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A Report from

Fuerteventura, January 2005,

David and Annette Tomlinson

We flew from Manchester on First Choice on 12th Jan, returning on 19th Jan. We stayed at the Sol Gorriones Hotel (, just south of Costa Calma, Jandia, Fuerteventura. We rented an Opel Corsa from Cicar at the airport - it was cheaper than the multinationals. The vehicle was adequate for most of the non-tarmac driving that we had to do for birding, but 4WD would have been useful at Catalina Garcia (see below). We took A Birdwatchers Guide to the Canary Islands, Tony Clarke & David Collins, 1996, Prion Ltd. This is out of date in some respects, but is an excellent and essential guide. We visited only locations in the south because we had visited northern spots in the previous year and we had heard from other birders that there was "nothing much" at Molinos.


The first four days were glorious, sunny, little wind, 21-22oC at noon.  On the 16th it became windy and a lot of sand was blown into the atmosphere. After that the weather was less good.

Birding itinerary

Weds 12 Jan - collected car, drove to hotel, stopped en route for our only buzzard of the trip.
Thurs 13 Jan - morning walk along el Gorriones beach for about 2Km.
Friday 14 Jan - exploration of el Jable, first east from la Pared road, then up to the wind farm from the track opposite the hotel Gorriones. Evening walk on Gorriones beach.
Sat 15 Jan - early morning (8am) to el Jable from la Pared, then back for breakfast at 10.00. Afternoon to Catalina Garcia.
Sun 16 Jan - circular route - la Pared, then FV 605 to Pjara, then FV30 north to overlook Embalse de las Penitas, then FV30 south to Tuineje, returning via FV20 and FV2, with stop-offs at Catalina Garcia and the area around the zoo entrance.
Monday, Tuesday - weather poor, little birding, quick trips along Gorriones beach and to el Jable.

Comments on these locations

The Gorriones beach is superb - just miles and miles of sand for birding/walking/jogging. Wonderful views of Slender-billed gull. Lots of naturists - care with binoculars!

El Jable was very rewarding, though we missed out on Stone Curlews and raptors. For views of Coursers, Bustards and Sandgrouse from the car it was wonderful.

Catalina Garcia was excellent, though the track to it has been wrecked by rains. We were unhappy about taking our vehicle all the way, so we could not use the car as a hide. 4WD would have been useful here.

The Embalse de las Penitas was a waste of time, but the mirador above it is much frequented by tourists, so the local Ravens and Shrikes virtually pick your pockets and pose beautifully.

General comments

Do take a scope, even if a tripod is too much to carry. We used it from inside and on top of the car with a towel as support - worked a treat.

Sol Gorriones is a great place to stay if you want to be in the south.  We booked on the internet ( and got a fantastic rate.  The staff were great, the food was good and most of the clientele were very well-behaved Germans - no Chavs! There are 4 accommodation blocks separate from the main building. It looks as if they were added after the main build. These blocks are closer to the beach. The rooms in these blocks are very nice and are quiet. If you do stay there, ask for a room in Block 4 on the third floor; the following numbers are best 4302, 4305, 4306, 4307, 4308, 4311 or 4312.  These rooms give you a balcony that is right on the edge of the beach, with good scope views of waders at high tide. 


Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
Several on Gorriones beach, 7 at Catalina Garcia.

Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea
Single at Catalina Garcia on both visits.

Spoonbill - Platalea leucorodia
3 on Gorriones beach; roosted in the salicornia opposite the hotel.

Ruddy Shellduck - Tadorna ferruginea
3 at Catalina Garcia.

Shoveler - Anas clypeata
Single male at Catalina Gacia (second visit).

Ring-necked duck - Aythya collaris
Single drake at Catalina Garcia on first visit only (15/01/05). A German birder told us that he had seen two there. Our bird did not behave like an escape - it came out of the tamarisks and gave a really good view, but then saw us and disappeared back into the tamarisks for the rest of the afternoon.

Common Buzzard - Buteo buteo
Single near Finca del Vicario.

Kestrel - Falco tinunculus dacotiae
Common, seen most days, most locations.

Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
2 at Catalina Garcia.

Coot - Fulica atra
13 at Catalina Garcia, single on Embalse de las Penitas.

Houbara Bustard - Chlamydotis undulata fuertaventurae
Displaying male at el Jable close to la Pared road (15th).  Another sighting close to the car on the final evening.

Cream-coloured Courser - Cursorius cursor bannermani
Lots of sightings all over el Jable.  Very confiding - good video shots.

Little Ringed Plover - Charadrius dubius
2 pairs on territory at Catalina Garcia.

Ringed Plover - Charadrius hiatucula
Numerous on Gorriones beach.

Kentish Plover - Charadrius alexandrinus
Numerous on Gorriones beach - perhaps slightly fewer than Ringed Plovers.

Sanderling - Calidris alba
Numerous on Gorriones beach.

Curlew Sandpiper - Calidris ferruginea
3 on Gorriones beach, feeding with Dunlin, but in deeper water - gave excellent views of all fieldmarks.

Dunlin - Calidris alpina
Numerous on Gorriones beach.

Snipe - Gallinago gallinago
Singles on Gorriones Beach and Catalina Garcia.

Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus
1 on Gorriones beach (15th).

Black-tailed godwit - Limosa limosa
3 at Catalina Garcia.

Bar-tailed godwit - Limosa laponica
11 in tight flock on Gorriones beach.

Greenshank - Tringa nebularia
3 at Catalina Garcia.

Slender-billed Gull - Larus genei
3 full-plumaged adults with Sandwich Terns on Gorriones beach.  2 of these had been ringed in Coto Donana (white ring, AUT in black on left leg).  Several other immatures present along the beach.

Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscus
Large flock (50+) on Gorriones beach; roost somewhere north of the hotel.

Yellow-legged Gull - Larus cachinnans atlantis
Occasional on Gorriones beach; fluctuating group (5 up to 25) at Catalina Garcia.very vocal - made noises just like Jimmy Saville!

Sandwich Tern - Sterna sandvicensis
Flock of 50 on Gorriones beach, occasional fly-bys at sea's edge.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse - Pterocles orientalis
Large numbers on el Jable, especially at the la Pared end.  Even when not visible, they could be heard most of the time.

Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocta
Seen in most towns, hotel garden.

Monk Parakeet - Myiopsitta monachus
Flock in palm trees on front at Morro Jable.

Pallid Swift - Apus pallidus brehmorum
4 at Catalina Garcia on second visit.

Hoopoe - Upupa epops
Occasional at several locations, regularly seen around Costa Calma road.

Lesser Short-toed Lark - Calendrella rufescens polatzeki
Seen in groups in arid areas.

Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Arrived when the weather turned poor - 2 at Catalina Garcia on second visit, then many around the hotel.

Berthelot's Pipit - Anthus berthelotii berthelotii
Found everywhere on the island.

Canary Island Chat - Saxicola dacotiae
Pair at Catalina Garcia.

Spectacled Warbler - Sylvia conspicillata orbitalis
Common in the bigger salicornia and spinifex clumps on Gorriones beach; several at Catalina Garcia.

Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
Single male churring in hotel garden.

Blackcap - Sylvia atricapilla atricapilla
2 singing in hotel garden.

Chiffchaff - Phylloscopus collybita
Several singing in hotel garden.

Great Grey Shrike - Lanius excubitor koenigi
Common and seen in all locations.

Raven - Corvus corax
Common, vocal and confiding.  It seemed to us that it is smaller than the European norm and the tail wedge is not as prominent.

Spanish Sparrow - Passer hispaniolensis
Common, especially in the hotel grounds.

Trumpeter Finch - Bucanetes githagineus amanthum
Seen regularly, usually in flocks with (and outnumbered by) Lesser Short-toed Larks.

David Tomlinson ( written up from contemporary notes on 27/01/05.


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