The Dragon Tree Viewpoint

Leaning dragon tree, Dracaena draco, in Puntagorda
The leaning dragon tree, Dracaena draco

There’s a rather nice viewpoint in Puntagorda, on the main road at km 78. Its most obvious attraction is the dragon tree, leaning much further over than the tower at Pisa.

Red-billed chough, or graja, Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax barbarus in Puntagorda>
But when I was last there, I was charmed by a tame red-billed chough, Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax barbarus. They’re relatives of rooks and crows, but this particular sub-species only lives on La Palma where they’re called grajas. They’re something of an icon here, because they’re so distinctive. They’re also pretty intelligent for birds, and rather curious. My husband once had one pecking away at the windscreen wipers of his car.

The graja at the viewpoint came right up to me and begged for food. He even lay down and pretended to be injured, until he realised that the other family there had food, and I didn’t.  Then he made a miraculous recovery.

"Injured" graja, or red-billed chough, Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax barbarus in Puntagorda
Graja, or red-billed chough pretending to be injured

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

This article has 3 Comments

  1. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a man walking his 2 dogs and one of these birds (yes, seriously!) – the dogs are on leads, but the bird is just walking along beside them. Have seen him a few times – near San Jose. We usually just stare at each other – me at him for obvious reasons, he at me because I probably appear to be in a state of shock!

  2. Choughs in the Isle of Man sometimes behave like that when they are sunbathing, lying in all sorts of strange postures. I have been to La Palma 6 times so far and enjoy seeing your choughs there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>