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Fuerteventura November 4th to 11th (1 Viewer)

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
So on 29th October it looked like our trip to Cuba was on; Varadero airport was open, tickets and hotels confirmed, we would fly into Varadero on 15th November, drive to Havana for few nights, then back to the north coast and then south coast with a local guide to see most of the endemics. Great!!

However on 31st October, rumours of a second English lockdown starting on 5th of November were rife and the PM had scheduled a press conference later that day. After a quick chat we agreed that Cuba was almost certain to be cancelled and that we wanted away for a quick birding trip, but we couldn’t be sure our flight etc. would be cancelled so just in case we needed to be out by 4th and back by 11th (we had a hospital appointment on 12th to have our blood tested as part of the Covid vaccine trail).

There wasn’t a lot of choice and obviously other people were trying to beat the lockdown as flights were going quickly, so we ended up booking a week in Fuerteventura based at the Riu Palace Tres Islas just outside Correlejo for a very reasonable price (40% discount).

We had been to Fuerteventura for a day once 6 years ago from Lanzarote just to tick the chat and see what was about so we knew we could do some decent birding.

Day 1

Reasonable flight time but Manchester Airport at the TUI check-in/bag drop is heaving, they have changed their flights to the Canaries and Greek Island to bigger planes (Dreamliner in our case with 340 people rather than 180) but check-in, security, etc. was not equipped for the surge. Still everyone eventually got through and plane was only a little late leaving albeit we had no time for any food before boarding.

We had booked a car with Cicar for £96 all included for the week, this was a great deal and compared well to guy on our flight being quoted 99 euro for 3 days on the day we landed, we had used this company a few times before but prices seemed even lower than usual due to lack of booking as the islands are pretty empty.

By the time we picked up the car and drove north we decided we wouldn’t do any serious birding today just a walk local to the hotel and enjoy some winter sunshine. All we saw were Yellow-legged Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Collared Dove, Spanish Sparrow and a surprise Hoopoe in the hotel grounds.

Day 2

I had looked with interest at attempts at the long staying Dwarf Bittern in the Barranco de Rio Cabras. There was no indications that the bird was still around but with travel restrictions we reckoned that not many people had tried for it. So after breakfast we set out for the track and path to the Barranco. We did struggle a little with finding the turn off and track despite having co-ordinates for both the turn off and the parking spot but after a little bit of a drive round we were here. Immediately we left the car we had great views of the Fuerteventura Chat (Canary Island Stonechat), a lot less time to find it that before, in the bushes we also had a Whitethroat and then a large unmarked yellowish, large billed warbler put in an appearance, despite not seeing one for a while I was sure it was a Melodious Warbler, not Icterine later confirmed when I looked at the field guide. When we started on the track we bumped into a couple of birders from Barcelona, they had been to the Bittern site 3 times and had failed to see it, but they wished us luck and we decided to spend time looking down onto the place the bird had been seen last year. Sarah, thought she had it in the margins of the water below a bush but when the bird showed it was a much bigger but a nice Purple Heron which flew down the Barranco, only other birds we saw on our watch were a Moorhen, a Black-winged Stilt and a Buzzard. On the way back to the car we had a Yellow-browed Warbler, (from speaking to a Canary Island birder we bumped into later there were at least 4 on the Island) and finally a Berthelot’s pipit.
 

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Scridifer

Registered User
Supporter
Bulgaria
Great stuff David & Sarah! Having been there earlier this year I await the rest of your report with keen interest!

Chris
 

wolfbirder

Well-known member
Always love Dave's reports............and wonderful photographs.
I expect Fuerteventura is relatively devoid of stuff though, compared to the incredible travels undertaken.
Infact, many might find the barren landscape incredibly uninspiring.................or you can find it strangely appealing. Probably the former :)-.
 

Scridifer

Registered User
Supporter
Bulgaria
Always love Dave's reports............and wonderful photographs.
I expect Fuerteventura is relatively devoid of stuff though, compared to the incredible travels undertaken.
Infact, many might find the barren landscape incredibly uninspiring.................or you can find it strangely appealing. Probably the former :)-.

I echo your sentiments about Dave's reports Nick!

I must admit we rather enjoyed the landscape (although the contrast with the verdant northern part of Tenerife we had arrived from probably helped)!

Chris
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Thanks

Yes, habitat was a bit different from trips that were cancelled this year

India, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Cuba so far

but we did enjoy the habitat and it wasn't too different from parts of Jordan where we went in January.
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Over to Lanzarote

Day 3

A major change of plan, I found out my sister and niece who we hadn’t seen since March were on Lanzarote for a few days (last minute trip for them) and staying at Puerto del Carmen. We managed to book on the morning ferry, we would do some birding until 12.30, meet up for lunch and then do some birding on Teguise plains afterwards.

We knew we were not going to be birding at the optimum times but I had seen bustards and coursers mid-morning and mid-afternoon before both near Playa Blanca and on the plains so we decided to give it ago but really it was more about family time.

At the port in Correlejo we had a Little Egret, 2 Spoonbills and loads of Yellow-legged Gulls, I was really not sure on whether any seabirds would be around in November but we counted over 80 Cory’s Shearwater and a single Northern Gannet, a bit of a surprise sighting to me but a birder from Tenerife said that a group of birds from Canada spend the winter in Canarias waters.

On arrival at Playa Blanca we birded the road past the lighthouse, near the abandoned hotel and by the cement factory but it was really quiet with just a Kestrel, single Barn Swallow and loads of Berthelot’s Pipits.

Lunch went well and we even had some very unseasonable heavy rain that we sheltered from in the restaurant, it cleared by 14.00 and soon after we said our good-byes by my sisters apartment and headed off to Teguise Plain with a couple of hours available for birding.

It was dull and a little cooler than usual which we hoped might be good in getting birds out earlier to feed but in areas where we had previously found bustards, coursers, stone curlew we only had Ravens, a single Grey Shrike, a Lesser short-toed Lark and plenty of Berthelot’s pipits. A pretty disappointing return.

On the ferry back just as light was fading we added another 12 Cory’s Shearwater.

Day 4

We started at El Cotillo, track to the ruins had certainly deteriorated in last 6 years and we couldn’t get to the area where Black-bellied Sandgrouse were said to drink. On turning back we saw Buzzard, Raven and a cover of 10 Barbary Partridges, a few larks and pipits and that was it for the morning.

We then drove the beach track down to Tindaya but didn’t see a lot' possibly because it was Saturday and lots of locals were all heading to various bits of beach to surf, wind yacht/kite or swim. Just before Tindaya we had a Grey Shrike and then a flock of 12 Trumpeter Finches with a few Berthelot’s Pipit.

It was time for lunch and I headed to the little mini market expending to use my rubbish Spanish but was surprised that the shopkeeper was an expat from Worcester and after a good chinwag Sarah was wondering what was happening.

After our picnic lunch we tried again for various desert birds and when I got out the car one time managed to flush 4 Black-bellied Sandgrouse which Sarah managed to miss they were the wrong side of the car, a bit of a bogey bird for her these. We added a few more Trumpeters and a Barbary Falcon that looked as though it using Mount Tindaya as a base.
Nothing more seen that afternoon.
 

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dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Los Molinos

Day 5
After breakfast down to Los Molinos, on the way we way checked out the goat farm where we found a couple of Trumpeter Finch, some Berthelot’s Pipit, Lesser Short-toed Lark and then a couple of Egyptian Vultures at the parking spot by the Reservoir. On the reservoir there were large numbers of Ruddy Shelduck but nothing else was seen.

We did meet a local birder and a couple of birders over from Tenerife, they thought the Dwarf Bittern had moved on as it had been searched for quite extensively since the Islands reopened without success. They did say there was a Green-winged Teal at the Barranco this morning but not a lot else. None the less we decided to give it a couple of hours at the end of the day.
First we headed down to Betancuria and Las Penitas with a stop off at the Mirador. We added the sought after African Blue Tit and Atlantic Canaries, Yellow-browed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Spanish Sparrows, the almost tame Ravens and Fuerteventura Tit.

We then tried Rosa de Catalina Garcia, there was no water at the lake and no birds seen before heading back to the Barranco de Rio Cabras, we tried both ends of the Barranco but didn’t see the Teal and no sign of the Dwarf Bittern in fact it was much quieter than a few days before when the unseasonal rain may have brought a few warblers down. In any case all we saw were 3 Ringed Plovers, a Buzzard, a few Collared Doves and a Kestrel.

A few habitat shots in case I was too negative earlier
 

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dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
A few birds

A few birds
 

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dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
In search of Houbara Bustard

Day 6

Change of plan today. We decided to pretend we were on holiday and just relax around the pool and on the local beach and then drive around the Tindaya tracks from 16.30 when the local guy had told us the Bustards were much easier to see.

We saw the Trumpeter Finch and Berthelot’s Pipit easily on the road to town, but then a bit of a problem, there were dog walkers both sides of the town. So we headed out of town past the second dog walker and down towards the beach track and soon came across a Houbara Bustard which walked across the track in front of us but then ran into cover. I managed to find a drivable track that I could turn on to and then drove to position myself where I thought the bird would re-appear. Fortunately it did, as Sarah told me she hadn’t seen the bird properly before. No problem though as the bird stayed in view for 10 minutes, then another bird crossed going the other way and also showed pretty well. I also had a single Black-bellied Sandgrouse but although Sarah saw the Black-belly of the bird as it flew as it would be a lifer for her she wasn’t for ticking it.

Whilst still enjoying the Bustards a Hillux 4x4 came and parked nearby and let out a couple of large dogs – needless to say that was the end of birding at this spot.

As there was only a limited amount of light left we decided to just return to the hotel having seen the main target.
 

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Steve Lister

Senior Birder, ex County Recorder, Garden Moths.
United Kingdom
Day 5
. We added the sought after African Blue Tit and Atlantic Canaries, Yellow-browed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Spanish Sparrows, the almost tame Ravens and Fuerteventura Tit.

African Blue Tit I understand, but Fuerteventura Tit ? Only one tit on the island isn't there?

Steve
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Caleta de Fuste

Day 7

Probably our last full day, although TUI and the hotel were offering really great deals to stay as no more tourists from UK were coming out to the Canaries. However, Sarah had smashed her phone – she dropped it on the balcony while getting some drinks last night (and wanted to get it repaired at home) and we also had our blood tests at the hospital scheduled for the day after our flight home (I was confident that as we were volunteers they would reschedule us for the following week), so although Cuba was now definitely cancelled we did not immediately decide to avoid the English lockdown for another week on the Canaries: instead we would discuss it throughout the day.

Off to Caleta de Fuste area after breakfast. We stopped first at the area near the sewage works and rubbish dump. It was noticeable that the area in the barranco was very green with three pools holding water. On the grass were loads of goats but we also saw a couple of Ruddy Shelduck, a Cattle Egret then a male and female Fuerteventura Chat came quite close, while we were moving behind the rocks to get good photos of the Chats two Black-bellied Sandgrouse took off and flew right over us. Finally Sarah was able to tick this species off but I still haven’t managed to photograph it. There were Ravens and Bustards around but no sign of the Egyptian Vultures.
Among the sounds of the Berthelot’s Pipits I heard a warbler call and we managed to finish this area with a nice Spectacled Warbler.

It was then off to the Salinas del Carmen via a supermarket. The Salinas had a lot of pools under repair so no waders on them but on the beach we had Common Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Little Egret and 30 Sandwich Terns.

Next we tried to find the cycle track to the north of town where squirrels and finches come to feed but we couldn’t find the spot. However, near the edge of town are some sizeable planting of native trees and here we found a couple of Atlantic Canaries and a Trumpeter Finch by the fence.
It was now approaching 16.00 and we needed to decide whether we were staying or coming home, I was leaning towards staying but going across to another Island for the week but Sarah and common-sense prevailed and we decided we would come home tomorrow.
It was noticeable that only about 60% of those who came out returned on the flight.

Drive to Airport

We had to have our car back by 12.00 and our flight was at 13.40. Only birds seen today were some Spanish Sparrows, Collared Dove, Kestrel and a flyover Cream-collared Courser.
 

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