The garden of our Finca was very productive. Sightings included Berthelot’s Pipit, Hoopoe, Spectacled Warbler, Blue Tit, Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Spanish Sparrow, Collared Dove and Robin. From the grounds (including the pool) and in the adjoining fields additions included Buzzard, Kestrel, Raven, Redwing, Grey Heron, Trumpeter Finch, Sardinian Warbler, Southern Grey Shrike and Pallid Swift.
Also at the Finca we saw Monarch, Painted Lady, African Migrant, Greenish black-tip and Red Admiral Butterflies; Emperor Dragonfly; Barbary Ground Squirrel, Eastern Canary Gecko and Haria Lizard.
Thursday 6 November
Our fist outing was to Barranco de la Torre and Salinas del Carmen (C&C site 7). We parked at the white building 3kms from the coast and walked down the track to the Barranco. On the way down we had our first sight of Barbary Partridge. We crossed through the tamarisk and turned right to where the Barranco narrowed with a rocky cliff close by. In the first 100 yards we had excellent views of five Fuerteventura Stonechats (3 male and 2 female), the Islands endemic species. Unlike common Stonechat which tends to sit out in the open, we found the birds low on the tamarisk and when flushed tended to fly back into cover.
The salt works and adjoining bay at Salinas del Carmen was a good source for waders with Whimbrel, Grey Plover, Redshank, Turnstone, Little Ringed Plover, Greenshank, and Common Sandpiper. Also there were Berthalot’s Pipit, Little Egret, Southern Grey Shrike and Yellow-legged Gulls.
Friday 7 November
In the afternoon we visited the reservoir at Los Molinos (C&C site 1), approaching from the direction of Las Parcelas. Although not many birds were present, we were treated to views of 5 Ruddy Shelduck, an Accidental species which has bred. We also saw Coot, Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Greenshank and Yellow-legged Gull before locating an island speciality, Marbled Duck, another Accidental species which has bred. There were 3 Marbled Ducks in the inlet down from the dam sitting on some dead branches. Next to the path back to the car parked above the dam was a pair of Fuerteventura Stonechats and two Berthelot’s Pipits.
On the way back to Antigua we turned onto the bottom track to the reservoir from the Tefia/Betancuria road. About .9km, just after a dead truck, is a track to the right going up the Plain. Whilst parked in this area we had a Houbara Bustard fly over the car and land close-by giving stunning views.
Saturday 8 November
We visited La Oliva and decided to check out the dry plains to the northwest. The road has been changed and it is now necessary to turn left up and over a bank opposite the last house on the right. This I suspect to be the old road because after 200 yards we could see the old road bending to the right and a track going straight on. We took this track, went past the cultivations at Rosa de los Negrines and drove up onto the Plain. In an hour’s scanning we had three Houbara Bustards and a mixed flock of 40 Linnet and Lesser Short-toed Lark. A check of the cultivations on our return revealed 5 Hoopoe, 3 Corn Bunting, Spanish Sparrow and Raven.
We ended the day by driving down to Playa de Lajas where we had Sanderling, Kentish Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Yellow-legged Gulls and a single Gull-billed Tern.
Monday 10 November
We spent the day at El Cotillo (C&C site 2). Firstly we checked the Plains to the south of the town. We found the most productive area to be about 4kn from El Cotillo where the track turns left away from the coast just before an obvious small stone building shell. We used the car as a hide and next to the track we came across both Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Cream-coloured Courser. Whilst the Sandgrouse took flight and moved further away, the Coursers were not as nervous and we had excellent close views.
North of El Cotillo to the lighthouse are a number of bays. We encountered the difficulty factor with binoculars and nude sun-worshippers but did find our first genuine Rock Doves near the lighthouse.
Back at the Finca after dinner we heard a Long-eared Owl calling. Whilst not on the list for Fuerteventura, Senor Andres told us that they used some nearby tall Palm Trees. Although we did scan over the rest of the holiday we failed to see them but did hear them again.
Tuesday 11 November
In the morning we visited Catalina Garcia (C&C site 5). We found it to be the best inland water site. Along the track to the lagoon we found a Fieldfare, an Accidental visitor, on an exposed branch of a Palm tree. The bird looked uncomfortable and hot. It’s wings were raised away from it’s body and it was panting with it’s bill open.
At the lagoon we had Little Egret, Spotted Redshank, Snipe, Black-winged Stilt, Ruddy Shelduck, Teal, Garganey, Coot, Kentish Plover and Little Ringed Plover, whilst nearby there was Berthelot’s Pipit, Spectacled Warbler and Southern Grey Shrike.
We then drove to Gran Tarajal and had two House Martins around the seafront buildings.
We finished the day at Salinas del Carmen. We added Sandwich Tern, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Grey Plover to the list before scanning the sea. There was a very strong onshore northeasterly wind. Some yachts were sailing close to the land and nearby there was 8 Cory’s Shearwaters.
Wednesday 12 November
C&C site 4 at Las Penitas was the target for the day. Unfortunately the lagoon was dry and there was disturbance with cyclists and walkers crossing the dried-up bed. We did, however, see Raven, Spectacled Warbler, Berthalot’s Pipit and Blue Tit. Also adding to the list Black Redstart.
The views along the road to Pajara were spectacular and at the viewpoint we saw Barbary Ground Squirrels feeding from the hand and more Berthelot’s Pipits looking for crumbs. We also saw another Barbary Partridge and Fuerteventura Stonechat.
Friday 14 November
In the morning we visited the Botanical Gardens at La Lajita which hold a wonderful display of cacti plants from all over the world. We got a surprise when we found a Laughing Dove as this species is not on the C&C Full Species List. On checking other trip reports, Laughing Dove is recorded in February and December 2002 with 8 birds and presumed to be a new colonist from Morocco. We again saw Fuerteventura Stonechat and Berthelot’s Pipit.
We then went to La Pared Plain (C&C site 6) where a couple of hours scanning produced a flock of 23 Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Hoopoe, Raven, Southern Grey Shrike, Kestrel and our only Barbary Falcon of the trip.
We returned from La Pared on the Pajara road. The mountain scenery was spectacular. In Pajara we came across a pair of Ring-necked Parakeet.
Saturday 15 November
Another visit to Catalina Garcia turned up some new birds, the best of which was two Ring-necked Duck, another Accidental species and an American vagrant. We also added to the list Wigeon, and Pintail.
Sunday 16 November
In the morning we visited Pozo Negro. Checking the cliffs to the south of the bay we saw a pair of Peregrine Falcon and four Rock Doves. Then on to Salidas del Carmen where, in addition to the normal cast of waders, we found a flock of 12 Trumpeter Finch
Monday 17 November
A return visit to El Cotillo. On the Plain to the south we found 22 Black-bellied Sandgrouse in groups, the largest being of seven birds. To the north on the beach near a hotel building site we found a flock of 30 Trumpeter Finch and a common Stonechat.
On the return journey to Antigua just before dusk we called at the Tefia track to Los Molinos and were treated to fantastic views of a displaying male Houbara Bustard, 12 Lesser Short-toed Larks and a male Fuerteventura Stonechat.
Tuesday 18 November
For our last full day we revisited Catalina Garcia. The Ring-necked Ducks were still present, three Buzzard circled overhead and we added White Wagtail to the list.
On the road between Pajara and Las Penitas we saw Buzzard and Egyptian Vultures. At the viewpoint Ravens joined the Barbary Ground Squirrels and Berthelot’s Pipits taking food from the tourists!! We also had a party of 5 Barbary Partridge on the road in front of us as we rounded a bend.
A final check of the fields opposite the Finca produced the last new bird of the trip, a group of three Redwing