We had prepared for the trip by reading various tour reports published on the internet and by talking to friends who had been to the island. We took with us Finding Birds in The Canaries by Dave Gosney and A Birdwatchers' Guide to the Canary Islands by David Collins and Tony Clarke both of which proved helpful.
We particularly wanted to see ten species that would be new for us: Fuerteventura Chat, Houbara Bustard, Plain Swift, Barbary Falcon, Barbary Partridge, African Blue Tit, Berthelot’s Pipit, Canary Islands Chiffchaff, Trumpeter Finch and Atlantic Canary. In the event, we managed to find nine of them. Some sources suggest that the Canary doesn’t even occur on Fuerteventura and we might now be inclined to agree with that!
We also wanted to try and photograph Cream-coloured Courser, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Lesser Short-toed Lark.
Lesser Short-toed Lark - subspecies polatzeki
We went twice to the reservoir at Los Molinos, where Ruddy Shelducks outnumbered all other birds put together! We counted about 200 of them. Unfortunately, the high water level resulted in very little shoreline for waders but this was one of the places we saw Fuerteventura Chat and Egyptian Vulture and we also had good views of the dacotiae race of Common Kestrel and the insularum race of Common Buzzard.
Los Molinos Reservoir
Common Kestrel - subspecies dacotiae
Egyptian Vultures - subspecies majorensis
We made two visits to the plains around Tindaya and La Oliva. On the first occasion we saw Houbara Bustard, Cream-coloured Courser and Black-bellied Sandgrouse. They all took a bit of finding and the birding was ‘hard work’ but we enjoyed it so much that we went back there on our last day simply for a second helping!
Houbara Bustard - subspecies fuertaventurae
The water level at the Las Peñitas reservoir was also very high and it was hardly worth going there. However, on the walk along the mainly dry river bed we did see a Grey Wagtail and our first African Blue Tit. Nearby we spent some time in the attractive little town of Betancuria. Founded in 1404 this was the original capital of the Kingdom of the Canary Islands and while there we slipped into ‘tourist mode’ for a short while. It was also there that we had our best views of African Blue Tit and we also saw Canary Islands Chiffchaff and Monarch butterflies.