Wednesday 6 December 2023

Return to Fuerteventura.

 I have recently returned from another fabulous trip to Fuerteventura, co-leading a group for Naturetrek for the 3rd time. Richard and I had the pleasure to be able to show our 11 clients some wonderful wildlife on this Canary Island. Although the trip is mainly centred around the birdlife, we also managed to find some superb unusual insect life, so I was in my element!!

It really is difficult knowing where to start, but with so many favourite moments I will start with some of the birds we found.

The first day, following an early walk, we headed to the local Reservoir, where we found the water level very low, although not quite as low as it had been 2 years ago when Matt and I did the tour. We had some early success with some close fly-by of a couple of Egyptian Vulture. A species we saw every day.

Adult Egyptian Vulture.

The Canary Islands Stonechat were also on display here, as well as several other sites throughout the week.

Male Canary Islands Stonechat.

A Lesser Scaup that we saw last year was also still present as well as many Ruddy Shelduck and Black-winged Stilt. Several flyover flocks of Black-bellied Sandgrouse also kept us entertained.

Black-bellied Sandgrouse.

Another species that we saw every day of the trip was the Berthelot's Pipit. A bird that is a Canary speciality and is also numerous and often quite approachable.

Berthelot's Pipit.

The African Blue Tit were much more numerous this year. It is a very special bird, and we were lucky to get some close encounters with them in the grounds of the hotel. They are similar to our Blue Tits, but much more brightly coloured. As Richard put it, It's like a Blue Tit on steroids!!

African Blue Tit.

Laughing Dove were also seen regularly around the hotel grounds as well as in some of the other sites visited.

Laughing Dove.

Every birding trip to Fuerteventura has the Houbara Bustard on the wanted list. Last year these were extremely difficult to find, so it was a great relief to head to a site near the hotel, where Matt and I had seen them in number 2 years ago, on the 2nd morning, and to find two of the birds straight away. It was still getting light when we came across the birds so photography was out of the question. However, we had excellent views for around 30 minutes as they moved around the area feeding. We actually saw the Houbara Bustard on 4 of the days, and good numbers too. Our closest encounters came on the last day, and in fact, my final photos of the week were of the Houbara Bustard.

Houbara Bustard.

The other main target bird however, was so not so easy. The Cream-coloured Courser drove us crazy during the week. On the 2nd day I spotted one as we were driving along a main road, too fast to stop unfortunately. I called the bird and pointed but only 2 others spotted the bird. Despite lots of searching during the week, that was the only sighting of the bird. A bird that also eluded us last year too. Listening to local birders, sightings of them have become few and far between, so maybe we were lucky to have had even that one brief view.

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