Water points

2 07 2012

“I’ve been able to get an excitement back in the water”

– Michael Phelps

Canary Islands laurel forest is the only rainforest in the world that has a dry season during summer, just like a Mediterranean forest. It’s maybe that mixture of Mediterranean and tropical elements what makes this ecosystem so special. During that hard season, the forest doesn’t depends on the rain but on the capacity the laurels have to fix the water resting on the fog. This water, however, is available only for vegetation, while animals must look for some other sources of water. In the pine forest, the situation is even more dramatic. Both animals and plants have to adapt their physiology to the drought. Plants develop some resistance structures and animals take profit of their mobility to go wherever the water is.

The shyer species become more approachable when drinking (because they are obliged to do so) and you can get good views of them if you know where the water is.  Last week, I found a watering hole where pigeons come to drink and I thought it would be a good idea to be a whole morning hidden in a nearby bush, waiting for them. Moreover, the young and promising birder Marc Illa visited the island looking for endemics, so there we went.

Unfortunately, the African hot wave had went out the day before. Even though the day was cooler and pigeons didn’t seem to be thirsty, we got some nice views of Bolle’s pigeon sat in the nearby eucalyptus trees. A sparrowhawk was flying around all the morning long and pigeons didn’t rest on the tree for so much time, but enough to enjoy them.

The afternoon before, we had went to the pine forest to see the Blue chaffinch. When waiting for it near a water point, two Great-spotted woodpeckers came to drink for a while. They were an adult and a juvenile and it was nice to notice the dark-marking specially in juvenile’s underparts, typical of the canariensis subspecies. I had been talking about that with Beneharo, considering the possibility these black feathers are due to Canary Islands Pine tree Pinus canariensis bark, which always seems to be burnt. Close views demonstrate it’s not an acquired coloration but the real pattern of the feathers. The adult was cleaner, and therefore it must be a huge variability in that feature, God knows if it’s age-related. 

Butterflies are at their maximum right now and, even this year there are not many flowers because of the drought, it’s possible to enjoy some endemics such as Canary blue Cyclyrus webbianus. The edges of the Pine forest is the best place to find it.

And of course, two pictures of our target bird, just to say I will miss it a lot.

The last afternoon Marc was here, we enjoyed Laurel pigeons in what is probably my favorite place of the island. They feed on avocado trees and flew as always in a stunning way. The white in the tail is noticeable from a big distance, maybe it’s pigeon’s attempt to say “I am still here”.

In the water point close to the track, there was a large amount of Stripeless tree frogs Hyla meridionalis. The variation in color was evident, going from the brown to the green. I had seen some blue individuals near Barcelona, so that’s maybe the most variable frog species of our region.

Finally, we unsuccessfully tried to see a Barolo’s shearwater from Garachico. There was nothing but Cory’s but the place was perfect to take a nice farewell group photo.

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