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A Report from

Tenerife, 30 January - 26 February 2004,

Alan Miller

Anne and I decided to have a month in the warm during the UK's winter and chose Tenerife. Whilst there we hired a car for a week to visit birding sites to the north and centre of the island, and at all times (during the day) we had our binoculars with us. Our target species was Plain Swift as we had missed it on our previous visit two years ago and unbelievably we saw two from the coach enroute our hotel!

We travelled on a package deal through Airtours staying in Puerto de la Cruz. We sourced car hire at the resort and managed an excellent deal through Orcar. We had a Citroen Saxo for seven days. All it cost was 114 Euros for the hire and insurance (with no excess) and 21 Euros for fuel (not bad for 710 birding kilometers!)

For research we used 'A Birdwatcher's Guide to The Canary Islands' by Tony Clarke and David Collins. We also carried Collins Bird Guide by Mullarney, Svensson et al, and Historia Natural de las Islas Canarias by David and Zoe Bramwell. This book is written in Spanish and the bird illustrations are somewhat dodgy, however the distribution information for butterflies, dragonflies, mammals and reptiles was extremely useful.

We stayed at The Hotel San Felipe which is located at one end of the resort at Playa Martianez. Besides having a quiet seafront location and extensive gardens, it had additional benefits because of a large escarpment with plant cover and caves to one side and Barranco Martianez at the other. The Barranco was a regular checking spot as it held Canaries, Spanish Sparrows, African Blue Tits, Canary Islands Chiffchaff, Blackbirds and Blackcaps.

Much of Puerto de la Cruz is pedestrianised with a large seafront lido and gardens. Walks looking along the shore routinely turned up Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Turnstone and Little Egret. Also we regularly saw Grey Wagtail around the harbour and Berthelot's Pipit around the new car park to the west of the harbour.

The most numerous birds around the Squares in Puerto were Collared Doves. There were also good numbers of Spanish Sparrows and Blackbirds. There were tall palm trees around Plaza del Charco where we found the very noisy Monk Parakeets (for the purist - introduced). We found the best place to take morning coffee was outside Café

Columbus where the Parakeets could be watched flying between the trees and nest building. We only saw them on the ground once when a local lady was feeding the birds with seeds and we had our highest count of 14.

The rocky escarpment behind our hotel was home to many pigeons. Some were clearly Rock Doves but the majority were the good old Feral Pigeon. The escarpment was also home to a pair of Kestrel.

For the week with the car we visited four areas covered in Clarke and Collins Guide. The references below relate to sections in the book.

'The North' site 1 - Los Realejos Reservoir proved a challenge to find. We discovered that since the book was published there had been quite a bit of road upgrading and number changing. The road to Cruz Santa is now the TF 324 and the mini-roundabout is now a much larger affair planted out with shrubs and flowers. We saw Coot, Little  Egret  and Common Sandpiper at the Reservoir.

'The North' site 2 - Chananjiga - We made two visits here and dipped on pigeons on both attempts. You should note that in the directions the TF2115 is now the TF 326 and signed to Benijos and Palo Blanco.

'The Northwest' site 3 - Erjos Ponds - This was our most productive area and we spent a pleasant morning at the ponds. We saw Teal, Coot, Moorhen and Yellow-legged Gull on the ponds and added Robin and Sardinian Warbler in the bushes. Both Kestrel and Buzzard passed overhead.

'The Northeast' site 2 - Anaga Peninsular - The scenery here and along the ridge of the Mercedes mountains was stunning. We had good distant perched views of Bolle's Pigeon. At a roadside picnic site we had close views of a pair of Chaffinch of the race 'africana'

'The Northeast' site 4 - Tejina Ponds - Again road improvements have changed the approach and there is now a big roundabout and the end of a bypass adjacent to Pool A. We added Common Snipe to our list at Pond B

'The Northeast' site 5 - Punta Hidalgo - We found this area very quiet and the fields near the hotel are now full of single-storey apartments with more construction taking place.

'The Northeast' site 7 - Los Rodeos - In addition to the road in the book, we also found a small road which skirted the opposite side of the airport running from the main terminal roundabout. This proved productive with Linnets and Corn Bunting, and we heard Quail.

'Central' site 5 - El Portillo - We found several Blue Chaffinch in the café garden but our recommendation is to drive another kilometre towards Mount Teide. We found three cafes, one called Restaurante Bambi. We sat on the terrace with coffee and a sandwich whilst the birds flew down from the adjoining trees for titbits and came within feet of us. It was helped when the waiter put a jam-filled doughnut on the wall and it acted like a magnet! We saw Canary, African Blue Tit, Blue Chaffinch, and Canary Island Chiffchaff. Berthelot's Pipits were on the ground but didn't come to the wall. We discovered that the Blue Tits loved cheese rather than bread, whilst Canaries loved the doughnut.

If you want lots of birds then Tenerife isn't the place to go. We had to work hard to find birds even though the general habitat looks lush. The bonus is the endemics and sub-species.

Systematic List of Sightings:

Little Egret Egretta garzetta - Seen at Puerto de la Cruz 1 on 6th, 2 on 15th and 1 on 20th. Also 2 at Los Gigantes on 11th, 1 at Los Realejos on 12th, 2 at Tejina Ponds on 13th and 1 at Punta Hidalgo on 13th

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea - 1 seen at Puerto de la Cruz on 11th, 15th and 17th,

Also 1 at Aguamansa on 10th and 3 at Punta Hidalgo on 13th

Teal Anas crecca - 5 seen at Erjos Ponds on 11th (1 male, 4 female)

Buzzard Buteo buteo insularum - 2 seen at Erjos Ponds and 2 at Masca on 11th, 1 at El Portillo on 15th

Kestrel  Falco tinnunculus canariensis - Daily around hotel. High count 3 on 3rd and 21st. Also 2 seen at Erjos Ponds on 11th and 1 at Los Rodeos on 16th       

Quail Coturnix coturnix - heard on 16th at Los Rodeos

Moorhen Gallinula chloropus - 13 at Erjos Ponds on 11th, 6 at Tejina Ponds on 13th

Coot Fulica atra - 1 at Erjos Ponds on 11th, 6 at Los Realejos on 12th  and 1 on 13th at Tejina Ponds

Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago - 1 at Tejina Ponds on 13th

Common Sandpiper Actites hypoleucos - 1 at Puerto de la Cruz on 8th, 9th and 23rd. 1 at Los Realejos on 12th

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres - 4 at Los Gigantes on 11th, also seen at Puerto de la Cruz with highest count of 9 on 17th

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus - Puerto de la Cruz (Playa Blanca end) 1 on 6th, 2 on 8th, 2 on 20th and 1 on 22nd.

Yellow-legged Gull Larus cachinnans atlantis - Up to 15 seen regularly between Playa Martianez and Playa Jardin. Also 2 on 11th at Erjos Ponds, 24 on 11th at Los Gigantes, 9 on 13th at Tejina Ponds and 3 on 13th at Punta Hidalgo

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis   - Up to 3 seen regularly on rocks off Puerto seafront

Rock Dove Columba livia - Live on the escarpment and caves behind our hotel. Up to 6 seen daily.

Feral Pigeon Columba livia feral - As above but 50 to 100 seen daily

Bolle's Pigeon Columba bollii - 1 at Bailadero on 13th

Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocta - Widespread and abundant

Monk Parakeet Myiopsitta monachus - Regular (max 14 on 24th) at Plaza del Charco, Puerto de la Cruz

Plain Swift Apus unicolor - Seen frequently at Puerto de la Cruz, either near our hotel or above Plaza del Charco. Maximum count 4

Berthelot's Pipit Anthus berthelotii berthelotii - 2 on 10th near Mount Teide lift station, 2 on 11th near Masca. Seen on 15th,21st ,24th and 25th at new car park to west of Puerto de la Cruz Harbour. 3 on 18th on roadside cliffs half a mile east of Puerto.

Grey Wagtail  Motacilla cinerea canariensis - A pair seen regularly around Puerto de la Cruz seafront. Also 1 on 12th at Los Realejos , 1 on 13th at Tejina Ponds and 1 on 13th at Bailadero.

Robin Erithacus rubecula superbus - 2 on 10th at Chanajigo, 1 on 11th at Erjos Ponds

Blackbird Turdus merula cabrerae - Widespread and abundant around Puerto de la Cruz

Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala - 2 at Erjos Ponds on 11th, 6 at Tejina Ponds on 13th

Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla heineken - Up to 4 seen regularly in Barranco Martianez. Also 1 on 12th at Los Realejos

Canary Islands Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita canariensis - Widespread with up to 6 seen daily around Puerto de la Cruz. Also 8 on 11th at Erjos Ponds       

African Blue Tit Parus caeruleus teneriffae - Widespread with up to 4 seen daily around Puerto de la Cruz. Also 6 on 15th at El Portillo.

Southern Grey Shrike Lanius pallidirostris koenigi - 1 near El Portillo on 15th

Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis - Common around Puerto de la Cruz

Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs tintillon   - 1 on 10th at Aguamansa, Fringilla coelebs africana - 2 on 13th near Bailadero

Blue Chaffinch Fringella teydea teydea  - 6 on 10th and 4 on 15th  at El Portillo

Serin Serinus serinus - 1 on 2nd, 1 on 3rd and 2 on 15th at Puerto de la Cruz

Canary Serinus canaria - Abundant and widespread around Puerto de la Cruz. 24 on 10th at El Portillo, 12 on 11th at Erjos Ponds, 12 on 11th at Masca and 12 on 15th at El Portillo.

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris - 10 on 3rd at Puerto Botanical Gardens and 1 on 16th at Los Rodeos

Linnet Acanthis cannabina meadewaldoi - 4 on 16th at Los Rodeos

Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra - 3 on 16th at Los Rodeos


Small White Artogeia rapae
Bath White Pontia daplidice
African Migrant Catopsilia florella
Cleopatra (Canary Island Brimstone) Gonopteryx Cleopatra cleobule
Indian Red Admiral Vanessa indica vulcania
Painted Lady Cynthia cardui
Queen of Spain Fritillary Issoria lathonia
Canary Speckled Wood Parage xiphioides
Monarch Danaus plexippus


Emperor dragonfly Anax imperator
Vagrant Emperor dragonfly Orthetrum chrysostigma
Scarlet Darter Crocothemis erythraea
Red-veined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombei


Canary Lizard Gallotia galloti
Canary Skink Chalcides viridanus


House Mouse Mus musculus

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