|Lanius Bird Tours
THE CANARY ISLANDS
Tenerife and Fuerteventura
31 Oct - 7 Nov 2019
These remarkable volcanic islands lying 100km or more off the African Coast have been isolated for long enough to have evolved an endemic flora and fauna and now provide one of the naturalist's greatest opportunities to appreciate the evolutionary process first observed by Charles Darwin in the 19th century. We will visit the two islands of Tenerife and Fuerteventura which differ substantially in vegetation, from semi-deserts to lush laurel forests. Between them they are home to six species of endemic birds - Laurel Pigeon, Bolle's Pigeon, Blue Chaffinch, Canary Island Kinglet, Canary Island Chiffchaff and Fuerteventura Chat. A further three species - Plain Swift, Berthelot's Pipit and Atlantic Canary are endemic to the Macaronesia group, while several fascinating endemic subspecies can also be found. It is also home to a good number of desert-loving species typical of North Africa and to top it off these islands have a good record for turning up rare vagrants from both Africa and North America. However, as the islands are so isolated the number of species we see will be quite low (about 70) but the quality will definitely be high!
Days 2 - 4
The pine forest has only one native species of tree, the Canary Pine and it is here that we will look for perhaps the Canary Islands most wanted endemic bird, the beautiful Blue Chaffinch. These pine forests are also home to another must see endemic - the delicate Canary Island Kinglet, as well as other specialities such as the delightful African Blue Tit, a species which is always much appreciated, being very different from its European cousin. Others should also include Great Spotted Woodpecker and Common Chaffinch, both of which have evolved into distinctive subspecies.
In the Laurel forests we will search for perhaps the most elusive of all the endemics: Bolle's Pigeon and Laurel Pigeon. Not only are they declining in numbers but they are shy and rarely perch in the open. To make our task even harder, low clouds frequently roll in making viewing difficult, but with patience we should manage to find both. Whilst here we are also likely to find another of the endemics, Canary Islands Chiffchaff, though these are fairly widespread and much easier to see. The local race of Robin should also be found here, along with Sardinian Warbler.
During these three days, we will also visit a number of the sites in search of migrants; these include the well watered greens of the golf courses and a number of small pools and reservoirs, where we hope to find a variety of waders, ducks, herons and passerines. Passage waders regularly include Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers, Turnstone, Greenshank, Black-winged Stilt, Common Sandpiper and Whimbrel. Numerous rarities have been recorded at this time of year and anything may turn up, including the occasional American vagrant, with Ring-necked Duck and Long-billed Dowitcher recorded on our last tour.
One afternoon we will board a small boat and take a Whale watching trip out into the deep, food-rich waters that surround the islands, where several species of cetaceans, including Short-finned Pilot Whale and both Bottlenose and Common Dolphins may be encountered close to the boat. Although this is not the best time of year to observe seabirds, we should also see several Cory's Shearwaters at close range.
Days 6 - 7
The remainder of our time here will be spent exploring the semi-desert areas where Lesser Short-toed Lark, Spectacled Warbler, Southern Grey Shrike, Hoopoe and Trumpeter Finch are reasonably common. Our main targets however will be the desert-loving species more at home in the arid regions of North Africa, the most sought-after once again being Houbara Bustard. The handsome Cream-coloured Courser will also be high on the agenda, along with Barbary Partridge, Barbary Falcon and Black-bellied Sandgrouse. None are easy, but with two full days in which to look for them we should see most, if not all of these species.
We will also visit the reservoir at Los Molinos to look for waterbirds, including Ruddy Shelduck and perhaps even Marbled Duck, which has bred here in the past, while other birds may include Common Raven, Common Buzzard, Egyptian Vulture and Spanish Sparrow. Lying closer to the African continent, Fuerteventura often produces a range of interesting migrants, amongst which African vagrants have frequently been recorded.
African Blue Tit
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