The last group of Macaronesian islands waiting for us were the Canaries. With planning help from Eduardo Garcia del Rey, we needed to visit only three islands to get all the endemics as well as the Houbara Bustard that we also needed. It feels much better to tick the Bustard on Fuerteventura than to tick it in Merzuga, Morocco where Bustards are regularly released for hunters.
First Island for us was Gran Canaria which hosts a lingering population of Blue Chaffinch that was just recently split into two species, one on Gran Canaria and one on Tenerife. The Gran Canaria Blue Chaffinch is rare, maybe less than 200 birds in total, whereas the Tenerife Blue Chaffinch is common. The Blue Chaffinch habitat is high altitude pine forest. Eduardo had told us to search in an area here walking a dirt trail listening and watching. First evening we found none, but next day we were back early in the morning and were able to locate a flock after a couple of nervous hours searching.
Gran Canaria Chiffchaff was present everywhere. Very easy.
With those endemics in the bag, we headed towards Tenerife. We met up with Eduardo and we stayed at his place. Next Eduardo joined us for a full day of birding. First up were the two endemic pigeons, Laurel Pigeon and Bolle’s Pigeon. We stopped at a cafe’ next to a cliff and soon we spotted the first Laurel Pigeons.
No sign of Bolle’s Pigeon though and we headed towards the pine forests and the Tenerife Blue Chaffinch. These birds were considerably much easier to locate than their close relatives on Gran Canaria.
The two Chaffinches were very much alike each other, the calls and the wing bands were distinctly different though. After lunch we went back to one of the valleys hosting Laurel forest and in the afternoon we soon found also the Bolle’s Pigeon.
At the laurel valley, the all-year present Goldcrest was common, it is a subspecies but felt quite different from “our” Goldcrests.
With some extra time on our hands, we started to explore various ponds and marshes. In one of the ponds, a group of Common Shellducks were resting. Eduardo goes all apeshit, SHELLDUCKS!!! and we go .. ehh, yeah,what ?
It turns out to be a first for Tenerife. It’s weird birding on the islands of Macaronesia, the chances of finding the first for something – are high. Nice birding day indeed, thanks Eduardo – see you soon!!
Next up was Fuerteventura where we had two birds, the Houbara Bustard and the endemic Fuerteventura Stonechat. We had good info on both from Eduardo and went to a desert like area where we found the Bustard almost immediately. We love Bustards!!
The Stonechat was easily located, they were virtually everywhere.
Next day we had half a day of birding on our hands, and we explored various reservoirs and marshes. Good birding, in general birding on Fuerteventura was much better than what we expected, good species everywhere.
At the reservoir of Embalse del los Molinos we sat down to just enjoy all the Ruddy Shellducks when suddenly large groups of Black-bellied Sandgrouse came flying in. Beautiful indeed.