Tenerife, 8-15 August 2000

James J. Packer



This was not a birding holiday, but if you’re going to Tenerife you’d really have to walk around with your eyes closed not to pick up at least a few of the endemics.

We booked up a cheap package deal about three weeks before we left, and therefore our accommodation and resort choice was limited. When we booked, we knew nothing about Tenerife and even less about birding here. A quick rush to borrow Gosneys Finding Birds in the Canary Islands provided me with a few sites that I planned to visit if possible.

We stayed at an apartment in Los Christianos. I wouldn’t recommend staying here as it’s loud, busy and stacked full of British and German tourists, most of whom fry themselves on the beach and drink themselves stupid. However, one good point about staying here is that you’re fairly close to some of the best sites, however I didn’t have much success with birding around the area by foot.

9 August 2000

The first full day was spent being a typical tourist along with the rest of the crowds at Los Christianos, though around the town were Yellow-legged Gulls, House and Spanish Sparrows, Collared Doves and the first of the specialities, Plain Swifts. The swifts were common, flying around the larger buildings of the town, and a Monarch butterfly was seen around the apartments.

10 August 2000

Desires to get out of Los Christianos made us hire a car for three days. A drive east of the town to El Medano Pool was slightly disappointing. The pool was virtually dry, as were several other reservoirs that were marked as being worth a check in Gosneys book. Five Sanderling and two Dunlin were the only waders, but a few Turtle Doves, Plain Swifts and two Berthelots Pipits were also present.

11 August 2001

This was my day birding, with a trip up Mount Teide combined with some birding in the Pine forests. A badly overheating hire car served us right for choosing the smallest vehicle available. The combination of heat, mountains and a Fiat Cinquecento did not mix – get a more powerful car if you’re planning the trip to Teide!

At higher altitudes, Turtle Doves were common. Our first stop at the famous Las Lajas picnic site proved its reputation as being the best site in the world for Blue Chaffinch. Within minutes of getting out the car the Chaffinch’s were seen, and several birds were noted all around the area. Best views were had on the left as you approach the site, near the toilet block and at the drinking pool at the rear of the buildings. Other birds included the Tenerife races of Blue Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Hoopoe, Berthelots Pipit and the other specials, Canary, Canary Islands Chiffchaff, and a Canary Islands Goldcrest was heard.

Mount Teide was virtually birdless, and seemingly lifeless. The only interesting natural history was a strange blue type butterfly, which was seen around the cable car station and even on top of Teide. I’d appreciate any comments on what this was.

12 August 2001

The morning was spent walking the track to Punto de al Rasca. Following Gosneys directions to the lighthouse, we diverted east to look at the small reservoir. At the reservoir, we could see the sea in the distance, and realised what a mistake we had made. Squinting through a telescope, I could make out a strong passage of Corys Shearwater. Even at this distance, I could make out a small, dark, stiff winged shearwater. How annoying!

Peering through the gaps in the surrounding wall, the reservoir provided little compensation in the form of one Greenshank and about 20 Little-ringed Plover including a number of young juveniles. Lesser Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull and Yellow-legged Gulls were roosting in large numbers on a field near the reservoir. A Southern Grey Shrike was present in the scrub along the Rasca track.

Back at Playa Las Americas, a stroll along the beach provided Turnstone and Whimbrel.

13 August 2001

A leisurely drive to the laurel forests at Erjos found ourselves at the site at completely the wrong time of day. The long track to the ‘rock lookout’ proved too much for our hire car, and we decided to park in the middle of the forest and walk the last kilometre or so to the rock. The track is very rutted and pot-holed, and extremely careful driving is essential to avoid becoming stranded. Like other birders have experienced, and we decided to ignore (don’t!), a visit midday is useless. Tales of tens of pigeons just frustrated me as I battled with my non-birding partner to stay just a few more minutes! A crash of wings on the track on the way back was a Bolle’s Laurel Pigeon, but the views were virtually worthless! Thankfully, excellent views were had though of Canary Islands Goldcrest, plus Canary Islands Chiffchaff, Robin, Kestrel, Raven, Linnet, Canary, Turtle Dove.

The pools just south of the entrance road to Erjos were virtually dry, and only had a few Moorhen.

A Monarch butterfly graced the apartments on our return.

14-15 August 2001

No birding was done on the last couple days, except for reinforcing the species around Los Christianos. A Curlew was the only new species on the last day, and a Hummingbird Hawk Moth at Los Christianos struck me as potentially interesting.