Heavy rain overnight, and the sky remained ominous in the morning, so we hung on at the FuerteSol Apartments where my attention was drawn to the "pik" "pik" of a pied flycatcher or two, foraging across the gardens. Yesterday's unidentified bird now made sense!
Vainly hoping the weather would change we set out for Betancuria and perhaps Embalse de los Molinos and Puertito de los Molinos itself? The main roads showed signs of landslips and there were heavy plant clearing up. With the rain on the hills so heavy, we decided to stay on the plains.
Missing the turning to Embalse de Los Molinos, we promptly arrived at Los Molinos just as the heavens opened, we were engulfed! Even the local Muscovy ducks, looked forlorn in the downpour.
Following a brief rain-blasted detour to Pozo Negro; we headed back to the pool bar at FuertaSol Apartments where Carlos informed us that the roads to Betancuria had been completely closed due to landslips! We sat out the rest of the day's bad weather, with a pack of cards, and a couple of beers.
Sat 24th Oct Barranco de la Antigua - Barranco de la Torre - Salinas del Carmen
I drove to the road head signposted from the FV2 as - Barranco de le Torre - and confusingly looked down into the Barranco de la Antigua? Trumpeter finch flocked around me, as I scanned the Barranco and quickly located a group of five Barbary partridge, and a distant Southern grey shrike. Berthelot's pipit and kestrel were noted.
It was a high viewpoint with no access to the Barranco, so I parked at Salinas del Carmen and walked into Puerto de Le Torre. Since my last visit to the site, there had obviously been a fall of migrants, as the scrub was busy with a good handful of willow warbler and pied flycatcher each, along with singles of reed warbler, chiffchaff, and a spotted-flycatcher.
Trumpeter finch, Spanish sparrow, Berthelot's pipit, Sardinian and spectacled warblers, and a grey heron were also seen. A single green warbler caught my attention? Looking too robust and upright compared to the other willow warblers around, I initially wondered Icterine or melodious warbler, but with prolonged views it wasn't looking right for these two either? I took some record shots for later consideration and wider consultation.
The prize was finding a smart male Fuerteventura chat, which flushed almost immediately as a car drove past, but was then quickly relocated on the fence-line of the nearby field. Flying to the rock face it revealed a female Fuerteventura chat. It had only taken a week's birding and a second trip to the same site before finally getting onto this species?
Sheltering once from a brief rain shower, I found out later, that I'd had the best of the weather, despite being only 4km or so up the road from Caleta de Fuste. The latter having had heavy rain showers most of day.
The salt pans of the Museo de Sal, held singles of spoonbill and redshank, and a couple of YLG.
Back at the apartments a couple of laughing dove and a redstart drank from the roadside puddles. In the evening a stroll around Puerta de Castillo produced four juv. northern gannet heading north.
Mon 26th Oct Embalse de la Molinos - Puertito de los Molinos - Betancuria
En route: kestrel, southern grey shrike, Barbary partridge.
The reservoir at Embalse de la Molinos produced some very exciting birds - although not the black-bellied sandgrouse aswe had hoped. Large numbers of coot and ruddy shelduck were present along with trumpeter finch, little egret, kestrel, rock dove, Berthelot's pipit, and singles of hoopoe, kingfisher and reed warbler - which I vainly tried to turn into something else!
A male Fuertaventura chat provided Alison with her first opportunity to see the species. It got even more exciting when Alison spotted a dark shape heading low and fast over the hill in front of us, before it disappeared over a crest. It was a ring-tailed harrier sp. but beyond that I couldn't clinch the ID.
Shortly afterwards, Alison called another bird, almost above, but behind us: a Barbary falcon which then flew below us down the Barranco. I completely failed to get a record shot, not lifting the camera once as we watched the bird. Driving back to the road head, we saw a pair of Fuerteventura chat on the wall, and a highly mobile northern wheatear. We met a German couple birdwatching, and exchanged info.
At Puertito de los Molinos we walked part way up the river bed, and the heat of the afternoon was stifling. However, there was a lot of water running, and we cooled our feet in it, as we walked.
We saw singles of willow warbler, redstart, whimbrel and little egret; rock/feral dove, spectacled warbler, Sardinian warbler, Berthelot's pipit, 4 raven, and a female Fuerteventura chat. The local Muscovy ducks looked somewhat happier than on our previous encounter with them.
We arrived late in the afternoon at the picturesque village of Betancuria, after a breath-taking drive up the FV30. Having little time to explore the village itself, we concentrated on finding the local race of African blue tit as I was nervous of driving back up/down the FV30 again in the dark.
Parking in the large, well-signposted car park; we scoured the adjacent Barranco, picking up occasional tit calls, above the clamour of Spanish sparrows. We finally managed to get eyes on a pair of African blue tit working their way along the rock wall in the shade. Enjoying the birds, I failed to lift the camera again.
However, I was able to get a record shot, just before we left when a single tit, alighted briefly on TV aerial, near the car. Willow warbler, pied flycatcher, Southern grey shrike and kestrel were also seen; a high calling buzzard was out of sight.
P.S. re: the willow warbler at Barranco de la Torre. Having returned home and sent a couple of photo's of the bird to Tony on the Lizard - Tony suggested that it is a potential eastern willow warbler, yukatensis type? e.g. See: http://jfcbirding.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/1st-october-2012-monday-heguara-day-3.html