North Fuerteventura

The areas we visited in the north of the island were el Cotillo situated on the north west coast of the island and the inland sites of Los Molinos Reservoir and my favourite site on Fuerteventura, La Oliva, which is the old capital of the island.

El Cotillo

I'll begin with el Cotillo because this was probably the most disappointing site we visited on the island with the exception of one bird. We arose early in the morning to arrive at el Cotillo by daybreak. We followed the instructions in C&C and gained access to the rough track which follows the coastal plain to the north of the town. We spent a good 3 hours searching the area, mainly for Cream Coloured Courser, which we had not seen up to this point. No bustards, no coursers and no larks.

Southern Grey Shrike A few common species were seen including Berthelot's Pipit, Raven, Yellow Legged Gull, Linnet, Southern Grey Shrike and Hoopoe. We also encountered a couple of what appeared to be abandoned German Shepherd dogs that made off away from the car as fast as there dodgey legs could manage and didn't bother us. The Spanish do not appear to look after animals in the same manner as us with the exception of their hunting dogs. This leads me to the next sighting which was a lovely Barbary Falcon perched up on a rock on the coastal side of the plain. I managed to get some video of this bird and was creeping in for some closer shots when another type of shot rang out. The local hunters managed to scare off the bird before I could get any further video. It appeared that the hunting season on the Canary Islands had begun during our second week and both Fuerteventura, and Tenerife especially, were snided with 4x4 vehicles racing around the islands with cages full of hunting dogs. I'm not sure what they were hunting as the wildlife on the islands is pretty impoverished as it is without the need to go and kill more of it. Maybe they were just hunting rabbits which are quite common on the islands judging by the amount of droppings encountered.
After wasting time on the plains we headed to the north of the town towards the lighthouse as Black Bellied Sandgrouse had been seen here according to a couple of trip reports. All we saw amongst the Yellow Legged Gulls were people on the beach and some new roads that looked to be in preparation for the building of more tourist complexes.

Los Molinos Reservoir.

We attempted to gain access to the reservoir from the north and from the south following the instructions in C&C. From the north near las Parcelas the road past the goat farm was blocked and said private. so no access here. This was not a wasted journey as we spotted a pair of ravens by the goat farm on the opposite side of the road which appeared a little smaller than the other ravens in the area. These were identified as Brown Necked Raven.
Following instructions in C&C we crossed the plains to the south of the reservoir coming eventually to some buildings just before a goat farm. The goat farm access had a gate with a padlock on it. Although it was open I didn't fancy getting locked in so passed off the chance of using this access.

Los Molinos Reservoir

We parked the car at the top of the barranco that leads down to the reservoir and walked along it. After a few hundred metres we encountered a fence. We walked up the left hand side of the barranco along the fence until we found an open gate. We went through the gate and continued for several hundred yards along the to the left of the barranco before crossing it and walking up the hillside to the right of the barranco just past the goat farm. From this point it was possible to see that there was water in the reservoir towards the dam end.
It was a lengthy walk into the howling wind but the sight of 60 Ruddy Shelduck was worth it. Other birds in the area were 16 Coot, Spanish Sparrow, Kestrel, Berthelot's Pipit, Southern Grey Shrike, Yellow Legged Gull and a single Willow Warbler feeding in some very spindley little trees growing up around the edge of the reservoir.
Another wooden hide was sat on the hillside overlooking the reservoir but was the other side of another fence and like the hides at las Penitas and Rosa de Catalina Garcia reservoirs presumably required a key to gain entry. We didn't bother to check it out.
The site guide and trip reports mention the possibility of coursers or bustards on the plains. Although we searched we saw nothing but it was the middle of the day.

La Oliva

Los Negrines This was my favourite area on the island and we visited the sites here a couple of times in our short stay on Fuerteventura. The first area we visited was los Negrines along the el Cotillo road. Turn left just before entering La Oliva towards el Cotillo, go past a petrol station and continue to the last house on the outskirts of the town. Immediately on your left you will see a steep track. Take this track past a dump area and continue straight on uphill ignoring the track off to the right. Over the hill you will see some small fields and the house denoted in the C&C guide as having a cage full of dogs.
The fields prior to reaching the buildings have some small trees that look like willows beside the road. Here we saw 50 Spanish Sparrows, 12 Willow Warblers, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Pied Flycatcher and 5 Trumpeter Finches.
Houbara Bustard
We continued past the buildings and up onto the plains taking the left fork in the road. In the evening I spotted a single Houbara Bustard heading towards the fields around the buildings. As I could not get Helen onto the bird we took the car back down the track and parked under a Palm tree and watched the scrub to the right. Eventually the bustard surfaced feeding amongst the srubby vegetation. After waiting a while the bird crossed the road giving excellent views and went to feed around the fig trees on the opposite side of the road. A group of Barbary Partridge were also seen in the vegetation to the right hand side of the road.

Fuerteventura Chat As well as los Negrines we visited the site at la Oliva renowned for Fuerteventura Chat at the head of the Fimipaire valley. We followed the instructions in C&C and came to the area with the fenced off fields just before the supposed area for seeing the chats. There are now more fenced areas than suggested in C&C. These fields turned out to be the best areas to see the chats. We saw at least seven birds in this area perched up on small trees and feeding on the ground. In this area were Barbary Ground Squirrel, Spanish Sparrow, 5 Lesser Short Toed Lark, 2 Hoopoe and Southern Grey Shrike. We didn't continue down into the valley but the track was reasonable and may have been rewarding.

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