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Tenerife & Fuerteventura 26th Jan to 5th Feb 2020

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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 16:26   #26
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30th January PM

Fortified by some excellent Canarian cooking we decided to check out the upper parts of the Barranco de Chasna as per the Crossbill Guide p. 136. I had seen the one Bolle's Pigeon but was quite eager to have further views and this site sounded promising. The shrine was in a beautiful setting and the whole area was very scenic, but here is where I have my one grievance with the authors (who otherwise have nailed everything perfectly in my opinion) - do not attempt to walk the 800m uphill stretch of road unless you are a b***dy mountain goat! We nearly got divorced over it! No Bolle's Pigeons but we did see Kestrel, Common Buzzard, African Blue Tit, CI Chiffchaff, Robin and a pair of Common Chaffinches.
Dropping Sandra back to the house I decided to have my last roll of the dice pigeon-wise at the upper end of the Barranco de Ruiz as per Dave Gosney's 'Finding Birds in THE CANARIES' P.14. Parking at the now derelict retaurant El Bosque I crossed the road and scanned the gorge. The habitat certainly looked ideal and I soon had several Blackbirds and a couple of CI Chiffchaffs under my belt! Then I hit paydirt, a Bolle's flew across the barranco and perched in a tree further down from me but still in sight! I was able to see the distinctive tail markings quite clearly! In the next 30-40 minutes two more showed, one flying up the gorge and passing almost directly overhead! I also had a bonus Laurel Pigeon plus a Common Buzzard and an African Blue Tit.
Not bad for my last birding session on Tenerife and a birthday that will live long in the memory for a variety of reasons!

Chris
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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 17:30   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfbirder View Post
Love those Blue Chaffinches Chris!
Thanks Nick, they are rather smart aren't they!

Chris
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Old Wednesday 12th February 2020, 23:08   #28
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Belated Birthday wishes, Chris, and congratulations on the good news. Agree, great Blue Chaffinch photos.
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Old Thursday 13th February 2020, 06:02   #29
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Belated Birthday wishes, Chris, and congratulations on the good news. Agree, great Blue Chaffinch photos.
Many thanks on all counts Pete!

Chris
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Old Thursday 13th February 2020, 16:10   #30
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Great read. loved the blue chaffinch pics. a special looking bird. With respect to the Robins, one the first things I noticed during my first proper birding trip abroad in the Camargue last year, was how differently birds behave from our experience at home. The few Robins we saw there were in deed quite skulky, whereas we had some very showy nightingales. exactly the opposite of what we are used to.
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Old Thursday 13th February 2020, 16:54   #31
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Great news all round Chris!...and as for the Blue Chaffinch...simply stunning! Looking forward to your FTV jaunts, no doubt you’ll consider the LB as an option? If so...the best of luck.
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Old Thursday 13th February 2020, 17:10   #32
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Friday 31st January

We had a 12.30pm flight from Tenerife North to Fuerteventura so had a leisurely morning before dropping off the car and checking in with Binter for the less than 50 minute trip. All went very smoothly and before long the verdant scenery of northern Tenerife was being replaced by the yellows and ochres of Fuerteventura. The only slight hiccough was a lengthy queue at the CICAR desk but the staff were very efficient and we were on our way reasonably speedily!
Half an hour's drive north took us to our hotel in Villaverde, just past La Oliva and fairly close to Tindaya. Spanish Sparrows were in abundance in the palm trees in the gardens and also in the cracks of the old farmhouse-style building itself. Collared Doves were also plentiful and I had a couple of Ravens and several Yellow-legged Gulls passing over. After a delicious luncheon in the hotel's excellent restaurant I left Sandra to unpack and headed off for my first taste of the Tindaya plains!
First stop was at Rosa de los Negrines as described on p. 28 of Gosney's book. Before I had even reached the site I had my first Fuerteventuran Lifer foraging at the side of the track - Lesser Short-toed Lark!. Reaching the site I soon had another target, a very confiding Great Grey Shrike ssp. koenigi! Passing on and reaching the fenced-off area I turned left and headed for Tindaya. Frequent stops to scan for Houbaras were to no avail but I did see several Berthelot's Pipits and a Common Buzzard. Perhaps three-quarters of the way to Tindaya were a couple of dlapidated buildings surrounded by a fence, and close to the fence a couple of small birds were flitting around. Nudging the Opel Mokka round to get a better view through the driver's window I was delighted to see a pair of Trumpeter Finches - another Lifer! Then a black crescent came swooping down out of the azure blue sky - was it my Plain Swift? No, but it was another trip tick - Barn Swallow! Following the track into Tindaya brought none of the hoped-for desert birds but I did add a pair of Ravens. It was time to head back to the hotel now as we were meeting up with friends who had flown out to celebrate my birthday! Not a bad start on our 'desert island'!

Chris
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Old Thursday 13th February 2020, 17:16   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Longland View Post
Great read. loved the blue chaffinch pics. a special looking bird. With respect to the Robins, one the first things I noticed during my first proper birding trip abroad in the Camargue last year, was how differently birds behave from our experience at home. The few Robins we saw there were in deed quite skulky, whereas we had some very showy nightingales. exactly the opposite of what we are used to.
Thanks Paul! What you say is so true - you wouldn't believe how shy the Blackbirds are here in Bulgaria, they only ever come into the garden in the harshest of winters!

Chris
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Old Thursday 13th February 2020, 17:21   #34
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Great news all round Chris!...and as for the Blue Chaffinch...simply stunning! Looking forward to your FTV jaunts, no doubt you’ll consider the LB as an option? If so...the best of luck.
Thanks indeed Ken! As for the DB, ..thereby hangs a tale!

Chris
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Old Friday 14th February 2020, 14:17   #35
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Saturday 1st February

Arriving for breakfast (surprisingly fresh after a hearty 'catch-up session' with our friends John & Lorraine the night before!) at 07.30am only to discover it didn't start for another half an hour, we headed into Tindaya. A local cafe-bar doing a brisk trade with locals more than satisfied our needs and we headed out onto the plain not long after sunrise.
We were perhaps half a km out of town and Sandra, quite taken aback at the scale of the stony plains, had just said "How will you find anything in all this?" when I spotted movement not far from a ramshackle agricultural building on her side of the track. Sure enough it was the main prize - Houbara Bustard, a male! It was reasonably distant and rather than risk spooking it by approaching further I inched out of the car and set up the scope. I then got Sandra to clamber over and come out via my door. We enjoyed brief views of it before ,joy of joys, it started to display! A truly mesmerising experience and something I had only really dreamed of! It finished its performance and sauntered away into the distance. Continuing along the track Great Grey Shrike and Spectacled Warbler soon followed, while up ahead was another car, birdwatchers too judging by their stop-start progress. Reaching the crossroads shown on p. 29 of Gosney we continued over and then there was one, no two, sorry three Cream-coloured Coursers darting about! The second Lifer of the day and it wasn't even eight o'clock yet!
We made our way back to the crossroads and took the left-hand track to head for El Cotillo, following the route on p. 124 of our Crossbill Guide. Another Shrike, a Berthelot's Pipit, nine Ravens and Common Kestrel ssp. dacoitae were encountered before we reached El Cotillo and headed out to the Faro de Toston. The tidal pools at the lighthouse did hold the promised Little Egret as well as several Yellow-legged Gulls and a couple of Berthelot's Pipits in the car park. The sand dunes did look inviting but were very busy so we headed off to El Roque in search of more desert birds. The barranco there brought our first Barbary Ground Squirrels but only one bird flitting about! Rather gratifyingly it soon showed itself to be a striking male Canary Island Stonechat! Another major target and Lifer in the bag before lunch!
Returning to Villaverde via the FV-10 we stopped briefly at Rosa de los Negrines where Sandra was delighted to see one of her favourite birds - Hoopoe!
Back at the hotel making our way from the car park to freshen up before lunch, I almost dropped the scope in my haste to examine a group of swifts that appeared overhead! Fortunately Sandra was on hand to save it and I was able to add the hoped for but not entirely expected Plain Swift!

We had enjoyed our meal at El Horno so much the previous evening we were returning there for lunch, but I would have to put any celebrations on hold - that afternoon I was planning a crack at the Barranco del Rio Cabras!......


Chris
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Old Friday 14th February 2020, 15:24   #36
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Saturday 1st February (continued)

Heading off after lunch, leaving Sandra to struggle with the loungers by the hotel pool on her own, I parked up near the lights of the airport's runway and headed into the Barranco del Rio Cabras.
Rock Doves were in evidence almost from the start, and Common Buzzards soon became apparent as I made my way further in. Spectacled Warbler rattled from the vegetation and put in the occasional appearance while Ravens called from above. Above the (dry) reservoir a dozen Spanish Sparrows flitted around some tamarisks and I saw my first female Chat. By now the gorge had narrowed considerably and I saw the first signs of water, muddy ground! Just then a familiar honking heralded the appearance of four Ruddy Shelduck in flight, not what I was expecting in the barranco! Common Buzzards wheeled overhead and then my reason for visiting the barranco appeared in view - a sub-adult Egyptian Vulture ssp. majorensis, soon followed by three adults! Noticeably different from the birds we get here!
By now there was quite a lot of water, and I was having to jump from dry patch to dry patch to avoid getting a bootee! I could see the first wrecked car just up ahead but decided I had gone far enough. If I made it back to the car in reasonable time I would still have enough daylight for a visit to Tindaya and a crack at the last of the 'desert trinity', the Sandgrouse! The walk back down added a couple of Shrikes (see pic), a pair of Chats and a Berthelot's Pipit.
Back at Tindaya I drove a bit further along the track to Punta Raso Chico than we had in the morning and was rewarded with a pair of Houbaras (see pic)! Making my way back to Tindaya I added another Hoopoe, two Trumpeter Finches, Great Grey Shrike and Berthelot's Pipit. Back at the location of the morning's Houbara anothe (the same?) male showed very close to the track.
No Sandgrouse but a fantastic day's birding, everything I could have hoped for and more! Tomorrow we were meeting up with Lorraine and John and I planned to visit Los Molinos and Betancuria.

Chris

Great Grey Shrike at Barranco del Rio Cabras
Houbara Bustard at Tindaya plain
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Old Saturday 15th February 2020, 07:15   #37
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Great to see you connected with the bustards and the Coursers Chris, I failed with the latter despite 3 visits.
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Old Saturday 15th February 2020, 08:31   #38
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Really enjoying your report Chris, especially the inclusion of the subspecific names. Delighted to find birds named after Indian bandits and a Dutch beer!

Cheers
Mike
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Old Saturday 15th February 2020, 10:21   #39
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Great to see you connected with the bustards and the Coursers Chris, I failed with the latter despite 3 visits.
Many thanks Nick, I was delighted! A real shame you didn't find the Coursers, lovely little birds!

Chris
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Old Saturday 15th February 2020, 10:23   #40
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Really enjoying your report Chris, especially the inclusion of the subspecific names. Delighted to find birds named after Indian bandits and a Dutch beer!

Cheers
Mike
Welcome aboard Mike, glad you're enjoying the trip!

Chris
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Old Yesterday, 12:32   #41
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Sunday 2nd February

We weren't meeting up with John & Lorraine until 10.00am (they seemed to think being on holiday was a good enough reason to lie in bed half the morning!) so I had plenty of time for an early morning visit to Tindaya. I set off earlier than the previous day, and was in place not far out of the village to make a start as the sun came up. Just as the day was dawning an unusual 'bubbling' call alerted me to a single bird on the wing approaching from the south! The silhouette was unmistakeable and a quick playback of the flight call from my Collins app confirmed it - Black-bellied Sandgrouse! Overjoyed at having found perhaps the most elusive of all the desert birds I moved on with a metaphorical 'spring in my step'! I went up to the crossroads and briefly explored all three tracks before returning to the hotel for breakfast. I managed to add three Berthelot's, a Great Grey Shrike, three Coursers and three Lesser Short-toed Larks. On my way back a solitary male Houbara was in the same area as the previous day, this time in much kinder conditions for photography (see below).
John & Lorraine (who have recently become interested in birding) safely on board, we headed off to Los Molinos reservoir. The dirt track to the dam offered plenty of Trumpeter Finches, a couple of Lesser Short-toed Larks and a handsome male CI Chat, all of which J&L were happy to see. Parking at the dam it was interesting to have our first water birds of the Fuerteventura leg of our trip:
At least 50 Ruddy Shelduck, half a dozen Black-winged Stilta plethora of Coots, and good numbers of Little Egret and Grey Heron were present. A pair of Ravens and a Great Grey Shrike were also added.
Lunch was beginning to exert its siren call by now so we headed into the beautiful village of Betancuria (the oldest settlement on Fuerteventura). The Crossbill guide came up trumps again, site 1 on p.134 yielding a pair of Sardinian Warbler ssp. leucogastra and African Blue Tit ssp. ultramarinus! Definitely time for lunch!

Chris

Male Houbara Bustard, Tindaya plain
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Old Yesterday, 12:40   #42
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This is a great report Chris - you're doing an excellent job lad.

Many congratulations on the grouse too... and a super picture of him to boot!
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Old Yesterday, 13:40   #43
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This is a great report Chris - you're doing an excellent job lad.

Many congratulations on the grouse too... and a super picture of him to boot!
Many thanks indeed Delia, much appreciated!

Chris
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Old Yesterday, 14:58   #44
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Sunday 2nd February (contd.)

After a very pleasant postprandial stroll around the village, which yielded umpteen Collared Doves and a Kestrel, we headed higher into the Betancuria Mountains. Passing the village of Vega de Rio Palma we stopped at a mirador which offered splendid views back over Betancuria. The main reason for the stop though was the presence of a couple of tame Ravens. It was a real joy to observe them at such close quarters and see how they differ from our European Ravens. It was easy to note the smaller size and brownish necks, along with the different call which I had been hearing for days. Another draw were at least a dozen Barbary Ground Squirrels which fed from our hands!
Having dropped everyone back to their respective hotels I decided to investigate the other end of Los Molinos as per site 4, p.26 of Gosney's book, hoping for further Sandgrouse on the stony plain. It wasn't to be, but I did find the first White Wagtail of the trip near the goat sheds along with some very obliging Trumpeter Finches! Also seen were Great Grey Shrike, Common Buzzard, four Ruddy Shelduck, Berthelot's Pipit and a male CI Chat.
We were meeting up with our friends again the next day to make the trip to Isla de Lobos so I decided to call it a day and headed back to Villaverde.


Chris

Trumpeter Finch Los Molinos
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Old Today, 08:02   #45
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A great report and fabulous photos! I'm visiting Tenerife for the first time soon and hoping to catch up on some of the endemics.

Spent the first week of March last year in Fuerteventura and I loved it; hoping Tenerife comes close.
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Old Today, 11:11   #46
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A great report and fabulous photos! I'm visiting Tenerife for the first time soon and hoping to catch up on some of the endemics.

Spent the first week of March last year in Fuerteventura and I loved it; hoping Tenerife comes close.
Many thanks Dave! I'm sure you've done your homework but if I can help at all just ask!

Obviously they are two completely different islands but we loved them both! Have a great time, I'm sure you will!

Chris
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Old Today, 13:52   #47
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Monday 3rd February

John had booked us tickets for the glass-bottomed ferry on the 11.00am sailing from Corralejo to Los Lobos, so again I had time for a quick dawn visit to Tindaya!
No Sandgrouse or Coursers but there were a few birds about - a pair of Ravens, Common Buzzard, Great Grey Shrike, a couple of Berthelot's Pipits and the highlight, a group of four male Houbaras just before the crossroads. Back to the hotel for a leisurely breakfast then we headed off on the twenty minute journey to Corralejo to collect John & Lorraine. It was such a beautiful morning and we had plenty of time before the ferry departed, so we decided to park on the other side of the headland and explore the rockpools on our way round to the port. Sure enough several migrant species were feeding unconcernedly yards from the road! Two Whimbrel, three Spoonbills and a solitary Turnstone were added to the trip list, along with Two Little Egrets. Arriving at the little port we located and boarded our ferry and made ourselves comfortable on the top deck (I was hoping against hope to spot an early Cory's Shearwater!). The boat was absolutely full when it departed, and just 15 minutes later we were disembarking onto the small jetty of the island (needless to say 'sans Cory's'!). The Isla de Lobos is part of the Corralejo National Park, and though only small (less than two square miles) supports important seabird colonies (sadly for me not until later on in the year!). We had opted to return on the 14.15 ferry so that gave us plenty of time to explore. A group of at least 20 Grey Herons were visible even before the boat docked, along with a couple of Little Egrets. On the island Yellow-legged Gulls were everywhere, well into three figures in number. On the small rocky beach at the 'fishermans' village' a group of five Turnstones fed almost at our feet and we soon saw the first Berthelot's Pipit.
Taking our time and heading in the direction of the lighthouse, the only birds that weren't Gulls or feral pigeons were a few Ravens! Then John spotted a perched bird off in the distance - the shape was right, it was certainly a raptor, could it be one of my few remaining targets - Barbary Falcon? Out came my trusty SX50, but even at full zoom the images just weren't good enough to be sure, so it had to go down as unidentified!
By now we had decided we weren't going to make the lighthouse without rushing, and as it was a hot day with very little shade on the island, we decided to head back. Rather than retrace our steps (we had been following the path on the eastern side of the island) we took the next turn to go back via the western path. This path ran closer to the coast and we soon picked up another couple of Egrets. Then a mid-air commotion caught my eye which at first glance I thought was a Gull seeing off a Falcon - Barbary Falcon ! Calling to John while keeping the 'vanquished' bird in my glasses to be certain, he quickly said "They're the same!" Sure enough he was right, not one but two Falcons, presumably a pair! It more than made up for the (totally expected) absence of Cory's Shearwater!
Passing by the 400ft caldera which is the main feature of the island (but sadly not having enough time to ascend it!) we headed back to the jetty area to await our ferry. A handsome male Kestrel, presumably hunting the plentiful lizards, hovered overhead, and we picked up a couple of Swallows and several more Berthelot's Pipits. Back at the visitor centre the first House Martin of the trip hawked to and fro. We opted to make the trip back below decks and it was amazing to see the variety of tropical fish - triggers, wrasses, parrotfish, damsels etc. Back on 'terra firma' we enjoyed a delicious lunch at one of the many fish restaurants close to the harbour then parted ways.
Back at our hotel I still had a couple of hours of daylight left, and as our time was running out - Tuesday would be our last full day - headed off to Rosa de Los Negrines once more. Parked up with the stony plain on my left and a small oasis of greenery on my right, a Great Grey Shrike making sorties from its perch had me enthralled. Then a movement to the right drew my attention, something had hopped up onto a low brick wall that ran in front of a row of bushes - a Barbary Partridge, followed by another! They stood stock still and I was able to take in all the details - the powder grey bib and beautiful 'diademed' collar that I had missed on my very brief encounter on Tenerife! Then they hopped down to the other side of the wall and disappeared through a gap in the bushes.
I set off again to follow the track around the fenced-off area and into Tindaya. About half way round, just past the building where I saw the first Trumpeter Finches, something sat in the road! A female Kestrel tearing at the carcass of a rabbit! She seemed unconcerned by my presence (or at any rate not concerned enough to surrender her prize!) so I was able to fire off a few shots. With me skirting round her as far as I could, and her dragging the rabbit with little bursts of flight in the other direction, I left her to enjoy her feast!
Arriving at Tindaya the only activity was from a couple of Lesser Short-toed Larks.

Chris

Common Kestrel ssp. dacotiae
Lesser Short-toed Lark ssp. polatzeki
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Old Today, 20:23   #48
KenM
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You seemed to have mopped up just nicely Chris with all the Island's specialities, and If I'm right...you took the FV30 South to Betancuria? That's something I'd be reluctant to do ever again, especially with my wife sitting ''cliff-side'' Well done with the Barbary's, I didn't connect with those last time...and not just those. A good shot of the LSTL by the way, I could never get close to those buggers.

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