13–20 September 2016
From our base on Tenerife we will look for endemics Bolle’s and Laurel Pigeons, Canary Islands Kinglet and Chiffchaff and Blue Chaffinch, the near-endemics Plain Swift, Berthelot’s Pipit and Island Canary and also Bulwer’s Petrel and Barolo Shearwater. The last day and night will be spent on Fuerteventura where we will look for Houbara Bustard, Cream-coloured Courser and the endemic Fuerteventura Chat.
Day 1 Following our flight from London Gatwick to Tenerife we will transfer to the hotel which will be our base throughout our six-night stay on the island. Depending on the time available we will then bird the local area, probably picking up two of the most widespread special species: Plain Swift and Berthelot's Pipit.
Day 2 We will first drive up to the pine forests flanking Mount Teide, a dormant volcano, and, at over 12,000 feet, the highest point not just on the Canary Islands but in the whole of Spain! In these forests we will see two endemic species: the absolutely delightful Blue Chaffinch and, of course, Island Canary. There will also be a few other birds about, a number of which, including Great Spotted Woodpecker and Common Chaffinch, have evolved into distinctive subspecies. In the afternoon we will descend into the Laurel forests to look for two more endemics: Bolle's Pigeon and Laurel Pigeon. This is not always easy, however, as low clouds frequently roll in, making viewing difficult. We will see Canary Islands Chiffchaff and African Blue Tit too. Canary Islands Kinglet is also found here but may be less easy to locate. Around the villages higher in the mountains we may find Rock Petronia as well as Sardinian Warbler and Common Kestrel.
Day 3 Today we will head towards Punta de la Rasca, an area which can produce good seawatching. We may see some interesting species during our walk out to the point: Trumpeter Finch and Lesser Short-toed Lark are very scarce in the area now but we ought to connect with Southern Grey Shrike koenigi, very confiding Berthelot's Pipits and Eurasian Hoopoe. Out at sea we should see good numbers of Cory's Shearwaters and Barolo Shearwater is possible though this will probably depend upon wind strength and direction. Our final site of the day will be a nearby reservoir that attracts ducks, waders and herons and we may see Cattle Egret or Little Egret. Numerous rarities have been recorded here so anything can turn up! Passage waders are often recorded and we may see Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers, Ruddy Turnstone, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Black-winged Stilt, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Eurasian Whimbrel or even a vagrant American wader. Spectacled Warblers may also be seen in this area and Plain Swifts often fly low overhead.
Day 4 Punta de Teno, in the far north-west of the island, will be our first birding locality of the day. As we approach the point we will pass through some spectacular scenery. The point itself can be a quite productive seawatching spot but again our degree of success will probably be determined by the wind strength and direction. Close by we will search the sea-cliffs for Barbary Falcon then move on to a site which holds Laurel Pigeon and finish the day seeking the introduced Monk Parakeet at one of its few Western Palearctic sites.
Day 5 The island of La Gomera lies to the west of Tenerife. Today we will board an inter-island ferry for the return trip to La Gomera as foot-passengers to give us an opportunity on each crossing to look for Bulwer's Petrel, Great and Barolo Shearwaters and other seabirds, all of which are more likely to be seen from the ferry than from land. Cory’s Shearwaters will be numerous and close and we may see Short-finned Pilot Whale, Bottle-nosed Dolphin or Loggerhead Turtle. On our return we will revisit Punta de la Rasca to see if we can find anything new. On a previous tour this turned out to be a fruitful birding strategy as we discovered Barbary Partridge, Eurasian Hoopoe, a hunting Barbary Falcon and Curlew Sandpiper.
Day 6 As this is our last day on Tenerife, the itinerary will be entirely flexible so that we can either search for any species which may have eluded us or return to sites to reacquaint ourselves with Blue Chaffinch, one of the pigeons or any other species we fancy seeing again.
Day 7 This morning we will drive to Tenerife north airport and take a short flight to Fuerteventura. On arrival we will head west into this starkly different landscape of volcanic rock and semi-deserts. Our first destination will be one of the sites that hold the endemic Fuerteventura Chat, which we should find fairly easily. We will then set about exploring the semi-desert areas where Lesser Short-toed Larks, Spectacled Warblers and Trumpeter Finches can be found but our real quarries here are Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Cream-coloured Courser, Barbary Partridge and Houbara Bustard. None is easy but, with patience and perseverance, we will stand a good chance of success. We may also visit the reservoir at Los Molinos to look for waterbirds, perhaps including Marbled Duck, which has bred here in the past. Other birds in the area include Common Raven, Common Buzzard and Egyptian Vulture whilst Spanish Sparrows are common around the villages. We will stay overnight on Fuerteventura.
Day 8 A few hours’ birding will give us a second chance to look for any species not located yesterday. This will be followed by an early-afternoon flight back to London.
General Information The climate is generally warm and sunny, but it can be cloudy with drizzle in the mountains. A sun hat is therefore important together with some warm clothing for mountains and for the ferry crossings. There are no special health requirements but please check with your doctor.
Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 6; maximum group size: 7 with 1 leader or 14 with 2 leaders.