First a bit of background. Since becoming nomadic over four years ago it has always been our intention to spend the majority of the winter months somewhere warmer than the UK. That worked fine for the first couple of years with extended stays in Spain and SE Asia. Then COVID19 landed and that became a little more difficult. But with Spain now allowing entry for the multiply vaccinated it was time to risk leaving the sceptic isle and planned to utilise our post-Brexit 90 days to the full.
For the first month we booked a place in the north of Fuerteventura, planning to move on to Tenerife for February and the mainland for March. By spending at least 4 weeks in each place we managed to find good AirBnB discounts and flights were pretty cheap.
|Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis atlantis|
First impressions were of a largely bird free place. Others have remarked on this but don't be disheartened. Only Yellow-legged Gulls and Feral Pigeons seen at the airport and virtually nothing on the way. There didn't seem to be much more around the apartment complex where we were staying but it was rather windy and it was sunny and 21C, so who cares!
Friday, 7 January 2022
|Barbary Partridge Alectoris barbara|
|Sanderling Calidris alba|
|Berthelot's Pipit Anthus berthelotii|
Saturday, 8 January 2022
|Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis|
Later it was good to photograph the waders on the rising tide and I added Spanish Sparrow in town. Finally there was a bewildering encounter with a presumed exotic. Collared Dove sized with a very long tail and comparatively short wings. Dove-like light. Overall pale but with some dark marks on the upper wings. Otherwise it kept flying away towards town and I couldn't get any more on it. It did utter a rather parakeet like harsh multisylabic call but is certainly nothing I've encountered anywhere before.
|Little Egret Egretta garzetta|
|Sandlerling Calidris alba|
|Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus|
Sunday, 8 January 2022
|Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus|
Other additions today were a rapid flyby danainid (possibly Plain Tiger), a Painted Lady and a couple of Hoopoes. A party of high flying swifts remained unidentified.
Star bird award went to a very showy Great Grey Shrike right next to the apartments, which caught and ate a large caterpillar.
|Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor koenigi|
Monday, 9 January 2022
Rain! High cloud all day and enough rain to wet the ground a.m. but much less wind and a distinct change in bird activity as a result. The day started with a party of at least 10 House Martins and 1 Barn Swallow passing the apartments along with a small flock of unidentified swifts. Nothing stuck around very long though.
|Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata fuertaventurae|
|Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata orbitalis|
That was it though, and the walk back taking a different route was another devoid of birdlife. The afternoon in the town did have a few extras in store though. A single White Wagtail was an addition and a pair of Kestrels along the shore very nice to see. This must be the eastern dacotiae subspecies. The Sandwich Terns of a couple of days ago seem to have moved on from the harbour but I did pick up the immature Spoonbill again (or maybe a different bird). This was sporting a white ring on the left tibia with 'NAJA' in black lettering. A regular metal ring was on the right leg. I reported it on European colour-ring Birding and it seems it was first ringed in Holland on 5/6/2019 and last reported there on 9/9/2019. There were then two sightings in France before it was first reported in Fuerteventura on 12/09/2020. Seen again here in April and November 2021.
|Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia|
Tuesday, 11 Jan 2022 "Fancy a chat?"
|Western Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis ibis|
|Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata orbitalis|
From here I headed through the new Tres Islas development. A pair of Great Grey Shrikes were interacting on the wires and a pair of Spectacled Warblers showed nicely. Then I struck gold with a very showy male Fuerteventura Stonechat perched on an outbuilding of the only completed development here. The noisy dogs here were a momentary annoyance but soon shut up and I was able to enjoy lifer number 4.
|Fuerteventura Stonechat Saxicola dacotiae|
|Barbary Ground Squirrel Atlantoxerus getulus|
At the base of the northern ridge the track turns right and a path headed off left, SE into the caldera. I followed this and dropped into the base for a look around. 2 Ravens were flying around calling throughout but I kept hearing faint passerine calls from somewhere, really difficult to pin down in this bowl of rock. Then I picked them up. On the eastern rim of the crater a flock of around 10 Trumpeter Finches with 4 or 5 Linnets. I scurried back up to the path that runs along there and was rewarded with stunning views. Another species I'd not seen for years and a much anticipated target.
|Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus|
|Atlantic Lizard Gallotia atlantica|
|Painted Lady Vanessa cardui|
I really wanted to see Cream-coloured Courser again, which I've not seen for many years now, so headed off deep into the Natural Park again. The now familiar 30-40 minutes of bird free semi-desert made me realise my first day encounters with Barbary Partridge and Med Short-toed Lark were very fortunate indeed. I pushed further south than I'd been before well into the very sandy habitat west of the isolated development of hotels here and beyond. I soon started to notice a different set of tracks in the sand and they became very common. Similar to the partridge tracks further north and often with a distinctive drag mark between them. Surely this was the target species. Also found bustard tracks and some smaller mammals than the ubiquitous rabbits. In fact these were absolutely tiny and surely must have been made by the endemic Canarian Shrew.
|Mediterranean Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens polatzeki|
Otherwise later in the town there were a few Monarch butterflies about, none settling unfortunately, and this very large potter wasp, which looks likely to be Delta dimidiatipenne.
|Delta dimidiatipenne a Potter Wasp|
Finished the week on 38 species and walked about 100km according to my phone's step counter. All four likely Fuerteventuran lifers now in the bag but some species I'd still like to catch up with again over the next three weeks, some needed for the 'nomadic list' which now stands at 659. Additions there would be Cream-coloured Courser and Black-bellied Sandgrouse and exploring further afield might add Ruddy Shelduck. Atlantic Canary (a potential lifer) and African Blue Tit will be much easier on Tenerife but are also possible.
Common Ringed Plover
Great Grey Shrike
Mediterranean Short-toed Lark
Common House Martin
Barbary Ground Squirrel
Potter Wasp Delta dimidiatipenne