iBirdz

Central Fuerteventura


The areas we visited in the central band of the island were the Salinas del Carmen and the Barranco de Torre which are close together plus two inland sites Las Penitas Reservoir up in the hills and Rosa de Catalina Garcia Reservoir.

Las Penitas Reservoir

Las Penitas Reservoir The reservoir of Las Penitas is situated in the central uplands of Fuerteventura beside the small village of la Vega de Rio las Palmas. The village is accessed from the FV30. Coming from the north via the village of Betancuria it is signposted off to the right down a tarmac track. This road takes you through the village and ends above the reservoir which can be overlooked from the road.
On our visit the reservoir itself was dry but we did manage to see a European Bee-Eater along the road. It is not possble to get closer to the reservoir from this portion of the road as all the land around it is private with many signs stating this fact. To gain access to the reservoir and the barranco leading into to the reservoir return along the road until you reach a bridge which crosses the barranco.
Park beside the bridge and walk along the barranco. The tracks will take you to the reservoir. When approaching close to the reservoir it is best to walk up the hillside to the right where you will see a small wooden hide over looking the water, when there is water present. During our visit the reservoir was completely dry.
The hide was locked and I am not aware of whether it is possible to obtain a key to gain entry to this hide or the similar structures at los Molinos and Rosa de Catalina Garcia reservoirs.
There are signs in the barranco asking not to walk in the area due to breeding birds. At this point we walked up and along the hillside to the reservoir overlooking the barranco.
Las Penitas Reservoir
The only water present in the area was a small trickle in the bottom of the barranco close to the bridge, which went for approximately 200 to 300 metres. In this area we saw Goldfinch coming to drink, Sardinian Warbler and Spanish Sparrow in the Tamarisks and the degener race of African Blue Tit, endemic to Fuerteventura, feeding in trees close to the bridge.
At the bridge close to the parking area was a small field and wall. The local Barbary Ground Squirrels living in the wall were highly inquisitive and came to our feet encouraged by a few digestive biscuits. There were also several Epaulet Skimmer and Scarlet Darter dragonflies around the muddy pools of water.
Further along the barranco we picked up a Pied Flycatcher in the bottom plus Southern Grey Shrike and Spectacled Warbler on the hillside. Kestrel, Buzzard and Raven were all seen flying over the reservoir.
After visiting the area we continued along the FV30 up into the hills to stop at the view points along it, to photograph the excellent scenery. At the first view point along the road there are more Barbary Ground Squirrels that are used to being fed. These cute little squirrels are very confiding and will approach to within a foot as will the local Berthelot's Pipits if food is available.
From this first view point two Barbary Partridges were seen on the hillside through the heat haze.

Barbary Ground Squirrel                  Berthelot's Pipit

Salinas del Carmen and Barranco de Torre

I have grouped these two sites as it is possible to access both sites together. From the FV2 south of Caleta de Fustes the salt pans are signposted off the main road. These salt pans are now a working museum, which was closed when we arrived. However, it is possble to walk along the coast past the salt pans after parking in the museum car park. You cannot miss the salt pans as there is a skeleton of a large whale situated behind them.
There was nothing but Yellow Legged Gulls on the pans themselves, however, a few birds of note were seen along the shore including two Grey Plover, a Sanderling, ten Turnstone, six Common Sandpiper, one Ringed Plover and two Sandwich Terns fishing offshore.
Barranco de Torre To reach the Barranco de Torre, continue to the end of the car park, drive through the village and onto a rough coastal track which takes you down a steep hill to a couple of derelict buildings. Turn right at this point into the barranco. It is possible to drive along the bottom of the barranco, assuming there is no water present, along a decent track. This road turns left after several hundred yards to some farm dwellings. We parked at this point and continued on foot but the track appeared drivable for the portion of it that we walked.
The barranco is said to be a good spot for Fuerteventura Chat. Unfortunately we did not see this bird in the vicinity.
In the area surrounding the barranco we had distant views of a pair of Egyptian Vultures circling the hillsides and several Pallid Swifts.
In the barranco itself we had excellent views of Trumpeter Finch perched on the rocky cliffs of the gorge. These were coming down onto the ground to feed at the edge of the barranco. Other birds seen in the barranco were Kestrel, Berhtelot's Pipit, Spanish Sparrow, Sardinian Warbler, Hoopoe and Southern Grey Shrike.
These birds were all seen along the first portion of the barranco which is a protected area for birds.
Trumpeter Finch
However, after reaching the end of the small protected area you will come to a huge quarrying operation that is tearing the heart out of the barranco. We didn't go past this point due to time constraints but it appeared possible to continue past the quarry.

Rosa de Catalina Garcia Reservoir

Rosa de Catalina Garcia Reservoir To reach this site, if heading south along the FV2 from the airport, turn right at a traffic island along the FV20 signposted to Tuineje. After approximately 5 km you will pass a brown sign on the right of the road stating Rosa de Catalina Garcia. After about another kilometre you will see a track just before a white buliding. On taking this track you will see the reservoir. Simply follow the track which takes you right up to it. We took the track to the right hand side of the water which allowed us along a bank behind it.
This reservoir appears to be a protected area, having signs stating that it is protected and that domesticated animals should not be dumped in the area. There is also a hide here but without a key it cannot be accessed. However, using the car as a hide it was possible to sit and obtain close views of the birds on and around the reservoir.
Around the reservoir were Southern Grey Shrike and Buzzard. The more interesting birds were on and around the water. These included 3 Little Egret, 70 Coot, 20 Moorhem, 2 Ruddy Shelduck, 12 Black Winged Stilt, a Spoonbill and a Chinese Spotbill of dubious origin. However, the bird could obviously fly and was not ringed. A single Sand Martin was also seen hunting for insects over the water.
There were several species of drgonflies around the edge of the reservoir including Emperor species and Red Veined and Island Darters.
We attempted to return along the other side of the reservoir but found the track only suitable for a 4x4 so returned via the same route we came on.
Ruddy Shelduck


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