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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Fuerteventura - 20 TO 27 March 2002,
This trip was more of a holiday than a birding break. My wife, Lorraine, and our 7 year old son, Philip, made up the gang of three. We booked through Airtours and stayed at the San Jorge Apartments at Caleta de Fuste. Very clean and spacious, they provided a good base for the week.
I booked a car for the week through Holiday Autos - a Renault Clio as it turned out. As with the rest of the arrangements for the holiday, there was no problem.
20 March - Left Newcastle 10.30 am; arrived Fuerteventura
21 March - Picked up car but stayed in and around Apartment
22 March - 9.30 to 11.30 - Salinas; Barranco de la Torre ; Drove towards Antigua, then back to Apartment [mainly a "scouting" trip].
23 March - 7.30 to 10.30 : Barranco de la Torre- 5.00 to 6.30 pm : Salinas and Barranco de la Torre
24 March - La Oliva region, Lajares, Corralejo [not much birding]
25 March - 9.30 to 1.00 - Los Molinos
26 March - 9.00 to 1.00 : Triquivijate area [pool] and Betancuria- 5.00 to 6.45 : Barranco de la Torre and Salinas
27 March - 7.30 to 10.00 - Triquivijate area [pool] . Depart for Newcastle
MAJOR SITES VISITED
BARRANCO DE LA TORRE
Probably my favourite place. I took the entrance by the Km 17 sign and walked down the track. This takes a little longer than you might think. On my main visit on the morning of 23rd, I was pleased to find a number of migrants as I walked east. I had previously had trouble finding my way in from the "beach end". I gave up in the end.
Took the track off the Tefia to Las Parcelas road, which is well described in Clarke and Collins. This offered good birding in a number of different habitats.
POOL[S] ON ROAD BETWEEN TRIQUIVIJATE AND PUERTO DEL ROSARIO
This area was highlighted in the "Birdtours" report from O. Gylling-Joergensen from March 2001 and proved to be excellent. I could only see the one pool but it offered the main surprise of the trip - two Marbled Ducks. It also held a small number of migrants in the surrounding bushes.
We liked Betancuria and found Blue Tit fairly easily. We hated the La Oliva area as we found nothing! The Salinas produced very little although there were a few waders on the rocks behind them.
The Plain next to the Apartment was convenient for the odd half hour's birding, particularly for hirundines. The Apartments looked out over the sea so there was also the opportunity to check the rocks and look at Corys as they passed by.
Clark and Collins: A Bird watcher's Guide to the Canary Islands
Various reports from the Internet from "Bird tours" and Fat Birder" sites.
Left Newcastle at 10.30 am. Good flight on Airtours Airbus 320. Not much space for a 6' 2" birder though! Gentle breeze on arrival from South East - good sign! Had a stroll after checking in. No jet lag as the time is the same as in UK.
Fairly hot, fairly soon. Got a lift to the Car Hire Company office - Orlando - at 10 am, returning at 10.30 am. Went for a walk to the Harbour and generally did very little all day. Too hot but wind not too strong and still from the South.
Lorraine and Phil accompanied me to the Salinas and to the track leading to the Barranco. It was too hot for them by 10.30 so we aborted any birding and instead, drove around for an hour to have a look at some of the island.
Got up fairly early and drove to the Barranco de la Torre. Walked down track and into the Barranco, where the first bird I saw was a Fuerteventura Chat! Walked for about half a mile to a small pool. Along the way I saw a number of migrants, including Woodchat Shrike  , Wood Warbler  and Willow Warbler . At the pool, Sedge Warbler  and Trumpeter Finch  showed well with other species making the odd appearance.
Back at the Apartment by 10.30, I went to the "plain" area to find a number of hirundines, including Red Rumped Swallow .
In the early evening, Lorraine and Phil came back with me to the Salinas and the Barranco - but we saw very little.
We decided we would go to Corralejo, via the La Oliva area, hoping to see steppe species in an area which had produced the goods for Georges Olioso in his Birdtours report on his February trip. Apart from two Egyptian Vultures, we dipped out big time!
We made our way to Corralejo and had a bite to eat next to the beach where there were a few waders and a Little Egret. By now, the wind had become strong from the North West. We spent the rest of the afternoon on the dunes/National Park area where we saw a number of swallows, battling against the wind; a Kentish Plover and a number of very athletic water sports enthusiasts performing miracles on various items of windsurfing equipment. We also saw a few nude bathers. I preferred the female version although Lorraine pointed out that males were very well represented!
Set off at 9 am for Los Molinos. The wind was less strong than the previous day and had gone back into the south east. We parked at the Dam and walked along the ridge towards the inlet. Marbled Duck  were the highlight but I also got my first "confident" Plain Swift sighting.
As I was looking at the swifts, a flock of 9 Black-Bellied Sand grouse flew past but did not stop. A few waders and yellow wagtails, including Blue Headed, were at the inlet end.
We walked back to the Dam, where Fuerteventura Chat  and Hoopoe flew around old buildings. On our way back along the track towards the main road, I stopped the car to scan the steppe area. Lorraine found at least 10 Cream Coloured Coursers!! This proved to be our only success in a number of scanning exercises throughout the holiday and Lorraine made sure she reminded me of her success as often as she felt she could get away with it!
Every holiday has one story attached! About half a mile from our Apartment and on our way to find the pool near Triquivijate, we joined the main road heading towards the Airport. I was probably going about 30 mph when I was suddenly confronted by an open-top Mercedes coming at me from my right, driven one-handed by a British prat [right hand drive car - personalised number plate] with a mobile phone in the other hand. Although he was on a side road, he had clearly lost all concentration and was about to join the main road at my expense, having forgotten that they drive on the opposite side of the road abroad! We both swerved and somehow avoided collision. "Sorry", he said. Typical that the only problem we had all week was caused by such a person .... I digress.
We drove onto the Puerto del Rosario Ring Road and turned left for Antigua, then left again at a roundabout for Triquivijate. We continued for about two miles until the road climbs up fairly steeply. There was a large pool on the right. We had a number of hirundines and common migrants on our first visit. We then went to Betancuria , having scanned various plains to no avail, saw the Blue Tits and a few other species in the village and then returned to the pool. This time we were very surprised to find two ducks in among the grasses in the pool and even more so to find they were Marbled Duck. We had hoped to see them at Los Molinos and had not been disappointed. However, to find two more at a different site was a real bonus. They showed very well and we 'scoped them for several minutes. I wondered whether they were two of the three we had seen at Los Molinos but didn't have the time or inclination to go back there to check. On our way back to the Apartment, about two miles from Puerto del Rosario, Lorraine shouted "Little Egret" as a large white bird flew over the car. "Not with black wing tips", I replied. Sure enough, having stopped the car somewhere reasonably safe, we watched a White Stork trying to gain height - a fairly rare migrant according to Clark and Collins.
In the late afternoon, I nipped down to the Barranco for an hour. This time, I walked west for 100 yards and came to a different small pool. First bird - [White-Spotted] Bluethroat - another rare migrant.
Last day. Got up at 7 am and drove back to the pool to see if the Marbled Duck were still there. They were. Walked around the area towards the bushes and trees. 'Scoped the "islands" within the pool and found another Bluethroat. Then a bird flew up near me and settled in a tree - Wryneck! Another surprise migrant and rated as "uncommon". I wasn't able to beat that and reluctantly made my way back to the Apartment. We vacated the room by noon and were picked up at 1 pm. In the interim, we had a look out to sea and saw a number of Corys. A nice way to end an excellent break.
This was our first time in the Canaries and we really liked Fuerteventura. 6 lifers and an excellent variety of migrants. I think we were lucky with the winds as they were much lighter than we had anticipated and mainly from the south/south east, which might explain the good passage and the presence of scarce migrants. On the other hand, it may be that the island is under-watched. Either way, I would recommend the place for this time of year. You are bound to get some migration and there are a few special birds to find. We didn't try too hard for Houbara Bustard or Barbary Partridge but saw most of the others fairly easily.
Travel around the island is fairly quick. We were unlucky that a new road from Nuevo Horizonte [just north of Caleta de Fuste] to Triquivijate was closed owing to a landslip. This would have made some of our inland journeys even quicker. Presumably, this will be sorted out in the near future.
If anyone would like to contact me, my e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
["Triq" pool is the main pool off the road to Triquivijate]
Seen regularly from Apartment, often fairly close to coast.
2 or 3 on rocks/beach at Caleta de Fuste. 3 seen at Corralejo
Seen near Puerto del Rosario on 26th
2 flying over Barranco de la Torre on 26th
MARBLED DUCK [L]
3 at Los Molinos 25th; 2 at pool near Triquivijate on 26th and 27th
2 near Lajares on 24th
One flying over Betancuria 26th and one near Triq pool 27th
One above Barranco de la Torre 23rd
One at Triq pool 26th
Several at Los Molinos 25th; 2 at pool Triq pool 26th
At least 10 near track at Los Molinos 25th
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER
At least 4 at Los Molinos 25th
Seen at Caleta de Fuste rocks and at Salinas rocks
Corralejo beach 24th
Rocks behind Salinas 26th
2 at Caleta de Fuste 21st and 9 at Corralejo beach 24th
Seen regularly near coast
One at Triq pool 27th
One or two on most visits to beach areas
Seen regularly on coast and one at Los Molinos 25th
Salinas 23rd; Los Molinos 25th and Triq pool on 26th and 27th
One or two regularly at the coast; Los Molinos 25th
8 at Caleta de Fuste 21st and 8 at Corralejo on 24th
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL
2 nr Lajares on 24th
YELLOW LEGGED GULL
One at Caleta de Fuste
BLACK-BELLIED SANDGROUSE [L]
9 flew from Los Molinos pool over fields and away into the distance
Seen around coast and above Barranco.
Seen around Apartment
Several above Barranco on 23rd
PLAIN SWIFT [L]
A few at Los Molinos 25th and one probable at Triq pool 26th
20+ over "plain" near Apartment 23rd
Los Molinos 25th; Triq pool 26th
Barrano 23rd; Los Molinos 25th; Triq pool 26th and 27th
Triq Pool 27th
LESSER SHORT-TOED LARK [L]
Seen over Barranco 23rd; 10+ near Apartment also 23rd
Seen regularly; 30+ near Apartment 23rd
2 near Apartment 23rd; one there 25th and one at Triq pool 26th
20+ near Apartment 24th
BERTHELOT'S PIPIT [L]
At least 6 at Los Molinos 25th; also at Triq pool 26th and 27th
"White Spotted" in Barranco 26th and Triq pool 27th
One in Barranco 23rd
FUERTEVENTURA CHAT [L]
2 in Barranco 23rd ; 4 at Los Molinos 25th ; 2 at Triq pool 26th and 27th
Los Molinos 25th; probable near La Oliva 24th [from car]
At least 3 in Barranco 23rd
Seen occasionally in different areas, particularly Barranco
Barranco 23rd; Betancuria 26th
Above Barranco 22nd; 3 in Barranco 23rd
At least 2 in Barranco 23rd; 4 at Triq pool bushes 26th
2 at Betancuria 26th
GREAT GREY SHRIKE
Seen occasionally at various sites
At least 3 in Barranco 23rd
2 above Barranco 22nd; Los Molinos 25th
Seen regularly around Apartment
5 at Barranco 23rd; 2 Los Molinos 25th; 2 in Barranco 26th and 2 at Triq pool 27th
One near Triq pool 26th and 27th
Song Thrush - Flying over the large pool on 26th
Tree Pipit - Possible at Los Molinos on 25th