Canary Islands: Tenerife & la Palma, June 2001

Canary Islands: Tenerife & La Palma

June 2001

Pictures: Teus Luijendijk

   La Caldera and Volcan Teide (3718 m), Tenerife, 27 June 2001.

Browsing through 'teletext' (Ceefax) pages for last minute offers works well: when looking for cheap flights to Tenerife, for celebrating the local festival 'la Romeria' with friends at la Orotava, I managed to find one for NLG 298.- only (€ 135). This would also give me the opportunity to do some more birdwatching on these nice islands (for a report on a previous visit click here). I particularly wanted to include a brief visit to La Palma, an island I had not visited yet before. Here distinctive races of Blue Tit Parus caeruleus palmensis and Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs palmae occur. Also, several endemic taxa of butterfly can be found here.

So, off we (my girlfriend and I) went and soon after arriving at Tenerife-Sur (the island has two airports, the tourist charter flights mainly using the southern one) I was looking at the ubiquitous Plain Swifts Apus unicolor again. The busdrive to Santa Cruz was easy and quite fast, so after the reunion with our friend Rafa we were within no time at his place in Puerto de la Cruz, on the much greener Northern side of the island. Canarian Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus (collybita) canariensis were flicking through their garden and a Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea canariensis even foraged along the edges of the swimming pool. The distinctive race of Kestrel (again canariensis) also repeatedly showed itself.

But then it was time for partying. The local festival of la Romeria at the town of La Orotava is special since everyone participates dressed up with the local traditional clothes. Here's an example of how this looks like:

It can be quite hot having to wear this outfit, but at least it is colourful!


Birding came second at this time, which meant quite a change for me. However, things almost went back to normal as we were driving along the N coast road from Puerto de la Cruz towards Garachico, as we had to stop and turn back when my girlfriend had discovered she had forgotten her camera. I took the opportunity to wait at that particular 'mirador' for their return. Nothing much special to be seen here, as it seemed, though. A distant Cory's Shearwater and some of the ubiquitous Yellow-legged Gulls. Sitting on a concrete wall, waiting for my friends to return, I looked up along the very steep mountain slope here ..... just to see 4 Laurel Pigeons fly past! I was totally amazed! I had seen this species before from the Mirador El Rejo on La Gomera (a renowned site), but this was on Tenerife, where one supposedly has to drive or walk a bumpy dirt road to the Erjos laurel forest to see it!
Two more birds flew by but as they seemed to be occupied in chasing one another, they might have belonged to the previous 4. For those who want to try their luck here: it was called the Mirador de Lagrimonas, and it's situated just W of Los Realejos, along the main coast road (C820). Looking up the slope from here one can see some small laurel trees (or actually bushes) and it was from there that I saw the birds emerging. Almost incredible but true ...

Several species observed can be seen on my index of videostills.


A day-today account:

Fri, 22 June: arrival at Pto. de la Cruz, Tenerife

Sat, 23 June: festivities in the village of La Orotava.

Sun, 24 June: a little tour along the N coast of Tenerife (up till Garachico).

Mon, 25 June: 10.00 a.m. flight to La Palma, where we drive our rental car along the NE part of the island. After visiting Los Tilos, we drove on to Garafía taking the low road. Returned over the (incredibly beautiful) high road to Barlovento, where we spent the night in the only hotel there.

Tue, 26 June: drove up to the edge of the Caldera de Taburiente (from the W). Descended along the eastern slope and drove SE to the Belmaco caves. After a late lunch at Los Cancajos we took the evening flight back to Tenerife N.

Wed, 27 June: Visited La Caldera near Aguamansa, a very good (picnic!) site for Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydeaand Tenerife Robin Erithacus (rubecula) superbus. Made video and sound recordings of both species.

Thu, 28 June: leisured at Pto. de la Cruz. Visited the Botanical Gardens.

Fri, 29 June: morning flight back to Amsterdam.


A full species list of this short trip is given here:


  1. Cory's Shearwater - Kuhls Pijlstormvogel Calonectris diomedea
    Fairly commonly seen.
  2. Grey Heron - Blauwe Reiger Ardea cinerea
    One immature at Laguna de Barlovento, La Palma.
  3. Buzzard - Buizerd Buteo buteo insularum
    Regularly seen.
  4. Eurasian Sparrowhawk - Sperwer Accipiter nisus granti
    One on Tenerife.
  5. Common Kestrel - Torenvalk Falco tinnunculus canariensis
  6. Yellow-legged Gull - Geelpootmeeuw Larus cachinnans
  7. Arctic Tern - Noordse Stern Sterna paradisaea
    Two at Los Cancajos, La Palma.
  8. Rock Dove - Rotsduif Columba livia
    Regularly seen.
  9. Bolle's Pigeon - Bolles Laurierduif Columba bollii
    Regularly seen on La Palma.
  10. Laurel Pigeon - Laurierduif Columba junoniae
    4 to 6 from Mirador de Lagrimonas, near Los Realejos, Tenerife.
    Common on La Palma.
  11. Turtle Dove - Zomertortel Streptopelia turtur
    Several seen on Tenerife.
  12. Collared Dove - Turkse Tortel Streptopelia decaocto
    Fairly common.
  13. Plain Swift - Eilandgierzwaluw Apus unicolor
    Very common.
  14. Hoopoe - Hop Upupa epops
    Only one was seen on Tenerife.
    Mealy Parrot Amazona farinosa
    One at Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife. Obviously introduced.
    Monk Parakeet Myiopsitta monachus
    One at Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife. Obviously introduced.
  15. Great Spotted Woodpecker - Grote Bonte Specht Dendrocopos major canariensis
    Only one or two on Tenerife.
  16. Berthelot's Pipit - Canarische Pieper Anthus berthelotii
    Few were seen on both La Palma and Tenerife.
  17. Pied Wagtail - Witte Kwikstaart Motacilla alba
    Few on Tenerife.
  18. Grey Wagtail - Grote Gele Kwikstaart Motacilla cinerea canariensis
    Quite common on Tenerife.
  19. Robin - Roodborst Erithacus rubecola
    A few heard and sound-recorded on La Palma.
  20. Canarian Robin - Canarische Roodborst Erithacus (rubecola) superbus
    A few heard and sound-recorded on Tenerife.
  21. Blackbird - Merel Turdus merula cabrerae
  22. Sardinian Warbler - Kleine Zwartkop Sylvia melanocephala
    A few were seen.
  23. Garden Warbler - Tuinfluiter Sylvia borin
    Several were seen on Tenerife.
  24. Blackcap - Zwartkop Sylvia atricapilla
  25. Canary Islands Chiffchaff - Canarische Tjiftjaf Phylloscopus canariensis
    Very common.
  26. Tenerife Kinglet - Tenerifegoudhaan Regulus teneriffae
    Quite common on both islands visited.
  27. Blue Tit - Pimpelmees Parus caeruleus teneriffae
    Several on Tenerife.
    Palma Blue Tit - Palmapimpelmees Parus caeruleus palmensis
    A few videoed and sound-recorded on La Palma.
  28. Red-billed Chough - Alpenkraai Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
    Common on La Palma.
  29. Common Raven - Raaf Corvus corax
    One on La Palma.
  30. Spanish Sparrow - Spaanse Mus Passer hispaniolensis
  31. Canarian Chaffinch - Vink Fringilla coelebs canariensis
    Palma Chaffinch - Palmavink Fringilla coelebs palmae
  32. Blue Chaffinch - Blauwe Vink Fringilla teydea teydea
    Several were seen, videoed and sound-recorded at La Caldera (near Aguamansa) on Tenerife.
  33. Greenfinch - Groenling Carduelis chloris
    Several were seen.
  34. Canary - Kanarie Serinus canaria


  1. Large White - Canarisch Koolwitje Pieris cheiranthi
    Fairly common.
  2. Small White - Klein Koolwitje Pieris rapae
    Fairly common.
  3. Bath White - Resedawitje Pontia daplidice
    Several were seen on La Palma.
  4. Clouded Yellow - Oranje Luzernevlinder Colias croceus
    Several were seen at higher altitudes on La Palma.
  5. Cleopatra - Canarische Cleopatra Gonepteryx cleobule
    Several were seen on La Palma at various locations.
  6. Small Copper - Kleine Vuurvlinder Lycaena phlaeas
    One was seen on La Palma.
  7. Long-tailed Blue - Tijgerblauwtje Lampides boeticus
    One was seen on La Palma.
  8. Canary Blue - Canarisch Blauwtje Cyclyrius webbianus
  9. Red Admiral - Canarische Atalanta Vanessa indica
    1 or 2 were seen on La Palma.
  10. Cardinal - Kardinaalsmantel Argynnis pandora
    Two were seen at higher altitudes on La Palma.
  11. Meadow Brown - Bruin Zandoogje Maniola jurtina
    Fairly common.
  12. Canary Speckled Wood - Canarisch Bont Zandoogje Pararge xiphioides
    Fairly common on La Palma.
  13. Monarch - Monarchvlinder Danaus plexippus
    Common on Tenerife.
  14. Lulworth Skipper - Dwergdikkopje Thymelicus acteon
    Several were seen on La Palma.


Copyright ©Teus Luijendijk 2001