A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

Friday, 20 October 2017

Fuerteventura Birding Trip Report - Day 4 (Thursday 27th October 2016)

Day 4:

With our final full day dawning and having cleaned up on all of our target species, we decided to head over to the Embalse de los Molinos – another excellent site on the island that like El Jarde held most of our objective birds. This was our best site of the trip in relation to both the quality of species found as well as sheer numbers and we managed to see everything bar Cream-coloured Courser here in terms of our main targets.
Montaña de Tindaya - Fuerteventura
Montaña de Tindaya - the views on route were stunning
Montaña de Tindaya - Fuerteventura
Fuerteventura
Arriving from the northern approach from Col. De García Escamez, our first birds of note were three Black-bellied Sandgrouse powering over the flat sandy plains before landing behind a ridge, shortly followed by two Kestrels hunting over the steep embankment. 
Embalse de los Molinos - Fuerteventura
Heading further down the track we were stunned to see an impressive number of Ruddy Shelduck resting on the muddy sun-baked pool on the left hand side, while three Egyptian Vultures provided a masterclass in aerial supremacy as they cruised effortlessly overhead. 
Egyptian Vulture - Embalse de los Molinos, Fuerteventura
Egyptian Vulture
Egyptian Vulture - Embalse de los Molinos, Fuerteventura
complete with ring...
Looking closer we discovered one of the birds sported a yellow ring on its leg, indicating it was part of the wide scale monitoring programme of the Egyptian Vultures that make Fuerteventura their home. A rare bird on the Canary Islands, considerable efforts have been made to conserve the species and this has now resulted in a steady increase in their numbers to around 270+ individuals. Being a sedentary subspecies of Egyptian Vulture also known as The Guirre, these Canary Island birds are currently only present on Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, so it was great to get such good views as they sailed past us.

Heading further up the track, the now familiar Berthelot’s Pipits scurried along the gravel overhead, while the Canary Island subspecies of Raven wheeled above us. Arriving at the small sandy pull in above the reservoirs, we set to work scanning the area for notable birds, checking the water for anything unusual. Spanish Sparrows hopped around the fences beside us, but there was no sign of the Trumpeter Finches and Fuerteventura Chats that are often reported. Looking across to the water resulted in yet more Ruddy Shelducks, bringing our total for the site up to over 80, while an impressive count of 24 Black-winged Stilts probed in the shallows. 
Black-wiinged Stilts - Embalse de los Molinos, Fuerteventura
Black-wiinged Stilts
There was also a smattering of the more familiar birds here at the Embalse, with a pair of Greenshank, a Common Sandpiper, a handful of Little Egrets and stealthily hunting Grey Herons making up the numbers. With vagrant Red-knobbed Coots and Marbled Teal often reported from Embalse de los Molinos, we scanned the water in the event one was present during our visit, but looking directly in to the sun meant the hundreds of Coot and Mallards were in silhouette.
Embalse de los Molinos - Fuerteventura
Keeping our eyes peeled for Barbary Falcons – the steep rocky slopes looked superb and an ideal location to find one – a large shape drifting into view revealed a migrant Marsh Harrier heading towards the water, sending the Black-winged Stilts and Ruddy Shelducks in to a panic and providing the perfect opportunity to see these large ducks in flight, their cream and bottle green patterned wings looking a treat in the sun.
Embalse de los Molinos - Fuerteventura
Turning our attention to the plains behind us, it was only a matter of minutes before I had picked up a Houbara Bustard creeping through the gravel, shortly followed by another two individuals slightly further left over towards the horizon. 
Houbara Bustard - Embalse de los Molinos, Fuerteventura
Houbara Bustard! Extreme phonescoped record shot!
Houbara Bustard - Embalse de los Molinos, Fuerteventura
Houbara Bustard - Embalse de los Molinos, Fuerteventura
Still relatively distant and only visible through the scope, we still had much better views than on our first day, and we watched as the birds (the two presumably a pair) worked their way foraging through the sand towards us. With their impressive black and white plumes billowing in the wind, they were most certainly one of the star species of the trip, and we watched on as they crept along on the horizon.
Houbara Bustard - Embalse de los Molinos, Fuerteventura
Houbara Bustard - Embalse de los Molinos, Fuerteventura
Embalse de los Molinos - Fuerteventura
Having had our fill of the Houbara Bustards and with the Canary Islands sun beating down we decided to head back, stopping to admire a small group of six Little Ringed Plovers feeding in a shallow puddle by the side of the track, clearly fuelling up en-route during their long migration south.
Little Ringer Plover - Embalse de los Molinos, Fuerteventura
Little Ringer Plover
Embalse de los Molinos - Fuerteventura
The goat farm at the entrance of the track turned out to be especially productive for birds, and we logged a number of Hoopoes feeding amongst the mud while a large flock of Spanish Sparrows fluttered in and out of the roof tiles. A Southern Grey Shrike also sat perched on the nearby cacti, calling vociferously and occasionally hovering in an attempt to catch prey.

With the area looking like a great spot for Trumpeter Finch, I soon spotted a small grey bird perched on the top of a large rock in the yard, and getting my binoculars on it did indeed reveal our sought after finch, this time a male complete with chunky red bill. 
Trumpeter Finch - Embalse de los Molinos, Fuerteventura
Trumpeter Finch!
With our birds at Reserva de El Jarde being flushed by another vehicle before I could get a proper record shot, I was pleased that this individual was more obliging, perching happily on the rock and allowing several photos before it flew off over the valley.
Trumpeter Finch - Embalse de los Molinos, Fuerteventura
Scanning the outhouse buildings revealed our final Fuerteventura Chat of the trip, whilst a third Laughing Dove sat perched on the guttering before flying off and joining the several Collared Doves in the surrounding cacti patch.
Laughing Dove - Embalse de los Molinos, Fuerteventura
Laughing Dove
Laughing Dove - Embalse de los Molinos, Fuerteventura
Tefia Windmill - Fuerteventura
Alex decided on a spot of windmill sightseeing on the way back... he's come a long way! 
Tefia Windmill - Fuerteventura
The Tefia Windmill
Tefia Windmill - Fuerteventura
Tefia Windmill - Fuerteventura
With the end of the afternoon spare we headed back for one final stop at the beautiful Corralejo Dunes, a picturesque end to the trip which saw a few more waders added in the form of the many Sanderlings, Whimbrels, Turnstones and Ringed Plovers scurrying across the rocks and on the tideline. A solitary Dunlin and a pair of Grey Plovers joined them further up the beach, while a flock of 15 Avocets flying overhead were a nice but surprising addition.
Avocets - Corralejo Dunes, Fuerteventura
Avocets!
Corralejo Dunes - Fuerteventura
Corralejo Dunes - Fuerteventura
Corralejo Dunes - Fuerteventura
Corralejo Dunes - Fuerteventura
Corralejo Dunes - Fuerteventura
Corralejo Dunes - Fuerteventura
Corralejo Dunes - Fuerteventura
Corralejo Dunes - Fuerteventura
Corralejo Dunes - Fuerteventura
Corralejo Dunes - Fuerteventura
Corralejo Dunes - Fuerteventura
Leaving the rolling dunes behind for the last time and heading back into the town, we enjoyed a delicious final evening’s meal at the local Asia Garden Chinese restaurant – highly recommended for a bite to eat and providing one of the best Cantonese chicken dishes I’ve ever tasted. A firm favourite - although I won’t hold out much hope for a takeaway home delivery via air-mail any time soon!
Cantonese Chicken - Fuerteventura
Delicious Cantonese chicken!!
European Rhinoceros Beetle - Fuerteventura
Several European Rhinoceros Beetles were on the path outside the hotel - duly rescued out of harms way by Alex
With our bags packed the next morning ready for our afternoon departure, the drive back to Puerto del Rosario was uneventful in the form of avian life, a single Southern Grey Shrike and pair of unidentified parakeets flying across the road the only species of note.
Lanzarote
Views of Lanzarote on the drive back to the airport
Lanzarote
Corralejo Dunes - Fuerteventura
Having achieved all of our main targets (bar the omission of the uncommon-on-Fuerteventura Barbary Falcon) in the first two days, our trip had been an unprecedented success, this rugged and picturesque island delivering on all fronts. With the desert specialists of Fuerteventura easy to come by and the island offering a taste of the African climate, my first foray in to Canary Islands birding had been an incredibly enjoyable experience, paving the way for a second excursion to the lush volcanic island of Tenerife the following spring. 
Fuerteventura Chat - Fuerteventura
Fuerteventua Chat
Cream-coloured Courser - Fuerteventura
Cream-coloured Courser
African Blue Tit - Fuerteventura
African Blue Tit
Trumpeter Finch - Fuerteventura
Trumpeter Finch
Ruddy Shelduck - Fuerteventura
Ruddy Shelduck
Berthelot's Pipit - Fuerteventura
Berthelot's Pipit
Laughing Dove - Fuerteventura
Laughing Dove
Barbary Partridge - Fuerteventura
Barbary Partridge
Houbara Bustard - Fuerteventura
Houbara Bustard
Alex's great video showing the birds of Fuerteventura during our trip

With great birds, fantastic scenery and incredible views I’d highly recommend Fuerteventura to anyone looking to enjoy the specialist avian delights and desert habitats that cover this spectacular mountainous island. 
Fuerteventura
Fuerteventura
Fuerteventura
Fuerteventura
Fuerteventura
Fuerteventura
Fuerteventura

No comments:

Post a comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...