Wild canaries

Wild Canary in a juniper tree, Roque de Los Muchachos, La Palma
October 8, 2018

 For some time I’ve been trying to identify the birds twittering in a Canary Islands juniper tree (Juniperus cedrus) at the Roque. It’s been frustrating because although you can frequently hear a whole flock of them twittering, they tend to stay deep inside the tree and it’s very hard to catch a glimpse of one. It’s even harder to get a photograph in order to identify them. As you can…

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Golden Apples

Strawberry tree, or Arbutus canariensis
October 5, 2018

The Canary Islands Strawberry Tree, Arbutus canariensis, known in Spanish as madroño canario is a tree native to the Canary Islands. Surprisingly, it’s in the same family as heather. Well I was surprised. Heather leaves are tiny little needles, while strawberry trees have broad leaves. Tehre aer several growing outside the Caldera visitor centre. As you can see, the fruits are bright orange, and they look a lot like kumquats,…

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Baby pine trees

Looking straight down on Baby Canary pine trees , La Palma island
November 5, 2017

Now that it’s autumn, lots of baby Canary pine trees are growing on the road sides above about 1,200m. At first sight, you wouldn’t think they were baby Canary pine trees, because they’re such a different colour. The adults are dark green, almost bottle green, while the babies are this lovely pale bluey-green. Every time I see them, I want a dress this colour. And when you look down on…

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The observatory in bloom

Roque de Los Muchachos
June 30, 2017

The whole hillside at the Roque de Los Muchachos is in bloom. But where heather moors go purple, The peaks of La Palma go yellow with sticky broom (Adenocarpus viscosus, or codeso in Spanish) and French broom (Genista benehoavensis or retamón palmero in Spanish)

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La Palma’s Violet

Viola palmensis, the palmeran violet
May 18, 2017

This is the lovely little Palmeran Violet, Viola palmensis. It only grows on La Palma, above 1,900 m. (There’s a similar violet on Tenerife, but it has smaller flowers). It used to be rare, but the island government has a program of replanting areas and it’s making a comeback. You can find them beside the road from Santa Cruz to the Roque de los Muchachos well above the tree line….

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Heather Trees on La Palma

February 10, 2017

All the heather trees are in bloom along the road to the Roque de los Muchachos. Yes, heather trees. Canarian heather (Erica arborea) is close relatives of English and Scottish heather, but it’s a tree, growing anything up to 5 m tall. The tiny leaves are very like English heather, and the flowers are much the same shape, but always white. The wood’s very dense and hard, so it’s good…

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