Thursday, 15 March 2018

Fuerteventura (Spring jolly) - Day 1

Let's go !
Island map
Black-winged Stilt
Barranco de Rio Cabras
 Trumpeter Finch
American friends
Berthelot Pipit
Barbury Partridge
Black-bellied Sandgrouse
Southern Grey Shrike

My Dad commented a month ago that I hadn't been on any birding jollies this year so this gave me a nudge to get into action. I've seen some great images from Fuerteventura and fellow midland birder Craig Reed shared his recent trip report which made it sound like a great option. The attraction to see some fantastic desert species in glorious sunshine was just too good to be true. There was an added attraction as a Dwarf Bittern had been present for a number of months however not in the week previous to our stay.

Fuerteventura is just 96km from the African mainland and is thought to be 20 million years old. The average temperature 20.2 degrees centigrade whilst its ecosystem is mainly costal desert scrub. 

Accompanying me would be @1stbirdoftheday and we organised the trip between us. The flight was with Ryanair from Birmingham, accommodation through (Sunbeach apartment) & car hire from Avis. 

After leaving the airport at around 12.30pm we headed straight for Barranco de Rio Cabras. For anyone planning to go, do your research as there are no signs other than town names. Thankfully we were stacked with local intelligence from twitter & online groups. 

The Barranco took us about 10 minutes to reach in heat rising by the minute. We were joined by five birders from America & a lovely couple from England. The couple were spending their second day there and still not seen the Bittern !  I did think I saw the Bittern fly a short distance into cover but I couldn't get enough on the bird or the experience of seeing one previously. Some tough walking conditions didn't produce the sighting we hoped for but we did record Raven, Buzzard, Kestrel, Yellow-legged Gulls, Hoopoe, Greenshank, Ruddy Shelducks, Spanish Sparrow, White Wagtail, Skylark, Grey Heron, Southern Grey Shrike, Feral Pigeon and our first Fuerteventura Chats & Trumpeter Finches. Whilst it was great to see some of these species we did bag much improved views throughout the trip. With us melting in the heat we opted to return later in the trip.

Our second stop would be a place in the Gosney guide north of Antigua. Pulling in off the FV-20 it didn't look like a brilliant place but as we edged round the track birds started to appear in good numbers. We quickly added Lesser Short-toed Lark, Linnets & more Trumpeter Finches. Fancying our chances of more success we parked up and decided to give this farm land a real grilling.

Berthelot Pipits were impossible to miss, a very dainty bird who always seemed busy. On reaching the top of a sandpit two Barbary Partidges emerged. This was a great find as trip reports suggested these can be difficult. In fact we never saw anymore on the trip. There were at least three Southern Grey Shrikes roaming the area. The species we really wanted to see was Black-bellied Sandgrouse and we discovered two keeping a low profile and then flew south. Two Spectacled Warbler were chasing each other around the pits whilst we also added Coot & Moorhen. 

The day finished with 31 species. 

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