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The freshwater ponds of Erjos in Tenerife
Freshwater ponds are rare on Tenerife
The volcanic island of Tenerife has very few natural sources of freshwater and its streams usually run dry in the hot weather. Wildlife that depend on water have to make do with reservoirs, irrigation tanks and ponds in gardens and parks.
However, the village of Erjos, in the fertile and green Teno area of Tenerife's northwest, has a number of large ponds and several smaller ones, and they provide a wetland habitat for water birds and many other animals and plants.
A haven for wildlife
Erjos is situated above Santiago del Teide in the northwest of Tenerife and its other closest neighbours are the villages of San José de los Llanos and Ruigomez. The part where the ponds are is known as Puerto de Erjos and it makes a real haven for wildlife as well as place that is very popular with ramblers. There are several footpaths that go up through the surrounding mountains and forests.
The ponds formed naturally many years ago when the soil was dug out for use elsewhere on the island. The pits left behind soon filled up and became colonised over the years by water plants such as reeds and birds including Coots (Fulica atra) and Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus).
The Erjos ponds now support colonies of both species of frog found on Tenerife - the Iberian Water Frog (Rana perezii ) and the Stripeless Treefrog (Hyla meriodonalis). Several types of dragonflies breed there and many other aquatic insects including Great Diving Beetles (Cybister tripunctatus), Whirligig Beetles (Gyrinus deajanii) and Water Boatmen (Corixa affinis) live in the pools.
On the land the Oil Beetle (Meloe tuccius) can be found in spring. Its large females often crawl about on paths and short grass and their larvae are parasites of bees.
Buzzards (Buteo buteo) and Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) often patrol the skies overhead on the lookout for lizards and mice. Herons (Ardea cinerea) hunt around the ponds on the lookout for frogs.
Until the autumn of 2008, there were millions of Mosquito Fish (Gambusia holbrooki) in the ponds but there was a severe drought that year and all the water dried up. The area also was devastated by a forest fire that had caused vast amounts of damage and destruction on the island. In Erjos the ponds were, of course, safe but the vegetation was mostly burned up in the blaze.
Remarkably, apart from blackened and charred remains of bushes and a few dead trees, the whole are has regenerated and is covered in lush greenery and many species of wild flower. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and Canary Island St John's Wort (Hypericum canariensis) are two medicinal herbs that grow in the area. The pretty yellow flowers of Canary Island Sowthistles (Sonchus acaulis and S. canariensis) help beautify the grassland in spring.
Many fungi and wild mushrooms grow in the countryside around Erjos including white Puffballs (Lycoperdon) that are easy to spot amongst the short green grass.
Anyone, who loves nature and exploring the countryside will find plenty to delight them around the ponds of Erjos.
The village and its ponds are on the bus route from Playa de las Américas to Icod de los Vinos and for the service between Los Gigantes and Puerto de la Cruz, so it is easy enough to get to by public transport.
There is the very popular Restaurante Fleytas with a large carpark right opposite where the ponds are located, and besides locals and knowledgeable and adventurous tourists, many of the island's motorbike enthusiasts gather there.
Being in the mountains of the north of Tenerife though, Erjos is often shrouded in the misty cloud known as "bruma," and the temperature drops a lot when this happens. Because of this it is advisable to bring a jacket or a jumper if visiting the area.
But don't let the risk of clouds put you off. Erjos is truly one of the semi-secret jewels of Tenerife.
Home Videos Channels Watch this video in a new window "Las charcas de Erjos" 12-04-2009 (Tenerife)
- Erjos ponds and last year's fire
Last summer Tenerife was devastated by some terrible forest fires that began in Icod el Alto in the Los Realejos area of the north and then raged their way across the mountains to the west and south. But...