnic site in the pine forest. We had just enough time to get there and have a look around before turning back for an appointment at the hotel, but there was no problem spotting Blue Chaffinches almost immediately. They were hopping around the few vacant picnic tables (it was a Saturday and busy with locals), followed by Canary, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue Tit and Turtle Dove. The Canaries were taking advantage of drips from the taps provided for picnickers. On the way back down the road a covey of Barbary Partridges attempted to cross the road in front of us but sensibly took cover (a refreshing change after our unpredictable UK pheasants) as we approached. As we got close to Arona we were surprised (to say the least) to get excellent views of an Andean Condor circling the hillside! It was only later that we found out the local zoo has free flying birds. This bird was quite a way from the zoo further down the hillside, but must have been well trained.

Next day was a trip to the north and the laurel forests around Erjos. A sunny day on the south coast turned into a very wet one over the mountains – low visibility and pouring rain made for unpleasant driving conditions. We kept on to Garachico for a look around and postponed our walk for a few hours. The only particularly notable birds at Garachico were a pair of Whimbrel, but there were also the usual Blue Tits, Spanish Sparrows and Chiffchaffs in the village. Back up to Erjos, past a Buzzard circling overhead. The only bird on the ponds was a Moorhen. Blackbirds & Canaries were singing loudly from the vegetation all around, and as we headed up towards the trees, pigeons were evident, but very shy and flying away before we could get a decent view. Later while walking through the darkness of the laurel forests we saw dozens of what we eventually determined were Bolle’s pigeons, but always dashing away through the trees from the forest floor. Frustratingly we never once got a clear look at one. We probably also encountered Laurel pigeons but in the very poor light it was difficult to be sure. A tip – don’t look in the forests themselves if you want a clear view of these birds – you’ll need to watch the canopy from above instead. A Raven was heard but not seen.

In and around Los Cristianos we encountered Spanish Sparrow and Collared Dove (both on our balcony), Blackcap, Yellow Legged Gull, Berthelot’s Pipit, Blue Tit, Feral Pigeon, Plain Swift, Chiffchaff and a noisy Parakeet species which was presumably Monk Parakeet.

In Las Canadas national park there is not so much bird life – the best sighting being a fairly confiding Great Grey Shrike. It was seen carrying a lizard’s tail to what was obviously its nest (judging by the noise) in a bush. Bethelot’s Pipits are also around near the spectacular rock fomations and are willing to be fed. However this can bring them into conflict with the local lizards which also appreciate any scraps, especially bits of tomato! Kestrels breed in the rocks, and in fact are common all over Tenerife.

On a catamaran trip off Costa Adeje (effectively part of the huge Los Cristianos / Playa Las Americas tourist resort) Cory’s Shearwaters were easy to spot, mostly sitting around on the water in medium sized ‘rafts’. Short-finned pilot whales were also present and soon surrounded by 4 catamarans loaded with tourists.

Our last walk was at Barranco El Infierno, a popular hike near Adeje in the south west. We did this walk late in the afternoon which turned out to be a bonus as we were the last people in the gorge in the evening, when the birds were most active. It was almost like a dawn chorus with birds taking advantage of the excellent acoustics, although spotting them in the dense and varied vegetation was a challenge despite the excellent viewpoints. Blackbird, Robin, Chiffchaff, Canary and Grey Wagtail were all fairly numerous and we also spotted a Sardinian Warbler. Plain Swifts were numerous here, swooping inches from our heads in places. Kestrels and Rock Doves were also omnipresent. The last species to be seen was a Barbary Partridge, which we would never have spotted if it wasn’t for the loud raucous call from the hillside. Even then it required patience to at last see it stalk out from under a bush for a few seconds. I’m afraid we gave up on some LBJ warblers, so there are certainly other species in the barranco beside those listed here.

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