Lying just 60 miles off the Moroccan coast, islands in the Eastern part of the group are more strongly influenced by the proximity of North Africa and its hot, dry climate and, as a result, have a very different flora and fauna to that found on the wetter and more Westerly islands such as Tenerife and Gran Canaria.
On Fuerteventura, the rocky slopes of once mighty volcanoes have been sculpted by the wind into an endless variety of surreal shapes and cactus-like Euphorbias and giant Lobelias can be found. This arid, semi-desert landscape is home to the unique Canary Islands Stonechat, an attractive endemic, which is found only on Fuerteventura. The island is also a vital stronghold of the endangered Houbara Bustard; indeed, nowadays this is probably the best place in the world to see this declining species. As we search for these two scarce and very special birds, we should also come across a range of other desert specialists, such as Cream-coloured Courser, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Trumpeter Finch.
Being an island, the overall range of species is relatively low (we can expect to see in the region of 50-65 species during the week), but this is more than made up by the quality. Three further Macaronesian endemics, Plain Swift, Berthelot’s Pipit and small numbers of Atlantic Canary, also find a home on Fuerteventura, whilst the likes of Barbary Partridge, Egyptian Vulture, Laughing Dove, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Spectacled Warbler and African Blue Tit are among an array of other possible species. Cory’s Shearwaters are regular offshore and waders we should see include Black-winged Stilt and Kentish Plover. Several pairs of Barbary Falcon now breed on the island and, with luck, we may find them too.
Another appealing aspect of any autumn birdwatching tour to the Canary Islands is the chance of encountering windblown migrants from Africa or even a trans-Atlantic vagrant or two from North America.
We will also visit the two small wetlands on the island, where we can expect to find Ruddy Shelduck (a relatively recent arrival to Fuerteventura which is now well established on the island), and where ‘waifs and strays’ have included Marbled Duck and Ring-necked Duck. Our autumn 2019 tour was lucky to enjoy superb views of a Dwarf Bittern, a vagrant from its home in sub-Saharan Africa!
Our resident Spanish guide Fernando Enrique has made many trips to the Canary Islands and looks forward to sharing the unique island of Fuerteventura with you.
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