Tenerife - December 2014

Published by Derek Charlton (charlton115 AT btinternet.com)

Participants: D.Charlton C. Wilson


Photos with this report (click to enlarge)

Blue Chaffinch
Blue Chaffinch
Canary Island Chiffchaff
Canary Island Chiffchaff

We stayed near Los Gigantes on a self catering basis. We booked a car hire for three days on arrival and there were ample cafes, bars and restaurants available within easy walking distance around the resort. Los Gigantes is situated near the north-west of the island and the six species on my wish list (incl. Barbary Falcon, Bolles/Laurel Pigeon, Blue Chaffinch) were all possible within an hours drive.

The four most common species encountered, at least in this part of the island, were Canary, Chiffchaff (both seen within a minute of leaving the hotel), Kestrel and Collared Dove, with Sardinian Warblers and Buzzards also frequently seen.

There are several Dolphin/Whale watching boat trips from Los Gigantes harbour ranging from 15-30 euros and are a great way to pass an afternoon. The weather was fantastic all week, with wall to wall sunshine, virtually no wind, with temperatures around 23 degrees.

Our first day with the car took us to the well known Mirador la Grimora. The target bird here was the Laurel Pigeon, which was a much hoped for lifer for my companion, Colin Wilson. The layby off the TF5 is easily missed travelling from the west, but there is ample room for several cars. What we thought might be the trickiest of the six target birds to nail turned out to be simplest with one seen perched within seconds of leaving the car at around 10am. Birds were distant but still gave good scope views with at least three birds seen perched within a half hour.

Next we decided to try for a pigeon double with a visit to Ergos in search for Bolle's. After looking at old trip reports we parked the car and took the long slog to the boulder weather gauge watchpoint. This turned out to be a disappointment as although a Bolle's Pigeon was seen in flight, there was nothing else on show in a two hour watch! The walk back provided views of Tenerife Goldcrest and at least eight pigeons cluttered from the trees but remained frustratingly hidden by the thick cover. Notably, a new wooden viewpoint has been erected, only about a mile walk into the forest which provides a view of the same valley as the weather gauge watchpoint, only from the opposite side, and is far less distance to walk. A plan to view from this structure during the early morning a couple of days later (with the sun behind you) proved to be much more rewarding with a close Laurel Pigeon and three Bolle's seen in flight.

An early moring visit to Chio picnic site at Mt Teide was a success with around ten Blue Chaffinch present, most of which were incredibly tame when provided with crushed biscuits. Ravens and Great Spotted Woodpecker also showed well at this location. So now, after three days, only Barbary Falcon remained!

A couple of visits to the well known Punta de Teno at the north-west tip of the island proved to be fruitless and with the car hire now up, it seemed as though we would dip on the elusive falcon. The remaining two days was spent local around Los Gigantes, and noticing the huge ciffs just north of the resort and with nothing much else to do, we decided to have a few early morning scans through the scopes from the promenade in front of the Barceló Santiago. This was a wise choice with two Barbary Falcons seen perched up and later in flight along with two Booted Eagles south and two Ospreys in our two early morning watches.

Tenerife certainly does not hold the range of species that can be seen with a little effort on Fuerteventura, with a scattering of Bertholot's Pipits and a Southern Grey Shrike the only other birds of note, but all in all a relaxed and enjoyable week in the sun.