Working for birds in Africa


Sun, 01/13/2013 - 00:07 -- abc_admin

Montaña Roja Natural Reserve, South Tenerife

Image Credit: 
Rubén Barone Tosco

Barranco de Ruiz gorge, Northern Tenerife. Typical habitat of diurnal raptors, owls and Laurel Pigeon Columba junoniae as well as many other species.

Image Credit: 
Rubén Barone Tosco

Berthelot's Pipit Anthus berthelotii, Montaña Roja Natural Reserve, South Tenerife.

Image Credit: 
John Caddick


Given the existence and availability of a significant amount of literature about the birds and key sites in the Canary Islands, it is probably not necessary to cover all sites and species here. Some birders will want to see the endemic and near endemic species and potential locations for these are documented in the IBA section. Others might want to search for vagrants and the possibility exists to see unusual birds from Europe, Africa and America. There is also the opportunity to travel between the islands on ferries and the chance to see a range of seabirds.


Tenerife is probably the best starting point for endemic species and Bolle's Pigeon Columba bollii, Laurel Pigeon Columba junoniae, Canary Islands Chiffchaff Phylloscopus canariensis and Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea can all be seen.

There are good sites to see the pigeons in the north of the island such as the Barranco de Ruiz gorge. A number of miradors (viewpoints) such as Mirador de Lagrimones, Mirador el Lance and Mirador de la Corona have views over the forests and gorges where one or both of the pigeon species can be seen with patience.

A visit to a picnic site such as Lajas above Viraflor in the south of the island is a good way to see Blue Chaffinch as well as the distinctive local race of the Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major canariensis and Island Canary Serinus canaria.

Berthelot's Pipit Anthus berthelotii and Canary Islands Chiffchaff Phylloscopus canariensis are common and can be found in many parts of the island such as the Montaña Roja Natural Reserve near El Medano and the Malpaisa de la Rasca in the south-west coener of the island. The lighthouse at the Punta de la Rasca is a good place for seawatching.


Photo: Rubén Barone Tosco


Istmo de La Pared sand dunes in Fuerteventura are one of the best habitats for steppe birds in the Canaries. They hold the biggest population of Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis in the archipelago, and also Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata, Eurasian Thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus, Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor, Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens and Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus. The great majority of the dunes are protected as Natural Park.

To see all the Canary Island endemics, it is necessary to visit Fuerteventura as it is the only place in the world that the Canary Islands Chat Saxicola dacotiae is found. It is worth visiting for other reasons however as it has an interesting range of species including Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus, Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides, Barbary Partridge Alectoris barbara, in addition to those mentioned above.

Rosa de Catalina Garcia is a good wetland site with the possibility of Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola and Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea.



Saltpans of del Carmen, Fuerteventura. Photo: Rubén Barone Tosco

These saltpans of del Carmen, or punta del Muellito, and its surroundings are good for shorebirds, and sometimes for other birds like ducks, herons, flamingos, gulls and terns. At the nearby coast there is a small breeding population of Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus.


Lanzarote was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1993 as it conserves one of the most exceptional ecosystems and volcanic landscapes in the archipelago. Birds of  the small islands to the north of Lanzarote, the Chinijo Archipelago, include Osprey Pandion haliaetus, falcons, petrels and shearwaters, however visiting these islands requires a special permit.



Plains of Rubicón - Playa Blanca in the south of Lanzarote. For steppe birds like Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata, Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor, Eurasian Thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus, Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens and Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus.

Photo: Rubén Barone Tosco




The saltmarshes of La Santa, Lanzarote. For migrant and wintering waders, herons and other aquatic birds, and a breeding place for Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus.

Photo: Rubén Barone Tosco



Gomera can be visited by ferry from Tenerife with the possibility of Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea, Little Shearwater Puffinus assimilis, Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii as well as terns and gulls seen from the ferry. It has large populations of Bolle's Pigeon Columba bollii, Laurel Pigeon Columba junoniae (possibly easier to find here than on Tenerife) as well as Tenerife Kinglet Regulus (regulus) teneriffae.

Gran Canaria

Although it does not have any of its own endemics, Gran Canaria is a good place to see Berthelot's Pipit Anthus berthelotii, Island Canary Serinus canaria, Canary Islands Chiffchaff Phylloscopus canariensis and Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea although the latter is very difficult to see due to restricted site access.

La Palma

La Palma is the only island in the archipelago where the Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax breeds. It also holds its own endemic subspecies of Blue Tit, Palma Blue Tit Parus caeruleus palmensis and Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs palmae.

El Hierro

Likewise, El Hierro also has an endemic subspecies Hierro Blue Tit Parus caeruleus ombriosus and Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs ombriosa. These two islands are the most westerly and can be reached by ferry or by plane from Tenerife. The extensive laurel forest on La Palma holds the largest number of Laurel Pigeons Columba junoniae. Being the most westerly islands means that they are possibility good places to find North American vagrants.

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