domingo, 21 de febrero de 2016

Birding in the Laurel Forests

 Bolle's Pigeon (Columba bollii)

One of the target species of any visiting birder to the La Palma is Bolle's Pigeon (Columba bollii). This species, together with the Laurel Pigeon (Columba junoniae), is endemic to the Western Canaries. These two unique pigeons can be observed at a number of locations in La Palma's laurel forests, or in areas nearby, in the so-called thermophilous woodlands. Getting good views of perched birds through a spotting scope is one of the priorities on my birding tours.

 La Palma Blue Tit (Cyanistes teneriffae ssp. palmensis)

Another bird of interest, found in the laurel forests and in a variety of other habitats, is the La Palma subspecies of African Blue Tit (Cyanistes teneriffae ssp. palmensis). Note the very contrasting, bluish-black and white head pattern, and the off-white belly patch typical of the La Palma race.

 La Palma Blue Tit (Cyanistes teneriffae ssp. palmensis)

The island's own sub-species of Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs ssp. palmae) is very confiding near people, and can be seen around picnic tables and outdoor leisure facilities, where it is often fed. In contrast to the nominate Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs coelebs), note the dark blue-grey crown and upperparts, with ochre-reddish tones restricted to the breast. The female is greenish brown above, with creamy underparts. Some birds have been ringed, as the one shown in the image below.

La Palma Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs ssp. palmae)

The local race of Goldcrest (Regulus regulus ssp. ellenthalerae) can also be observed in laurel forests. It is a sub-species shared with the island of El Hierro.

Then there is the lush, sub-tropical vegetation, including many endemic plants and trees. One of the most emblematic among them is the Canary Island Bell-flower (Canarina canariensis) shown in the following image.

Canary Island Bell-flower (Canarina canariensis)

Come and discover some of the gems of the laurel forests, on a guided birding and nature tour.