Thursday 18 January 2018

Tenerife - January 2018 - Day Three

Day Three: 8th January 2018: 

Another slow start but an after breakfast scan revealed no less that 21 Kestrels hawking for insects down over the Bajamar seafront more in the manner of Lesser Kestrels and amongst them were the slim brown cigars of five Plain Swifts a breeding species here that winters in small numbers. We headed west again along the coast and a brief stop at La Grimona produced two White-tailed Pigeons in the same spot as yesterday much to the delight of another birder who was struggling to find them.
Onwards and then off onto the TF42 down through Icod de los Vinos  and through the magnificent and yet worn and weary curving tunnel with circular apertures overlooking the sea before pulling over on the seafront at Garachico where easy parking made it an obvious stop for lunch.  

The Garachico coast was rugged and wild

The sea defences are made or concrete but coloured black to resemble lava and just beyond them on the real thing I noticed some red things... Curious, I zoomed in with my camera and was quite shocked to discover big multi-coloured flat looking crabs that looked like the Sally Lightfoots that you get on the Galapagos Islands!

Red Rock Crab - Grapsus adscensionis
I set up the scope for the rest of the family and a quick google revealed that they are indeed related to the famous lava lovers of the Pacific!

A light tapas in a cafe and then along the coast further where and error by me (not the satnav) sent me back up into the hills and not out to Punta del Teno as I had intended and it took my a few miles of climbing to realise my mistake but the views were superb back down to the coast and Buzzards, Kestrels, Canaries and six Plain swifts were seen up the first section of the TF436 along with a vivid orange Cleopatra, Small White and Canarian Large White butterflies and several very large Queen bumblebees that were wholly black but with a white tail.

Looking back down to Buenavista

Big bombus

The road up from here towards and through Masca and back down to Santiago del Teide was the most intense I have ever driven.  The narrow road is comprised of a series of full on switchbacks with no views around the corners, monumental drop offsonly stopped by serious car scarping concrete blocks and an inordinate amount of people. There were cars everywhere along with local buses of various sizes, bicycles, motorbikes and huge full size tourist coaches. Every inch mattered and was played for hard.  It was bonkers. Add to this that every single Mirador and vague parking space was occupied and often cars were just stopping anywhere they fancied to take in the truly breathtaking views. I was grumpy and frustrated and my little 1.2 Cactus was in first gear for far more time that I was comfortable with but we eventually made it above the madness and I was able to briefly pull off the road to take in the vista with jagged green peaks rising vertically from the narrow valleys below setting off the shining blue sea beyond and the distant hump of La Gomera peaking jealously through its shroud of island hugging cloud.

So pointy and so bendy.... La Gomera in the distance

Down at Santiago we turned left onto the TF82 with the intent of visiting the Erjos ponds but the whole area looked very dry so I aborted and swung onto the TF373 on a scenic route all the way back to Mirabel and the TF5 with frequent stops to take in amazing views of the snow and light cloud covered El Teide from the west side and there was even time for a poke around an area of regenerating Laurisilva and Tree Heather which gave more good Robin views and a curious Kestrel.

A variety of El Teide views...

Bogged at by a Kestrel

...and then by a stroppy Robin!

We were back at the digs for early evening and with just enough time to creep up on 26 Canaries and add a Grey Heron to the list...

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