Thursday, 24 March 2016

Fuerteventura, Tha Bustard

It is approximately 20 years since I went to Fuerteventura. I can't remember what species was top of my wish list but I do remember Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis fuertaventurae) and Cream Coloured Courser (Glareola pratincola) were up there but didn't see either. On this occasion I went with my daughter Sasha (now nearly 18) and my sister Lisa (now nearly 50 haha). My aim was to get up early and do a bit of wildlife spotting for a few hours. To save travelling time we had 4 nights in El Cotillo and 3 nights in Jandia. It was going dull on the drive from the airport to El Cotillo but I spotted two Egyptian Vultures perched on telegraph poles.


Up early on the Sunday for a drive around El Cotillo plains. Success straight away, somehow I managed to see a distant Houbara Bustard poking its head above a bush, it then started displaying fluffing up it's feathers and running round in a circle round a bush. I managed to get a little closer in the car and eventually it had a little walk around and walked within about 30 yards of me super. Other species seen included Kestrel (canary sub spp) Trumpeter Finch (Bucanetes githagineus), Bertholot's Pipit (Anthus berthelotii), Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis), Hoopoe (Upupa epops), Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata), Barbary Ground Squirrel (Atlantoxerus getulus) and Atlantic Lizard (Gallotia atlantica).

I then went out again in the evening and hit the jackpot again with 3 Cream Coloured Coursers.



The following morning I wanted to see if the Coursers were still around and any closer. They were right next to the road but some awkward parking was needed. I also picked up Barbary Partridge, Lesser Short Toed Lark, I thought I saw a Barbary Falcon as it flushed the Coursers but was looking against the light. A pair of Ruddy Shelduck in the desert were a bit weird.

Today I had a slightly longer drive firstly to Tiscamanita to look for Egyptian Vultures and then to Los Molinos Reservoir. On the way there were a pair of Ravens having Algerian Hedgehog for breakfast, I saw a lot of these dead on the road. I saw another 4 Coursers and about 10 Egyptian Vultures although I only got a decent shot of a juvenile. At Molinos I saw a family party of Fuerteventura Chat, a surprise pale phase Booted Eagle loads of Ruddy Shelduck, Trumpeter Finch, Spanish Sparrow, Green and Common Sandpiper and Little Egret.


In the evening another drive around Cotillo resulted in a fairly obliging Southern Grey Shrike. Then another Male Houbara Bustard appeared trying to catch locusts.

We had to be out of the apartment by 12 and the drive down to Jandia. I had a quick hour on the beach first thing to look for waders I mainly wanted to photograph Kentish Plover. I spotted Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Sanderling, Dunlin, Whimbrel, Ringed Plover and about 5 Kentish Plover.

We then took the scenic drive through the mountains and through Betancuria, here I saw African Blue Tit but it wouldn't come out into clear view for a photograph. I must admit that I wasn't that keen on Jandia initially but it was OK after we settled in and good for an evening run along a coastal path.
I decided to give  the vultures another go but that didn't work out that well, on the way there were Cattle Egrets and Monk Parakeets on the coast road but I did pick up Black Bellied Sandgrouse, Black Winged Stilts. On the drive back I found an even better site for sandgrouse.


Final Crack at the Vultures, having observed them a couple of times I worked out a plan to try and intercept their flight path, it worked out ok this time. A Canarian Common Buzzard showed well.

Drive back to the airport via The Cheese Museum and Los Molinos. The only think added were the best photos of sandgrouse.

Gannet - Jandia
Cattle Egret - Jandia
Little Egret - Los Molinos
Grey Heron - Loma de la Palmita
Ruddy Duck - El Cotillo, Los Molinos
Egyptian Vulture - 2 El Cotillo, 15 Tiscanamita, 1 Los Molinos.
Booted Eagle - 1 Los Molinos
Kestrel - Widespread
Common Buzzard - Tiscanamita.
Barbary Partridge - El Cotillo
Moorhen - Loma de la Palmita
Coot - Loma de la Palmita, Los Molinos
Houbara Bustard - 2 El Cotillo.
Black Winged Stilt - 4 Loma de la Palmita,
Cream Coloured Courser - 4 El Cotillo, 4 Tiscamanita, 1 Los Molinos.
Ringed Plover - El Cotillo
Kentish Plover - El Cotillo
Sanderling - El Cotillo
Dunlin - El Cotillo
Turnstone - El Cotillo
Green Sandpiper - Los Molinos
Comon Sandpiper - Los Molinos, El Cotillo
Whimbrel - El Cotillo
Yellow Legged Gull, Widespread
Sandwich Tern - Jandia
Black-Bellied Sandgrouse - Tiscanamita.
Collared Dove - Widespread.
Hoopoe - Fairly Widespread
Monk Parakeet (escape) Jandia
Lesser Short Toed Lark - Widespread
Bertholot's Pipit - Widespread
White Wagtail - Only 1
Fuerteventura Chat - 4 Los Molinos
Spectacled Warbler - Less than 10.
African Blue Tit - 1 Betabcuria, 2 Jandia
Southern Grey Shrike - Fairly Widespread
Raven - Widespread
Spanish Sparrow - Widespread
Trumpeter Finch - Several sites in small numbers
Rabbit - just 1 El Cotillo
Barbary Ground Squirrel - Fairly Widespread 
Algerian Hedgehog - quite a few dor
Human - Very Common.
Atlantic Lizard, - Widespread but never in high numbers.