Daniel Pettersson Photography

The Canarias: Part I

On March 5th I set off to meet up with my dad at Tenerife’s southern airport. We had rented a car that we could drop off at Fuerteventura airport 11 days later. During that time we were scheduled to spend 3 nights on Tenerife, 2 on Gran Canaria and 6 on Fuerteventura.

Upon arrival we drove the highway north to Santa Cruz through the arid and dry southeast side of Tenerife. In Santa Cruz we turned left and headed west along the northern coastline to La Orotava, an old village located on a steep mountain side with lots of heritage in terms of museums and old historic houses. Here the climate was totally different, with low hanging clouds and high humidity.

La Orotava.

The next morning we set off to a camping ground south of La Orotava along the road to Teide, Spain’s highest mountain. At about 1100 meters elevation we drove though the clouds and above them the air was crystal clear without a single cloud above.

Laurel forest and Teide.

As we climbed upwards, the forest changed from dense laurel forest to open woodland with high pine trees. This is just the right habitat for Tenerife Blue Chaffinch, endemic to the pinewoods surrounding Teide. We stopped a the camping site ”Ramon Caminero” where we instantly found the birds. As I knew that these camping ground birds were going to be used to people, I wasted no time to find a good spots to put out some seems. After 30 mins or so, the first birds arrived and I was able to get some good shots, although I understood that getting them to perch anywhere but really high in the trees or on the ground would be hard.

Ramon Caminero camping ground.

We went back to La Orotava for breakfast before we headed west to Barranco de Ruiz, a famous place to see the rare Laurel Pigeon. We spent almost 2 hours overlooking the Barranco from a vantage point overlooking the area. We only saw one Pigeon flying away, so we tried another area where the road turned over the Barranco in a really narrow place closer to the forest floor. Here both Laurel and Bolle’s Pigeons were darting over the road up and down the valley. We even saw both species perched on the slopes.

Looking east from the steep hillside road to Barranco de Ruiz.
Barranco de Ruiz – this place was no good for the pigeons.
Barranco de Ruiz – this place was very good for the pigeons.
Barranco de Ruiz from the coast.

We headed down to the coast and stopped at the lower part of the Barranco. We didn’t see much other than Rock Pigeon, Grey Wagtail and several hundred Cory’s Shearwaters over the sea.

The next day we went back for another go at the finches in the morning, but I didn’t really manage to get the shots I wanted this morning either. After breakfast at the hotel, we drove west to Monte del Agua, which is supposed to be great for Bolle’s Pigeon. We found about 30 of them, mostly perching in bare trees. I had brought my hide with me, so I went to the car and got it. Meanwhile the fog rolled in and the visibility got worse. After an hour in the hide, one of the pigeons landed in the tree. Soon it was packed with pigeons and finally I got a shot with little fog, no branches in the way and with dark background. Not easy, but also nothing I expected to get.

Monte del Agua, much steeper than it looks.
The Bolle’s Pigeon tree and my hide – note the fog!
Bolle’s Pigeon | kanarieduva | Columba bollii

The third and final morning was my last chance with the finches. This time I got them perching on other things than rocks which I was very happy about. After shooting them for and hour or so the sunlight started to drizzle through the canopy which meant it was game over. I returned for breakfast before the drove to Santa Cruz to board the ferry to Las Palmas.

Tenerife Blue Chaffinch | teneriffablåfink | Fringilla teydea

To be continued..

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