Thursday, 22 October 2015

Fuerteventura Trip Report - Part 1: Oct 18th - Oct 22nd 2015

Sunday 18th Oct Caleta de Fuste

We checked into FuerteSol Apartments at Caleta de Fuste on Saturday evening, so our first day was spent in local orientation.

The first birds of the trip? A pair of raven cronking over the apartments, quickly followed by collared dove (although whether African or Eurasian, I never worked out the entire trip?). A party of six plain swift over, and the loud chups of Spanish sparrow.

An afternoon walk along the promenade, and we found a pair of Berthelot's pipit on the foreshore - a species we were to see on an almost daily basis thereafter; Yellow-legged gull, and a distant sterna sp. 

At the beach bar on the man-made spit we were amused by the flock of ruddy turnstone - eye-level on the sea wall - competing with the doves for scraps from the diners. A quick look through the Sheraton Hotel fence gave a single hoopoe, and the adjacent waste ground produced our first Southern grey shrike - another bird we would be become very familiar with over the following fortnight. A juv. great black-backed gull, sandwich tern and little egret were added to the list at Puerta de Castillo along with Barbary squirrel "meerkatting" with metres of the promenade.

Down on the beach before sunset, a mixed flock of roosting waders comprised 25 Kentish plover, a similar amount of ringed plover; 2 each of whimbrel, little egret and greenshank; singles of dunlin and common sandpiper; 10 sanderling, and sev. turnstone. The Kentish plover included 2 colour ringed individuals of which I managed to get record shots. Yellow-legged gull and 11 sandwich terns completed the haul. A grey heron was on the waste by the Sheraton Hotel.

Mon 19th Oct El Cotillo

From El Cotillo we walked east on the desert tracks to the "mountain pass" at Majada de la Pila quickly finding, a highly mobile flock of linnet, a pair of Southern grey shrike, and a flock of rock dove (without a feral looking bird amongst them). Berthelot's pipit were frequent, and flyover lark - which looked good for lesser short toed lark - a bird we then completely failed to see for the rest of our time in Fuertaventura?

30 minutes in and Alison spotted a group of 4 cream-coloured courser, who proceeded to beat a hasty retreat across the hedges ahead of us; I managed only 2 before they disappeared.

This excitement was quickly followed by sightings of a fem. Sardinian warbler, a cracking pair of spectacled warbler, and later raven and kestrel. In total we had at least three pairs of Southern grey shrike in the 4km of desert we covered, and the very best of a shelter for a well earned siesta in the pass!

A cola break at El Cotillo gave us yellow-legged gull, rock dove and sandwich tern, and prompted the groaning comment from my esteemed companion "does a pair of sandwich terns make a round?".

Tues 20th Oct Barranco de la Torre

Rain showers today and the start of the holiday's descent into a fortnight of uncharacteristically prolonged rain. At Puerta de la Torre, on the rough road south out of Las Salinas, we walked up the Carre de la Torre and the dry river bed of the Barranco de la Torre.

Grey heron, Sardinian and spectacled warbler, raven, trumpeter finch, Southern grey shrike, rock/feral dove and Berthelot's pipit were seen, as well as the highly mobile flock of Spanish sparrow who colonise the shoreside derelict building.

Alison spotted "a large white bird" over the distant houses, that turned into a group of 4 Egyptian vulture, 2ad + 2juv, the family group spiralled in the thermals before heading high over the hillside. Thrilling!

Thurs 22nd Oct Tindaya

Armed with some timely "local knowledge", we drove out of Tindaya, in search of Houbara bustard. Having taken the wrong track we arrived in the Barranco de Tebeto and had brief views of 2 cream-coloured courser as I wrestled the car down it's treacherous road surface. Realising our mistake, we returned to Tindaya, and found the right track.

Driving stop / scan to the coast, we saw a pair of stone curlew, several Southern grey shrike, berthelot's pipit, a common buzzard, kestrel, spectacled warbler, willow warbler, and a small passerine, quickly chased off by a Southern grey shrike. I only realised what it was the following morning.

Four hours searching to and from Tindaya, we finally located a Houbara bustard on the horizon through the heat haze, the curl of it's head and neck, in silhouette against the bright hills on the horizon. The bird showed for an hour, distant but active, preening, feeding, and partial displaying, before settling down between the rocks and scrub. We drove away very chuffed. Cheers Tony!


  1. Great story. What was the small passerine chased off by the shrike? Or is that for part 2?

  2. Cheers Ian. The chased off bird was a pied flycatcher after all (and yes it's in part 2).