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A Report from

Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, February 2004,

David and Annette Tomlinson

We flew from Manchester on Britannia on 28th Jan, returning on 8th Feb.  We stayed at the Melia Volcan Hotel in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote.  We rented an Opel Astra from Carbrera Medina.  This rental company gave the best rate of several and there was no restriction or extra payment for leaving it at the airport or taking it on the ferry to Fuerteventura.  The vehicle was adequate for all the non-tarmac driving that we had to do for birding - 4WD was not needed.  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  This is out of date in some respects, but is an excellent and essential guide, especially for hard to find routes to los Molinos reservoir on Fuerteventura, for example.  We did not birdwatch obsessively - the holiday was a combined mid-winter rest and relaxed birding holiday.

Birding itinerary

Sunday 1 Feb - collected car - late afternoon trip to el Rubicon.
Mon 2 Feb - late afternoon - el Rubicon, then on to Salinas and Laguna de Janubio.
Tue 3 Feb - north to Mirador del Rio, Mirador de Guatiza, then down to el Jable.
Wed 4 Feb - early morning to el Rubicon, late afternoon to Punta Papagayo, then Salinas and Laguna de Janubio.
Thurs 5 Feb - late afternoon - el Jable
Fri 6 Feb - day trip to Fuerteventura - first to los Molinos reservoir, then to the coastal desert strip south of el Cotillo.
Sat 7 Feb - late afternoon - Laguna de Janubio.

Comments on these locations

El Rubicon is now a waste of time, at least at this time of year.  The building programme in Playa Blanca is spreading like wildfire, so that direct disturbance is spreading north into the plain and the associated traffic on the adjacent road is heavy.

In contrast, el Jable was fantastic.  We had our first Houbara within 10 minutes.  We took the first track on the left going north after the fork in the tarmac road (see Clarke and Collins) and met bustards after about 1km.  They obviously like the bustard-sized spiny tussocks that cover parts of el Jable, because they dodge between them, head down, for cover.  These tussocks are largely absent from el Rubicon.  I would recommend bustard seekers to go straight for el Jable.

At Janubio, the Salinas are pretty much dead (as Clarke and Collins say), but the Laguna was good and the old disused salinas at the south end, which are bordered by lavastone walls and filled with sand and salt crystals, are good for plovers and small waders - they sit on the walls and are not too shy.

The miradors up north were not good, but it was a very windy day, which might make a difference.

Fuerteventura's two locations visited were excellent.

General comments


Black-necked Grebe - Podiceps nigricollis
Single on Laguna de Janubio on both visits.

Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis
Two by the main road near the airport (3/2)

Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
Single fishing on shore at Playa Blanca (28/1).

Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea
Single at el Jable on both visits.

Ruddy Shellduck - Tadorna ferruginea
2 Pairs at Embalse de Los Molinos (6/2).

Teal - Anas crecca crecca
Flock of 12 at Embalse de Los Molinos (6/2)

Kestrel - Falco tinunculus dacotiae
Common and seen all over the island.

Barbary Falcon - Falco pelegrinoides
Single immature at coastal plain south of el Cotillo - perched 20m in front of the car, then skimmed off low over the ground to a fence post - great views.

Coot - Fulica atra
45 at Embalse de Los Molinos (6/2).

Houbara Bustard - Chlamydotis undulata fuertaventurae
Two males and 1 female seen in 30 min at el Jable on 3rd Feb.  On the return drive back to the road we saw a full display from a male, presumably one of those seen earlier. On our second visit we saw 2 females in quick succession.

Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
13 at Laguna de Janubio first visit; similar number second visit.

Stone-curlew - Buhrinus oedicnemis insularum
5 on second visit to el Jable.

Cream-coloured Courser - Cursorius cursor bannermani
Flock of 12 on first visit to el Jable, put up by grey heron; not seen on second visit.

Ringed Plover - Charadrius hiatucula
Many (hard to count, but certainly 30+) at Laguna de Janubio on both visits. No LRPs found.

Kentish Plover - Charadrius alexandrinus
2 at Laguna de Janubio, both visits.

Grey Plover - Pluvialis dubius
3 at Laguna de Janubio, first visit, single seen second time.

Little Stint - Calidris minuta
Single at Laguna de Janubio, second visit.

Dunlin - Calidris alpina
10+ at Laguna de Janubio, both visits.

Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus
1 at Laguna de Janubio both visits. Single at close quarters from car at el Rubicon (2/2); seen catching and eating small lizard.

Redshank - Tringa totanus
10+ Laguna de Janubio. 3 at los Molinos.

Greenshank - Tringa nebularia
12 at Laguna de Janubio second visit.  7 at Embalse de Los Molinos.

Common Sandpiper - Actites hypoleucos
5 at Laguna de Janubio, second visit.  Single at Embalse de Los Molinos.

Turnstone - Arenaria interpres
5 at Laguna de Janubio, both visits.

Black-headed Gull - Larus ridibundus
2 at Laguna de Janubio, first visit only.

Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscus
Singles and pairs seen occasionally along the south-east coast.

Yellow-legged Gull - Larus cachinnans atlantis
Common along the coast and in the cultivated areas on both islands.

Sandwich Tern - Sterna sandvicensis
Common along all coasts.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse - Pterocles orientalis
35 put up and flying around south of Cotillo.

Rock Dove - Columbia livia
Presumably wild birds seen on the lava fields around Timanfaya and the sea cliffs at Mirador del Rio.

Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocta
Seen in most towns.

Monk Parakeet - Myiopsitta monachus
Single in flight over Corralejo, Fuerteventura.

Pallid Swift - Apus pallidus brehmorum
Small groups seen at Punta papagayo, Playa Blanca, los Molinos.

Hoopoe - Upupa epops
Occasional at several locations on Lanzarote; especially numerous at Embalse de Los Molinos.

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

Swallow - Hirundo rustica
2 flying in from the sea at el Rubicon (4/2); single over hotel at Playa Blanca (6/2).

Red-rumped Swallow - Hirundo daurica
2 flying in with above at el Rubicon.

Berthelot's Pipit - Anthus berthelotii berthelotii
The most commonest bird, found everywhere on the island.

White wagtail - Motacilla alba
Seen in small numbers along the coast and in and around towns.

Canary Island Chat - Saxicola dacotiae
Pair at the dam wall at los Molinos - first bird we saw on switching off the engine! Another pair further along the reservoir.

Spectacled Warbler - Sylvia conspicillata orbitalis
Singles at el Rubicon (twice) and south of Cotillo.

Blackcap - Sylvia atricapilla atricapilla
3 singing in trees in a village near Teguise.

Blue Tit - Parus caeruleus degener
Single near Mirador del Rio.

Great Grey Shrike - Lanius excubitor koenigi
Common and seen all over both islands.

Raven - Corvus corax
2 at Mirador del Río, 3 at los Molinos.

Spanish Sparrow - Passer hispaniolensis
Common in all towns; nesting in disused building at los Molinos.

Linnet - Acanthis canabina harterti
Occasional at Punta Papagayo, los Molinos, Mirador del Rio.

Trumpeter Finch - Bucanetes githagineus amanthum
Common in desert areas, especially on edges of lava fields near Laguna de Janubio and at los Molinos.

David Tomlinson ( written up from contemporary notes on 11/2/04.


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