viernes, 27 de diciembre de 2013

Spectacled Warbler

Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata)

Of the four warblers found on La Palma, the Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata) is the least widespread. It is a bird of scrublands, though not necessarily coastal: in fact, one of the best places to observe this species is on the very summit of the island, among the broom bushes (Adenocarpus viscosus) in the vicinity of Roque de los Muchachos (2,426m).

However, the images shown in the present post were taken virtually at sea-level, in another of the bird's favoured haunts: the sparse scrub near the lighthouse on the southern tip of the island (Faro de Fuencaliente).

The Spectacled Warbler seems to be particularly fond of salado bushes (Schizogyne sericea), a Macaronesian endemic plant of coastal areas. The bird's rattlesnake-like rattle can often be heard coming from the uppermost twigs, before it drops into the foliage in search of prey. It also forages briefly on the ground, around the base of the bushes, but rarely stays out of cover for more than a few seconds.

Patience is occasionally rewarded with views of birds perching on the walls around the salt-pans...

By the way, La Palma's other three resident warblers are the Canary Island Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus canariensis), the Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) and the Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala). All three are widespread and abundant on the island.

My guided birding tours of La Palma are focussed on the island´s forest birds, especially on the two endemic pigeon species, restricted to the Western Canaries: Bolle's Pigeon (Columba bollii) and the Laurel Pigeon (Columba junoniae).  A trip to the saltpans can be included to observe migratory waders, and for the chance to admire the handsome Spectacled Warbler featured in this post.