A birding trip to the Canary Islands is a must for any keen birder in the Western Paleartic. You won’t see a large number of birds but that is not the point as these beautiful islands hold a nice combination of endemic birds, Macaronesian specialities and African species. The isolation, the variety of habitats and the location have made these islands a paradise for birders. In addition, there are large number of endemic plants, reptiles and insects.
The endemic birds list includes: Laurel Forest Pigeon, Bolle’s Pigeon, Fuerteventura Stonechat, Canary Islands Chiffchaff, Tenerife Goldcrest and Blue Chaffinch. Four of the six birds are listed among the 29 globally threatened bird species occurring in Europe. In addition, there is a large number of subspecies (around 30) and seabirds to look for. For instance, there are 4 subspecies of Blue Tit and 3 subspecies of Chaffinch.
In relation to African species, sadly the Canary Islands remain the only reliable place to seen the Hubara bustard as they have suffered a huge decline due to overhunting in Arabian countries.
We will start the birding trip to the Canary Islands in the largest of the seven islands, Tenerife. Depending on the arrival time of the flight we may have time for some initial exploration on the slopes of Teide, the highest volcano in Europe, 3718 m. Here, we will walk among forest of Canary Pine (Pinus canariensis) to look out for the pretty Blue Chaffinch and the Tenerife Goldcrest. We might also encounter the dark breasted race of Great Spotted Woodpecker and plain backed race of Blue Tit. Furthermore, we will see some of the abundant Canaries and Canary islands Chiffchaff that live in the forest.
After a exciting start of the trip, we will head off to our Rural Hotel were we hope to see our first Turtle doves and Stripeless Tree Frogs.
The morning will be spend in the NW of the island around el Teno. We will take a stroll near the sea, hoping to see our first Gannets, Cory’s Shearwaters and with a bit of luck even dolphins. In the bushes and open land we should find Spectacled Warbler, Barbary Partridge, Plain Swifts and Berthelot’s Pipit among others species. The Canary islands are not only famous for their bird and cetaceans but also for the reptiles. One of the species we might find today is the Tenerife Lizard.
Later, we will visit a couple of places hoping to find Barbary Falcons and the smallest island subspecies of Raven. If we didn’t succeed the day before with the endemic pigeons, we will try a different location for Bolle’s Pigeon and Laurel Pigeons.
Today we will drive to the town of Los Cristianos where we will board the ferry to La Gomera. During the 1:30 that will take the journey, we will have the best opportunity to see some of the many interesting seabirds that are found around the Canary Islands. We should get good view of the majestic Cory’s Shearwater and with a bit of luck Macaronesian Shearwater although they are much rarer than their larger relative. Furthermore, a good number of Storm petrel species have been recorded (White-faced and Madeiran) but they are rare and difficult to see. Depending on the time of the year, we might see Bulwer’s Petrel. Regarding cetaceans, there are chances of seen Short-finned Pilot Whales and Bottlenose Dolphins.
Once we get to La Gomera we will drive up to the spectacular Garajonay National Park, which contains the largest native laurel forest in the whole Macaronesian region. Here we will be particularly hoping to find the endemic Laurel and Bolle’s Pigeons among other species. The lush forest is also home of the Canary Goldcrest and Canary Chiffchaff. Later in the afternoon we must wind our way back to the harbour to catch the evening ferry back to Tenerife.
We will spend most of the day looking for the species we might have missed the previous day. In addition, we will visit other areas of laurel forest where African Blue Tit, Canary Chiffchaff, Bolle’s Pigeon and Laurel Pigeons are found. After an early dinner, we will take a short flight to Fuerteventura where we will stay the following 3 nights.
Fuerteventura is drier and rockier than the other islands and is home to a number of North African species
including an endemic race of Houbara Bustard. This species has sadly decline in most of its range due to hunting activities of Arabian falconers. Regarding reptiles, we expect to see good numbers of Atlantic Lizards as well as dragonflies: Leaser and Blue emperor, Epaulet skimmer, Scarlet darter, Sahara bluetail, etc
Today we will visit the dry scrubs where the endemic Fuerteventura Stonechat can be seen. On the desert plains around Jandia Natural Park, we will search for Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Cream-coloured Courser, Barbary Partridge, Stone-curlew and the subspecies of Egyptian Vulture. Other species we might see today are Trumpeter Finch and Lesser Short-toed Larks which share this barren habitat. Both of these species are distinct island races of the mainland forms.
Today is our last full day of the birding trip to the Canary islands. We will visit the North of the island where we are likely to encounter charming Barbary Ground Squirrels which move among the rocks always alert to any sign of danger.
Later we will move to the plains near Tindaya where a range of desert birds include Cream-coloured Courser, Stone-curlew, Barbary Partridge, Spanish Sparrow and Trumpeter Finch. The rest of the day will be spend visiting freshwater reservoirs which act as a magnet for birds in this arid habitat, both resident and vagrant. Some birds we might see include Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers, Night Heron, Sardinian Warbler, Ruddy Shelduck, Marbled Duck, Little Egret, Plain Swift and the recent African coloniser, the Laughing dove. In addition, we might see a variety of waders and migrants in suitable weather conditions.
A final early morning opportunity to enjoy the birds around the coast of Fuerteventura before boarding the plane.
What is included:
– All ground transport in fully seat belted, air conditioned vehicle
– Tours guided by a professional bird guide
– Accommodation in a 3-4 stars hotel and meals
– Basic travel insurance
What is not included:
– Air fare. Many low cost companies operate from European countries to the Canary Island. Please, ask for advice.
– Items of personal use
Cost of the birding trip to the Canary islands: 1340 € / guest
Both hotels have a swimming pool, are very comfortable and the food is excellent. Please note, however, that due to the fluctuation of prices and availability in many rural, family run hotels in the customary Birdwatching Spain style we must stay at a larger tourist-style hotel.
Group size 4-7 guests. Minimum 5 guests
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