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The Fortunate Islands, so named byearly buccaneers and conquistadors,are remarkable for their wealth ofunique plant and animal-life. These sevenislands have been isolated for longenough to have evolved an endemic floraand fauna, and now provide one of thenaturalist's greatest opportunities toappreciate the evolutionary process firstobserved by Charles Darwin in the 19thcentury. From a botanical point of view, theCanary Islands constitute one of the mostinteresting areas of the world, not onlybecause of the variety of flowers but alsobecause of the large number of endemicspecies - more than 600 - and theirunique origin. During this tour to theIslands we will be certain to see many ofthe endemic Canary species of plants inflower. This is also the peak time toobserve the five endemic breeding birds ofthis magnificent and diverse volcanicarchipelago. On this tour we will visit threeof the islands - Tenerife, Gomera andFuerteventura - and cruise or fly betweenthem. Our purpose will be to admire andobserve all the endemic bird species andmany of the endemic plants, not forgettingthe fabulous marine-life!Tenerife, our main base, presents an arrayof habitats of which the pine forest andhigh mountain zone of Teide National Parkare most representative of the island. Thepine forest has only one native species oftree - the Canary Pine (Pinus canariensis)- and an undergrowth dominated byMyrica fayaand heather (Erica arborea).Curiously, this pine's closest relative isfound not in Europe or north Africa, but inthe Himalaya! It is in this unique forest thatwe will be able to look for the two endemicspecies of Canary Island passerines thatoccur on Tenerife - the Blue Chaffinchand the Tenerife Kinglet. We should alsosee the endemic subspecies of GreatSpotted Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Buzzard,Rock Dove, Kestrel and Chiffchaff (allshowing a high degree of differentiation).The high mountain zone starts above thepine forest at a height of about 1,980metres. Teide National Park encompassesthe vast caldera called Las Cañadas, withits inward-facing cliff walls that rise toabout 500 metres, as well as twovolcanoes which have obliterated thenorthern rim of Las Cañadas - Pico delTeide (3,718 metres) and Pico Viejo. Theproportion of endemic species of plants inthe high mountain zone is amongst thehighest for any region in the world. Abouta dozen species of vascular plants arefound almost exclusively in Teide NationalPark, whilst a large percentage of the otherplants found here are either restricted toTenerife alone or to the Canary Islands asa whole. The vegetation of this highmountain zone is dominated by twospecies of leguminous shrubs - TeideBroom (Spartocytisus supranubius) andAdenocarpus viscosus- both Canaryendemic species. It is in this national parkthat we will look for the threeMacaronesian endemic bird species:Berthelot's Pipit, Plain Swift and Canary.The Canary Lizard is very common in thiszone and Mouflon (Wild Sheep) cansometimes be seen.From Tenerife we will cross by ferry to thetranquil island of Gomera, where we willspend a full day. On the crossing we willhave the opportunity to do some sea-watching, for these waters are the year-round home of Short-finned Pilot Whalesand Bottlenose Dolphins, as well as suchseabirds as Cory's and Little Shearwaters,and the rare White-faced Storm-petrel. Onreaching Gomera we will explore themarvellous Garajonay National Park and itsextensive ancient Laurel forests where atremendous variety of flowers andbutterflies may be found. This is also thehome of two endemic birds - Bolle'sPigeon and Laurel Pigeon - which weshould see flying over the forest canopy.We continue eastwards, now moving on tothe island of Fuerteventura for a 3-nightstay. This island presents a totally differentflora and fauna, more African thanEuropean. Flat by comparison with theother two islands, Fuerteventura isconsiderably more arid, and provides anexcellent home for such north African birdspecies as Egyptian Vulture, BarbaryPartridge, Cream-coloured Courser, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Lesser Short-toedLark, Spectacled Warbler, Southern GreyShrike and Trumpeter Finch. The starattractions, however, are the endemicFuerteventura Chat and the endemic raceof Houbara Bustard, a species that isbecoming seriously endangered over mostof its range. We should see most, if not all,of these species.The unusual, exotic and magnificentsubtropical Canary Islands with theirendemic flora and fauna and spectacularvolcanic scenery will surely make this amemorable and rewarding tour. Above all,we will be able to observe and appreciatethe fascination of these islands byexploring the countryside beyond thetourist resorts.The Canary Islands An 8-day tour in search of the endemic plants, birds, butterflies and cetaceans of the Canary Islands.Saturday 10th November - Saturday 17th November 2012 Cost: £1,495Saturday 23rd February - Saturday 2nd March 2013 Cost: £1,495Saturday 9th November - Saturday 16th November 2013 Cost: £1,495Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Tenerife.Day 2Teide National Park andTeno Natural Park.Day 3Gomera and GarajonayNational Park.Day 4Medano or AnagaPeninsula.Day 5/7Fuerteventura.Day 8Fly UK.AccommodationComfortable hotels with privatefacilities throughout.FoodAll included in the price.GradingDay walks only. Grade A.FocusBirds, plants, butterflies andcetaceans.LeaderTony Clarke (ornithologist andbotanist).Single room supplement£160.ExtensionsExtra days/week(s) in the Canaries,with or without car rental, availableon request.Web quick search: ESP1540Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryGARAJONAYNATIONAL PARKTEIDENATIONAL PARKTENONATURAL PARKJANDIABETANCURIATINDAYALA OLIVAPUERTODEL ROSARIOGOMERAHIERROLA PALMAFUERTEVENTURALANZAROTEGRAN CANARIATENERIFECANARY ISLANDSMount TeideHoubara BustardCanary Bellflower

There can be no Mediterranean islandso spectacular as Corsica. There canbe no island anywhere, asmountainous. It is truly a green mountain ina turquoise sea. Further, and what is soremarkable, is that an island sowell-deserving of its ancient Greek name,Kaliste (the most beautiful), is sodelightfully free of tourists and touristdevelopment. Corsica's wild and ruggedlandscape is wholly dominated by the hugegranitic mountains which soar to nearly2,740 metres and form a giant spine thatruns the length of the island. Accessibleonly via tortuous winding roads, or prettymountain trails, Corsica provides a nearperfect Naturetrek destination, itsnumerous endemic plant and bird speciesensuring its appeal to the naturalist. On thisholiday we will be staying in two simple butcomfortable mountain hotels, both situatedin fabulous settings. From them we will beexploring the island's wealth of naturalhistory, wherever possible on foot.Corsica is by far the greenest of theMediterranean islands, in part because it isthe least populated of the larger islands,but also because it is so remarkably wellcovered with unspoiled natural forest andmaquis. The riot of colour presented eachspring by the profusion of blossomingplants, the lush green meadows andforests, the towering snow-capped peaks,and the deep blue sea and sky willundoubtedly provide one of the greatmemories of this holiday. It is Corsica'sisolation from mainland Europe, being 160kilometres from the coast of southernFrance, and 80 kilometres from the Italianmainland, together with its exceptionaltopography, that give the island its uniquecultural blend, and cause the high degreeof endemism amongst its flora and fauna(although many of the endemics areshared with neighbouring Sardinia, just 12kilometres away). The endemic CorsicanNuthatch occurs in the island's high pineforests, as do endemic races of the CitrilFinch and Crossbill, amongst others. Theacidic nature of Corsica's rock doesslightly limit the variety of plants, butamongst the many endemics we will hopeto see are Pinguicula corsica,Crocuscorsicus,Leucojum longifolium,CorsicanPine and Corsican Hellebore, plus awonderful range of orchids.We begin our holiday by flying to Bastia inthe north of the island. From here we willdrive south-west through the scented air ofthe maquis to Evisa, taking the scenicroute that winds through the rugged andalmost uninhabited hills that rise abruptlyfrom the island's coastline. This is one of the most beautiful andpeaceful corners of the island, with itsextensive maquis and Holm Oak forestproviding cover for many bird species,including Woodchat Shrike, Marmora's,Subalpine and Dartford Warblers, andBee-eaters. Overhead fly Alpine and Pallid Swifts.Driving on, we will reach Evisa, a beautiful hilltop village in one of Corsica'sfinest settings. High in the mountains, yetoverlooking the sea and the spectacularSpelunca Gorge, the view from our hotelterrace is breathtaking. From this base, we will spend the first part of our holidaylooking for Corsican Nuthatches in theForest of Aitone, enjoying the fabulousscenery and flowers of the SpeluncaGorge, and looking at the exceptionalvariety of coastal and wetland birds and plants to be found on the LiamoneEstuary and the dunes of the Golfe de Sagone.Crossing the Col de Verghio, and drivingthrough the extensive forests of Aitone andValdo-Niello, we will descend to the historictown of Corte, Corsica's ancient capital.Nearby is the beautiful valley of LaRestonica, in the heart of the CorsicanNational Park. This is a long, narrow andspectacular valley, with numerous walkingopportunities and an interesting range ofbirds and plants. To explore the region wewill spend the second part of our holiday ina comfortable auberge between Venaco andthe historic town of Corte, an ideal base forour birding and botanical walks in the area.In the Gorge de la Restonica and thebeautiful high alpine meadows of the AscoValley we will look for Cyclamen repandumand Leucojum longifolium,Lammergeier,Golden Eagle, Alpine Accentor, AlpineChough and Water Pipit. In the forest ofCorsican Pines near Vizzavona we have ourbest chance of finding Corsican Nuthatches,Crossbills and Citril Finches, whilst in thenearby Verghello Valley, that sits betweenthe giant summits of Monte Cinto and Monted'Oro, a range of differing vegetationprovides a corresponding diversity of birdand plant species.Finally, by way of a contrast from theisland's dominating mountain habitats, wewill visit one of Corsica's few goodwetlands, the coastal lake of Biguglia.Here, a good variety of wetland birds isoften supplemented by such specialities asRed-footed Falcon, Moustached Warbler orAudouin's Gull; a final treat perhaps, from atruly special destination! Corsica - The Scented IsleAn 8-day holiday of birdwatching and botanical walks in the rugged mountains of northern Corsica.Sunday 12th May - Sunday 19th May Cost: £1,295Saturday 7th September - Saturday 14th September Cost: £1,295(Focus in September: Walking and natural history)Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationMt. D'OROAJACCIORIVER LIAMONEETANGDE BIGUGLIACAP CORSECALVIMt. CINTOOTAPORTOEVISACORTEVENACOGORGE DE LARESTONICAGOLFE DESAGONECORSICABASTIAOutline itinerary Day 1Fly Bastia and transferto Evisa. Day 2/3Evisa. Day 4/7Venaco. Day 8Fly London.AccommodationA 2-centre holiday usingcharacterful and well situatedmountain hotels with privatefacilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingB. Day walks only. Between 300 and 1,830 metres.FocusBirds and plants.N.B. In September we will focusmore on walking and generalnatural history (including butterfliesand dragonflies).LeadersDavid Morris (ornithologist) andDavid Tattersfield (botanist).Single room supplement£140.Web quick search: FRA04 and FRA2241Corsican NuthatchCrocus corsicusGorge de la Restonica