Fuencaliente, La Palma, Canaries - 27th November - 4th December 2016

Published by Mark Graham (helen.graham7 AT btinternet.com)

Participants: Mark Graham


We revisited Fuencaliente on the southern tip of La Palma after staying at La Palma Princess Y Teguise Hotel in March 2015. The holiday lasted a week between 27/11/2016 to 4/12/16.

Most of the time it was was hot and sultry except for a couple of spells of stormy wet weather towards the end of the week.

The hotel is ideally situated to explore the impressive volcanic landscape between the town of Fuencalliente and the Faro saltpans, by the lighthouse. You can also walk along the GR130 and GR131 footpaths which pass through the town and head up through some wonderful mountainous landscapes and protected pine forests.

A reliable bus service stops right outside the hotel entrance so you can go to the town or the lighthouse. The bus runs every two hours all day.

The road to Playa Zamora

A quiet road goes past Playa Zamora from the hotel. When you reach a quaint little villa surrounded by a pretty landscaped garden, a rough track then heads back to the main road-which then leads back to the hotel.

There were impressive numbers of Canary flocks along here with a maximum of 26 together plus another 4 seen near the villa on 2/12/16.

The other prominent species Canary Chiffchaff were notable and I counted a maximum of 24 on the last day, 4/12/16.

A La Palma speciality the Red-billed Chough were seen every day. The most seen was six on 30/11/16.[at the beginning of our holiday four were seen as we passed through Fuencaliente and descended down the mountain to the hotel].

Two Grey Wagtail were in residence by the Guanchos banana-sorting building every day. Two Grey Heron flew past on 30/11/12 but weren’t seen again during the week. A very common bird on La Palma is the Kestrel. On the return to the airport I counted eleven along the road between Fuencaliente and the airport. Around here there were three seen most days. Blackcap weren’t as prominent this time of year but I heard two during the week along this route. Other birds recorded as a maximum on 30/11/16 were 2 Greenfinch, 4 Blackbird, 15 Feral Pigeon, 8 Yellow-legged Gull and 4 Collared Dove. In March 2015 I recorded several Sardinian Warbler but strangely only heard one this time round.

The Faro Saltpans (29/11/16)

There wasn’t a great deal about this time round. Only 6 Turnstone, 3 Berthelot's Pipit and a White Wagtail were to be seen. Fourteen Yellow-legged Gull were on the edges of the saltpans, and a few more were out at sea.

When scanning the ocean between here and El Hierro we saw a few dolphins swimming past.

The GR131 (1/12/16)

One of the most impressive aspects of La Palma is the sheer number of well maintained and signposted footpaths which pass through some truly impressive landscapes.

Since you will end up at 1000m and beyond, it is definitely cooler and actually pleasant for hiking. We walked up from the town of Fuencaliente, heading north for two hours before heading back. The habitat wasn’t as varied as the GR130. We were mainly walking through the protected pine forest. The only decent view to be had was from the telecommunication tower overlooking the east coast where we had wonderful views of El Hierro, La Gomera and Tenerife. I’m glad we stopped there because a Barbary Falcon flew past.

There were the usual Canary with two larger flocks of 30 and 35. The Canary Chiffchaff could be mainly heard - they never shut up - but not always seen. There were 15 along the way. A Kestrel flew past, making a fuss. It had caught some sort of prey and settled on a nearby tree to enjoy its meal.

GR130 path (3/12/16)

We started at the town of Fuencaliente and walked along the western section heading north for a couple of hours before returning back to town again. We ended up somewhere above Las Indianas and El Charco. It is not a difficult route and passes through pine forests, vineyards and miles of maquis type habitats.

There were impressive flocks of Canary. The largest was 60 just past the junction with the GR131. Another flock of 40 was seen near the sign ’Vineyard Route’ a mile further on. About 20 minutes later there was yet another large flock, this time of 35 by an old volcanic crater now overgrown with trees and shrubs.

Halfway along the walk there was a pair of Raven. Just beyond the Vineyard Route sign I saw two Barbary Partridge. Two Red- billed Chough were spotted as we looked down the impressive steep drop to the coast. I only counted 12 Canary Chiffchaff but reckon there were far more about as a gale force wind whipped up - and they were keeping their heads down. A Blackcap was heard calling near the junction with the GR130 path. As we descended back into Fuencaliente I saw the only Blue Tit of the week. I’m not sure which sub species it was. The view was only fleeting. There were several Canary, Blackbird, Collared Dove and a Blackcap in the town centre.

If you have time drop into the famous Bar Parada. It’s stuck in a time warp, reminiscent of a bygone age. They serve the best coffee on La Palma with a sample of the most delicious homemade almond biscuits you will ever taste. See if you then can’t resist buying a packet on the way out!

The Hotel Grounds.

There are some impressive gardens and waterfall features around the hotel which attract a fair few birds including Blackcap, Canary, Collared Dove, Kestrel, Canary Chiffchaff, Blackbird and Feral Pigeon. There is a public promenade in front of the hotel. On 3/12/16 a tremendous storm blew in 101 Yellow-legged Gull, by far the most seen all week.