FUERTEVENTURA - BIRDING TRIP REPORT

 

9 Ė 17 April 2008

 

James Packer

 

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All images strictly copyrighted by James Packer 2008. Do not copy them without my permission.

 

Introduction

 

This was not primarily a birding trip, but we did a fair amount of birding and I saw all my target species plus a few more.Emma found all the coursers and the bustards at Rosa de Los Negrines and took some of the photos when the birds were her side of the car.

 

The island is very easy to travel around, but a hire car would be essential if you wish to see all the specialities.Main roads were very good, but difficult to stop on, so several birds seen from the car were left unidentified.Off the main roads, some of the tracks were not suitable for cars, and we got stuck in sand on the Costa Calma Plains.

 

We got a package and a hire car, staying at Caleta de Fustes for centrality reasons.We liked the resort, but the new Golf Course will undoubtedly become a major reason for birders staying here.

 

Guide used: Clarke and Collins (1996) A Birdwatchers Guide to The Canary Islands, Prion Ltd, Perry.

 

Also used various trip reports. Thanks to all the authors.

 

Sites visited

 

Costa Calma Plains

Details as in Clarke and Collins with nothing much to add, but beware of sand. We got stuck and ended up jacking the car up onto rocks to free it. Our stupid fault, and it ended a mornings birding here.

 

Los Molinos Reservoir

We didnít really see much at the reservoir but the surrounding plains were good and had Cream-coloured Courser and Barbary Falcon.

 

Catalina Garcia Reservoir

A far better site than the above. Follow details in Collins and Clarke. The Goat Farm where you turn off is a small white building, with what looks like a layby or bus stop next to it (but it isnít). Turn off onto a dirt track immediately by the building.Follow the dirt track that goes at right angles to the road, after about 100 metres follow it to the right. Youíll end up at the dam.

 

Thereís a hide there now, but sadly itís completely useless. Sited on the dam with no cover and locked.

 

Morro Jable/Jandia Resort

The Stella Canaris Gardens where the Monk Parakeets can be seen very easily are off the roundabout on the east side of the town with the three large statues of people on it (youíll know when you see it).

 

The scrub between the town and the beach was good for passerines and Cattle Egret.

 

La Lajita

We saw very little here and no Laughing Doves on two visits.Lotís of exotics though, including Common Myna, Red-vented Bulbul and a Ďblack-headedí Weaver sp.No prizes for guessing where this lot had escaped from.A Turkey Vulture seen at Los Gorriones also probably originated from their raptor display.

 

Rosa de Los Negrines (La Oliva)

Just like Clarke and Collins.And yes, the bustards do still walk down the hillside to feed in the cultivated fields, though we had them doing this at 17:00hrs, which was earlier than I expected, so an evening visit may be more productive late afternoon!Donít be put off by the large trucks that speed along the track, we had a bustard cross the road just seconds after a truck had passed!

 

Las Penitas

As in Clarke and Collins, but we found African Blue Tit very easily at the end of the road by the dry lake without walking along the barranco.It was flippiní freezing at this site (yes, honestly!) and itís a fair old drive along bendy mountainous road. Fun though!Most people find the lake dry nowadays it seems.

 

Pozo Negro (south of Barranco de la Torre)

The best site we found for Fuerteventura Chat.Check out the area just behind the beach bar, in particularly the area by the picnic site and the fenced off well.We had several chats sat on top the roof of the beach bar itself.

 

Barranco de la Torre

We only approached from the seaward end where you can drive up the Barranco until the track bends towards a farm. The cultivated fields in this area had Barbary Partridge (the only place we saw them) and a few migrants.

 

Caleta de Fustes Golf Course

Annoyingly I only investigated this site on the last day of my trip, and looking at its potential itís sure to become one of the top birding sites on the island.Thereís several ponds within the gold course, all of which are likely to be attractive to birds, and the irrigated grassland should likewise be a magnet as itís virtually the only decent patch of grassland on the whole island.

 

I found two pools that you can view from the roadside, but there are more.Driving along the main FV2 through the town, turn off at the roundabout just south of the petrol station. Itís obvious youíre entering the golf complex as thereís a security hut next to the roundabout. Turn right and park, thereís a pool very close to the road if you look through the chain link fence. You canít see all the pond, but this is where I had a large flock of Yellow Wagtail, Berthelots Pipit, Red-throated Pipits, Tawny Pipit, Kentish Plover, Common Sandpiper, Cattle Egret, Sand and House Martins in the half hour I was there!!

 

If you turn off at the roundabout next to the petrol station, turn right and follow this road that bends left and goes uphill, thereís a large bare area (probably will be built on eventually) on the left, across which is the golf course and another pool that you can see more of.Thereís a missing fence panel in this area, so you could sneak in (but I donít recommend it Ė golf courses are dangerous places!).There was a large flock of Yellow-legged Gulls on this pool and a couple of common waders.

 

Use the map below to find the best places to view the golf course, and if you go there and find a big rare (which you may well do) remember you read about the golf course here!

 


View Larger Map

 

 

Caleta de Fustes Headland

 

Just to the north of the town is a little headland that was a great place to do an evening seawatch. Coryís passed constantly, some very close in, also an Arctic Skua and a Roseate Tern that flew around the headland several times. This was probably the rarest bird I came across during the week, classed as Accidental in Clarke and Collins.Follow the roads through the town and head north past the San Jorge and Antigua apartments (which is where we stayed), the road leaves the town on a windy road that passes the small headland.Thereís a small stone circle conveniently sited so you can get some shelter from the often strong winds.

 

 

Systematic List

 

Gannet Sula bassana

An adult off Caleta de Fustes on 9th and an immature here on 12th.

 

Coryís Shearwater Colonectris diomeda borealis
Seen frequently from the evenings offshore of Caleta de Fustes.
One determined seawatch from the Ďheadlandí on 12th had many hundreds past, some at close range

Coryís Shearwater past Caleta de Fustes headland.


Cattle Egret Bulbulcus ibis
Two at Jandia on 13th and at least one on Caleta de Fustes Golf Course throughout.

 

Cattle EgretMorro Jable.


Little Egret Egretta garzeta
Seen regularly on coastal rocks feeding on the shoreline and at freshwater sites, particularly Catalina Garcia.

 

Little EgretCaleta de Fustes



Grey Heron Ardea cunerea
One at Catalina Garcia Res on 13th.

 

Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia

Two immatures at Catalina Garcia throughout.

Ruddy Shelduck Tordorna ferruginea
Very large numbers, at least 50 at Catalina Carcia throughout, with several large broods; smaller numbers but also several broods at Los Molinos on 12th.

 

Ruddy Shelduck Catalina Garcia



Egyptian Vulture Ė Neophron percuopterus
Seen several times on the FV2 around Gran Tarajal, up to two together including a colour-ringed bird (see photo).Two, Rosa de Los Negrines on 11th.

Egyptian Vulture This bird was colour-ringed and radio-tagged

 


Common Buzzard Buteo buteo insularum
A pair were nesting in Barranco de la Torre throughout, others occasionally elsewhere.

Kestrel Falco tinnunculus dacotiae
Present in small numbers throughout the island.

Barbary Falcon Falco peregrinoides

One hunting a small passerine at Los Molinos on 12th.


Barbary Partridge Alectoris barbara
A covey of two adults and about ten young were accidentally flushed from the cultivated fields in the Barranco de la Torre on 14th.

Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Small numbers at Catalina Garcis and Los Molinos.

Coot Fulica atra
Present at Los Molinos and Catalina Garcia in fair numbers.

Houbara Bustard Chlamyditis undulate fuerteventurae
Two in flight at Costa Calma Plains on 10th, and at least three at Rosa de Los Negrines on 11th.Utterly stunning views as they crossed the track and walked slowly over the small stone walls to feed in the cultivations.Remain in the car at all times, and do not leave the tracks to avoid disturbance.

 

Houbara Bustard Rosa de Los Negrines

 

 

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus

Small numbers, and evidence of breeding at Catalina Garcia and Los Molinos.

 

Black-winged Stilt Catalina Garcia

 


Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius curso bannermani
Five, Rosa de Los Negrines on 11th and one near Los Molinos on 12th.

 

Cream-coloured Courser Rosa de Los Negrines



Little-ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

A pair at Finca del Vicario oin 10th with others at Catalina Garcia and Los Molinos.


Ringed PloverCharodius dubius
Present in small numbers along the coast.

Kentish PloverCharadius alexandrinus
Present in small numbers along the coast and at Catalina Garcia, Los Molinos and the golf course.

 

Kentish Plover Los Gorriones



Sanderling Calidis mauri
Ten, Caleta de Fustes on 10th with smaller numbers throughout.

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
One at Los Gorriones on 10th.

Dunlin Calidris alpina
One at Caleta de Fustes on 11th and one on the golf course on 17th.

Ruff Philomachus pugnax

One at Catalina Garcia on 10th.


Whimbrel Numerius phoegrus
Small numbers up to four around the coast, mostly on the rocks at Caleta de Fustes.

Redshank Tringa tetanus
One at Catalina Garcia throughout.

GreenshankTringa nebularia
Small numbers (up to ten) at Catalina Garcia throughout and two, Los Molinos on 12th.

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola

One at Catalina Garcia Reservoir on 10th and 13th.


Common Sandpiper Actites hypoleucos
Singles at Catalina Garcia and golf course with three at Caleta de Fustes on 10th.

Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Up to 20 at Caleta de Fustes throughout.

 

Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus

A smart adult past Caleta de Fustes headland on 12th.

 

Arctic Skua past Caleta de Fustes headland



Lesser Black-Backed Gull
Larus fuscus
Single at Catalina Garcia on 10th.

Yellow-Legged Gull Larus cachinnans altantis
Common and occasionally aboundant along coasts and wetlands.

 

Yellow-legged Gull atlantis Caleta de Fustes


Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis
One, Caleta de Fustes on several dates and one Morro Jable on 13th.

 

Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii

One observed several times from the Caleta de Fustes Ďheadlandí on 12th.This species is described as Ďaccidentalí in Clarke and Collins.The views were good with dark bill, red legs, long tail streamers and pale upperparts all visible.The bird even flew inland a short way before heading back across the headland.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientolis
Singles at Caleta de Fustes on 9th and Costa Calma Plains on 10th. Three near Catalina Garcia on 13th.

Rock Dove Columbis livia
Common.


Collared Dove Streptopelia decaota
Abundant throughout island, particularly near settlements.
A leucistic bird was at Caleta de Fustes on several dates.

Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtuer
Present in small numbers in various places, but particularly abundant around Las Penitas.

 

Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis

Just one with Collared Doves at Caleta de Fustes on 11th.

 

Monk Parakeet Myiopsitta monachus

Lots at Jandia with several flying between the Stella Canaris gardens and the Hotel Rio Ventura.

Plain Swift Apus unicolor
Confirmed at Los Molinos on 12th, where there were at least three and at El Mattorral on 9th.

 

Common SwiftApus opus

Present at Los Molinos on 9th at least. Others probably overlooked.

Pallid Swift Apus pallidus brehmorum

The most abundant species, seen in many places.

Hoopoe Upupa epops
Common around settlements all over the island.

 

Hoopoe Rosa de Las Negrines

 

 

European Bee-eater Merops apiaster

One at Barranco de la Torre on 9th, with at least three here on 11th; singles at Rose de Los Negrines on 11th, over Caleta de Fustes on 12th and Catalina Garcia Reservoir on 13th.

 

Bee-eater Barranco de Torre


Lesser Short-Toed Lark Calandrella refescens polatzekin

Widespread, though no large flocks seen, but plenty singing.Difficult to get good views.

Sand Martin Riparia riparia

Two at the golf course on 17th.

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Widespread in small numbers, mostly over fresh water and barrancos.

House Martin Delichan urbica
Two at the golf course on 16th and 17th.

 

Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris

At least one on the Caleta de Fustes Golf Course on 16th.

Berthelotís Pipit Anthus berthelotii
Common and widespread.

 

Berthelots Pipit Barranco de Torre

 

Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis

Singles at Barranco de la Torre and Pozo Negro on 14th.

 

Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus

Four on the Caleta de Fustes Golf Course on 16th two of which were very smart males.

 

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava

At least 20 on the golf course on 16th, with about 10 on 17th.

 

White Wagtail Motacilla alba
One at Catalina Garcia throughout.


Fuerteventura Chat Saxicola dacotiae
Two pairs at Barranco de al Torre and Pozo Negro with juveniles present at both sites.

 

Fuerteventura Chat Pozo Negro



Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephola
Not common.Present at Morro Jable on 13th and Las Penitas on 16th.

Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata orbitalis
Common and widespread.
Far more abundant and easier to see than Sardinian Warbler.

Afrocanarian Blue TitParus ultramarinus
At least two at Las Penitas on 16th.

 

Afrocanarian Blue Tit Las Penitas



Southern Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor keonigi
Fairly common and widespread.

 

Southern Grey Shrike Barranco de Torre



Raven Corvus corax tingitanus
Small numbers in many areas, including on the edge of Caleta de Fustes.

 

Raven Caleta de Fustes

 


Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis
By far the most abundant bird, present everywhere including in restaurants, bars, cafes.

 

Spanish Sparrow Caleta de Fustes



Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

Singles at Los Gorriones on 10th and Las Penitas on 16th.


Linnet Acanthis canabina harterti
Seen in small numbers at Los Gorriones and La Oliva

Trumpeter Finch Budanetes githagineus amantum
Not as abundant as others have perhaps indicated, but ones or twos at several sites, such as Barranco de la Torre, Costa Calma Plains, La Pared.

 

Trumpeter Finch La Pared

 

Also these presumed escapes:

 

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura

One soaring over Los Gorriones drifted out to sea then returned inland and flew south on 10th.The tattered state of the birds plumage suggests it was nothing other than an escape.Presumably from the Oasis Park at La Lajita.

 

Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer

One at La Lajita on 10th and 13th appeared to be taking food into a nest site.

 

Common Myna Acridotheres tristis

Two at La Lajita on 10th and 13th.

 

Weaver sp. Ploceus sp.

A Ďblack-headedí Weaver was at La Lajita on 10th.

 

 

 

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