08
Mar
13

Primeval Landscape

I drew back the curtains and my gasp of disappointment was tangible.
Arriving at the mountain village of Erjos in Northern Tenerife the previous evening in the dark it wasn’t possible to take in the landscape. Now, in the warm light of a bright morning I could see the devastating effects of the forest fires last August.
Millennia ago much of the world was covered in Laurel forests. Gradually as climates have changed and man has taken a hand they are now a rare commodity. The wildlife that has grown to depend on the Laurel for shelter and food has contracted with the forests. Here in the Canary Islands there remains the last stronghold of two very rare birds that go hand in hand with the Laurel. The Laurel Pigeon and Bolle’s Laurel Pigeon eat Laurel buds, leaves and flowers. They are totally dependent on this rare ancient habitat and can survive on little else.

Walking in the clear mountain air out of the Erjos valley I needn’t have worried regarding the effects of the fires; much of the Laurel still remains and it is a truly magical prehistoric landscape. We searched diligently for both the Pigeons. They are shy creatures that do not give themselves away easily. Sure, you can hear them calling and flapping but the dense foliage makes them almost impossible to detect. I talked to some locals who have lived among the mountains all their lives for whom the Pigeons remain but an enigma; they have never seen one.

It took many hours of waiting and watching before we eventually saw our quarry. A Laurel Pigeon was first to put in an appearance as it burst through the canopy drifted for a few seconds and then returned from where it came. Never have I given so much for so little return but as is often the case with these things they were like buses. No sooner did we see our first then five Bolle’s Pigeon took flight, chased across the valley and like missiles duly disappeared behind a fold in the hills.

Getting any sort of photograph was going to be difficult.

Luck plays an important part in these things. Some say you make your own luck. Although still quite distant one laurel Pigeon did a fly past and duly landed in sight affording us our best views yet; a real dinosaur in a Jurassic Landscape.

The Burnt Hillsides of Erjos

The Burnt Hillsides of Erjos

The Laurel Forests of Monte del Agua

Laurel Forests in a nearby valley

Laurel Pigeon

Laurel Pigeon perched

Laurel Pigeon 2

… and in flight

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