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Birding the Canaries (1 Viewer)

Julian H

Well-known member
Need some help please...

Planning a family trip to the Canaries in late Novemeber so need a hotel/pool accommodation as a good base to bird from. Never been before, so not sure which would be the best island. I'll have mornings and evenings to bird and know I won't be able to get many endemics. I'm also prepared to sacrifice some ticks if there are areas that will offer decent photo opps of terns/shorebirds.

What seabirds are there in Novemeber?

I know many will have been, so any suggestions as to resorts/islands and best places to bird bearing in mind it'll be a family-type holiday, would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Julian Hough


Well-known member
Have you had a check out of this thread as it has some useful info.

I have put Canary Islands in the Vocational Trip reports and came up with this batch

I cant really help much as we have only been to Peurto de la Cruz in Tenerife about 15 years ago and we were not really into birding then. We loved the resort as it was not as touristy as the other resorts. About 10 minutes walk from our Hotel was Loro Parque which is a sanctuary/zoo

I think it may be best to avoid La Gomera as there is wildfires on the Island at present.
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Mayo Corncrake

Well-known member
I went to the Canaries in January. I went mainly to see The Houbara bustard and the cream-coloured courser. I went to Lanzarote. I stayed in Playa Blanca in the south. There are salt pans just 20 minutes away from Playa Blanca by car ,Salinas de Janubio, which were a good site for shorebirds. Shorebird include Kentish plover, Greenshank, Ringed plover, Black winged stilt etc. January at the saltpans wasn't the best for migrants but November for you would be more productive.

Beaches around Playa Blanca for the family. You can sea watch from Punta Pechiguera in Paya Blanca, you can see Cory's shearwater from march-November (I was a bit early in the year for me).

Just North-east of Playa Blanca are good Plains and I saw plenty of Bustard and cream-coloured courser. Also saw a Canary Island Egyptian Vulture there which was a great surprise. There extremely rare and usually only found in the mountains.

A good book for you to get would be "A birdwatcher's guide to The Canary Islands" by Tony Clarke and David Collins".

The Famara Cliffs in the North of the Island are good for Barbary falcons and have excellent beaches to swim in.
Another good site on the Island was Mirador de Haria in the North. A good site for Canary (only found here on Lanzarote), spectacled warbler, Barbary Partridge. I also had a wintering Ring ouzel thereB :)

Cream colored courser (North east plains Playa Blanca)

Kentish Plover and Black-winged Stilt from Salinas de Janubio.

Black necked Grebe from the Lagoon at Salinas de Janubio.

Egyptian Vulture from North-East Playa Blanca:smoke:
Regards Ó Cuinneagáin
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Stephen Dunstan

Registered User
If you are wanting a 'best' island you need to make a decision about whether the eastern specialities or western specialities are your priority. If I had a clean sheet of paper I think I would put CI Chat and Houbara Bustard ahead of pigeons but it's personal taste.

There should be options where you can seawatch from a hotel. When we stayed in Los Cancajos, La Palma I was able to watch Little Shearwaters and dolphins from the apartment balcony.


Steve Lister

Senior Birder, ex County Recorder, Garden Moths.
United Kingdom
Personally I like Fuerteventura best, though I have never been to Lanzarote.

On Fuerteventura you have a less touristy atmosphere than Tenerife or Gran Canaria and it is easy to get away from the holiday areas. An apartment in one of the complexes at Caleta de Fuste would give you a nice base with the family holiday aspects that you want coupled with being well-placed for your morning and evening sessions. It is the only island with the endemic Stonechat plus you have Houbaras, Coursers, B-b Sandgrouse and some nice wetlands that pull in a selection of American wildfowl and waders (not a priority for you I suspect) as well as Ruddy Shelducks.

If you wanted to then you could get a flight or ferry to Tenerife for a day or two to have a go for the other endemics which are not on Fuerteventura.

Lanzarote I understand is similar to Fuerteventura but without the stonechat. A local birder has started pelagic trips - I saw these mentioned on Martin Garner's blog after he went on one and had a brilliant time, seeing White-faced Petrels and a Scopoli's race Cory's amongst the local birds.


Stephen Dunstan

Registered User
A local birder has started pelagic trips - I saw these mentioned on Martin Garner's blog after he went on one and had a brilliant time, seeing White-faced Petrels and a Scopoli's race Cory's amongst the local birds.

Indeed, I am going on one next month but a night at sea doesn't really fit with a family holiday. Also I don't think they sail at all in November as they are timed to try and get rare Western Pal seabirds.



I have never been, but my first option would be Tenerife — it has more endemics, some of them on a nice big mountain. There is always the option of doing a quick trip to Fuerteventura for the bustard and the chat.
Friends of mine were very enthousiastic about birding Tenerife while entertaining a less-interested family. It obviously depends on where you pick your accommodation (I know where I wouldn't wanna be).


Well-known member.....apparently so ;)
Hey Julian
As it's a family holiday I'd say your only choice is Tenerife as there's plenty to do apart from birding - Loro Parque, the waterworld place, boat trips to see pilot-whales etc...Most of the endemics can easily be seen in the mornings and if you base yourself somewhere central it shouldn't be a problem. We stayed in Los Gigantes and found it a lovely place to stay.
If you can however, bum a day in hand then I'd book a return flight to Fuerteventura, leaving early and getting back late, and do the specialities on that island too. Should be doable if you're up for it. To me, I don't think the family would find enough things to do if you spenf the whole time on the island.....

Julian H

Well-known member
thanks guys..I had hear playa blanca is a nice base...

we may only be there for 4-5 days, but it beats staying in Bolton!!

Not too many CCC there! I doubt I'll be able to get away to another island, so may just go to Lanzarote..will do more research...thanks!



Well-known member
Yeah another vote for Lanzarote / Playa Blanca, but you dont have the Stonechat. Rubicon Plain is easily accessable from there but you do need a car to act as a mobile hide.

I stay at H10 chain of hotels (there are two in Play Blanca). The H10 Princess is 2 minutes from Rubicon Plain so is great for early morning & evening half hour sorties.

Can also do day trip by boat from there if really want the Stonechat. Fairly good sea watching off Point Pechiguera (i think thats the name).
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Leading a life of quiet desperation

I've had family holidays in Tenerife and Fuerteventura and have had to make do with early morning birding trips to be sociable. Reports for Tenerife and Fuerteventura might give you an idea of what is possible birding wise whilst still enjoying a family holiday
Southern Tenerife wins no prizes for aesthetics but with a car there are some good trips eg Mount Teide. However it's a bit of a hike from there for the pigeons. A day trip to La Gomera from Los Christianos is an option. We did that as a family and it was a good day out. However La Gomera at present has had very serious fires and large parts of the island have been destroyed. We stayed in Corralejo in Fuereteventura-fantastic beaches and shotish distances to get out birding early in the morning. We took a day trip to Lanzarote taking the car

Julian H

Well-known member
hey Nick..thanks...

I will look into it...are there any lagoons or shorebird/gull spots near playa blanca?

Others have recommended that resort too.



Stephen Dunstan

Registered User

There are saltpans near Playa Blanca which attract waders and wildfowl.

Recent sightings would be on the excellent birding lanzarote blog.



Well-known member

It has to be a toss up between Tenerife and Fuerteventura really, and as others have said, a battle between the juicy endemics on each - nice choice to have though!

Tenerife has the greater variety of habitats and will better suit a family holiday - the south is cheesy for the most part and birding is good but not the most attractive. Best bet for waders (no big flocks anywhere on the Canaries though) would be either El Medano in the south of Punta Hidalgo area in the north - any of the more rocky coasts away from the tourist tat will have the usual winter waders - whimbrel, ringed plover, turnstone etc.

Fuerte has a completely different feel for the most part - there are still traces of the old Canaries, much more so than on Tenerife - e.g. little one-horse towns with a rural feel. The landscapes can be stunning too, away from the main conurbations. Best bet for waders here are the saltpans near Barranco del Torre and the north-west coast - take the dusty coast road west of Corralejo (Bristol Bay I believe) - had close encounters with Kentish plovers here and took some nice shots.

Birding on both islands can be fantastic - Blue chaffinch has to be seen and watching Houbara on the desert plains is an experience. The best thing is that the birding is easy and all the good stuff can be seen in a few days at most.

Have a great trip wherever you end up!


Well-known member
A local birder has started pelagic trips...

I have made an inquiry regarding palagic in November from Lanzarote. Unfortunately, they do not run pelagic trips in November, due to the lack of seabirds present in winter in the sea around the Canaries. Almost all species (cory´s, white faced, wilsons, bulwers petrels, etc..) will have left by then and it’s not worth going out.

I presume the last days for pelagic are at the middle of September.
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Well-known member

Your choice for endemics is Teneriffe (all endemics minus one) over Fuerteventura (the remaining one - the Stonechat plus several specialities easier there than in North Africa: esp. Houbara). Seabird fanatic would likely pick other island eg. Gomera.

Tenerife has heaps of accomodation, easy car hire. It is better to stay in the north of the island, then you are near endemic pigeons and your family has theme parks and stuff. In spring this year all Tenerife endemics and specialities could be seen in two half day tripss - especially if you could look out your hotel window when there is no fog over sites for Bolles Pigeon and Blue Chaffinch. This is a small island with one central mountain and small side mountains.

There are two good bird finding booklets, one about birdwatching on Canary Islands, another about Tenerife only.


Well-known member

Five miles from Playa Blanca there are saltpans but they vary in productivity. If you do opt for Lanzarote, and Playa Blanca makes a great holiday base BTW, you may want to find my report (amongst others) I titled "Mad blogs & Englishmen" following my holiday there in June two years ago (under Vacational Trip Reports).

Houbara Bustard and Cream Coloured Coursers, and also Trumpeter Finches are quite easy at Rubicon Plain (also possibly Black-bellied Sandgrouse), Barbary Falcon, Canary, African Blue Tit, local race Spectacled Warbler all at Haria. Desert Grey Shrikes/north african race are prominant too, as are Berthelots pipit. Seawatching can be excellent at some times of year and at a few points near playa blanca, and as i say you can catch regular ferry to fuertenventura from playa blanca if you want to go over.

If you do choose Lanzarote and you want any specific info i can dig it out easily. Day trips via hire car easy across whole island.

Rich Bonser

Well-known member
Hi Julian
For what it's worth, as has been noted previously, the choice is essentially Fuerteventura, Lanzarote or Tenerife. I've been to all three.

First birding decision would be - make your mind up which endemics you're keenest to see. If you want to see Blue Chaffinch, Bolle's and Laurel Pigeon, Atlantic Canary then go to Tenerife, but if you want to see Houbaras, CCC etc then the other two are where you need to go. And if it's just the Chat you're after then Fuerteventura of course, and BB Sandgrouse is easier there too compared to Lanzarote where they're more rarely seen. Fuerteventura also has resident Ruddy Shelducks too.

Lanzarote vs Fuerteventura summary
- Lanzarote is much smaller than Fuerteventura
- Houbaras are more common on Lanzarote (saw some at point blank range coming to feed at a goat farm this weekend)
- Fuerteventura better for BB Sandgrouse
- Fuerteventura has the Chat
- Fuerteventura has better 'general birding' sites i.e. Catalina Garcia and Los Molinos vs Salinas de Janubio and Cocoteros

Remember that is extremely easy to day trip Fuerteventura from Lanzarote too...

General birding areas are pretty sparse to be honest on all three islands, and you'll just luck out if there's a yank (no use to you!), Eurasian or Afro-tropical vagrant present. I've seen Tricoloured Heron on a beach in Tenerife, and Allen's Gallinule, Blue-winged Teal, Spotted Crake and Bittern at one site, Catalina Garcia, on Fuerteventura.

In my eyes, the Canary Islands do what they say on the tin. Good family hols with no frills. They all have the typical Brit abroad developments which are pretty homogenous, family friendly with the odd lovely local village mixed in.



Penguin fan
If you decide to go to Tenerife I highly recommend getting the "Where to watch birds in Tenerife" book from Eduardo García del Rey (available in Spanish and English)
It only covers Tenerife instead of all of the canaries with the other book by Clarke&Collins, but it's a lot more detailed and also more recent.

As for the other islands I cant give much info, but I usually combine going to Tenerife with a trip to La Gomera, that way you get a better chance at the endemic pigeons, though they still hard to see. I think the info given by the others is good advice, make up your mind what you wish to see. I come from a family where I have to combine birding with touristy stuff, so that mainly leaves Gran Canaria and Tenerife as options.

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