Saturday, 31 October 2015

Fuerteventura Trip Report - Part 3 Tues 27th Oct - Sat 31st Oct

Tuesday 27th October Caleta de Fuste

A welcome beach day, with minimal effort - Mojito's and turnstones at the Beach bar, the odd passing gannet, and a distant flock of shimmering waders.

Wed 28th Oct Costa Calma - Barranco de la Torre

A long drive south to Costa Calma; and a distant high raptor, seen in peripheral vision, was almost certainly an Egyptian vulture. The only other species of note: 3 cattle egret on the verdant roundabout as we drove into the town.

A brief walk along the coast with slim pickings prompted a reminder to self:

DO NOT walk into the middle of a German nudist beach with a 400mm camera and a pair of bins around your neck!

Although I'm sure if we'd disrobed we could've got away with less scrutiny from the local bathers?

An attempt to get onto the desert roads to the west of Costa Calma was thwarted, as they were most firmly closed to public for construction works?

A late afternoon visit to the Barranco de la Torre, added a pair of buzzard to the patch list, with an overwhelming soundtrack of trumpeter finch in full electric buzzer mode. The water level in the Barranco had risen considerably and extensive "ponds" had formed behind the beach.

Thurs 29th Oct Parque Natural Corralejo

We took in the fabulous sand dunes of the Parque Natural Corralejo. It was really good fun! The birding was bypassed as we took a simple joy in the desert landscape.

At Corralejo, we tried to get onto tracks going west across the island, but were stopped abruptly in the dead end of a construction site.

We then tried the coastal track north west from the harbour, and discovered possibly the worst track on the island? After a bone-jarring 800m or so, we turned around in discomfort and frustration. For the first time on the holiday, I nearly grounded the hire car. The €1300 personal insurance liability felt all too close for comfort. Eventually parking roadside we walked back into the dune system, but found nothing of note.

Friday 30th Oct FuertaSol Apartments

The effects of yesterday's hot dry desert day, alongside the minor frustrations of road access had apparently taken it's toll on the system. As such I found myself confined to the apartment suffering from symptoms of heatstroke? Although some birding distraction was provided by the one-footed collared dove, who insisted on feeding from my hand when I offered seeds picked off the crust of our bread.

Sat 31st Oct A Brief Return to Tindaya on the Day of Departure

Unable to secure a late check out and with the weather again turning dark and overcast. We decided to decline the kind offer of the use of Jacqui and Doug's apartment to store our bags, whilst we hung around poolside.

Instead we headed back to Tindaya, to grab some desert birding between the rain showers. And blimey, did it turn out to be a grand decision!

We returned to the last place we had seen the Houbara bustard settle on the 22nd. Within seconds of parking, I picked the animal up again, some 20m away from where we had left it the week before.

This visit, the bird was very active, and pretty soon we were watching it in full display - breast and throat feathers inflated over it's head, running around madly like a character from Michael Bentine's Potty Time.

The bustard would then stop, look around for an audience and set off in full display again. I'd have loved a record shot, but the bird was distant and meaningless in the camera*. So we simply watched and it was stunning. [I spent some time searching for its attractors, but never found one?].

With the bird heading downhill, we turned the car and took the track below it.

We soon found the bustard again, this time roadside, staring around intently. Creeping forward in the car, Alison shot some increasingly close record shots; and suddenly we were level with the Houbara, and so close, and it ignored us - and we savoured the experience. As it moved along, we followed it parallel in the car.

After a couple of minutes, Alison said "ermm .. there's a couple of birds in front of us on the ground .. that I don't recognise at all?". I looked over her shoulder and straight into the eyes of a pair of black-bellied sandgrouse feeding on new vegetation growth, which had sprung from the rains.

They were the last bird sp. of the day, and of the trip! (If you forgive a little artistic licence - because we watched the bustard for a while again as it sauntered distantly off).

Then the rain hit hard and we started the long journey home.

*Alison using my camera for the first time this trip, realised that the 400mm lens was jammed, and would not go beyond 300mm - it would explain why I had on occasion been slightly bemused / confused by the results of my photography over the trip? Examining the meta data, it would appear that the camera had not functioned properly from the second day of the trip!

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