Wednesday 24 January 2018

Tenerife - January 2018 - Day Six

Day Six: 11th January 2018: 

My plan was as fluid as ever as we headed out onto the TF5 once again and wended our way west along the coast with a pigeonless stop at Grimona which added Sparrowhawk to the list before veering off into Icod de los Vinos with the intention of finding the butterfly house and the Dragon Tree which, according to my map were right on top of each other but it took two circuits of the town centre on some tiny streets to find the underground car park that would serve both attractions.
Oh and early morning snail rescue from te pavement by our digs...

Tenerife Sparrowhawk

The Mariposario del Drago was a simple affair and completely empty of anyone but the four of us and we had a lovely hour amongst the South American butterflies. I wish I had got the lady’s name who was working in there as she was so full of information and willing to share. He English was excellent despite her assertion that it was not and it was clear that she was passionate for insects outside of work as we somehow ended up having a conversation about the caterpillars of Mariposa calavera that were eating her potatoes.  I guessed at Death’s Head Hawkmoth and little bit of the magic of Google and we had our answer. She seemed pleased to come across visitors that had some knowledge about such things.

Papilio rumanzovia

Morpho peliedes

Heliconis melpomene

Heliconis melpomene

Papilio thasos

Heliconis melpomene

Heliconis sp

Heliconis melpomene

Dryas iulia
Indian Silk Moths

Indian Silk Moth Cats

The hatchery...

From here we ambled up the cobbled hill to the Parque del Drago where the famous Dracaena drago tree stands proudly within the botanical gardens. This iconic tree is purported to be at least 1000 years old and I am glad that we made the effort to see it up close. It is hollow and gnarled and looks like it has fully experience every one of its millennia of seasons. The deep-red resin - dragon's blood - has been an exotic ingredient of traditional medicines and dyes since ancient times. 

The Dragon Tree - Dracaena drago

The gardens themselves held may other native plants including the curious tuberous sow thistle type plant with soft yellow flowers we had been seeing along roadsides in the mountains which a plaque very helpfully identified as Sonchus congestus and it is indeed a Composit. 

Sonchus congestus

Pandanis utilis - a palm of Madagascar

Chiffchaffs followed us around and Blue Tit, Blackcap, Canary and Blackbird were all foraging in the borders. I got a good look at Canarian Large White and managed a photo of almost the only fly that I saw all week. 

Canarian Large White
Stomorhina lunata

Phil Collins was quick to help later that evening and identified it as Stomorhina lunata – a mobile species that parasitizes Migratory Locusts and follows them around. They occasionally reach the UK and he even found one at Rainham a couple of years ago...

...and an as yet unidentfied micromoth

Our lunch plans in Icod were abandoned and so I randomly headed down to the sea at San Marcos and found a delightful little tavern called Casa Chica on the harbour side where we had a good cooked lunch with more garlic between us that you can imagine. We overlooked the crashing surf rushing into the horseshow shaped bay with larva flow cliffs rising steeply behind. The beach was chocolate black in colour and the sea turquoise. Even here I managed a trip tick with a Common Sandpiper flicking amongst the harbour boulders and Buzzard and Yellow-legged Gulls soared above as we ate.

San Marcos

From here I continued west, determined to find the right road to Punta del Teno that I missed on Monday. No mistakes this time other that the fact that the road to the end does not open until 5pm on Thursdays and so we had an hour to kill before the guard would let us through. Dad and I headed off exploring up the road and looked down on several cactus nurseries with lines of perfectly spherical specimens like weird rows of prickly cabbages and one that just seemed to specialise in species of Money Plant succulents in a multitude of colours.   

The Cactus Farms

Just Money Plants!

Everywhere you looked were banana plantations and although most were under canvas we got close to one that wasn’t and could see them wrapped up to ripen in their own personal blue plastic bags. They taste so much better out here for being freshly picked and ripened rather than frozen green. 


Prickly Pear

The Empty Road

Euphorbia 'tree' and long inflorescence of
Agave attenuata

Maple-leaf mallow - Lavatera acerifolia

Real Aloe vera!

The common hillside plant but I can't find out what it is at the moment - fluffy seeds

Birds were scarce with squelchy Blackcaps throwing me once again while the other usual suspects were present and a pair of Buzzards circled above us.

At five the gate was promptly opened and we joined the now lengthy procession of tourists heading out to the end and we were lucky to get a space in the car park by the lighthouse but it was so worth the effort.

Tenerife, the island that keeps giving in the spectacular view department. The red and white lighthouse at the end poked out into the Atlantic with La Palma to the north west and La Gomera almost straight out while the view back behind you down the west coast all the way to the huge gleaming hotel facades of Acantilados de los Gigantes was a sheer wall of solidified larva flow plunging almost vertically into the sea.  It was mesmerising.

Atlantic Yellow-legged Gulls

Battling tourists to take a picture (has to be a selfie apparently) is not my thing so we headed back out against the flow of incoming sightseers and retraced out steps back to Bajamar.

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