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Fuerteventura, Tenerife and Santa Pola; 3 months mostly with no car (1 Viewer)

Brian Stone

A Stone chatting
Hopefully this will be of interest to some. I'll be doing as much birding as I can while spending as many of my allowed 90 days as I can in warmer climes than my native UK. This won't be much like other trip reports as the budget doesn't stretch to car hire or other excursions. I'll be relying on shank's pony and a bit of determination. Accommodation choice is also limited by the need to be close to shops, close to good birding habitat, have good cooking facilities and of course be available for 4 weeks or more.

First a bit of background. Since becoming nomadic over four years ago it has always been our intention to spend the majority of the winter months somewhere warmer than the UK and cheap to live. That worked fine for the first couple of years with extended stays in Spain and SE Asia. Then COVID19 landed and you know the rest. But with Spain now allowing entry for the multiply vaccinated it was time to risk leaving the sceptic isle and we planned to utilise our post-Brexit 90 days to the full.

For the first month we booked a place in the north of Fuerteventura, planning to move on to Tenerife for February and the mainland for March. By spending at least 4 weeks in each place we managed to find good AirBnB discounts and flights were pretty cheap.

Our early flight from Luton had to be de-iced before departure and it did feel good to be leaving -4C behind. Only 40 people on the plane and a very quiet arrivals area at Fuerteventura airport meant formalities were super fast. Our Spanish health check QR code (set up before we left by scanning in our NHS proof of vaccination) was just scanned through with no other checks. Not much longer after that we were settled into our home for the next month in an apartment complex right on the edge of the Corralejo Natural Park in the north of the island.

Just as others have remarked, first impressions of Fuerteventura were of a largely bird free place. Only Yellow-legged Gulls and Feral Pigeons were seen at the airport and virtually nothing on the way north. There didn't seem to be much more around the apartment complex where we were staying either but it was rather windy and it was sunny and 21C, so who cares!
 

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Brian Stone

A Stone chatting
7 Jan 2022
With the list on 3 (YL Gull, Feral Pigeon and Collared Dove) it was time to do some birding. A mainly sunny day with a strong NE wind. So ever the optimist I headed down to the nearest headland for a bit of overly optimistic seawatching. I don't normally travel with a scope these days but with so much of the next few months spent close to the sea I felt it was worth packing.

Headed across the extreme NE corner of the Corralejo NP and quickly picked up a 'koenigi' Great Grey Shrike. That kept it's distance though so I pressed on and almost straight away flushed a covey of Barbary Partridges. I saw what was probably this party (about 8 birds) on the way back through this section too. On my many previous trips to Morocco I'd found these quite hard to connect with so this was encouraging.

Down at the shoreline the sea was, as expected, graced only by Yellow-legged Gulls. But there were plenty of waders around to hold my interest; Grey, Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Sanderling, Dunlin and Whimbrel. 2 Sandwich Terns were nice to see, a Little Egret predictable but a flyby juvenile Spoonbill an unexpected bonus. My first Berthelot's Pipit sheltering from the wind here was lifer #1.

On the return walk across the corner of the NP I encountered two different flocks of Mediterranean Short-toed Larks, the first accompanied by a lone Linnet and the second by 3 more Berthelot's Pipits. Lifer number 2 was waiting for me as I got back with 2 Plain Swifts prospecting some unfinished buildings close to the apartment. Uniform and with deep tail forks they put me in mind of Asian Palm Swifts a bit.

An afternoon walk into the surprisingly bustling town revealed more of the same shore birds with the addition of a fair few Turnstones. Interesting to see 100% adherence to mask wearing in the shops and tighter outdoor spaces in stark contrast to the rather lax attitude we'd left behind in Blighty.
 

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Brian Stone

A Stone chatting
Saturday 8, Jan 2022

I doubt I'll be updating this every day but for the first few days I'm putting in the time so will report what's new to me.

After the encouraging birds yesterday I decided to push further into the NP today. Heading due south took me through the sandy, stony scrub until I hit some high ground overlooking more open sandy habitat. Scanning from here failed to reveal much though and none of the previous day's birds showed apart from a couple of Great Grey Shrikes and a few Berthelot's Pipits. 3 Ravens were the only new birds.

Later it was good to photograph the waders on the rising tide and I added Spanish Sparrow in town. Finally there was a bewildering encounter with a presumed exotic. Collared Dove sized with a very long tail and comparatively short wings. Dove-like light. Overall pale but with some dark marks on the upper wings. Otherwise it kept flying away towards town and I couldn't get any more on it. It did utter a rather parakeet like harsh multisylabic call but is certainly nothing I've encountered anywhere before.
 

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Brian Stone

A Stone chatting
Sunday 9 Jan 2022

Later start today and decided to check out the high ground west of town. Made it to the base of the Volcanes de Bayuyo picking up a very welcome Barbary Falcon on the way! No doubt attracted to the quite large numbers of Collared Doves out this side of town. The signed footpaths here seem to just head up to some quarry working where it's unclear where, if anywhere, you can continue. Anyway I was happy to pick up my first Spectacled Warbler here and even happier with the 3 or 4 Egyptian Vultures cruising about. Adding 2 Ravens and a Common Buzzard (presumably the local race) I felt this was an area worth returning to another day.

Other additions today were a rapid flyby danainid (probably Plain Tiger), a Painted Lady and a couple of Hoopoes. A party of high flying swifts remained unidentified.

Star bird award went to a very showy Great Grey Shrike right next to the apartments, which caught and ate a large caterpillar. If anyone fancies a go at identifying that, I'll post up the video once I've processed it.
 

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Scridifer

Used Registrar
Supporter
Bulgaria
Will be following this with interest Brian as we were there just over two years ago. What town are you staying in?

Chris
 

KenM

Well-known member
Not long back myself Brian, 15-22 Dec.’21. Somewhat South of you at Caleta de Fuste, it’ll be interesting to see what I missed oop North at Corralejo.👍
 
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Owene

Well-known member
Wales
Thanks for a good read. Not been to fuertaventura but was very impressed by public transport on lanzarote so hopefully you can get around a bit

Off to Tenerife in a few weeks the. Hopefully mainland on April so I’ll be following this intently
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
Cyprus
Later it was good to photograph the waders on the rising tide and I added Spanish Sparrow in town. Finally there was a bewildering encounter with a presumed exotic. Collared Dove sized with a very long tail and comparatively short wings. Dove-like light. Overall pale but with some dark marks on the upper wings. Otherwise it kept flying away towards town and I couldn't get any more on it. It did utter a rather parakeet like harsh multisylabic call but is certainly nothing I've encountered anywhere before.
Sounds like a Laughing dove.
 

Prestdj

its good to be back
Ukraine
great read

like ken i enjoyed Caleta de Fuste a few years ago which for a family holiday in october 2015 was great birding,no car just the old feet......very enjoyable
used to walk to the sperm whale bones every morning

managed the chat about 5k south in a valley and trumpeter finch just north of the town

the complex gardens to the south of the town are great as is the stream that runs beside the last one

its not a place for great numbers but great just to find your own birds
 

david kelly

Drive-by Birder
Scotland
Hi Brian

I would suggest that a trip to Caleta de Fuste might be worthwhile.

The headland north of the town has Trumpeter Finch.

A local bus will take you from Caleta to Las Salinas and there you can walk South into the Barranco del Torre. The chat is here but you have to walk up to the quarry. There are also Egyptian Vultures here. There are also whale watching trips from Caleta, I have seen Madeiran Petrel, Barolo Shearwater and lots of Cory’s on.

The closest place to Corralejo for the chat is at La Oliva, near the kennels.

However, the Airport Barranco (Barranco las Cabras) may be more accessible for you, it has the chat too.

Isla Los Lobos is worth a visit too. If you can go at high tide there is a hide overlooking a high tide roost.

I found the buses on Fuerteventura easy to use, most of the drivers speak English

David
 
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Larry Sweetland

Formerly 'Larry Wheatland'
Could your weird exotic bird have been one of the smaller hornbills, eg African Grey? Think I can recall seeing one on Fuerteventura a long time ago ..
 

KenM

Well-known member
the complex gardens to the south of the town are great as is the stream that runs beside the last one

its not a place for great numbers but great just to find your own birds

Unfortunately the stream was “bone dry”…bit like the “fin whale” during my week there. :(
…..and agree with the last sentence.👍
 

Brian Stone

A Stone chatting
Monday, 10 January 2022

Rain! High cloud all day and enough rain to wet the ground a.m. but much less wind and a distinct change in bird activity as a result. The day started with a party of at least 10 House Martins and 1 Barn Swallow passing the apartments along with a small flock of unidentified swifts. Nothing stuck around very long though.

A moment's indecision on leaving in the morning. To go back and check the caldera area or try to press on further into the desert. I chose the latter and spent the first 30-40 minutes seeing nothing at all. That all changed pretty quickly though as I suddenly and unexpectedly flushed a group of 3 Houbara Bustards. I'd pretty much given up on seeing them close to Corralejo, partly because of the number of joggers and dog walkers using the northern end. I watched them land at some distance but made no attempt to get closer. I'm not much of a photographer and had no wish to disturb them further. The grainy impression here will have to do. Pleased to have found these within walking distance as I really thought I'd need a car to get to the more regular sites.

The spot they flushed from proved to be a bit of a goldmine. As I watched the bustards I caught the sound of an alarm call and was soon watching a fairly showy Spectacled Warbler. 2 Berthelot's Pipits and 2 Great Grey Shrikes were also present and 3 House Martins fed nearby throughout.

That was it though, and the walk back taking a different route was another devoid of birdlife. The afternoon in the town did have a few extras in store though. A single White Wagtail was an addition and a pair of Kestrels along the shore very nice to see. This must be the eastern dacotiae subspecies. The Sandwich Terns of a couple of days ago seem to have moved on from the harbour but I did pick up the immature Spoonbill again (or maybe a different bird). This was sporting a white ring on the left tibia with 'NAJA' in black lettering. A regular metal ring was on the right leg. A quick check on European colour-ring Birding | cr-birding and it seems it was ringed in The Netherlands.

Back at the apartments a Great Grey Shrike had taken to calling from the rooftop aerials. All in all a pretty good day and now on 34 species.
 

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