1) You should know that there are two endemic birds on La Gomera that are very sought after by bird watchers: the Laurel Pigeon and Bolle’s Pigeon. As they are rather difficult to see, they have become an interesting challenge, for which we recommend that you familiarise yourself with their images and identify their distinguishing features beforehand.
2) the recommended time of day to observe these birds is at first light, which is when they are most active, also at dusk, when they return to their roosting sites. That is generally when you can enjoy their song.
3) What you should carry in your backpack.
What do the experts carry? A field guide to birds with good photographs, binoculars (at least one pair per two or three persons), note book (to note observations and draw the birds found on your outing), discrete-coloured clothing (brown, green and black) which will provide camouflage, camera, preferably with a high zoom lens, recorder to record bird song (for beginners, current mobile phones offer this option and provide very good quality recordings) and lastly, food and drink, it is very important to have water, particularly during hot weather.
4) Some interesting information for choosing binoculars: The most appropriate for this purpose are 7×35, 8×42 and 10×42.
The first number indicates by how much the image will be amplified, and the second determines the field of view. That is, for 10×42 binoculars, it means that a bird at 100 metres distance can be seen as if it were 10 metres away. The 42 field of view is suitable for open spaces such as beaches. When observing birds in wooded areas (where it is not possible to see far) a 7×35 binocular is most appropriate.
Prior practice with your binoculars is recommended so that they can be adjusted to compensate for the different vision required for each eye.
The important network of viewpoints on La Gomera will allow you to observe a good number of birds. The ravines are dominated by terraces and are ideal for rural birds. The coastline is generally steep, for which we normally suggest a journey by boat charter to see both birds of prey and sea birds. The best coastal zones are the waters between the Playa Santiago and Valle Gran Rey in the south, and Los Órganos in the north.
5) How do you watch birds?
At first, don’t try to identify or look for rare species. It is best to focus on the more common birds of the area. In this way, as soon as a rare bird appears, you will recognise it more easily. Make a note of important information to help you with future identification.
Hints: Keep these basic hints in mind:
- Shape and silhouette.
- Plumage and colour.
- Habitat preferences.
- Voice, call or song.
6) Good behaviour
- The wellbeing of the birds and their environment is of priority.
- Stay on permitted paths and locations.
- Avoid disturbing the birds, do not interfere with their behaviour, particularly if they are nesting. Do not touch them, their eggs or chicks. Do not remain near the nest for too long.
- Comply with the regulations in protected natural spaces.
- Do not leave rubbish, as the birds may die if they consume it.
- Divide large groups of observers into smaller groups so the birds are disturbed as little as possible.
- Walk slowly and in a group, speak in a low voice and avoid sudden movements.
7) When observing birds:
- Always keep your binoculars to hand.
- Try to keep the sun behind you to avoid being dazzled and so you can see the birds clearly.
- If you have your dog with you, keep it on a lead so that it does not frighten or disturb the birds.
- Observe the bird, take photographs and then consult your field guide.