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Tenerife & Fuerteventura 26th Jan to 5th Feb 2020

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Old Saturday 8th February 2020, 14:28   #1
Scridifer
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Tenerife & Fuerteventura 26th Jan to 5th Feb 2020

Firstly it's probably worth cautioning those thinking of visiting either of these delightful islands not to start from the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria! However it was my birthday and that was where I wanted to go so that was that!

A four hour drive to Sofia and an early evening BA flight into Sofia meant we stayed over at the Thistle at T5 (the pod is great fun!) before transferring to Stansted for an afternoon flight with Ryanair to Tenerife South. Arriving early evening we collected the hire car from CICAR (great advice from members here) and proceeded to drive to our rented house in Las Aguas on the northern coast (approx 1 hour). A delicious meal of fresh squid and salad at a local restaurant was washed down with a couple of cold Dorada Especials/vino blancos and we retired to bed in preparation for the next day's challenge - the assault on El Teide!
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Old Sunday 9th February 2020, 13:54   #2
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Monday 27th January

We rose at 7.00am (before dawn), and as we hadn't had time to get any provisions in the evening before, headed off for breakfast at a cafe-bar on the TF-5. A cafe solo, freshly-squeezed orange juice and tortilla bocadillo apiece left us nicely prepared for the morning's birding! Leaving the cafe the sun had risen and a trilling from a nearby bush turned out to be our first bird of the trip and a Lifer to boot - rather aptly a handsome Canary!
Using the excellent Crossbill Guides 'Canary Islands -II' I had decided to make the ascent of El Teide from the north via La Orotava. Our first stop was at Chasna and promised decent views down the Orotava valley. We parked up and I hurried across the road to scan the neighbouring barranco - Blackbirds and the first of many Collared Doves showed themselves in flight before a perched bird caught my eye - Bolle's Pigeon, one of my main targets! Another target was soon added - Canary Islands Chiffchaff along with Grey Wagtail and Kestrel (West Canary subspecies canariensis).
Climbing up into the pine forest zone our next stop was at the Ramon Caminero area recreativa. A brief walk around the picnic area soon yielded the hoped for Blue Chaffinch, albeit a rather dull female. She was very quickly followed by two very splendid males, boy are they blue! A very quick glimpse of yet another Lifer in African Blue Tit ssp. teneriffae left me wanting more!
Moving into the crater of the Canadas del Teide we stopped of at the El Portillo visitors centre to check out the botanical garden. A lot of people had beaten us to it however so there weren't as many birds about as I had hoped. Another Kestrel and some more Canaries seemed to the extent of it when a loud clattering of wings turhed out to be a flushed Barbary Partridge! The scenery in the crater is truly stunning but no more birds were added until we reached the famous Las Lajas area recreativa on our descent. More Blue Chaffinches were present, along with Great Spotted Woodpecker ssp. canariensis and two flyover Ravens ssp. tingitanus. The charming village of Villaflor was worthwhile for views of the giant Canary Pine tree Pino Gordo and a rather splendid lunch!
As we were passing by on our way home it seemed an obvious decision to stop off at the Mirador La Grimona to check for Laurel Pigeons. Alas the only Columbids to show were several Rock Doves coming in to roost! Two silver linings were had though in the first Yellow-legged Gulls ssp. atlantis and two Common Buzzards ssp. insularum.
A very satisfying first days birding with several targets already in the bag including five Lifers!
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Old Sunday 9th February 2020, 17:36   #3
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A great first day start Chris, am looking forward to the rest of your trip, particularly envious (amongst others) of your Blue Chaffinch, perhaps one day Iíll get there.

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Old Sunday 9th February 2020, 17:37   #4
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Likewise Chris, looking forward to this a lot.
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Old Sunday 9th February 2020, 18:56   #5
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A great first day start Chris, am looking forward to the rest of your trip, particularly envious (amongst others) of your Blue Chaffinch, perhaps one day Iíll get there.

Cheers
Many thanks Ken! I highly recommend Tenerife as an all-round destination, not just for the birding! I didn't take as many pics as on previous trips (these days I am trying to enjoy just watching the birds more and fretting about capturing them less!) but I do have a couple of the Chaffinches to post!

Chris
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Old Sunday 9th February 2020, 18:57   #6
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Likewise Chris, looking forward to this a lot.
Thanks a lot Nick, I'll try not to disappoint!

Chris
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Old Sunday 9th February 2020, 19:17   #7
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Great start Chris. Sounds like you had a good trip.

Rich
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Old Sunday 9th February 2020, 20:06   #8
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Great start Chris. Sounds like you had a good trip.

Rich
Many thanks Rich, yup it really was a fantastic trip!

Chris
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Old Sunday 9th February 2020, 20:18   #9
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Like the others, Chris, I am also looking forward to the rest of this in the hope that it may bring back some good memories.
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Old Sunday 9th February 2020, 20:52   #10
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Like the others, Chris, I am also looking forward to the rest of this in the hope that it may bring back some good memories.
Appreciate it Pete, hopefully I can take you on a bit of a stroll down memory lane!

Chris
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Old Monday 10th February 2020, 19:25   #11
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Tuesday 28th January

Rising at the same time and breaking our fast at what was to become our usual spot, we were soon on the TF-5 heading west for Punto de Teno. The traffic restrictions at Buenavista del Norte still seem to be in place so I was keen to get in and out before 10.00am. Stopping biefly to scan the cliffs for Barbary Falcon (to no avail!) we arrived at the lighthouse to find the area bathed in sunshine. Parking at the lighthouse but finding only Yellow-legged Gulls we walked back a short way up the coastal plain. Sandra soon spotted movement among the succulent scrub which turned out to be a Berthelot's Pipit, another Lifer which curiously would turn out be the only one we saw on Tenerife! A singing bird flitting from bush-top to bush-top soon turned out to be a male Spectacled Warbler who seemed to be quite taken with Sandra and put on quite a show for her! Very different from the couple I had previously seen in Spain which much preferred to play hide-and-seek!
Heading back east again we stopped at Garachico to scan the Roque, hoping against hope for a Cory's Shearwater! As expected though only Yellow-legged Gulls were present, albeit in abundance!
Next we made for the Cueva del Viento (Europe's most elaborate lava tunnel system) above Icod de los Vinos. As interesting as it sounded we didn't really fancy spending two hours underground on such a glorious day so opted for what the Crossbill Guide calls "The Orchid Walk" instead! It turned out to be an auspicious decision as a beautiful ramble brought Robin ssp. superbus, and Sparrowhawk ssp. grantii along with several more Canaries, Canary Island Chiffchaffs, African Blue Tits and a female Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Feeling very pleased with our morning's work (or a least I certainly was!) we headed into Icod to pay homage to the Dragon Tree and for a spot of lunch.

Chris
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Old Monday 10th February 2020, 23:05   #12
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Donít know how regular Robins are on the Canaries Chris? Iíve seen just the one on Fuerteventura in circa a dozen visits, never seen Sprawk or Grt.Spot. either! The latter would be extremely scarce on Fuerteventura I suspect, not unlike Dwarf Bittern I suppose.

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Old Tuesday 11th February 2020, 06:52   #13
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Donít know how regular Robins are on the Canaries Chris? Iíve seen just the one on Fuerteventura in circa a dozen visits, never seen Sprawk or Grt.Spot. either! The latter would be extremely scarce on Fuerteventura I suspect, not unlike Dwarf Bittern I suppose.

Hi Ken,

According to Garcia-del-Rey's Birds of the Canary Islands Robin is a resident breeder on La Palma, El Hierro, La Gomera (nominate), Tenerife (ssp. superbus) and Gran Canaria (ssp. marionae) and a regular winter migrant to Fuerteventura and Lanzarote (both nominate).It apparently likes to winter in tamarisk woodland so perhaps this is why you haven't seen more?
Sparrowhawk is a resident breeder on p, H, Go, T & GC and only an irregular winter migrant to F&L.
Great Spotted Woodpecker is as you might suspect a resident breeder only on Tenerife and Gran Canaria.
As for Dwarf Bittern, you might say that, I couldn't possibly comment!

All the best,

Chris
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Old Tuesday 11th February 2020, 10:45   #14
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Chris

Great read and looking forward to the rest. I've found Robin a tricky thing to see on Tenerife in the past but like all things, you do get individuals that give themselves up eg visiting cafes.

All the best
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Old Tuesday 11th February 2020, 12:33   #15
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Chris

Great read and looking forward to the rest. I've found Robin a tricky thing to see on Tenerife in the past but like all things, you do get individuals that give themselves up eg visiting cafes.

All the best
Much appreciated Paul! We certainly didn't see many Robins, another two or perhaps three.

Next installment to follow soon!

Chris
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Old Tuesday 11th February 2020, 13:27   #16
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Tuesday 28th January PM

After a delicious luncheon of sweet black pudding followed by goat stew and rabbit in salmorejo sauce we took a stroll to see the Dragon Tree Dracaena draco which makes Icod famous. It may not be all of its reputaged age of 1,000 years but is impressive nonetheless, especially when you consider it is part of the asparagus family! I had promised Sandra a spot of wine-tasting as a reward for being dragged all over the place, and the Museo de Malvasia (Malmsey to you and me!) offered the opportunity. After a brief but interesting introduction we were ushered into the most beautiful tropical garden with guava, papaya, coffee and strelitzia to name but a few flourishing. While Sandra enjoyed her three 'cups' of wine I enjoyed the view from the garden over the area surrounding the Dragon Tree and soon saw a male Blackcap ssp. heineken several Canaries and a delightful pair of Barbary Doves.
Sandra had (not surprisingly!) had enough by now, so we drove back to Las Aguas where she wanted to have a bit of 'downtime' in the property's beautiful garden. I still had daylight to burn though so decided to head for the Barranco de Ruiz which was only 5 minutes down the road from us. Parking at the picnic site just off the TF-5 I set off up the barranco. Rock Doves were evident straight away but nothing else. I had gone perhaps half a mile and the walls of the gorge had closed in considerably when I spotted a distant bird perched in some vegetation close to the top of the barranco! Dark in colour, pigeon-shaped, was I kidding myself I could see a whitish tip to the tail? Cursing myself for not bringing my scope (but in all honesty it had been a bit of a scramble at times and I probably wouldn't have got that far if I had done!) I was trying to get my eyes to work just that bit harder when it took off and suddenly there was no doubt - Laurel Pigeon!
The journey back down to the car seemed to take no time at all, but I did see several Canary Island Chiffchaffs and an African Blue Tit, plus a flyover Grey Heron. Quite a day!

Chris
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Old Tuesday 11th February 2020, 13:35   #17
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Hi Ken,

According to Garcia-del-Rey's Birds of the Canary Islands Robin is a resident breeder on La Palma, El Hierro, La Gomera (nominate), Tenerife (ssp. superbus) and Gran Canaria (ssp. marionae) and a regular winter migrant to Fuerteventura and Lanzarote (both nominate).It apparently likes to winter in tamarisk woodland so perhaps this is why you haven't seen more?
Sparrowhawk is a resident breeder on p, H, Go, T & GC and only an irregular winter migrant to F&L.
Great Spotted Woodpecker is as you might suspect a resident breeder only on Tenerife and Gran Canaria.
As for Dwarf Bittern, you might say that, I couldn't possibly comment!

All the best,

Chris
The Tenerife and Gran Canaria races are candidates for species status. The DNA work suggests they have been separate from mainland races for a very long time [c2 M years]: longer than iberian woodpecker AFAIK. Side-by-side, plumage differences from other taxa are very obvious. I tried in vane to decide I was hearing radically different songs in both cases, but I'm sure there are some differences... This wikipedia article summarises the research reasonably well:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_robin

[There's a similar situation with chaffinch and [African] blue tit, but not, for some reason, blackbirds]

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Old Tuesday 11th February 2020, 15:47   #18
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The Tenerife and Gran Canaria races are candidates for species status. The DNA work suggests they have been separate from mainland races for a very long time [c2 M years]: longer than iberian woodpecker AFAIK. Side-by-side, plumage differences from other taxa are very obvious. I tried in vane to decide I was hearing radically different songs in both cases, but I'm sure there are some differences... This wikipedia article summarises the research reasonably well:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_robin

[There's a similar situation with chaffinch and [African] blue tit, but not, for some reason, blackbirds]
Very interesting THE FERN, many thanks for posting!

Chris
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Old Tuesday 11th February 2020, 16:04   #19
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Nice report. . Last summer I spent ages trying to see calling Robins (nominate apparently) round a cabin we stayed in on Madeira, and found them to be up there with the finest of inveterate skulkers. They put some antpittas to shame. Didn't get a glimpse of a shadow.
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Old Tuesday 11th February 2020, 17:27   #20
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Nice report. . Last summer I spent ages trying to see calling Robins (nominate apparently) round a cabin we stayed in on Madeira, and found them to be up there with the finest of inveterate skulkers. They put some antpittas to shame. Didn't get a glimpse of a shadow.
Many thanks Larry! Just checked my records and three were singing in the open and just one skulker! Funny things aren't they!

Chris
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Old Tuesday 11th February 2020, 18:28   #21
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Wednesday 29th January

The plan for today was to head to the extreme north-east of Tenerife into the Anaga Mountains. Hoping for more views of both pigeons and Tenerifan subspecies of Goldcrest and Chaffinch.
Up around 07.00 and.... well I think you know our morning routine by now! Our first stop was at the Cruz del Carmen, a beautiful spot in the laurel forest with hiking trails and lovely views over the foothills we had just ascended. Hopping around one of the noticeboards were a pair of Chaffinches ssp. canariensis! I don't know what the genetics say but to me the male's plumage is strikingly different from the nominate when seen in the flesh!
Pico del Ingles offered magnificent views in all directions but no birds. I can see that if you spent enough time there you would have a great chance but we decided to press on.
A brief stop at El Bailadero gave great views of the coast (it was a bright sunny day so the usual fog wasn't in evidence) and several confiding CI Chiffchaffs plus a Common Buzzard.
A little further on we stopped for a walk in the forest at Bosque Encantado. Right at the start of the trail, preening itself most nonchalantly was a mammalian Lifer for me - Black Rat! Further along a familiar high-pitched call alerted me to the prescence of two Goldcrests ssp. teneriffae. A singing Robin was the only other bird we saw on the trail as we returned to the car.
We followed the road right out to the very picturesque (and isolated!) village of Chamorga in hope of finding Sardinian Warbler or perhaps Rock Sparrow, but all it had to offer was a simple but pleasant lunch!
Returning the way we came we made a diversion to Benijo for a quick spot of sea-watching, but as expected only the ubiquitous Yellow-legged Gulls put in an appearance!
Back at Las Aguas I left my better half and drove back to the Barranco de Ruiz hoping for another glimpse of Laurel Pigeon. A few Blackbirds and the usual Rock Doves kept me on my toes until finally a Laurel Pigeon flew across the barranco and perched in a tree above me! Unfortunately it was right above me and I was unable to see it at all! Several more CI Chiffchaffs and a skulking Robin kept me entertained on my way back to the car and that was it for the day!
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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 00:06   #22
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Many thanks Larry! Just checked my records and three were singing in the open and just one skulker! Funny things aren't they!

Chris
Although they can also learn our local Robin behaviour, the attached was coming to crumbs at the Caldera cafť on Tenerife - https://ebird.org/checklist/S33067949

It would have happily perched on a spade for a Christmas card.

All the best

Paul
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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 06:22   #23
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Although they can also learn our local Robin behaviour, the attached was coming to crumbs at the Caldera cafť on Tenerife - https://ebird.org/checklist/S33067949

It would have happily perched on a spade for a Christmas card.

All the best

Paul
Lovely image Paul! Thanks for sharing!

Chris
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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 13:19   #24
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I was a bit uncertain what to do the next day as it was to be our last full day in Tenerife before flying to Fuerteventura on Friday. Fortunately I was in the enviable position of having seen all my main targets so I decided to head up El Teide again, aiming to beat the crowds to the visitor centre and perhaps get a better look at Barbary Partridge whilst hoping for an outside chance of Barbary Falcon or even an over-wintering Plain Swift. Regardless of what we might see the spectacular landscapes certainly warranted another visit!

Thursday 30th January

Rising at our usual time, and realising that being 60 wasn't much different from being 59, we experienced a brief moment of panic when I found a missed call from my urologist in Sofia 15 minutes previously! Knowing he was calling with the results of a prostate biopsy he had performed I scrabbled to call him back before he went into surgery and became 'incommunicado' for the morning! Fortunately he picked up on my second attempt and then followed the best birthday present ever - "all clear"!
After a most enjoyable breakfast that included a couple of celebratory 'dulce' biscuits we were on the road and arrived at the El Portillo visitor centre before it had even opened. We enjoyed the tranquility of the gardens for at least 30 minutes before anyone alse arrived. At least a dozen Canaries flitted about, an African Blue Tit almost kept still long enough to be photographed, and a couple of Blue Chaffinches put in an appearance but no partridge! Nothing was going to dent our spirits though so we drove across the caldera to the other visitor centre at Canada Blanca just drinking in the otherworldly scenery! It was beginning to get busy by now so we headed back down into the pine forest zone to see if I could photograph a Blue Chaffinch at the Ramon Caminero picnic site. We hadn't even got out of the car before I saw two males hopping down to the floor and back from the hand rail close to the public conveniences! (See pics below).
Moving further back down the mountain we stopped again at Chasna, the location for our first (and to date only!) Bolle's Pigeon. An attractive-looking bodegon had caught my eye on the ascent and we decided to have lunch there.

The summit of El Teide from El Portillo visitor centre
Blue Chaffinches at Ramon Caminero area recreativa
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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 15:52   #25
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Love those Blue Chaffinches Chris!
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Favourite birds:- Pallid Harrier, Hen Harrier, Gyrfalcon, Great Grey Owl, Snowy Owl, Wryneck, Blue-Cheeked Bee-eater, Sib Rubythroat, Firecrest, Redstart, Hawfinch, Bearded Tit, Smew, GN & BT Diver, Pom Skua, Warblers especially colourful American ones.
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