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A Report from

Fuerteventura, 2-9th March 2005,

Chris Knox

Arranged flights with 'My Travel 'over the Internet, flying direct from Newcastle early morning on Wednesday 2nd,accomodation was booked independently via, in the resort of El Cotillo on the northwest corner of the island. The Cotillo Lagos' apartments north of the village were basic, but clean and comfortable, however they are slap bang in the middle of the main development of El Cotillo and there was much building work in the immediate vicinity. [For an alternative independent provider of accomodation in El Cotillo see the recommended] Like it or not the once fishing village of El Cotillo is about to become the next big resort on the island, and although it is still a lot smaller and quieter than Caleta de Fuste and Corralejo I left feeling that I had visited the area just in time before being over developed.

I chose El Cotillo as a base after consultation of the Clarke and Collins Guide [A Birdwatchers Guide to the Canary Islands - Prion], being without a car the area has a variety of habitats and indeed it proved possible to see all of the islands special birds in the vicinity of the village.

I was fortunate enough on this trip to meet a semi resident of El Cotillo Derek Bradbury, who although to his own admittance is never a birder, has a keen interest in the wildlife and conservation of the El Cotillo area, and is especially interested in locating and watching Houbara Bustards, we spent several successful mornings doing just that. Derek is worth contacting for information on the latest whereabouts of displaying Bustards; he is usually present in the village between January - March. [].


Wednesday 2nd March
Arrival lunchtime. Early evening walk to El Cotillo lighthouse.

Thursday 3rd March    
Am - El Cotillo Plains, south of Village.
Pm - Lava Field north of El Cotillo.

Friday 4th March
Am - Rosa de los Negrines + Fimapaire Valley.
Pm - Lava Field to north of El Cotillo.

Saturday 5th March.
Am - Los Molinos
Pm - El Cotillo shore

Sunday 6th March.
Am - El Cotillo Plains - Barranco Esquinez.
Pm  - Lava Field to north of El Cotillo.

Monday 7th March
Am - Rosa de Los Negrines / Lajares Valley.
Pm - El Cotillo Shore north to lighthouse.

Tuesday 8th March.
Am - El Cotillo Plains to south.

Wednesday 9th March.
Am - El Cotillo Village and Shore.

Sites Visited.


Plains to the south.   Best visited between first light [0700 hours] and sunrise [0815] when Houbara Bustards most active, upon arriving in El Cotillo village look for a pub called 'Talk of The Town ' take a left here and follow the driveable track out onto plains. After a while track divides, ignore the coastal track for now, and continue on towards the last white building on the track, in the distance you will see a disused farm shell, make this your base for scanning for Houbaras, a favoured spot seems to be the disused raised cultivations to the south east of the farm. Also present in this area were Black bellied Sandgrouse, Cream Coloured Coursers, [6+] several pairs of Barbary Partridge and Spectacled Warbler.

Shoreline & Sandy Plain. The shore north to the lighthouse held moderate numbers of Waders, a handful of Little Egrets and Cory Shearwater were common offshore especially during the late afternoon /early evening [100+]. The sandy plain inland from the shore held lots of Lesser Short toed Lark, Berthelot's Pipits and Trumpeter Finch, a pair or two of Stone Curlew and small numbers of Black bellied Sandgrouse.

Lava Field. The Lava field as stated on the Clarke & Collins guide is difficult to work, however within a kilometre of the resort I located two pairs of Fuerteventura Chat,  several Barbary Partridge, Southern Grey Shrike were common as were Trumpeter Finch and Spectacled Warbler. A productive area could be found just inland of the 'Cotillo Lagos' complex, found by driving north out of the village and parking by the sign for the 'Abruzzo Restaurant 'on a left hand turn. Walk northeast for about 500 metres to a couple of disused goat enclosures and the Chats etc were found in the immediate vicinity.

Barranco Esquinez This Barranco can be found some 6km south of El Cotillo by following the coastal track across the plains, park at the eastern end of the Barranco and walk towards the sea, Plain Swift was found in the last two hundred metres of the Barranco. At the eastern end of the Barranco look for an obvious maroon 'Se Vendee' sign, this was a reliable site early am for a displaying male Houbara Bustard.


Fimapaire Valley. Directions for this site, remain as the Clarke and Collins Guide, from the Church in La Oliva take the F -102 eastbound, and after about 2km take a track just before a right hand turn. Follow track until road divides, park and look / listen [call often reveals presence] for Chats; on my visit they were present 30 metres down the left hand track [two pair].

Rosa de los Negrines / Lajares Valley.  Take FV10 signposted El Cotillo from La Oliva, at the end of the town and opposite last house on road, turn left up an obvious track and onto the cultivated area with fig trees and palms. This area is good for a variety of passerine species, however on my two visits disturbance was high and the only species of note was several Corn Bunting. Continue beyond the cultivations for views of the valley beyond, several Houbaras were noted here, Buzzard and Raven appeared common. After about a kilometre you come to a junction in the track, take the right hand track for two kilometres to another cultivation that held fig trees and following the wet winter several good crop fields. This was an excellent site with Quail [5+], Turtle Dove [2] Skylark, White Wagtail, Chiffchaff and Corn Buntings. [5]. If you continue on this track it will exit on the FV10 close to the village of Lajares.


Following the wet winter the Barranco leading up to the Dam held a lot of water and several stops proved worthwhile, Ruddy Shelduck [10], Little Ringed Plover, White Wagtail and Plain Swift. The reservoir itself held the expected Common Coot, and Teal, scanning the shoreline produced Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and a pair of Fuerteventura Chats.


1.Cory's Shearwater. 100+ noted offshore El Cotillo most days from 1630 hours.

2.Gannet. A handful noted on most watches from El Cotillo shore.

3. Little Egret. 5+ noted El Cotillo, between village and lighthouse, also noted at Lajares and Los Molinos.

4. Grey Heron. 1-2 noted El Cotillo shore most days, single also Los Molinos.

5. Ruddy Shelduck. 10 noted at Los Molinos on 5th.

6.Teal. 4 noted at Los Molinos on 5th.

7.Common Buzzard. - ssp ' Insularum' - 2-4 noted over Rosa de los Negrines / Lajares Valley.

8.Common Kestrel - ssp' Dacotiae'- Common most sites.

9.Barbary Partridge. Small numbers noted at El Cotillo Plains, Lajares Valley, and Lava Field to north of El Cotillo Village- where contact calling heard at dusk.

10.Quail. At least 5 calling and flushed from plantation in Lajares Valley on 7th.

11.Coot. 20+ noted at Los Molinos only.

12.Houbara Bustard - ssp ' Fuerteventuae' - Three displaying males noted on plains south of El Cotillo on 3rd, with at least three others [females?] noted same morning. 2+ noted on several other dates.

 Displaying male noted at Lajares Valley on two dates.

13.Stone Curlew. Ssp ' Insularum' - 1-2 pair noted only on sandy Plain north of El Cotillo village, heard calling at night from apartment.

14.Cream -coloured Courser-ssp ' Bannermani'- at least six birds on plains south of El Cotillo village.

15.Grey Plover. 2+ on El Cotillo shore.

16.Ringed Plover. Small numbers El Cotillo [< 10]

17.Little ringed Plover. A single noted at Barranco leading to Los Molinos Dam.

18.Kentish Plover. 2+ pair at El Cotillo.

19.Whimbrel. Common El Cotillo shore [10+].

20.Curlew. A single El Cotillo on 4th.

21.Greenshank. 2 at Los Molinos.

22.Common Sandpiper. 1-2 El Cotillo shore most days.

23.Turnstone. Maximum 25+ El Cotillo shore.

24.Sanderling. 25+ El Cotillo.

25.Yellow -legged Gull. Ssp? 'Atlantis' - No major flocks, mainly pairs, widespread.

26.Black -bellied Sandgrouse. Max 7 on sandy plain north of El Cotillo, small numbers noted on El Cotillo plains and Lajares Valley.

27.Rock Dove. Genuine birds? Noted near El Cotillo lighthouse, and at Los Molinos Barranco.

28.Feral Pigeon. Common one goat enclosure contained 100 +.

29.Turtle Dove. A pair noted at cultivation in Lajares Valley.

30.Collared Dove. Fairly common at El Cotillo, and La Oliva.

31.Plain Swift. Two birds noted for definite, and both confined to Barrancos, singles at Los Molinos and Barranco Esquinez.

32.Pallid Swift. - ssp 'Brehmorum' Uncommon with max count of only 10 at El Cotillo.

33.Common Swift. Several birds noted  moving north over Rosa de los Negrines were probably this species

34.Hoopoe. Fairly common especially on Lava Field to north east of El Cotillo where 4-6 birds noted.

35.Lesser Short -toed Lark. - ssp 'Polatzeki' Common.

36.Skylark. A single at cultivation in Lajares Valley on 7th.

37.Swallow. 3 birds over El Cotillo on 9th.

38.House Martin. Singles noted at Lajares Valley, and Los Molinos, with a handful over El Cotillo on 9th.

39.Berthelots Pipit. Widespread in most habitats.

40.Meadow Pipit. A group of three on lava Field north of El Cotillo on 8th.

41.White Wagtail. Twos noted at Los Molinos, and cultivation in Lajares Valley.

42.Fuerteventura Chat. Two pair noted at well-advertised Fimapaire Valley site, a pair at Los Molinos and two pair feeding young on El Cotillo lava Field, where species is probably widespread.

43.Song Thrush. Single flushed from plantation El Cotillo on 3rd.

44.Sardinian Warbler. A single noted just north of El Cotillo Village on 8th.

45.Spectacled Warbler. -ssp 'orbitalis'- Fairly common, a family party of four noted at El Cotillo on 8th.

46.Chiffchaff. 1-2 noted around apartment most mornings, and a single in the Lajares cultivations.

47.Southern Grey Shrike. Ssp' Koenigi' -Widespread, several pair noted feeding young.

48.Raven. Fairly common. 5 noted El Cotillo plains, 10+ Lajares Valley.

49.Spanish Sparrow. Common.

50.Linnet. ssp 'Harterti'- fairly common, especially on Lava Plain where a handful of pairs regularly noted.

51.Trumpeter Finch. Ssp 'Amantum' - Widespread in pairs or flocks less than five.

52.Corn Bunting. One noted singing at Rosa de los Negrines cultivations, with at least 4 more at cultivation in Lajares Valley.

C G Knox, March 2005.


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