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A Report from

A Birding Trip to Fuerteventura 17-24th January 2001 ,

Peter and Natalie Nash



We were inspired to visit the island of Fuerteventura by a small but very pretty bird, the Fuerteventura or Canary Islands Chat.

I know from experience that target birds are usually hard to find but with a wealth of other good birds on offer we were up for the challenge.

A Birdwatchers Guide to The Canary Islands by Tony Clarke and David Collins is essential for a visit to any of these islands, and a read through the list of birds puts Fuerteventura near the top of the list for many birders. My report should be used in conjunction with this book.

Transport and accommodation

We booked a late availability package with Airtours and flew to our hotel in Costa Calma on the south east coast of the island.

We arranged a Hertz hire car from the desk in the hotel, three days including all insurance cost 11,880 Pts. We were lucky and got a free upgrade to a group B car.


Fuerteventura has been touched by the EU money fairy and has a brand new set of roads, so new in fact that the most up to date maps are the ones provided by the car hire companies.

At only 75kms long any of the sites on the island can be visited as part of a day trip.

Sites visited

Costa Calma is situated on the south east coast of the island in an area known as Jandia. This arid rocky peninsula has the highest mountain in the eastern Canary Islands, Pico de La Zarza 807m, and one of the best beaches anywhere, Playa de Sotovento.

As elsewhere the resort is growing rapidly and the land bordering the wind farm is gradually being turned into hotels and apartments.

It is an easy walk from Costa Calma past the Sunriver Club Hotel to the main birding area between the wind farm and the wild and beautiful west coast, a distance of  4  km. By following the track across the sandy plain birds seen included,

Houbara Bustard, a  stately individual was seen mid way across the peninsula, it was adept at keeping well concealed and walked away with surprising speed.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse, flocks of up to 40 seen in flight. We flushed several pairs and small groups.

Cream-coloured Courser, we saw only two, they flushed from a small sandy patch on the west side of the peninsula.

Stone Curlews, we saw several pairs mainly on the east side, within half a mile of the hotel.

Southern Grey Shrikes and Hoopoes were seen regularly as were flocks of Lesser short toed Larks and Linnets. Berthelot's Pipits were common everywhere.

Other birds of note include a Plain Swift, a few Spectacled Warblers, Trumpeter Finches and Skylarks.

The "wood" in Costa Calma and hotel gardens produced many Spanish Sparrows and a few Goldfinchs and Chiffchaffs. Ring-necked and Monk Parakeets could be noisy at times and Collared Doves are everywhere.

Los Gorriones Hotel The beach between here and Risco del Paso is the place for Gulls, Terns and waders. The Los Gorriones is an hours walk south along the beach from Costa Calma, or a ten-minute drive along the road towards Morro Jable.

We were lucky to find a pair of Fuerteventura Chats near the generator for the beach café at Risco del Paso, they came down from the crags to forage in the late afternoon.

Four Little Egrets and three Spoonbills fished in the tidal pools along with Sandwich Terns, Yellow-legged Gulls and a Slender-billed Gull.

Waders favoured the Los Gorriones end of the beach.

We saw a Stork circling high over the beach and were amazed when it landed on a lagoon to see that it was a Yellow-billed Stork, unringed and full winged.


Los Molinos The small reservoir here cannot be seen from the road, and is best accessed from the track from Las Parcelas.

About 90 minutes drive from Costa Calma this is the only permanent fresh water on the island. We saw 4 Marbled Duck and 4 Ruddy Shelducks lots of Coots and a few waders here.

El Cotillo The driveable part of the track that parallels the beach has had several large ranches built on it, we didn't see much here.

Pajara The mountain road from this picturesque village to Vega de Rio Palmas produced several pairs of Fuerteventura Chats and a few Plain Swifts as well as lots of Spectacled Warblers. We also saw a few Trumpeter Finches, Linnets and Corn Buntings.

Birds Seen

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) 4 at Los Gorriones.

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) 2 at Costa Calma.

Spoonbill (Platelea leucorodia) 3 at Los Gorriones).

Yellow-billed Stork (Myctreria ibis) 1 at Los Gorriones

Ruddy Shelduck ( Tadorna ferruginea) 4 at Los Molinos

Marbled Duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris) 4 at Los Molinos.

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus dacotiae) 1 or 2 daily

Coot (Fulica atra) 40 or so at Los Molinos.

Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata fuetaventurae) 1 Costa Calma.

Stone-curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus insularum) up to 6 at Costa Calma.

Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor bannermani) 2 at Costa Calma.

Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius) 10 at Los Gorriones.

Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) 80 at Los Gorriones and Costa Calma.

Kentish Plover (Chadadrius alexandrinus) 20 at Los Gorriones.

Sanderling (Calidrius alba) 10 at Los Gorriones.

Dunlin (Calidris alpina) 10 at Los Gorriones.

Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica) 1 at Los Gorriones.

Whimbrel (Numenrus phaeopus) 10 at Los Gorriones and Costa Calma.

Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) 2 at Los Gorriones.

Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus) 1 at Los Molinos.

Common Sandpiper (Actites hypoleucos) 1 at Los Molinos.

Slender-billed Gull (Larus genei) 1 at Los Gorriones.

Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) 1 at Los Gorriones.

Yellow-legged Gull (Larus cachinnans atlantis) up to 300 at Los Gorriones.

Sandwich  Tern ( Sterna sandvicensis) 30 at Los Gorriones.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse (Pterocles orientalis) up to at 50 Costa Calma

Collared Dove (Stereptopelia decaocto) common around habitations.

Rind-necked Parakeet (Psitacula krameri) 4 at Costa Calma.

Monk Parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus) 1 at Costa Calma.

Plain Swift (Apus unicolor) odd ones at Costa Calma and 6 at Pajara.

Hoopoe (Upupa epops) up to 6 at Costa Calma.

Lesser Short-toed Lark (Calndarella rufescens polatzeki) frequently seen in flocks in arid areas.

Skylark (Alauda arvensis ) 6 at Costa Calma.

Berthelot's Pipit (Anthus berthelotii berthelotii) common throughout.

White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) 6 at Costa Calma.

Fuerteventura Chat (Saxicola dacotiae) 2 at Los Gorriones 6 at Pajara.

Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata orbitalis) common throughout.

Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita collybita) 2 at Costa Calma.

Southern Grey Shrike (Lanrus meridionalis koenigi) up to 6 at Costa Calma.

Raven (Corvus corax tingitanus) up to 10 around island.

Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis) 50 at Costa Calma.

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) 10 at Costa Calma

Linnet (Carduelis cannabina harterti) common at Costa Calma and elsewhere.

Trumpeter Finch (Bucanetes githagineus amantum) a few seen at Pajara.

Corn Bunting (Miliaria calandra) 2 at Pajara.


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