Any ideas? Probably female Crocothemis erythraea - Scarlet Darter
Sunday 30th January 2011
Los Gigantes is a relatively quiet resort with a small habour, a few hotels and lots of apartments covering the area between the sea and the massive sea cliffs from which the town gets its name. There's not much space or open country all along the western coast and development continues apace. We did walk about 6 miles south past the seemingly endless apartments and shops but the only open ground was an area of rubble, but it did provide habitat for the one and only Berthelot's pipit of the holiday and a few butterflies.
It was necessary to drive up towards the foothills of the extinct volcano, Mount Teide to explore the unique vegetation and limited birdlife of the island. The second site I was keen to visit was the picnic area at Las Lajas in the El Teide National park, nearly 2000 metres above sea level. We chose a bad day for weather and most of the ascent was in cloud and rain but there were few other vehicles on the road. At the picnic site we were the only visitors, but it wasnt exactly picnic weather with persistent rain and a strong wind. It didnt look too good at first, not a sound except the drops of rain falling from the pines, but I eventually found what I was looking for: ten Blue Chaffinch feeding on the ground, there were also a few African Blue Tits around and a single Raven but that was it.
On the way back we took a wrong turn which took us along a causeway built across the lava fields, above the snow line and above the clouds. It was a surreal atmosphere with the sun shining on the snow with the clouds below us.
Having been largely successful in seeing the endemic species of the island at the two sites we visited, the only other birds were those we saw on our walks south of Los Gigantes either on the shoreline such as Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper, Little Egret and Ringed plover. In gardens and around buildings, such as Grey Wagtail, Collared Dove, Canary islands Chiffchaff and Spanish Sparrow and fly overs like Plain Swift, Common Buzzard, Kestrel and Barn Swallow. There were a few interesting insects including a Monarch butterfly, many of which Jan managed to photograph, the odd Lizard and a small school of Pilot whales.
On the coach transfer back we saw 2 Southern grey Shrike as we approached the airport to bring our species list up to 30. Not a huge total but some quality birds and lets not forget it wasn't a birding holiday!