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A Report from

Fuerteventura mid-January 2014 ,

Jean Roberts & Pete Marsh

Highlighted bird-wise by eight, probably nine Yellow-browed Warblers, 5 Houbara in quick succession and seasonally unexpected close, prolonged views of Plain Swift on the final day.   Species have only been boldfaced or, in the more commonplace species, actually mentioned the first time they were seen.

Low-lighted by some dreadful weather moving down the central Atlantic from a colder latitude on north-westerlies, knocking any insect searching on the head for the last three-four days and leading to some people on our flight buying extra clothes!

Day One Saturday 11th

Arrival in near darkness

Day two

Hot dry and sunny.  First bird was Southern Grey Shrike on roof of the accommodation (Costa de Antigua).  Visited El Cotillo plain accessing from the south end, but could not progress beyond the barranco due to road erosion.  A disappointing start bird-wise but a Vagrant Emperor was seen and a nice damp hollow was located at the back of the residence with castle turrets and this produced a lot of nectaring plants hosting two Striped Hawk Moth, c16 Scarce Bordered Straw, one Bordered Straw and several Clouded Yellow, Painted Lady and the pyralid Spoladea recurvalis… plus an Emperor dragonfly.  Birds comprised Bertholet’s Pipit, a flock of 17 Raven and a few Spanish Sparrow, plus a single Chiffchaff.  A low-key start in the hottest weather of the trip!   Visited fields north of La Oliva but didn’t see any bustards but located two Palm/Laughing Dove with the Collared Dove and 15-20 Linnet.  Difficult windy afternoon conditions for locating passerines.  We then visited Los Molinos reservoir at the dam end and immediately located male and female Fuerteventura Chat.  Also c30 Black-winged Stilt, 6+ Little Ringed Plover, 4 Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, 100 Ruddy Shelduck, Teal, Redshank (the day’s island tick for Pete), Greenshank, Coot and single Moorhen.  Evening seawatch at Costa de Antigua produced Lesser Black-backed and Yellow-legged Gulls!

Day three

Started the day at Casas de Salinas which produced Little Egret, Spoonbill, Common Sandpiper and Redshank but the rock pool area had already been disturbed by a sunrise photographer!  Then the seaward end of Barranco de la Torre which produced Spectacled and Sardinian Warblers plus a couple of Chiffchaff. We then went to the top end where the road crosses which produced Robin, Common Buzzard plus Long Skimmer & Scarlet Darter dragonflies and Long-tailed Blue butterfly.  Conditions difficult for bird finding in windblown tamarisk but the abundance of Sardinian Warbler was obvious plus a few Chiffchaff.  Contra last year, no evidence of Moorhen.  Then to the southern end of Los Molinos which produced a nice collection of Black-bellied Sandgrouse (10), 15 Little Ringed Plover plus White Wagtail and Common Buzzard.  Then the track north-west out of Tindaya where 5 Houbara Bustard were located including a displaying male.

Day four

Very breezy with north-easterly.  Seawatch produced a Gannet and Sandwich Tern.  Then went to Betancuria where we saw in sequence: African Blue Tit, quite a few Monarch, Song Thrush, Yellow-browed Warbler (near the coach park), Geranium Bronze, Clouded Yellow, another Yellow-browed Warbler (150m below the sewage works).  More routine sightings included Southern Grey Shrike and a few Chiffchaff.  A Red Admiral spp was seen briefly in flight.  Then visited Vega de Rio Palmas and the track to the dried reservoir.  The early stages of the walk included some pools and produced Emperor, Red-veined Darter, Scarlet Darter, Long Skimmer, Epaulet Skimmer and another Monarch.  Birds were disappointing and limited to a few Chiffchaff.  A return trip to the goat field at Los Molinos produced a nice count of 27 Black-bellied Sandgrouse and a flock of 100+ Lesser Short-toed lark

Day five

A bit of rain today but less wind than yesterday.  Checked Las Salinas and it produced Grey Plover, two Whimbrel, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Sandwich Tern.  Barranco de la Torre produced three Barbary Partridge, Trumpeter Finch, Song Thrush, Blackbird and presumed Common Snipe in brief flight.  South-east of Tiscamanita produced three Egyptian Vultures, Trumpeter Finch but we went to the wrong place for feeding station!  Costa Calma woodlands produced 12 Chiffchaff, two Yellow-browed Warbler (one defending a mimosa from Chiffchaff opposite El Palmarel and the other about 400m south near the roundabout), 2 Blackcap, 15-20 Song Thrush, 20-30 Goldfinch, 20+ Linnet and a single Hoopoe.  Several Small White were seen along with Spoladea recurvalis. The track just before the drop into La Pared visited, but no sign of any coursers and plenty of Germans    

Day six

A Stone Curlew was heard flying over the accommodation inland.  La Pared was visited early for Cream-coloured Courser but far too many people walking about even at this time.  Then visited Plan B which was the rough track running parallel south of  the windfarm at Costa Calma.  Three Cream-coloured Courser seen rather distantly but satisfactory scope views.  Then went to the southern section of Costa Calma woodland and had 15 Chiffchaff, 18 Song Thrush, one Blackcap, presumably the same Hoopoe, definitely the same Yellow-browed Warbler defending a mimosa near El Palmarel .  Three Long-tailed Blue and several Small White and S. recurvalis seen along with some large sandy ‘woodlice’.  The La Lajita Oasis Park was then searched from the outside and in retrospect we should have paid to go in.  There is some really good cover here.  A presumed Canary was heard trilling but we could not see whether it was caged or not and Blackcap & Chiffchaff were present.  Looked good to add to the Yellow-browed Warbler total.  Barranco de la Torre top end produced 22 Sardinian Warbler, three Chiffchaff, Song Thrush and a singing male Fuerteventura Chat.  Los Molinos produced nothing new in deteriorating weather and north-westerly winds which also prompted a short west coast seawatch nearby which produced one bird: a 3CY Gannet!  

Day seven

The Elba Palace Golf course hotel and area was visited and produced 5 Chiffchaff, loads of Ruddy Shelduck, Blackcap, Robin, White Wagtail and yet another Yellow-browed Warbler.  Then Tiscamanita produced a feeding station with 10+ Egyptian Vulture of all ages, 6+ Buzzard and at least 17 Raven.  Another birds included Hoopoe and Lesser Short-toad lark.  In worsening weather, Pajara was visited for a cup of coffee and a bit of shelter and checking the tree cover.  Eventually four Yellow-browed Warbler were located, at least 4 Chiffchaff, Hoopoe and at least three Blackcap, but a lot of stuff could have been missed in dense canopy and wind.  The weather improved slightly and we went to Ajuy which produced another Gannet and in less than ideal wind conditions, the nearby Barranco produced 9 Chiffchaff, a probable Yellow-browed Warbler on single distant call (subsequent perusal of the Spanish rare bird site suggested three were here), a single Turtle Dove (NOT Palm Dove) and 9 Barbary Partridge – feeding in small fields, then flying up on to the hillside.  A short visit to the coast at Costa de Antigua saw three Knot, Turnstone and Ringed Plover but nothing of note over the sea

Day eight (18th)

More rain!  At Calete we saw Chiffchaff and Blackcap then the rain produced the goods in the form of four Plain Swift and a Barn Swallow flying over the main road and nearby gold course/pool.  The golf course pond produced Spotted Redshank, two Greenshank, Spoonbill, Little Egret and 5 dodgy Mallard including a dark bird, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail and Common Sandpiper.  The coast at Calete produced Ringed Plover again in quite wet conditions    


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