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A Report from

Fuerteventura – 01/11/2006 – 08/11/2006,

Andy Millar

I took a family holiday to Fuerteventura recently with my wife and toddler, Ross.  This was by no means a birdwatching holiday and so when the baby slept, I escaped for a couple of hours a day.


We stayed at the Barcelo Club El Castillo Apartments in Caleta De Fuste.  These are self catering, stand-alone bungalows and were very clean and well kept.  They are also the closest apartments to the beach in the resort.  We did not hire a car, which was the biggest hindrance to my list, as I could not locate any freshwater or head for the mountains.  Nevertheless, I managed to walk to the plains surrounding Caleta De Fuste and some smaller hills with a degree of success.

Day one:

Around the resort I saw small flocks of Spanish Sparrows and Collared Doves continually flying about.  A Chiffchaff had taken up a winter residence in a small tree outside our patio, which always provided something to look at.  Also seen from the balcony was a female Pied Flycatcher.  However, it rained.  Not all day, but my usual walk time was about 1430 when Ross went to bed and it stopped conveniently for me to walk to the North of the resort.  This area is bordered by the sea to the East, a road to the West and is made up of a large, undulating plain covered in volcanic rock with several wadis and some sort of overgrown, large, sandy wadi once used by vehicles.  The wadi is not deep and has no water but does have small trees and some scrub.  I started with a walk along the coast path to the East of the resort.  This area is popular with people wanting to feed the Barbary Ground Squirrels.  Around this area I saw a Kestrel, Little Egrets, Whimbrels, a Redstart, and numerous Turnstones. I then walked onto the plain with no particular direction.  The constant calls from the Berthelot’s Pipits were never too difficult to locate and these were probably the most abundant birds out of the resort.  There were also several (Northern) Wheatears on the plain, flitting from rock to rock.  I then stumbled across the wadi and almost immediately as I entered, I disturbed a male Black-bellied Sandgrouse.  This wadi also turned out to be the territory of a pair of (Southern) Great Grey Shrikes.  Back at the resort, we went to the beach daily and without fail, there would be 3-6 Sandwich Terns perched on the buoys stretching across the bay.  I swan out to them and within spitting distance, as they did not seem concerned by my presence in the water.  One of them was ringed, but I was unable to get close enough to read the number.

Day Two:

The usual birds were seen around the resort and whilst on the balcony, a Hoopoe flew over, which made for a pleasant burst of colour.  I walked out to the North again after lunch and fond the (Southern) Great Grey Shrikes in their wadi.  Across the plain, pairs of Berthelot’s Pipits flew towards me to check me out whilst characteristically hopping and running around.  Another (Northern) Wheatear was keeping pace with me and just as I turned to start walking back down towards the sea I noticed some birds running and stopping, running and stopping in the distance ahead.  I lifted my binns and immediately saw a Cream-coloured Courser, then another until I had counted six.  I tried to catch them up for better views, but they were more nimble over the volcanic rock than me.  I did get to see the blue on the heads and when they flew, the black tips to the wings.  I eventually made it back to the coast path and saw several Yellow-legged Gulls and a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. 

Day Three:

I took an early morning walk along the coast path with the family and along the rocks saw, Berthelot’s Pipits, Whimbrels, Ringed Plovers and a Common Sandpiper flew along the water’s edge.  Again, plenty of Yellow-legged Gulls.  Later in the day I walked West from Caleta De Fuste in an effort to head towards the mountains.  Directly West of the resort is a large hill, which is the subject of considerable building works.  However to the North and South of the hill, the terrain remains natural.  On this occasion I walked to the South of the hill.  During this walk, I found more Southern) Great Grey Shrikes with some very close-up views.  As I reached my turning point with the real mountains in the agonising distance, I scanned the plains below them, hoping for Houbara Bustard, but without luck.  However, I did find the main target on my wish list, in a small wadi near the hill, a fine male Fuerteventura Stonechat.  I was now satisfied and walked back.

Day Four:

I didn’t manage to get out for a walk and spent the day around the resort and on the beach with my family.  The usual birds were seen around the resort; Spanish Sparrows, Collared Doves, Yellow-legged Gulls, the Chiffchaff and a Berthelot’s Pipit visited our balcony.

Day Five:

We started the day with a walk along the cost path again, noting; Spanish Sparrows, Collared Doves, Berthelot’s Pipits, Yellow-legged Gulls, and a Little Egret.  I then saw two Ravens land on the rocks next to the path ahead.  They called several times and was nothing like a normal Raven’s.  It was much higher pitched and could not be described as a ‘korrp’ as in the Collins guide.  I thought both were Brown-necked Ravens.  As we rounded some headland, there was a brisk Northeasterly and I saw a Cory’s Shearwater gliding fairly close to the headland giving excellent views.  My afternoon walk took me towards the hill to the West of the resort again.  This time I cross the plain to the North, across the main road to the airport and then started to gradually climb away from more building works to an area, which looked overly ‘green.’  As I climbed and scrambled over the volcanic rock I noticed a small group of birds running on the ground again.  I lifted my bins to see a group of ten Barbary Partridges climbing away from the greenery.  A Grey Heron was flying about near the greenery and eventually flew off out of sight.  I could see that the lush green bushes were in long thin strips and eventually discovered that a water pipe ran round the edge of the hill to the North of the hill on which the building was taking place.  This pipe had burst in several places, and as the water ran down the hill, so the bushes had grown.  It was in one of these bushes I heard the rattlesnake call of a spectacled Warbler and eventually located it on the other side of the bush.  It was very obliging and even changed to the high-pitched warble offering exceptional views to assist me when I find one back in England!!!  I followed this water pipe back towards the road and as I entered a dip, disturbed a Hoopoe, which just flew to the nearest bush, raising its crest as it landed.  As the water pipe ended or entered the ground on some flat land a small pool had formed and as I went to walk around it, I disturbed a Snipe, which flew rapidly away.  There were two Kestrels using pylons as lookout posts on this route and as I descended the hill back towards the road, I found three Trumpeter Finches.  They didn’t move very far and offered great views.  As the area become more populated again there was a lot of discarded building waste including twisted wires etc.  Although ugly, these provided ideal perched for (Southern) Great Grey Shrikes. 

Day Six:

Again, I didn’t mange a walk and made do with the familiar birds around the resort.  However, in the evening, after dinner the tide had completely gone out on the beach and I sat and watched 10 Sanderling running in and out with the waves.

Day Seven:

The last day was the best of the weather…  Anyway, with this for inspiration we were on the beach for 9am, before anyone else and before the tide had come in.  I found the following waders amongst the rocks; Grey Plover, Redshanks, Whimbrel and Dunlin.  I then managed a final walk when Ross went back to bed.  I headed North of the hill towards the greenery and small amount of fresh water.  Although I didn’t find any new birds I did get final views of the Trumpeter Finches, Spectacled Warbler, Berthelot’s Pipits, and (Southern) Great Grey Shrikes.

All in all, I was very pleased with the birds I managed to find, and although some bmay be common on the island, it is always exciting to find new birds.  I was also pleased that some of the island’s specialities could be found without going on a dedicated birding holiday or even hiring a car.  This should be good news to all birders with families who can only steal and hour or so every other day!!!

My trip list is as follows:

Cory’s Shearwater
Grey Heron
Barbary Partridge
Cream-coloured Courser
Ringed Plover
Grey Plover
Common Sandpiper
Yellow-legged Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Sandwich Tern
Black-bellied Sandgrouse
Collared Dove
Berthelot’s Pipit
(Northern) Wheatear
Fuerteventura Stonechat
Spectacled Warbler
(European) Pied Flycatcher
(Southern) Great Grey Shrike
Brown-necked Raven?
Spanish Sparrow
Trumpeter Finch

Total: 31 Species.

Missed:  Houbara Bustard and Egyptian Vulture.

Andy Millar


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