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A Report from

Fuerteventura 14th - 21st March,

Andy Wraithmell


This was my second trip to Fuerteventura but my first birding one. We arranged our travel through Going Places Direct (advertised on teletext) and flew from Manchester (UK). The flights were with Airtours and cost £121 each. Car Hire and travel insurance was arranged through Going Places. The car, a Renault Clio cost £96 for the week and Travel insurance was £15 each. Our accommodation (Caleta De Fustes) was sorted separately by Mike (Timeshare) and cost £270 for the week (£90 each).

As you might expect Fuerteventura is very cheap, a 3-course meal averaging about £10 incl. Drinks, petrol is ridiculously cheap, it only cost us £15 to fill up the hire car! We clocked up over 1,000 kms and spent a total of £30 on petrol!!!!!

You won't amass a huge trip list at any time of year on the Island, but what few species there are can be found easily and in good numbers. We didn't have any problems with any species although we didn't see as many Cream-coloured Coursers as we hoped. There is plenty of excellent literature/trip reports available to plan a successful trip to the Island and I suggest buying Tony Clarke's guide, which we found most useful. We also found an article on about Fuerteventura by B.Small, which was also useful, particularly the Sandgrouse site near the village of La Pared (see later). We totalled a mere 64 species over the week plus 6 species of Butterfly and 5 species of Dragonfly.

As with other foreign destinations don't drink the water and take plenty of sun cream as you can get sunburnt very quickly especially on windy days (common). In March there is quite a bad heat haze from about 9am so bear this in mind when planning your days birding particularly when looking for Houbara's. The mornings were generally the best time of day to be out birding, as there is little wind and no heat haze.

Site by site guide

Barranco Del Torre and Salinas Del Carmen
For the Salinas follow signpost left off main road (from Caleta De Fustes) and park near newly built restaurant. We saw very little on the saltpans but they do look quite promising so it's well worth checking at least once. There are two ways of reaching the Barranco Del Torre from here. 1) Carry on through village for 0.5 km and park at entrance, walk inland along Barranco. We had 10 male Spectacled Warblers, 1 pair of Chats, large numbers of Trumpeter Finch and Egyptian Vultures in the first 250 yards.

2) Alternatively go back to the main road and turn left heading inland, after 3.6 km (just after km17 marker) turn left onto a track which leads to a small white building with a green door, ignore the no entry sign but don't drive down track, park immediately on the right of the track near a row of tyres. From here walk south along the track until you come to a steep slope, walk down into the Barranco and through a gap in the tamarisks, you will see a track running east and west alongside the tamarisks. Head east down the track, there are a number of small pools and lots of cover to work. We had 5 pairs of Chats including one pair with 2 young, 5 male Spectacled Warblers, Barbary Partridge, Sandgrouse and lots of Sardinian Warblers. The small pools held 2 Ruddy Shelduck and several wader species. Trumpeter Finches came to drink mid morning and we had excellent views of Dragonflies particularly Scarlet Darter.

The whole area looks attractive to migrants but we didn't have anything that spectacular. We did have a small group of Sandgrouse coming into drink late morning but stay quiet and hidden, as they are very wary. Excellent views were had of Canary Islands Chat; the whole area should be protected.

La Oliva and Rosa De los Negrines
From Puerto Del Rosario turn left onto lay-by 250yds before the town of La Oliva. Not that productive but we did have Plain and Pallid Swift together here. Carry on along main road and turn left into La Oliva, passing a garage on the left, drive through the town for 1km. Immediately after the last house turn left onto a rough track and follow for 1.3km. Park on the left hand side of the track. Don't wander into farm area, keep to the perimeter and beware of two very large dogs! We spent an hour here scanning the bushes etc. and had a single Bee-eater, several Buzzards, Plain Swift and cracking views of a pair of Shrikes feeding their young. Red-veined Darter was very common here.

La Pared plain and Sandgrouse drinking site
Drive along the coast towards Morro Jable. Turn right shortly after km63 marker onto the La Pared road and follow for several kms until you reach a steep uphill section of the road. Look left and you will see a track with a white wall next to it. "Pueblo Del Mar" is written on it and there are 3 post-boxes attached. Take this track (keep wall to your right) and follow for 0.2km, turn left onto another track and follow for 0.8km parking next to a metal fence. Find a good vantage point and looking towards the sea (north) scan for Bustards and Coursers. We saw 4 Coursers (plus 2 recently hatched young) and 3 Bustards. From around 8am we saw several small flocks of Sandgrouse heading towards La Pared.

For the Sandgrouse site head back to the main road and turn left heading towards La Pared. Turn left into La Pared and turn right at small roundabout. There are lots of small gullies in this area so check them carefully for Sandgrouse, it is absolutely essential to stay in your car as getting out will only scare them away. Follow the track right just before the beach car park passing between a group of small houses. Be careful, as the track is very rough and try not to flush the Sandgrouse. I would get there at around 8am before they fly in minimising any disturbance. We saw at least 50 Sandgrouse including 4 Males no further than 10 yds from the car! (see photo below)

Embalse De Los Molinos
A bit disappointing but a good variety of species was had on our two visits including 4 Marbled Duck. There was still a lot of water in the reservoir but we were told that there hadnt been much rain over winter and levels were low for March. The tamarisks described in Clarke's guide are dead so aren't worth checking for migrants but most of the waders were feeding down that end on the edge of the water. We didn't see any Coursers or Bustards here but the heat haze was quite bad by the time we got there (mid morning).

El Cotillo plain
Another reliable site for Houbara's. We had superb views of 3 just 50 yds from the car. Use your car as a hide as upon our approach they lay down and were almost impossible to see, after a while they stood up and began feeding before heading off. To the north of the town there is a large area of sand dunes, which held good numbers of Larks, Finches and several Sandgrouse.

Las Penitas/Vega De Rio Palmas
Unfortunately the reservoir had completely dried up but several small pools at the bottom of the dam held Sandpipers. Good numbers of Dragonflies are present also as well as Barbary Ground Squirrels, which proved quite tame. The village held the local race of Blue Tit and the whole area looked attractive to migrants.

Caleta De Fustes
The bushes around our apartment held several migrants over the week including 2 Subalpine Warblers.

Canada Del Rio woods
Good for Goldfinches but apart from a single Willow Warbler it was devoid of any migrants.

Hotel Gorriones beach
Worth at least one visit as odd species seem to occur here, we had 3 Spoonbills roosting on the beach, a large tern roost occurs at high water and we had 8 Sandgrouse, which appeared to fly from a water outlet next to the Hotel (SW side).

This picturesque village in the mountains had several Blue Tits, Song Thrushes and Robins. We had excellent views of 4 Egyptian Vultures and the Santa Maria restaurant is excellent.

Systematic List

Cory's Shearwater,   Calonectris diomedea
Common offshore in large numbers particularly in the evening.

Spoonbill,     Platalea leucorodia
3 1st summers were noted on the beach at Hotel Gorriones on 17th and 20th.

Little Egret, Egretta garzeta
Common in small numbers along the coast.

Grey Heron, Ardea cinerea
5 individuals at 4 sites with a maximum of 2 on the Hotel Gorriones beach.

Marbled Duck, Marmaronetta angustirostris
4 were noted on two visits to Embalse De Los Molinos on 16th and 19th.

Ruddy Shelduck,      Tadorna ferruginea
2 on 15th and 3 on 18th at Barranco Del Torre and 2 on 16th and 4 on 19th at Embalse De Los Molinos.

Egyptian Vulture,   Neophron percnopterus
4 over the village of Betancuria on 15th, 1 over La Penitas and 4 near Antigua on 18th, 2 over Barranco Del Torre on 19th and 1 on 20th.

Common Buzzard,   Buteo buteo insularum
Noted at several sites with a maximum of 7 over La Oliva on 19th.

Kestrel,  Falco tinnunculus dacotiae
Common in small numbers throughout the Island.

Barbary Partridge,      Alectoris barbara
4 at Barranco Del Torre on 15th, a single heard calling at Embalse De Los Molinos also on 15th, 2 on a rocky outcrop in the sand dunes north of El Cotillo on 16th and 2 at La Penitas on 18th.

Common Coot,  Fulica atra
A total of 64 were noted at Embalse De Los Molinos.

Houbara Bustard,   Chlamydotis undulata fuerteventurae
3 on La Pared plain on 17th and 3 on the plain south of El Cotillo showed very well on 19th.

Cream Coloured Courser,  Cursorius cursor
A party of 4 were noted with 2 recently hatched young on La Pared plain on 17th.

Little Ringed Plover,      Charadrius dubius
Common in small numbers at several sites.

Ringed Plover, Charadrius hiaticula
Common in small numbers along the coast with a maximum of 11 on the beach at Hotel Gorriones on 20th.

Kentish Plover, Charadrius alexandrinus
Common in small numbers along the coast with a maximum of 65 on the beach at Hotel Gorriones on 20th.

Grey Plover,     Pluvialis squatarola
4 individuals noted at 3 sites.

Sanderling,  Calidris alba
16 on the beach at Hotel Gorriones on 20th.

Dunlin,  Calidris alpina
14 were roosting with other small waders on the Hotel Gorriones beach on 20th.

Black-tailed Godwit,      Limosa limosa
A single was noted at Embalse De Los Molinos on 16th and 19th. Listed as a vagrant in Clarke's Guide!

Whimbrel,   Numenius phaeopus
Several noted around the Island in small numbers.

Common Redshank,      Tringa totanus
5 were recorded on the small pool at Barranco Del Torre on 15th and 18th.

Greenshank,    Tringa nebularia
A total of 10 individuals scattered around the Island.

Spotted Redshank,      Tringa erythropus
A single at Embalse De Los Molinos on 16th and 19th.

Green Sandpiper,   Tringa ochropus
1-2 noted on the small pools at Barranco Del Torre on several visits.

Common Sandpiper,      Actites hypoleucos
15 individuals noted with a maximum of 5 at Embalse De Los Molinos on 19th.

Turnstone,   Arenaria interpres
Seen in small numbers at several coastal locations.

Yellow-legged Herring Gull,  Larus cachinnans atlantis
Very common.

Lesser Black-backed Gull  Larus fuscus
An Adult was noted at Caleta De Fustes on 15th.

Sandwich Tern,         Sterna sandvicensis
Common offshore and a large roost of several hundred birds on the beach at Hotel Gorriones on 20th.

Common Tern, Sterna hirundo
A single was roosting with Sandwich Terns on the beach at Hotel Gorriones on 20th.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse,  Pterocles orientalis
A total of 94 individuals noted at 4 sites, the maximum being 50 at La Pared on 17th.

Rock Dove,   Columbia livia

Collared Dove,  Streptopelia decaocta
Very common.

Turtle Dove, Streptopelia turtur
 A total of 32 individuals at various sites, Barranco Del Torre being the best.

Monk Parakeet,        Myiopsitta monachus
7 flew in front of the car as we drove south through the town of Morro Jable on 20th.

Plain Swift,  Apus unicolor
Several at various locations with 2 at La Oliva on 16th being the maximum.

Pallid Swift, Apus pallidus
Common in small groups throughout the Island.

European Bee-eater, Merops apiaster
A single feeding around the farm at Rosa De Los Negrines on 16th and 19th.

Hoopoe, Upupa epops
A total of 45 birds noted at various locations with a party of 8 near La Oliva on 16th being the maximum site count.

Lesser Short-toed Lark, Calandrella rufescens polatzeki
Very common throughout the Island.

Sand Martin,    Riparia riparia
3 flew north over Barranco Del Torre on 15th.

Swallow, Hirundo rustica
Small groups were noted throughout the week.

House Martin,  Delichon urbica
Small numbers were noted heading north on 15th.

Berthelot's Pipit,   Anthus berthelotti
Very common.

Robin,  Erithacus rubecula
A total of 6 birds noted during the week.

Canary Island's Chat,  Saxicola dacotiae
A total of 27 adults and 2 newly fledged young were noted during the week. Barranco Del Torre was the best site holding 6 pairs one of which was feeding 2 fledged young.

Northern Wheatear,  Oenanthe oenanthe
Single males at Rosa De Los Negrines and El Cotillo plain on 16th were the only records.

Song Thrush,   Turdus philomelos
Small numbers were noted throughout the Island particularly in the mountains.

Blackbird, Turdus merula
Singles were noted at Barranco Del Torre on 15th and 18th.

Spectacled Warbler,    Sylvia conspicillata
15 males and 2 females at Barranco Del Torre on several dates. Also noted at Rosa De Los Negrines, La Oliva and near the Hotel Gorriones.

Sardinian Warbler,    Sylvia melanocephala
Common throughout the Island particularly at Barranco Del Torre.

Blackcap,     Sylvia atricapilla
4 were noted during the week at Barranco Del Torre and a single singing male at Caleta De Fuste on 21st.

Subalpine Warbler,    Sylvia cantillans
A 1st year male was present in the trees outside our apartment at Caleta De Fustes on 18th and 19th and a Female was also noted in the same trees on 20th.

Common Chiffchaff,  Phylloscopus collybita
3 were noted at Barranco Del Torre on 15th and 18th and a single at Caleta De Fuste on 15th all looked and sounded like the nominate form "collybita".

Willow Warbler,  Phylloscopus trochilus
The commonest migrant warbler with a total of 12 individuals noted mainly in the apartment complex at Caleta De Fustes and at Barranco Del Torre.

Blue Tit, Parus caeruleus degener
7 in the village of Betancuria on 15th and 11 between Vega De Rio Palmas and La Penitas on 18th.

Southern Grey Shrike,     Lanius excubitor koenigi
A total of 28 individuals were noted throughout the week. A pair gave excellent views on the farm at Rosa De Los Negrines on both our visits there.

Raven,  Corvus corax
Common particularly in the mountains.

Spanish Sparrow,   Passer hispaniolensis
Very Common.

Goldfinch, Carduelis carduelis
Common in the woods at Canada Del Rio and several noted at La Penitas.

Chaffinch, Fringilla coelobs
2 Females were noted; 1 was seen regularly in the apartment complex at Caleta De Fustes and 1 in the tamarisk at Barranco Del Torre. They both looked like the nominate European race.

Linnet, Acanthis cannabina harterti
Common at several sites particularly in the sand dunes north of El Cotillo.

Trumpeter Finch, Budanetes githagineus amantum
Very Common. The pools at Barranco Del Torre regularly attracted small groups as did the cultivations at the seaward end of the Barranco where 150+ were noted on 19th.


African Grass Blue    
Common Blue         
Green-striped White 
Small White
Greenish Black-tip
Painted Lady


Algerian Hedgehog
Barbary Ground Squirrel

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