My wife and I decided to celebrate our 12½ years wedding anniversary on Tenerife in February. The island has a great combination of possibilities for relaxing, hiking, shopping, dining and birding. Because of the fact that there were not huge numbers of lifers for me out there I could probably find them without using too much time – and finding them could be combined with nice hikes or boat rides.
The birds I most wanted to see were: Barbary Partridge, Cory’s Shearwater, Macronesian Shearwater, Laurel Pigeon, Bolle’s Pigeon, Berthelot’s Pipit, Tenerife Robin, Canary Islands Chiffchaff, Tenerife Goldcrest, Tenerife Blue Tit, Southern Grey Shrike, Blue Chaffinch and Canary.
We went hiking in Masca on the western side of the island. Right upon arrival in the village we flushed a Barbary Partridge and later we saw two more, but they were distant. In Masca there is a trail to the ocean, which takes about 2½ hours to walk. As we watched the tail two British tourists passed us. I asked them if they had seen any partridges down the path. Much to my surprise they had had amazing views of two “chickens” about 30 minutes down the track. They even suggested that the chickens were looking for food, so they gave us a fig-bar, so we could try to feed them. We decided to go down the path towards the ocean with the fig-bar. On the way down we saw Speckled Warbler, Blackcap and Raven.
When we came about 40 minutes down we reached a place that hikers obviously use for resting. There we stopped for a while and suddenly a Barbary Partridge was looking at us. It had obviously learned to eat left-overs from the hikers. We tried to feed the bird some fig-bar and it worked. Suddenly another bird showed up at gave amazing views. What a stunning bird.
I didn’t do much sea watching from land as it would be boring for my wife. But I managed to persuade her to come on a whale safari off Los Cristianos. It was 20 Euros pr person for two hours. There weren’t many birds about but the species were awesome. 1 Barolo Shearwater, 3 Cory’s Shearwater, 1 Manx Shearwater, 1 Gannet, Sandwich Terns and Yellow-legged Gulls. Sadly the Barolo Shearwater was quite far away, so I only managed very crappy photos.
We also saw about 20 Short-finned Pilot Whales and 5 Bottlenose Dolphins.
Laurel Pigeon and Bolle’s Pigeon
One morning I woke up early and headed towards Erjos. At the 16 km marker along the main road the track turns west. If you follow this track you will end up in a valley with undisturbed laurel forest. Well, kinda undisturbed. As I arrived workers had already started to work on improving the road in the forest with concrete and rocks. Quite soon you reach a view-point, where pigeons can be seen. But I continued past the view-point and the workers. After a kilometer or so I escaped their nosy work. Almost at the same time I stated flushing Bolle’s Pigeons along the track. So I started to walk very slowly and look for pigeons in the canopy. But my first well-watched Bolle’s Piegon was actually just foraging on the track itself. But I didn’t see it for long. As soon as I started to fumble with the camera it went off. They are pretty shy after all. The hard thing is to see the birds before the fly away. But soon I got lucky and spotted a Bolle’s Pigeon exposed in the canopy. It didn’t seem to mind me, so I got to watch it for as long as I wanted. But eventually I had to continue on the track, which brought me so close that the bird flew off. After a while I started meeting hikers coming from the opposite site and from that on I didn’t flush more pigeons. All in all I saw 13 Bolle’s Pigeons in Erjos during the morning walk. I also heard the wing beat for some pigeons that I didn’t see. All in all Erjos is really great – even if there were no birds the place itself is breath-taking.
In Erjos I also found good numbers of Canary Coldcrests – the only place I saw the birds.
I didn’t see any Laurel Pigeons in Erjos, so I tried La Grimonas – a small view-point along T5 about 30 min drive west of Puerto de la Cruz. From the time I stepped out of the car I saw Laurel Pigeons every 3-5 minutes. During half an hour I even had birds sitting fully exposed twice. One of them for 5 minutes at least.
This Meadow Pipitish Pipit is common around the island. I saw it mostly in more dry areas. At Punta de la Rasca it was very common for instance, where the local race of Southern Grey Shrike is also common. It is a fine pipit, that likes to walk rather than fly away. It isn’t shy at all and with a bit of patience it can be observed at a very close distance.
I must admit that when I first saw a Tenerife Robin at Erjos I was quite surprised by the obvious difference from the continental birds. It was almost like a Red-breasted Flycatcher male with its grey head very red chest. It was actually a very lovely bird, but somewhat more shy than the continental birds. I only saw it in Erjos during our trip.
Canary Islands Chiffchaff
The Canary Islands Chiffchaff is very common in all kinds of vegetation from city centers to rather dry areas at high altitude.
It is a funny little phyllo that made me think of Dusky Warbler due to the colouration, rather pale legs and prominent supercilium.
At Las Lajas I connected with Blue Chaffinch, Canaries, Tenerife Blue Tits, the local subspecies of Great Spotted Woodpecker. This picnic area is awesome for birding as the birds are used to people and tend to give supreme views. At Las Lajas Plain Swifts were also common.
All the species observed on out trip can be seen below.
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Canary Islands Chiffchaff
Tenerife Blue Tit
Southern Grey Shrike