La Palma (Canary Islands)


Tim Herfurth
23564 Lübeck
Tel.: 0451 7060080


Our trip to La Palma cant be seen as a real birding holiday. We just wanted to escape from the German winter. We found a beautiful island with nice walks, good food and 14 days of sunshine. Thats why we didnt try hard to see for example a possible transatlantic bird, neither did we visit sites as the Gravel Pits near the airport. My aim was to see the endemic breeding species which which prooved to be rather easy.

This short trip report should be seen as an addition to Tony Clarks and David Collins „A birdwatchers guide to the Canary Islands and the 1996 La Palma report by Han Buckx which I have ordered by DBTRS in the Netherlands. Thanks to this information I saw all the birds I wanted to see on La Palma: Bolles Laurel Pigeon, Laurel Pigeon, Berthelots Pipit, Canary, Canarian Chiffchaff, Plain Swift, Tenerife Goldcrest and Chough.

Other interesting species were:Corys Shearwater, Quail, Stone Curlew, Red-rumped Swallow, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blue Tit/palmensis and Chaffinch/palmae

In 2 very short reports I got from the internet, Lesser Short-toed Lark was seen in the volcanic areas at Fuencaliente. We tried hard to see this species but failed. I guess that Lesser Short-toed Lark is probably a rare breeder in this area as the habitat seems to be suitable.

Winter is not a good time for seawatching. We tried three times at different sites:Fuencaliente, Garafia and at San Adres /near Los Sauces. Only at San Andres we saw 15+ Corys Shearwater.

We stayed in 3 different little fincas above El Paso on the western side of the island. El Paso proved to be a good base for a holiday as it lies rather central so both sides of the island are close. When you are in search for waders, ...the eastern side of the island should be better as you are close to sites as the Gravel Pits.

The fincas we stayed in were all very good but not cheap (between 30 and 40 Euro per night) but as they are big enough for up to 4 people and you can cook your own meals it is defintitely cheaper than most hotels. Most of them are run by Germans (I guess that there are a little bit too many of them on the island) and not difficult to get. A good alternative to „German fincas" is the Turismo Rural project on the island. I dont know their telefon number but I guess any tourist information or better tourist guide could help.

Except for the pigeons we saw all the target species near our accomodation.

We hired a car (Seat Ibiza) by Buen Viaje for about 17 Euro per day (Tel.: 922 428502/12).

The weather was fine during our stay. Sometimes a little bit too windy which made birding difficult, but this seems to be normal. The nights can be very cold especially in our last finca which was situated in the mountains (1000m).

As I said before this is only a brief report. I guess that all the important information is given in Tony Clarkes book and the named report. I did not find interesting new sites. I am still very much interested in information about La Palma as I might visit the island again in some years. So if there is anything new I would be very thankfull if you can send me a message by letter or mail

( And if you ever come to the north of Germany feel free to give me a ring. There are some good sites around Hamburg or Lübeck.

Species and sites:

1)Corys Shearwater: 15+ offshore from San Andres/in the NorthEast (25.2)

2)Grey Heron: 1 bird above El Paso (17.2 and 18.2) sitting on a pine tree.

3)Buzzard: 1 at Los Tilos (25.2)

4)Kestrel: common all over the island

5)Quail: Heard twice (18.2 and 20.2 on fields above El Paso)

6)Stone Curlew : Heard every night from our first finca. Up to three birds were calling (17.2-23.2) Our finca was situated about 1 km east of El Paso and about 200m north of the Shell petrol station which can be found at the main road between El Paso and Santa Cruz. During daylight we tried to find the possible site but failed. I guess that the birds can be found in the drier hills above this area.

7)Yellow-legged Gull: common

8)Rock Dove: common

9)Collared Dove: 1 near Puntagorda (29.2)

10)Bolles Laurel Pigeon: common at Los Tilos (30+ex 25.2)

11)Laurel Pigeon: rather common at Los Tilos (10+ex 25.2)

We visited Los Tilos only once (25.2) and saw both species easily from the road where the walk to the little weather station starts. This track starts from the road about 500m below the restaurant. At the beginnig of the track there is a chain and a wooden sign, you will pass it driving to Los Tilos.

We did the walk as well and saw both species flying from one tree to the other but didnt get good views as the sun was shining. When it started to rain we went back to the car, parked at the beginning of the track, and started to scope (Optolyth 30xWW) the mountains. There are several dead (?) trees on the opposit side of the gorge. Both species of pgeon were perched in those trees in good numbers while it was pooring with rain. We got absolutely fantastic views !

12)Plain Swift:common but usually in small numbers, on the 26th of Feb. we saw 40+ above El Paso together with House Martins and the 3 Red-rumped Swallows.

13)Red-rumped Swallow: We were surprised to see 3 (26.2) together with Plain Swifts and House Martins above El Paso.

14)House Martin: We saw our first (40+) on the 26th above El Paso, after that daily.

15)Berthelots Pipit: rather common

16)White Wagtail: single ind. daily

17)Grey wagtail: single ind.daily


19)Spectacle Warbler: 1 male (25.2) at the Dragos in La Tosca near Barlovento

20)Blackcap: common

21)Sardinian Warbler: rather common in the scrub at lower partsof the island

22)Canarian Chiffchaff: very common !

23)Tenerife Goldcrest: common in pine forests

24)Blue Tit /palmensis: daily in small numbers

25)Cough: common, sometimes large groups 200+

26)Chaffinch/ palmae: rather common in forests, very tame at Los Tilos

27)Canary: very common !

28)Linnet: rather common

Tim Herfurth
23564 Lübeck
Tel.: 0049 (0)451 7060080

Best wishes and good birding Tim Herfurth