Sunday 21 January 2018

Tenerife - January 2018 - Day Five

Day Five: 10th January 2018: 

A quieter day after the seven hour marathon at Loro Parque yesterday with nine Barbary Partridge flushed from the allotments after breakfast and a Berthelot’s Pipit coming down to drink at the reservoir with the Canaries before we headed off up onto the Anaga Peninsular in search of expansive views, mature Laurisilva and hopefully Bolle’s Pigeon.
Not long after going through Las Mercedes on the TF12 we entered the lower slopes of the first proper Laurislva I had seen with various species of these evergreen tree shading the sparse understory.  I pulled off onto a short cobbled area that led to a car park in the trees. Obviously it was no good for pigeon watching but there were nine ‘Tintillon’ Chaffinches and a single male Greenfinch grubbing around the periphery.  

‘Tintillon’ Chaffinch

The male Chaffinches were stunning and nothing like the bird at La Caldera on the 7th. Rich, deep blue on the head, rump, mantle, ear coverts and flanks with a soft peach outer face and breast. They also seemed a different shape to our birds with bigger heads and a generally rounder more compact feel. Anyway, taking pictures was a bugger in the very low light but at least one stayed still enough for a couple of shots.

In amongst the Laurisilva

Onwards and upwards with a stop at the Mirador de Jardina for the first look back south and beyond.  It was spectacular and I spent 15 minutes scanning the laurel hillside opposite but with not a pigeon in sight. I did find a good concentration of Plain Swift with 55 loosely hunting the valley. Some came quite close showing just how milk chocolate brown they are as they whizzed by on narrow wings.

Must be full of Bolle's Pigeons!

The road continued to climb and I chose not to stop at the main tourist pull off as it looked rammed and pressed on up to the end of the road at Pica des Ingles where the vista was simply breathtaking. The rest of Anaga, all pointy and jagged, disappeared into the cloud to the north-east and a view back the other way over the laurel topped peaks  toward the North Airport and Santa de la Cruz was even grander stretching all the way down the south coast to Montana Roja by the South Airport and to then off to towards Puerto de la Cruz along the northern shore and the hills above Buenavista. In between all of this sat the imposing cone of El Teide rising to 12,000 feet above it all.  It took my breath away.

The view north east from Pica des Ingles

And the amazing view south west

And were there Bolle’s Pigeons in the surrounding laurels? Nope, just those funny sounding Robins and Blue Tits and the odd Blackbird, scratchy Goldcrest and two pale Buzzards and so it was on again and from here we had to descend a way into a more rural area before rising once again into the almost vertical forested escarpments. It was at this point that we entered the cloud zone with sheets of ethereal white rising from the west side of the road to enshroud the route.  Before heading out I had put a flag on map for a random layby where Jono Lethbridge had failed to find any pigeons several years before but that the area looked good, so as it was somewhere to aim for we pressed on with me hoping that we would find some open views once again. We passed through El Bailadera on the TF123 in the cloud and had just emerged with a clear view down to San Andres to my right and cloud billowing up to the left when the nicely spoken lady on my phone told me that I had reached my destination and sure enough there was a spot off the road for one car.  

San Andres
I pulled over and looked down onto the laurel canopy. It felt like the closest I have ever got to observing a rain forest with a melange of shiny leaves, moisture rich air, mature trees with long limbs questing above their neighbours and swathes of dangling lichen. I could hear Blackbirds, Robins and Blackcaps and scanned for perched pigeons to no avail but then suddenly one was in my bins flying across the trees not far below showing all I needed to know I had got a Bolle’s at last. It was a good peaceful stop for our picnic too and in the course of our repast two more were seen wing clattering out of the trees where the rich pink breast was clearly seen against the glossy leaves.  Dad and I did a bit of botonising and had a Kestrel keep us company before we turned around and retraced our steps back out of the range having decided that to venture down to some of tiny west side villages may have been more than my car could take...

Dad pigeon scanning

Monster succulant - about 18inches across

and some smaller relatives

We were back at Bajamar mid-afternoon and I dropped Mum and Dad off in town for a seafront stroll while I went off to explore the almost hidden reservoir with natural sides – not concrete – that I spotted from the car the day before. It was surrounded by mega-reeds and I was greeted by the Grey Heron, three Moorhen and a lone Coot, as I poked my head around the corner. I double checked the latter but it looked normal although I am not sure how unusual a bird that is here. Two Muscovy Ducks were my first wildfowl and came to say hello and the northern form of the Tenerife Wall Lizard - Gallotia galloti scurried in and out of the verge but never lingered.

I still had time to pop down to Punta del Hidalgo before picking up the parents and a brief look added Little Egret and two Whimbrel to the trip list.

Cracking surf although the rocks were a bit of a put off...

A post dinner pause on the balcony with a fine 6% local micro brewery oatmeal stout in hand added a great view of a Barbary Falcon as it hurtled low past us to the sound of frantic calling Partridges from the hillside before Dad and I started to notice Little Egrets arriving from east and west to roost on the reservoir I had previously looked it. 
We counted 27 in total and were pleasantly surprised to add three immature Night Herons heading out the other way to presumably feed on the coast!


An interesting Longhorn Beetle
This crexing Barbary Partridge was a blooming long way off!

And I shall end the day with essence of Night Heron...

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