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A Voyage of Discovery in the Canary Islands

Teresa Farino
28/10/2011 16:52:43

Escape the British winter and join Teresa and John for a fortnight exploring Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Tenerife and La Gomera, from 17 February to 2 March 2012

Posted in: Flora, Butterflies and Moths, Dragonflies and Damselflies, Other Invertebrates, Reptiles, Birds, Endangered Wildlife and Habitats | Canary Islands | Spanish Islands

aLa Gomera Skink - Chalcides coerulopunctatus © Teresa FarinoLa Gomera Skink
Chalcides coerulopunctatus
© Teresa Farino
The Canary archipelago is a microcosm of biodiversity, home to rich and varied communities of animals and plants, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. Next spring, Teresa Farino and John Muddeman, in conjunction with Island Holidays, will be leading a two-week general natural history tour of four of these islands – Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Tenerife and La Gomera – in order to track down some of the more charismatic species of flora and fauna that thrive there.

During the fortnight we will be visiting a range of habitats, ranging from the arid ‘badlands’, close to the sea, through majestic Canary Pine forests and exuberant, semi-tropical laurisilva, to the crater at the foot of Spain’s highest mountain– El Teide – which peaks at 3715m. We shall also be exploring coastal cliffs and sand-dunes, as well as visiting some of the sheltered gorges, here known as barrancos, which harbour all manner of unique endemic plants.

Desert Grey Shrike - Lanius (excubitor) koenigi © Teresa FarinoDesert Grey Shrike
Lanius (excubitor) koenigi
© Teresa Farino
Among the more notable birds we hope to encounter are Houbara Bustard, Cream-coloured Courser, Canary Islands Stonechat, Desert Grey Shrike and Blue Chaffinch, whilst also keeping an eye out for some of the archipelago’s dozen or more endemic species of lizards, skinks and geckos.

Many smaller creatures of note can also be found at this time of year, ranging from butterflies such as the Canary Blue, Monarch, Canary Red Admiral, Canary Speckled Wood and Greenish Black-tip to flightless mantises and grasshoppers, plus several enigmatic dragonflies, notably the Sahara Bluetail, Epaulet Skimmer and the fabulous Red-veined Dropwing. Euphorbia atropurpurea © Teresa FarinoEuphorbia atropurpurea© Teresa Farino

The Canary flora is rich indeed. Of the 1600 native species of plants that occur here, more than 40% are found nowhere else in the world. Undoubted highlights will be the fabulous Canary Bellflower (Canarina canariensis), the foxglove relative Isoplexis canariensis, the many endemic species of tree spurges (Euphorbia spp.), succulent stonecrops and houseleeks (Aeonium, Monanthes, Greenovia and Aichryson spp.), a range of shrubby viper’s-buglosses (Echium spp.) and the peculiar leafless ‘milkweeds’ – Ceropegia and Caralluma spp. – in the Asclepiadaceae.

There will also be the opportunity to observe cetaceans and seabirds during the inter-island ferry crossings, as well as a chance to examine some of the more renowned inter-tidal rock-pools, in search of sea slugs, crabs, small fish and other marine life.

Seaslugs in Tenerife - Tylodina perversa & Micromelo undata © Teresa FarinoSeaslugs in Tenerife
Tylodina perversa + Micromelo undata
© Teresa Farino
Short-beaked Common Dolphin - Delphinus delphis © Teresa FarinoShort-beaked Common Dolphin
Delphinus delphis
© John Muddeman

Related Information

Details of this tour
Natural History of the Canary Islands

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