jueves, 21 de noviembre de 2013

Contrasting landscapes

The cascade of Trade Wind clouds spilling over Cumbre Nueva
Lying in the path of the NE Trade Winds, and reaching altitudes of over 2,000 metres above sea level, the island of La Palma has a drier, leeward side, and a wetter, windward side. Above is a typical landscape on the sheltered, west side of the island. The cloud cascade visible in the background is a well-known local phenomenon often associated with strong Föhn winds. The characteristic forest on the leeward side of the island is Canary Pine (Pinus canariensis).

An area of lush laurel forests in Cubo de La Galga
In striking contrast to the west, the generally cloudier east side of the island harbours some of the best-preserved laurel forests in the Canaries. These lush, subtropical woodlands are unique to Macaronesia, and are home to numerous endemic plants and various endemic bird species. Avian highlights of La Palma's laurel forests include Bolle's Pigeon (Columba bollii), the Laurel Pigeon (Columba junoniae), the palmae subspecies of Chaffinch, and the palmensis subspecies of African Bluetit.

Whilst finding the local Chaffinch in La Palma's laurel forests presents no difficulties - if you're eating, it usually finds you - getting good views of either of the two pigeon species is not so easy. Luck, as always, plays a role, but thorough local knowledge of the best locations at a given time of the year is a more reliable way to ensure good views of these attractive birds.

In a half-day tour, I can lead you to spots where both Bolle's and the Laurel Pigeon can be observed well.

Bolle's Pigeon (Columba bollii)