lunes, 2 de noviembre de 2009

Observing sites

The key locations for finding migratory birds on the island are:

1 The salt-pans at Fuencaliente, on the island's southermost tip
2 Fresh-water irrigation basins on the outskirts of Los Llanos and Tazacorte
3 Disused gravel-pits on the coast alongside the airport
4.Laguna de Barlovento reservoir (there are a couple of independent posts for this location; enter the words Laguna de Barlovento in the search engine)

A brief description of sites 1-3 follows, with a short list of species to be expected:

1. Fuencaliente salt-pans

A group of shallow, man-made pools where sea-salt is still produced in the traditional way. Access is at present unrestricted, but visitors are advised to remain on the track which runs round the outside of the complex. Water levels are artificially regulated and hence the amount of exposed sand inside the pools varies. Regular visiting waders include Dunlin, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper in small numbers, more numerous Turnstones, and, less frequently, Knot, Little Stint, Ruff, Redshank etc. Rare sightings in recent years have included Flamingo, Shelduck, Spoonbill, Pectoral Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Buff-breasted Sandpiper...
An easy-to-reach, scenic location on the southern tip of the island.

2 Irrigation ponds around Los Llanos/Tazacorte

Dozens of fresh-water storage tanks located south of Los Llanos de Aridane, in an area loosely referred to in the literature, and also in this blog,  as "Las Martelas". To access this laberynth, take the main road from Los Llanos to Puerto Naos, and after passing the new ring-road at a roundabout (visible immediately right of the LP-2 label above), take the next turning on the right (at the LP-124 label). Best to park at the main pond, and explore nearby side roads and tracks on foot.

Further south, between Montaña la Laguna and Montaña Todoque, in the Tazacorte municipality, are several other ponds of interest. (The 1:25 000 Mapa Topográfico Nacional de España, sheet 1085-1 shows all ponds, or, of course, Google Earth).

Many of the tanks are abandoned, and the water-level in those still in use varies considerably. Full or partially-full basins attract Grey Heron, Little Egret, Coots, Moorhens (small resident population) and Teal, with the occasional Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Spoonbill, Squacco Heron or Black-necked Grebe in recent years. Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, and Greenshank are also regularly seen in small numbers. In empty ponds containing a layer of mud or sand, and perhaps a shallow puddle of rainwater, the occasional Red-throated Pipit, Water Pipit, Pectoral Sandpiper, Spotted Crake or American Golden Plover might turn up, along with the regular Snipe.

Nearctic vagrants are often found during spring/autumn migratory periods.

The main pond in Las Martelas

Typical example of an abandoned pond, with accumulated rainwater

3. Disused gravel pits:

At present, not exactly an idyllic location due to construction work at airport, but worth checking for Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Turnstones, Whimbrel ... and perhaps the occasional surprise. The former gravel pits are on the coast alongside the airport, immediately north of the wind generators.

The above notes are intended as a brief guideline only. Contact me at for further details. For information on past records, species status/rarities, or for submitting personal sightings:

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