5th to 12th December 2013 - Tenerife

We headed to Tenerife for a holiday, hoping to see all the endemic birds and anything else that popped up.  It was an interesting holiday as the island experienced the worst storms it had had in a long time.  There was a code red alert issued and we weren't able to leave the hotel on the 2nd last day, which was rather annoying as we still hadn't found any Bolle's Pigeon! The hotel also flooded on the 2nd day we were there and we had to eat in the dark, which amused us greatly but I'm not so sure the other residents found it as funny!

We didn't go out birding on the first day we arrived, just for a short walk from our hotel in Las Caletillas.  We did however see five birds on our walk - many Collared Dove (still to be identified as African or European), Blackbird, Yellow-legged Gull, Monk Parakeet and our first endemic - Canarian Chiffchaff!  The Canarian Chiffchaff is incredibly loud, it was the first thing we would hear when waking up each morning, which is certainly a lovely wake up call.

The next day we headed off up an incredibly steep road to join the TF-24 along through the Teide National Park, where the volcano is.  Teide is the highest point in Spain and we were hoping to go on the cable car to visit the top but unfortunately the queue was too long - we had birds to find!  It was on to Las Lajas to see the Blue Chaffinch, which we expected to be easy - in every guidebook and trip report it stated that you could hear them before opening the car door and they'd be easy to spot hopping around the water taps.  Were they hell.  We spent a good couple of hours wandering the site and staking out various taps and we didn't hear nor see a single Blue Chaffinch.  We did however see many African Blue Tit and Canary and a scramble down a slope produced a single Tenerife Goldcrest.  Upon returning to Las Lajas later in the evening to give the Blue Chaffinch another try, we saw lovely Raven and the Tenerife subspecies of Great Spotted Woodpecker.  A quick stop in Vilaflor for food at El Rincon de Roberto proved an excellent plan, with a lovely piece of rabbit for Stuart and pork with apples for me.  There were Plain Swift circling overhead, another lifer!

Monk Parakeet

Mount Teide
The next day we took a trip to the northern side of the island, in search of Bolle's and Laurel Pigeon.  We had read that Laurel were hard to find so weren't expecting any on this day.  However, at the first stop, at Mirador de la Grimona on the TF-5 we were pleasantly surprised to see 2!  There were no Bolle's Pigeon however, a theme which reoccurred throughout the holiday...The Mirador de la Grimona was probably my favourite place to bird watch.  In a layby on the edge of a busy road, looking up at a sheer rock face.  Ahhhh.  We saw also saw Blue Tit, Canary, Sardinian Warbler, Canarian Chiffchaff, Kestrel, Little Egret, Yellow-legged Gull and a possible Rock Dove from there that day.  Lunch that day was provided by Los Pinos in Garachio, with huge portions of delightful octopus, calamari, avocado and shrimp frittata and my favourite Canarian dish, papas arrugadas with green mojo.  Yum.



We popped down to the area by the airport on the Sunday as we wanted to do a whale watching trip.  We took a short wander in El Medano, where we spotted some Bertholet's Pipit and 3 lovely little Kentish Plover.  Both were lifers!  On round to the boat from Los Cristianos, where we were lucky to see lovely Short-finned Pilot Whale as well as Spanish Sparrow, an unidentified Shearwater and a Little Egret.  We were also mobbed by Yellow-legged Gull.

Yellow-legged Gull

Spanish Sparrow
Monday is was back yet again to Las Lajas for a stake out of the drinking pool.  We weren't leaving without seeing a Blue Chaffinch!  A false alarm which led us to stalk around a large bush for a while was actually quite fun and broke up the monotony of sitting in the car.  Two hours later and Stuart was being utterly rubbish at watching out for the bird and was playing Duolingo instead.  I should probably mention at this point that I had already had two fleeting glimpses but Stuart had missed both so he really should have been more alert than I was!  A blue bird flew into a tree directly opposite - cue 'STUART GET YOUR BINOCULARS UP NOW GOD HELP ME IF YOU MISS IT THIS TIME'.  It was very obliging and sat there for a while posing for the cameras.  Thank you Blue Chaffinch!  We stopped off in Adeje for an excellent fried chicken lunch at Otelo - truly delicious.  On the way back to the hotel we had a quick stop off at a pool by the Amarilla Golf club where we came across 8 Little Egret, 4 Spoonbill, 2 Little Ringed Plover and plenty of Spanish Sparrow.  Lovely.

Blue Chaffinch

We were now hunting the Bolle's Pigeon (and a Chaffinch if we could find one).  It was back to my favourite spot, Mirador de la Grimona for a brief scan, which gave us Tenerife Robin, another Laurel Pigeon and many Canary.  It was starting to get rather stormy so we sat down for a gorgeous fish lunch at Restaurante Escondida then headed back to the hotel.  The next day we weren't allowed out of the hotel - it looked like Bolle's Pigeon was not going to be seen this trip.

Great Spotted Woodpecker
The 12th was our last day and we decided to head up the TF-12 to El Bailadero in a last ditch attempt to get the pigeon.  An unexpceted bird was seen on this road - a Barbary Partridge!  It sat in the road for ages being adorable and didn't seem bothered by us being there at all.  Very exciting!  It was still very windy so being high up on the edge of a steep drop looking for birds was quite scary.  We scanned the valley below for a while, with only one possible sighting of a bird that could have been a pigeon.  We headed back to the car to go to the airport.  I thought I'd have one last scan of the valley and came across a bird perched on a branch.  Then I spotted the one next to it...and the five next to that one...a flock of Bolle's Pigeon!  Wooooooooooooooooooo!  A delightful meal was had to celebrate in the small fishing town of San Andres at La Posada del Pez, where we were introduced to the freshly caught fish and could choose one of our liking.  I went for red snapper which was cooked with lentils and Stuart went for some gorgeous scallops.

Bolle's Pigeon

I had a great time in Tenerife and was very happy we managed all the endemics in the end!  The food was delightful and I am now obsesed with mojo.  I wasn't so taken with the wine but it was cheap and easy drinking so I suppose that's always a good thing!

Barbary Partridge

Books used:

Field Guide to the Birds of Macaronesia: Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Cape Verde - Eduardo Garcia-del-Rey

An excellent identification guide, used many times until Stuart managed to lose it halfway through the holiday.  Doh!

Finding Birds in the Canary Islands - Dave Gosney

We were lucky to receive the updated version, released just before we ordered.  This was a heavily used site guide with great recommendations.

A Birdwatchers' Guide to the Canary Islands - David Collins, Tony Clark

This book was quite old so used as a supplement.  We did find however it was still quite relevant and had sites that the others didn't.

Donde ver Aves en Tenerife - Eduardo Garcia-del-Rey

This was highly recommended on various blogs I read before leaving but unfortunately I couldn't get a hold of the English copy.  Luckily Stuart is quite good at Spanish and we used this also to supplement Dave Gosney's book.

Tenerife Bus & Touring map

Whilst not great, definitely useful if you've hired a car.  This was battered by the end of the holiday!

The Real Tenerife: The Insiders' Guide - Andrea & Jack Montgomery

Loved this book, an interesting guide to sights, attractions and most importantly, food.


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