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A Report from

The birds of Fuerteventura,

John Girdley

A visit to Fuerteventura will not yield a huge list of birds but you will see an off-beat collection of birds that are almost impossible to see anywhere else!

The star birds are Berthelot's Pipit and Canary Island Chat (which are endemic ), Trumpeter Finch, Lesser Short-toed lark and Spanish Sparrow all of which can be seen fairly easily. There are also those that  require a degree of luck or careful planning, i.e.; Plain Swift, Houbara Bustard, Cream Coloured Courser, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Barbary Partridge, Egyptian Vulture and Ruddy Shelduck.

I managed to see all of these species and several other good birds during a one week stay in early April '96.  The best birding was to be had in the early morning, (pre 10 am) as the deserts became very hot later in the day. This left me with plenty of time with the family. Seawatching was best in the evening, with a continuous stream of Cory's Shearwaters seen from my accommodation on most days.

Where to stay:

The Majority of the good sites are in the north of the island and so this would be the obvious place to stay. I travelled with Sun-seeker holidays and stayed at their complex in Parque Hollandes. (About 10 miles north of the airport.)  The accommodation was excellent and I would certainly use it again.

Birdwatching sites in Fuerteventura:

All of the main target species should be viewable at a combination of these three site though there are many other promising areas i.e.:

The Birds of Fuerteventura

The Birds Comments
Cory's Shearwater Seen in large no's most evenings off Parque Hollandes. Up to 10 birds/min on occasions and often close inshore.
Gannet Just one off Parque Hollandes.
Little Egret Reasonably common, both around the coast and at inland waters.
Grey Heron Just one at Barranco de la Torre.
Ruddy Shelduck Two breeding pairs seen, one with young. One pair in the upper reaches of the Barranco de la Torre and the other at Rosa de la Catalina Garcia with five young.
Egyptian Vulture Two near to the Caldera Los Arrabales and one over Barranco del Miraflor.
Buzzard Several seen.
Kestrel Several seen.
Barbary Partridge One on the inland section of the Barranco de la Torre.
Moorhen Just two seen at the Embalse de los Molinos.
Coot At least 30 at the Embalse de los Molinos. These need to be checked carefully for Crested Coot which has occurred at this site.
Houbara Bustard Only one seen. It was flushed by my car at the Embalse de los Molinos.
Cream-coloured Courser Just one seen on the road leading inland from El Matoral. Apparently a good area for this species.
Little-ringed Plover Several the Embalse de los Molinos and at the Barranco de la Torre.
Kentish Plover Reasonably common especially along the Barranco de la Torre.
Grey Plover Three at Barranco del Miraflor which seemed to be very much out of habitat.
Whimbrel Several along the coast including a flock of 30 on the beach at Jandia.
Greenshank Six on the inland section of the Barranco de la Torre.
Redshank One seen at Rosa de la Catalina Garcia.
Green Sandpiper Three at the Embalse de los Molinos.
Common Sandpiper A few seen
Lesser Black-backed Gull About 40 seen during a seawatch off Parque Hollandes.
Yellow-legged Gull (Atlantis race) Common both along the coast and in the mountains
Black-bellied Sandgrouse Just two seen flying over Barranco del Miraflor.
Rock Dove Feral birds seen almost everywhere. You have to the resist the temptation to try to turn them into something more exotic!
Collared Dove Surprisingly two calling birds at Parque Hollandes. I didn't think that they had spread this far!
Turtle Dove Several seen in the few woody areas of the island.
Plain Swift Eight at the Barranco de la Torre and thirty at the Embalse de los Molinos.
Pallid Swift More common than Plain swift and often seen in towns.
Swallow Several north bound migrants seen.
Hoopoe Seen in several areas but especially at the Barranco de la Torre and the Embalse de los Molinos.
Lesser Short-toed Lark Quite common in most desert areas.
Berthelot's Pipit Very easy to see in all desert areas. Perhaps the commonest inland bird.
Canary Island's Chat Seen with little difficulty in several places but most common in the Barranco de la Torre and around the Embalse de los Molinos. It should be noted that Stonechat does winter on the island, especially in the Barranco de la Torre and should be checked for!
Spectacled Warbler Reputedly more common than I found it! Just two seen.
Sardinian Warbler As above. Only a few seen.
Blue Tit (Fuerteventuran race) Two seen at the Embalse de la Penitas. This is a distinctive race both in looks and calls. It is worth seeking out as a potential future split.
Southern Grey Shrike (Canarian Race) Quite common. Several seen. Again there is potential for a future split here.
Raven Several seen in the mountains. The only large black bird that you are likely to see although there have been rumours of Brown-necked Ravens on the island.
Spanish Sparrow Common, especially around Parque Hollandes. Fortunately there are no House Sparrows on the island yet.
Linnet Four seen on the inland section of the Barranco de la Torre.
Trumpeter Finch Fairly common inland and with a very distinctive call.


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