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After Tenerife, dry, barren and largely flat Fuerteventura is the next most popular of the Canary Islands for birding visitors.
The main attraction is the Canary Island or Fuerteventura Chat, found on this island and nowhere else. Additional draws are the desert species such as Houbara Bustard, Cream-coloured Courser and Black-bellied Sandgrouse, found here more easily than on Lanzarote. Egyptian Vulture can also be seen here in greater numbers than on Lanzarote.
Himalayan Bulbul has recently been reported from the Corralejo area but the current status of this population is unknown.
In the north of the island there are several good areas for Houbara Bustard, among them the plains of Lajares and Tindaya Plain. Also found at these sites are birds such as Barbary Partridge, Stone-curlew, Cream-coloured Courser and Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Corralejo also has Barbary Falcon.
The village of El Cotillo in the north-east has interesting stony plains that hold good numbers of Houbara, Courser and Stone-curlew as well as Spectacled Warbler, Berthelot's Pipit and Lesser Short-toed Lark. Cory's Shearwater is common offshore during the summer.
The lava fields between El Cotillo and Corralejo hold Canary Islands Chat, Barbary Partridge and Trumpeter Finch. Many of the same species can be found in the farmland around La Oliva in the centre of the northern peninsula of Fuerteventura with the addition of Corn Bunting and European Goldfinch and an interesting range of migrants.
For seabirds around Fuerteventura the best area is Isla de Lobos off the northern tip. Breeding here are Cory's Shearwater and Macaronesian Shearwater, Bulwer's Petrel, European Storm-petrel and Madeiran Storm-petrel.
The best-known site for the Canary Islands Chat is the Barranco de Rio Cabras, popularly known as Willis's Barranco after the birder who first discovered the merits of this deep rocky gully. Situated in the east of the island only 1km from the airport it is easy to find and birders with limited time can arrive on the island, locate the chat and return to the airport within a couple of hours.
To find the barranco leave the airport heading north and explore the first gully which crosses the road. Dry and rocky, there is dense scrub in the gully including Tamarix canariensis and a reservoir further up the valley, which is often dry. Either side of the barranco there are dry rocky plains. In addition to the chat there are Common Buzzard and Common Kestrel, Pallid Swift, Eurasian Hoopoe, Great Grey Shrike, Berthelot's Pipit and Spectacled Warbler. Houbara Bustard and Cream-coloured Courser have been recorded on the surrounding plains and Barbary Partridge and Black-bellied Sandgrouse also occur in the barranco.
El Castillo is a major tourist centre on the east coast close to the excellent Barranco de la Torre just to the south. This densely vegetated gully and stream is good for Canary Islands Chat, Sardinian Warbler and Spectacled Warbler and Trumpeter Finch while Houbara, Cream-coloured Courser and Black-bellied Sandgrouse are possible on the surrounding plains.
Further south is the Gran Tarajal Barranco which has been dammed further inland to form the Catalina Garcia. This small lake is fairly new but has already attracted Ruddy Shelduck and Black-winged Stilt to breed as well as Kentish Plover and Little Ringed Plover with rarities such as Spotted Crake, Collared Pratincole and Gull-billed Tern also recorded.
In the west of the island the upland area of Betancuria is very green compared to much of the island and there is a lake in the Barranco de las Penitas to the south. Canary Islands Chat is fairly common here as is Sardinian Warbler, Barn Owl and Common Buzzard are present and the nearby cliffs hold Egyptian Vulture. The lake has breeding Eurasian Coot and Little Ringed Plover and various waders and herons occur on passage.
Nearby Los Molinos gully is another good site for the chat but this dammed valley has a reservoir that is probably the best freshwater site on Fuerteventura. Kentish Plover and Little Ringed Plover both breed and Black-winged Stilt has been increasingly recorded in recent years. Large numbers of Eurasian Coot gather here along with Common Moorhen and it seems to be a regular site for small numbers of Marbled Duck.
Grey Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Little Egret and Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and Wood Sandpiper also occur as well as other waders. American Wigeon, Blue-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck and Ruddy Shelduck have been recorded here as well as Allen's Gallinule, Whiskered Tern and Red-rumped Swallow.
Various scrub and semi-desert birds occur in this area and Sardinian Warbler is common. On the nearby Plain of La Laguna Houbara Bustard and Cream-coloured Courser can usually be seen and Stone-curlew is common.
To reach this excellent area leave Tefia southwards towards Llanos de la Concepcion and after 1.5km turn off to the right on a track that leads through farmland for another 2km. Park by the next set of goat sheds and walk up the side of the valley to the reservoir.
The Jandia Peninsula is located on the south-western tip of the island and consists of a rugged massif with the 807m Pico de la Zarza, the highest point on the island. The plant community here includes many endemics and the birds include most of the island's specialities such as Canary Islands Chat, Houbara Bustard, Cream-coloured Courser and Black-bellied Sandgrouse as well as Egyptian Vulture and Barbary Falcon.
A popular beach here has led to a huge increase in tourist development in recent years but the hotel gardens often attract migrant passerines. Away from the hotels there are dry sandy plains, mountains and low cliffs and wide sandy beaches.
Behind the Hotel Rio Ventura in Jandia resort there is a footpath leading to the Pico de la Zarza which is excellent for Canary Islands Chat but this trek should only be undertaken by the fit and well-prepared. This peninsula is good for Egyptian Vulture and Barbary Falcon is regularly seen along the coasts. At the base of the peninsula are the wide sandy plains between La Pared in the north and Costa Calma in the south. Houbara Bustard, Cream-coloured Courser and Stone-curlew can all be found here and this is the best site in the entire archipelago for Black-bellied Sandgrouse.
Stella Canaris is a tourist resort on Jandia where Monk Parakeet now breeds and Eurasian Collared Dove may be established, a newcomer to the Canaries. The beach of Playa de Sotavento has breeding Kentish Plover and the sandy beaches also hold passage and wintering waders, gulls and terns in season.
Passerine migrants are best looked for in the plantations in the Canada del Rio close to Costa Calma and among the Wood Warbler and Willow Warbler, Common Redstart, Tree Pipit and hirundines there are often European Bee-eater, Eurasian Wryneck, Eurasian Golden Oriole and Ortolan Bunting.
Birds you can see here include:
Bulwer's Petrel, Cory's Shearwater, Macaronesian Shearwater, European Storm-petrel, Madeiran Storm-petrel, Northern Gannet, Black-crowned Night Heron, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Ruddy Shelduck, Common Teal, Marbled Duck, Egyptian Vulture, Common Buzzard, Osprey, Common Kestrel, Barbary Falcon, Barbary Partridge, Common Quail, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Houbara Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Cream-coloured Courser, Stone-curlew, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Little Stint, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Monk Parakeet, Ring-necked Parakeet, Rock Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Barn Owl, Plain Swift, Pallid Swift, Alpine Swift, European Bee-eater, Eurasian Hoopoe, Eurasian Wryneck, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Barn Swallow, Northern House Martin, Tawny Pipit, Berthelot's Pipit, Tree Pipit, Blue-headed Wagtail, White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Bluethroat, Eurasian Robin, Common Nightingale, Black Redstart, Common Redstart, Whinchat, Canary Islands Chat, Song Thrush, Redwing, Melodious Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Wood Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, European Pied Flycatcher, African Blue Tit, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Great Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Northern Raven, Common Starling, Spanish Sparrow, European Goldfinch, European Greenfinch, Eurasian Linnet, Trumpeter Finch, Ortolan Bunting, Corn Bunting
Access and Facilities
Fuerteventura is less visited by mass tourism than islands such as Lanzarote and Tenerife but there is still a well-developed tourist infra-structure with international flights, plentiful accommodation, hire cars etc.
Content and images originally posted by Steve