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Gran Canaria and Tenerife, July 2019

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Old Monday 8th July 2019, 22:00   #1
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Gran Canaria and Tenerife, July 2019

We have first visited the Canary islands 11 years ago, way before we became real birders, but we still managed to randomly identify a Berteholt's Pipit in the photos from the trip, which we thus had on our list before we had a Yellowhammer! Many years later, I visited La Palma twice in short succession for work reasons and then we went together to Fuerteventura for the Dwarf Bittern last year. Despite all of this, we still had a lot of unfinished business there, with 6 possible targets for me and 11 for me wife, so when she had a conference on Tenerife, slapping a short birding trip on it was a no brainer. We eventually managed to get everything off the lists except for Barolo's Shearwater.

The plan was for five days, the first two being dedicated to sailing from Tenerife to Gran Canaria, getting to the top of the island and back by public transport and sailing back to Tenerife; for the next three we rented a car there. This turned out to be more than enough, as, especially on Tenerife, the target birds really did actively try to be seen. As we already knew many of the places and there are very little birds of interest beyond the targets, we were even a bit bored the last day.

The first tick for my wife came immediately after landing on Gran Canaria, where a very loud Canary Island Chiffchaff sung in the trees in the harbor - these turn out to be really common, despite my previous relative difficulties to find them on La Palma. Already in Las Palmas we started the weird activity of checking the bottocks of all Collared Doves, but we had to wait until our bus change in San Mateo to get one with the perfect pattern for an African Collared Dove, a tick for the both of us. From there we took the bus as high as it gets to Cueva Grande, where my wife could tick Plain Swifts to her heart's content (those were also super common everywhere from then on), and eventually walked the rest of the way to Llanos de la Pez. There we spent several hours scouting good looking areas and locations of ebird sightings until we found a very showy Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch (tick for both) next to the Bailaco campsite. Satisfied, we descended to Cueva Grande, slept in the open a bit above the village and returned to Las Palmas.

Before the ferry was due to leave, we had just enough time to take another bus to the "ponds" between San Lorenzo and Tamaraceite to get the Common Waxbills for my wife. The site also had some very easily observed Stone Curlews, Red-legged Partridge and only the second ever Quail I have actually seen (not just heard) in my life. We had high hopes for the ferry and there was indeed a lot of pelagic birds, but almost every one of them was a Cory's Shearwater - except for one Bulwer's Petrel, another tick for my wife.

Back on Tenerife, we took TF24 along the spine of the island and randomly stopped at a Mirador (probably de Ortuo, but it's hard to tell), where immediately a Tenerife Blue Chaffinch (tick for both) appeared. We reached Las Lajas in the late evening and the Blue Chaffinches there were numerous and not at all vary - overall, this species was much more common that I would have thought. Las Lajas is a part of the awesome network of campsites on Tenerife that you can just book online for free - I still don't get how is it possible that we were the only ones there, because it's so awesome!

The next day we started with some seawatching at Punta la Rasca. Contrary to the Opus description, the access from the east is now completely blocked even for hikers and the best way is to walk 2.5 kms from El Palm-mar. There were again only Cory's, but a large pod of Short-finned Pilot Whales well visible from the coast made up for that. Also a very friendly Berteholt's Pipit paid us a visit at the lighthouse, walking meters from us; more of those were seen along the access path.

After reading on the local ornithology club's facebook that the colony of Nanday Parakeets is down to three birds, I did not hold my hopes high. First we tried a golf course where our friend saw them two years ago, then we moved to a nearby location given in a BF thread. There we sat down on the square and after a few minutes two Parakeets flew by - as those are on the Canary list (which is separate from the Spanish one), we both tick them as Cat. C.

In Erjos, Google Maps is quite confused as to what constitutes a road, but the track that turns off the main road 300 meters south of the village is easily driveable for about 800 meters to a small parking. Just a few steps of walking further behind a corner next to the radio tower, we saw our first Bolle's Pigeons. We visited the same area the next day and this "amphitheatre" turns out to be really brilliant for those as you can watch them flying here and there and sitting on branches for hours if you wish.

No Laurel Pigeon was seen neither here, nor further down the "accessible path". For those, we had to go to the famous Mirador la Grimona on TF5 - and there it was a question of a few minutes to see some flying around the slope above the road (a tick for my wife). Frankly, we were not very happy with the experience of watching the pigeons next to a loud busy road, amidst a sea of rubbish, so we scouted the northern coastal slopes for a more romantic spot, but could not find them elsewhere. At least La Grimona has a lot of lizards as a redeeming quality.

The remainder of the time was spent mostly seawatching in the vain hope to see Barolo's Shearwaters. We wanted to follow the advice from the Stubbs report about looking for them in the evening at Punta Teno, but the access is not straightforward - the road is closed to individual cars from 9 am to 8 pm. This leaves more than an hour of sunlight on either side and that seems good (as that is the time to focus on anyway) but we had no luck. Also, there was a locked gate to the lighthouse itself, so we had to add some 100 meters to the observing distance. The last day, we wandered a bit around El Medano, where the only shorebird was a singular Whimbler - there were again a lot of Cory's, but no last-minute Barolo surprise appeared.

In general, getting the local specialities on the Canaries seems quite easy, maybe with the exception of pelagic birds and possibly Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch and the disappearing Nandays. Together with the omnipresent Atlantic Canaries, a birder with no previous Canary list contamination can relatively easily get up to 12 ticks in a few days on the two main islands (and that's not even mentioning the possibility to go also to Fuerteventura for the Chat and maybe Tropicbirds or Bustards), which is a respectable number for a location in the WP. Considering there are also some non-endemic species, such as the Waxbills, but also possibly Spectacled Warbler or Barbary Partridge (none of which we tried to see, as we already have them from elsewhere), the potential is even bigger, all the while at a location that is one of the easiest to visit for even the least experienced traveller. Sadly, the benefit of Canaries as the easiest site for Barbary Falcon no longer holds since the IOC demoted it to subspecies.
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Last edited by opisska : Tuesday 9th July 2019 at 17:35.
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Old Monday 8th July 2019, 22:32   #2
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Great report opisska.
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Old Tuesday 9th July 2019, 00:31   #3
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Did you see the Hoopoe and the Monk Parakeet in GC?
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Old Tuesday 9th July 2019, 04:23   #4
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Nice little report

I have never been but would have liked to when there was a ferry service from (Morocco) Laayoune to Gran Canaria - unfortunately this ran aground some years ago and can still be seen from Tarifa to the North

A non-birding friend spent several days cycling around/up and down La Gomera and this looks like a good place to stop. The end of Feb is pencilled in when some good Winter birding and weather can be done.

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Old Tuesday 9th July 2019, 05:40   #5
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Nice report Jan! Off to Tenerife (and Fuerteventura) the end of January so most useful, many thanks!

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Old Tuesday 9th July 2019, 06:45   #6
opisska
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earnest lad View Post
Did you see the Hoopoe and the Monk Parakeet in GC?
We have seen some Hoopoes on Tenerife around several golf fields, is it somehow remarkable? It's quite a common bird in Europe. Monk Parakeets we did not look for, those we have seen very much enough of already :)

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Nice little report

I have never been but would have liked to when there was a ferry service from (Morocco) Laayoune to Gran Canaria - unfortunately this ran aground some years ago and can still be seen from Tarifa to the North
This is a bit confusing, how did a GC-Laayoune boat end up in Tarifa? Anyhow, a substitute can be put together as there are ferries from Tarifa and Cadiz to satisfy your ferrying needs and then there is a short flight to Laayoune. We were actually a little anxious about the fact that Western Sahara is so close and we are not going there, because we also have some unfinished business there.
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Old Tuesday 9th July 2019, 08:02   #7
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Yes the hoopoes are not remarkable. Still...
By the way when I went to Grand Canaria a good spot was Chargas Lake in Maspalomas also the sand dunes there (early morning only) .
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Old Tuesday 9th July 2019, 08:25   #8
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Nice report as usual Jan.
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Old Tuesday 9th July 2019, 08:34   #9
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Yes the hoopoes are not remarkable. Still...
By the way when I went to Grand Canaria a good spot was Chargas Lake in Maspalomas also the sand dunes there (early morning only) .
In 2008 I visited those dunes in the late afternoon. This allowed the observation of mating rituals of a certain mammal species. They were quite showy and did not flush even when we passed nearby, remarkable!
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Old Tuesday 9th July 2019, 10:23   #10
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Yes whilst birding in those dunes I accidentally briefly observed the non-hetero adaptations of said species. Mind you I imagine pre-breakfast birding here might have been good as not only was it too hot later on but too much human activity meant not a lot of birds. Still I did see the giant canary lizard which was nice. I imagine very early morning here could be good. Who knows, but maybe the southern shrike and the spectacled warbler or the short toed lark. Where this area borders the lake I flushed a pair of spoonbill and saw Greenshank, Ringed plover, kentish plover, bar tailed Godwit plain swift, and Whimbrel.
All that was in 2010

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Old Wednesday 10th July 2019, 07:01   #11
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Haha - oops sorry, my mistake

I meant to type Tarfaya not Tarifa - the boat can be seen thru the heat haze

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Old Wednesday 10th July 2019, 08:01   #12
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Great report! Glad you found some African Collared Doves, as I couldn't and am really wondering how many birds are being misidentified.
I also wonder where the number of 3 Nanday Parakeets is coming from, since I easily found a picture on Facebook still showing 6 birds flying in March 2019 and the post you refer to was made in April. Seems to me that this might have been just anecdotal evidence.

Furthermore, it's interesting to hear that you had only Bolle's Pigeon in Erjos. I had about half a dozen silhouettes flying away, but could never figure out the exact species, but had always suspected Bolle's.

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Old Wednesday 10th July 2019, 09:38   #13
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Great report! Glad you found some African Collared Doves, as I couldn't and am really wondering how many birds are being misidentified.
I also wonder where the number of 3 Nanday Parakeets is coming from, since I easily found a picture on Facebook still showing 6 birds flying in March 2019 and the post you refer to was made in April. Seems to me that this might have been just anecdotal evidence.

Furthermore, it's interesting to hear that you had only Bolle's Pigeon in Erjos. I had about half a dozen silhouettes flying away, but could never figure out the exact species, but had always suspected Bolle's.

Maffong
I have a strong suspicion that ACDs are actually much easier on Gran Canaria, where not that many people go, the ECD contamination seemed much smaller there. But the sample is small :)

The pigeons are well suited to my style of observation: I just take pictures of everything, I mostly don't look through binoculars but through my camera. The pictures are not very good for pigeons flying around in foggy weather, but for Bolle's/Laurel ID even really bad flight shots are fine, because you always see the tail pattern. So I am quite certain there was no Laurel to be seen on either visit to Erjos.
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Old Wednesday 10th July 2019, 14:34   #14
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Nice little report

I have never been but would have liked to when there was a ferry service from (Morocco) Laayoune to Gran Canaria - unfortunately this ran aground some years ago and can still be seen from Tarifa to the North

A non-birding friend spent several days cycling around/up and down La Gomera and this looks like a good place to stop. The end of Feb is pencilled in when some good Winter birding and weather can be done.

Laurie -
La Gomera is beautiful and ,for the Canaries, remarkably unspoilt. There's a good bus service so you don't need to hire a car.
La Palma doesn't have a wide range of birds but a lot more birds than you'd imagine- especially if you go up into the hills. Again a good, cheap, reliable bus service.
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Old Thursday 11th July 2019, 12:06   #15
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Hi back in June 2016 I saw at least 13 Nanday Parakeet in Los America’s
Many feeding young birds
They where by far the most common parrot species there
They have either suffered a drastic decline or are just under reported

Thanks Gary
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Old Sunday 14th July 2019, 00:05   #16
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When I visited Maspalomas in Gran Canaria back in 2010, I saw lots of collared doves, and I was intrigued at the fact that among these flocks were occasional paler birds. I wondered what these were but am still not sure.
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Old Sunday 14th July 2019, 10:29   #17
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When I visited Maspalomas in Gran Canaria back in 2010, I saw lots of collared doves, and I was intrigued at the fact that among these flocks were occasional paler birds. I wondered what these were but am still not sure.
I think I have not linked Maffong's article in the post - that was the source of my opinions on the birds. Basically it turns out that almost anything is quite unreliable due to large presence of hybrids, but the undertail pattern should be a good mark.
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Old Sunday 14th July 2019, 20:53   #18
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Thank you. I read in one article somewhere that in the Canaries collared doves have been bred in captivity and there are escapees, with possible resultant different strains at large because of this. However I cannot verify whether this is true or not.
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Old Tuesday 23rd July 2019, 20:39   #19
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After reading on the local ornithology club's facebook that the colony of Nanday Parakeets is down to three birds, I did not hold my hopes high. First we tried a golf course where our friend saw them two years ago, then we moved to a nearby location given in a BF thread. There we sat down on the square and after a few minutes two Parakeets flew by - as those are on the Canary list (which is separate from the Spanish one), we both tick them as Cat. C.
Excellent.
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Old Thursday 25th July 2019, 19:33   #20
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Sorry to spoil the fun but Nanday Parakeet is definitely NOT on Cat C of the Spanish list, which includes the Canaries. A new list was actually released just a few weeks ago.

The only country you can count it in is Israel, though I haven't heard of any reports in recent years.

Cheers, Graeme Joynt
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Old Thursday 25th July 2019, 21:55   #21
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Sorry to spoil the fun but Nanday Parakeet is definitely NOT on Cat C of the Spanish list, which includes the Canaries. A new list was actually released just a few weeks ago.

The only country you can count it in is Israel, though I haven't heard of any reports in recent years.

Cheers, Graeme Joynt
What about this: Checklist of the Birds of the Canary Islands 2018 - I do not know the local relationships, but : Sociedad Ornitologica Canaria seems like a relevant body and their list has the standard categorization.
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Old Friday 26th July 2019, 20:26   #22
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https://simientedisidente.com/lista-...?cn-reloaded=1

Above is a link to the latest official Spanish list, including the Canary Islands. Scroll down about 8 paragraphs or so to the link. No Nanday I'm afraid, though you can now have Red-masked Parakeet on the mainland.!

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Old Friday 26th July 2019, 22:47   #23
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https://simientedisidente.com/lista-...?cn-reloaded=1

Above is a link to the latest official Spanish list, including the Canary Islands. Scroll down about 8 paragraphs or so to the link. No Nanday I'm afraid, though you can now have Red-masked Parakeet on the mainland.!

Cheers, Graeme Joynt
I still wonder, how you decide which of the lists is more "official".
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Old Saturday 27th July 2019, 07:37   #24
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SEO is the official body in Spain, including the Canaries. They adjudicate on all rare bird claims and produce the annual Spanish Rarities Report.

But it's your own personal list so I guess you can count what you like!

Cheers, Graeme Joynt
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Old Saturday 27th July 2019, 13:33   #25
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SEO is the official body in Spain, including the Canaries. They adjudicate on all rare bird claims and produce the annual Spanish Rarities Report.

But it's your own personal list so I guess you can count what you like!

Cheers, Graeme Joynt
Sure, but in the absence of actual leadership, I am the one who usually motions to get things like this sorted in our Czech competition, where so far people have been counting those, so maybe I should start a move to remove them, but I would like to still better understand who is the Socieded Ornitoligica Canarias and why do they diverge then from the "official" list.
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