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Canary Islands, Plan B in the Era of Omicron (1 Viewer)

Owene

Well-known member
Wales
Thanks for all this Jos. Covid allowing we’re going in late feb and this is all very useful. Hoping there’s still some butterflies around.
 

wolfbirder

Well-known member
Supporter
Jos, this is great! Thanks for recording all this. Although I've been to Fuerteventura several times, my first trip to Tenerife was in December 2021. We'd cancelled / postponed all our overseas trips since Covid began, and the Tenerife holiday was sort of still sitting there, and we were unsure what to do right up until we decided to go. I'd done a bit of research online as to where to see what etc, although not really a birding trip from my wife's POV - more a holiday in the sun (snowing in Glasgow today). Although it's always a birding trip for me...

Had to book PCR tests to arrive by post when we returned, and had to prove we'd done that to board the plane, as well as all the other paperwork, proof of vaccination, Spanish locator forms etc. We arrived on Fri 3rd Dec, and on the following Sunday, the rules changed, now requiring an antigen test within 2 days of flying home. Had to find a medical centre to arrange this, spent a lot of time booking that (endless forms), then received an email the next day saying "sorry but due to high demand we now can't do it"...! Had to quickly find alternative, then had problems uploading proof to the Scottish Locator form...we were there for a week, and this consumed about three days. Didn't have a hire car, couldn't book trips due to the worry of not getting test and therefore not being allowed on the plane. Apologies for length, but writing this put me back into the situation...!

Anyway, your "where-to-see-what" list is a lot more comprehensive than anything I found online, and it will accompany me next time I go. Well done on an amazing list of birds and butterflies! Enjoy the rest of it.

Thanks, Ian (not jealous about Blue Chaffinch at all...) :)
Your experience sounds horrific Ian, I was considering Tenerife for a shortbreak but all the tests and worry about booking things properly put me off.

Tenerife is beautful in places, Mount Teide is spectacular and it looks like there should be so much more of avian interest than there actually is. If things settle I definitely want to go back to do the islands, especially a Lanzarote seabird special. But each island has attractions.
 

Jos Stratford

Eastern Exile
Europe
Jos, this is great! Thanks for recording all this. Although I've been to Fuerteventura several times, my first trip to Tenerife was in December 2021. We'd cancelled / postponed all our overseas trips since Covid began, and the Tenerife holiday was sort of still sitting there, and we were unsure what to do right up until we decided to go. I'd done a bit of research online as to where to see what etc, although not really a birding trip from my wife's POV - more a holiday in the sun (snowing in Glasgow today). Although it's always a birding trip for me...

Had to book PCR tests to arrive by post when we returned, and had to prove we'd done that to board the plane, as well as all the other paperwork, proof of vaccination, Spanish locator forms etc. We arrived on Fri 3rd Dec, and on the following Sunday, the rules changed, now requiring an antigen test within 2 days of flying home. Had to find a medical centre to arrange this, spent a lot of time booking that (endless forms), then received an email the next day saying "sorry but due to high demand we now can't do it"...! Had to quickly find alternative, then had problems uploading proof to the Scottish Locator form...we were there for a week, and this consumed about three days. Didn't have a hire car, couldn't book trips due to the worry of not getting test and therefore not being allowed on the plane. Apologies for length, but writing this put me back into the situation...!

Anyway, your "where-to-see-what" list is a lot more comprehensive than anything I found online, and it will accompany me next time I go. Well done on an amazing list of birds and butterflies! Enjoy the rest of it.

Thanks, Ian (not jealous about Blue Chaffinch at all...) :)
Uncertain times indeed ... hope the wife enjoyed the sun at least :)
 

Jos Stratford

Eastern Exile
Europe
I believe February is better for butterflies than e.g. November or December, at least in the eastern Canaries
James
Should be indeed. I have managed 21 species of butterfly so far, more than I was expecting, including many of the endemics ...but numbers of individuals is mostly low, February will surely see an uptick in numbers
 

Jos Stratford

Eastern Exile
Europe
25 December. Santa Cruz.

Christmas Day and my last day before switching islands, I decided to explore the Santa Cruz area, specifically some small water reservoirs north of town and then the Palmutarium botanical garden.

Almost first bird of the day, I thought I'd found myself a Christmas present early morning with a female Wood Duck ... unfortunately I decided to inspect it a little closer, it had a narrow ring on its leg, escapee! And it wasn't actually a Wood Duck, it was a female Mandarin, no Christmas present. Still, I did manage a pretty good variety of waterbirds by Tenerife standards - scattered across three pools, plenty of Coots and Moorhens, 16 Ruddy Shelducks, several Little Egrets and Grey Herons and, all new for the trip, one female Garganey, three Night Herons and two Common Sandpipers. Feral Muscovy Ducks too of varying degrees of purity. Six Barbary Partridges too, not bad.


So, with water pools exhausted, I turned my attention to the Palmutarium botanical garden on the Santa Cruz waterfront in the hope of finding some butterflies. I was not disappointed - not only gaudy Monarchs drifting around here and there, including a splendid 25 or so congregating around a flowering Milkweed, but one very nice Canary Blue inconspicuously resting on an aloe, this was perhaps the endemic at the top of my 'most wanted' list of butterflies on the island. Also a good number of both African Grass Blues and Lang's Short-tailed Blues mostly on the garden turfs, plus one Canary Speckled Wood and three Red Admirals, sadly no Canary Red Admiral. On the bird front, a standard urban mix of Canary Island Chiffchaffs, Atlantic Canaries and Blackbirds, one Hoopoe too, along with a flock of over 40 of Black-headed Gulls lingering on the sea just adjacent.


For Christmas afternoon, as cloud rolled across the lowlands, headed up Teide for a final encounter with Tenerife Blue Chaffinch ...heaps of families taking barbecues at Las Layas, but still the birds were easily found, several Tenerife Blue Chaffinches at various points
 
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Jos Stratford

Eastern Exile
Europe
26 December. Gran Canaria (Viera y Clavijo botanical gardens)

8.30 am ferry from Tenerife to Gran Canaria, one Plain Swift over Santa Cruz just before departure, but then a ninety-minute crossing almost totally devoid of seabirds. Did have pods of Short-finned Pilot Whales and Bottlenosed Dolphins, but barely even a Yellow-legged Gull to be seen, let alone any pelagic species. Fortunately, the one bird of note was a rather good one - Madeiran Petrel! Quite remarkable, this was almost a carbon copy of my previous trip to these waters in December 2012, that trip also producing a single Madeiran Petrel as the only bird seen and pretty much in the same location - about a kilometre off the Tenerife coast.

No cars, motorbikes or scooters available to rent, so we switched to public transport for this leg of the trip. Full marks to Gran Canaria, the bus network is very good and, even on Boxing Day, it was a quick effortless journey to the Viera y Clavijo botanical gardens. No plans for birding at this site, though Common Waxbills seemed in healthy numbers, along with Atlantic Canaries, Sardinian Warblers, Canary Island Chiffchaffs and a number of other species. Instead, my focus was on butterflies and, in the bright warm sunshine, excellent it turned out - not only 11 species seen (the highest day tally of the trip so far), but some nice classic species included, not least plenty of Monarchs floating by, a good scattering of Canary Speckled Woods, a Canary Blue and an African Migrant.


Total butterfly list:

African Migrant 1
Small White 4
Bath White 1
Geranium Bronze 2
Long-tailed Blue 4
Canary Blue 1
African Grass Blue 10
Red Admiral 3
Canary Red Admiral 1
Monarch 25
Canary Speckled Wood 8


Thereafter returned to Las Palmas, Ring-necked Parakeets flying over, one African Collared Dove among the more abundant Eurasian Collared Doves.
 
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Jos Stratford

Eastern Exile
Europe
27 December. Gran Canaria (Llanos de la Pez & Bailico)

Task of the day to find Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch, an endangered species with a global population of about 400 split between two pockets high in the pine zone in the island's centre. 7.00 am bus number 303 to San Mateo, seamlessly connecting with the 305 bus to Bar Las Rosas. Got there at 8.15, blue skies and cool, then a two hour hike up to the prime areas at 1700 metres altitude. Red-legged Partridges and Goldfinch en route up, both new for the trip, plus many Atlantic Canaries, several canariensis Chaffinches and a good range of other common birds. Up at the top, it turned out to be a hard slog - I spent the next six hours exploring the open pines between Llanos de la Pez and Bailico, two favoured areas for the bird. Quite a number of Common Chaffinches, no shortage of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Common Ravens, two Berthelot's Pipits, but as for Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch, it took me until late afternoon to finally find one, and even then I had to make do with a female, i.e. a brown one not a blue one! So there we had it, six hours of walking, one female Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch, no sign of a male.

A bit of a bonus however, I did also add a few butterflies - unexpected for this altitude in winter, three Red Admirals, one Canary Red Admiral, one Canary Speckled Wood and, new for the trip, one Small Copper.

Gave up at about 4pm, hiked 15 km back to San Mateo, thereafter took a bus to Las Palmas. Reckoned I had walked about 40 km this day.
 

Jos Stratford

Eastern Exile
Europe
28 December. Gran Canaria (Maspalomas & Las Palmas)

After the exertion of the previous day, an easy-going day in the southern resort of Maspolomas. Heaps of Monk Parakeets bombing all over the place and four Laughing Doves, my first of the trip, but the main attraction was the small coastal wetland of La Charca de Maspalomas. Wetlands are rare commodities in the Canaries and this one, though hardly spectacular, added no less than eight new species for the trip list - one Whimbrel, two Greenshanks, one Common Redshank, a dozen Dunlins, a couple of Little Stints, eight Sanderlings and about 15 Ringed Plovers, plus a Sandwich Tern on the adjacent sea. Common Sandpiper also present, plus Grey Herons and Little Egrets. Better still, one surprise in the nearby botanical gardens - one Glossy Ibis, an irregular winterer in the Canaries.

In a pleasant 26 C, also one Monarch, a couple of Small Whites and, first of the trip, one Clouded Yellow. And talking of butterflies, departed Maspolomas early afternoon to return to Las Palmas to try and find the island endemic Gran Canaria Green-striped White. An early season flier, this species likes arid hillsides and generally flies from around January. Wandered a likely looking hillside just south of Las Palmas, steep, stoney and covered in spiky bushes and prickly pear. Found a Geranium Bronze, had a Small White and a Monarch, but no initial sign of the target butterfly. Decided to climb to a high ridge in the hope that butterflies might be 'hilltopping' ...and indeed they were, not only a Red Admiral and Long-tailed Blue flying around the summit, but no less than five very mobile Gran Canaria Green-striped Whites, dainty butterflies that had a clear fondness to not settle for more than a second or two. But very pleasing this was, not a butterfly I had really expected to find.
 

Jos Stratford

Eastern Exile
Europe
29 December. Gran Canaria (Viera y Clavijo & Tamaraciete).

Last day on Gran Canaria, focused on butterflies with a return to the Viera y Clavijo botanical gardens. Got there a bit too early, the deep valley still in shade, but a few birds to while away the time - one Night Heron at roost, a Little Egret, many Canary Island Chiffchaffs, one Common Buzzard overhead. As sun bathed the gardens from 10 am, so butterflies began to appear, first Monarchs, then a couple of Small Whites, then a Canary Blue. Very soon, plenty of butterflies on the wing, a total of 11 species seen:

African Migrant 1
Small White 25
Bath White 1
Geranium Bronze 1
Long-tailed Blue 1
Lang's Short-tailed Blue 2
Canary Blue 1
African Grass Blue 12
Red Admiral 2
Monarch 22
Canary Speckled Wood 5

Early afternoon, I decided to make a long hot hike over to Tamaraciete. Very little seen on route, but the destination was pleasantly surprising - on a small fairly nondescript pool, a whole bunch of waterbirds new for the trip. Heading the cast, 22 Black-winged Stilts, seven Little Ringed Plovers, one Green Sandpiper and two Lapwings, the latter an irregular winterer to the Canaries. Also a Greenshank, three Common Sandpipers, a bunch of Coots and Moorhens and several Grey Herons and Little Egrets. One Ruddy Shelduck too, plus ubiquitous Muscovy Ducks.


And with that, headed into Las Palmas for the late afternoon and evening. Boarded an 11.30 pm overnight ferry to Fuerteventura.
 

Jos Stratford

Eastern Exile
Europe
30 December. Fuerteventura (Caleta de Fuste & Embalse de los Molinos)

Arrival in Fuerteventura at 5.00 am, an unearthly hour with all bar a small portside coffee shop closed and shuttered. Utilised the said coffee shop, then headed a few kilometres up the coast to Caleta de Fuste for sunrise and some coastal birding - Common Gull and Black-headed Gull sharing bouys with Sandwich Terns, Kentish Plover on the deserted beach, my only Bar-talied Godwit of the trip just up the coast. Present since early December, it would appear that the Common Gull is one of the first records for Fuerteventura. The real reason for being here however to collect a motorbike - as on Gran Canaria, an acute shortage of rental cars over the festive period meant that there were no available cars or small scooters till early January.

So, on two wheels by mid-morning, checked in at our accommodation, then decided to take a ride - destination Embalse de los Molinos. A bit of a shock on arrival - in total contrast to my previous visit some years earlier, the reservoir was almost empty of water. And empty of birds. One Common Sandpiper and a few Black-winged Stilts and Little Ringed Plovers at the one end, a half dozen Ruddy Shelducks at the other. With vocal ceremony, another 40 or so Ruddy Shelducks arrived shortly after, so too a flock of eight Black-bellied Sandgrouse. Other than this, the only birds seen were a flock of about 18 Trumpeter Finches, a couple of Spectacled Warblers and a half dozen Berthelot's Pipits.

Thereafter, had a bit of a ride round, added a couple of Laughing Doves near La Oliva, but nothing of great note. Headed back to the coast for more birding there.
 
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leonardo_simon

Well-known member
I am off to Tenerife in February for 10 days as a plan B trip. There will be some time for birding but I am going with a bunch of friends so not exclusively. But less constrained than a family holiday - I will be able to take some complete days birding for example.

My question is: is it *really*worth taking telescope (& tripod etc) ??

Thanks
 

KenM

Well-known member
30 December. Fuerteventura (Caleta de Fuste & Embalse de los Molinos)

Arrival in Fuerteventura at 5.00 am, an unearthly hour with all bar a small portside coffee shop closed and shuttered. Utilised the said coffee shop, then headed a few kilometres up the coast to Caleta de Fuste for sunrise and some coastal birding - Common Gull and Black-headed Gull sharing bouys with Sandwich Terns, Kentish Plover on the deserted beach, my only Bar-talied Godwit of the trip just up the coast. Present since early December, it would appear that the Common Gull is one of the first records for Fuerteventura. The real reason for being here however to collect a motorbike - as on Gran Canaria, an acute shortage of rental cars over the festive period meant that there were no available cars or small scooters till early January.

So, on two wheels by mid-morning, checked in at our accommodation, then decided to take a ride - destination Embalse de los Molinos. A bit of a shock on arrival - in total contrast to my previous visit so e years earlier, the reservoir was almost empty of water. And empty of birds. One Common Sandpiper and a few Black-winged Stilts and Little Ringed Plovers at the one end, a half dozen Ruddy Shelducks at the other. With vocal ceremony, another 40 or so Ruddy Shelducks arrived shortly after, so too a flock of eight Black-bellied Sandgrouse. Other than this, the only birds seen were a flock of about 18 Trumpeter Finches, a couple of Spectacled Warblers and a half dozen Berthelot's Pipits.

Thereafter, had a bit of a ride round, added a couple of Laughing Doves near La Oliva, but nothing of great note. Headed back to the coast for more birding there.
When do you leave Fuerteventura Jos?
 

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