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Canary Islands: Fuerteventura Fuerteventura in Autumn

A 7-day, single-centre birdwatching tour to Fuerteventura, in the Canary Islands.

The island of Fuerteventura, in the Canary Islands, is home to its own unique endemic bird, the Canary Islands Stonechat, and is nowadays probably the best place in the world to see the endangered Houbara Bustard. Three further Macaronesian endemics - Plain Swift, Berthelot's Pipit and Atlantic Canary - occur on the island and other specialities include Cream-coloured Courser, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, African Blue Tit and Trumpeter Finch. A November visit adds a chance of possible autumn migrants, too.

Tour Dates

2019

Spaces
6

Leaders
Stephen Daly

Max Group Size: 7
Duration: 7 Days

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Cost: £1695

inc return flights from London Gatwick-Fuerteventura, nonstop with Easyjet

Deposit: £300

Single Supp: £245
Land Only: £1545

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Canary Islands Chat Fuerteventura Canary Is JCranmer July 2008

The delightful Canary Islands Stonechat occurs only on the island of Fuerteventura and nowhere else in the world © tour participant John Cranmer

This one-week birdwatching tour to the Canary Islands features a six-night stay on the island of Fuerteventura, one of the two easternmost islands of this fascinating Atlantic archipelago - and the most interesting for birds. Lying just 60 miles off the Moroccan coast, islands in the eastern part of the Canaries group are more strongly influenced by the proximity of North Africa and its hot, dry climate, and so present a very different flora and fauna to that which is found on the wetter and more westerly islands in the group (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 peculiar 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 species that is found only on the island of Fuerteventura and nowhere else. Fuerteventura is also a vital stronghold of the endangered Houbara Bustard; indeed, it is probably the best place in the world to see this rapidly disappearing species. As we search for these two scarce and very special birds, we should come across a range of other desert dwelling specialists, such as Cream-coloured Courser, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Trumpeter Finch.  

Being an island, the overall range of species is quite low (we can expect to see 50-65 species during the week), but this is more than made up for in quality. Three further Macaronesian endemics - Plain Swift, Berthelot’s Pipit and small numbers of Atlantic Canary - also find a home on Fuerteventura, while the likes of Barbary Partridge, Egyptian Vulture, Laughing Dove, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Desert Grey Shrike, Spectacled Warbler and African Blue Tit are among an array of other possible treats in store. Cory's Shearwaters are regularly present offshore and waders we should see include Black-winged Stilt and Kentish Plover. Several pairs of Barbary Falcon now breed on the island and we might be lucky.

Another appealing aspect of any spring or autumn birding 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. November is a good month to search for these. We will visit the two small wetlands on the island, where we can expect to find Ruddy Shelduck (a relatively recent arrival to Fuerteventura, now well established on the island), and where 'waifs and strays' have included Marbled Duck and Ring-necked Duck.

We are based throughout at the comfortable Oasis Casa Vieja, a small rural hotel situated near La Oliva, inland and away from the island's sprawling coastal resorts. The rooms are delightful and the food is good.

Stephen Daly has visited the Canary Islands many times, especially the island of Fuerteventura with its enticing resident birds and potential for turning up something unexpected on migration.

African Blue Tit (C teneriffae degener) Fuerteventura Canary Is Stephen Daly andalucianguides.com 711

African Blue Tit (Cyanistes teneriffae) on Fuerteventura © Stephen Daly, andalucianguides.com

Day 1
FLY TO FUERTEVENTURA

Our birdwatching tour to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands begins with a scheduled flight from London Gatwick direct to the island. On arrival on Fuerteventura we make the short transfer north (about 30 minutes) to our hotel for the week, the charming and comfortable Hotel Oasis Casa Vieja, near La Oliva in the north of the island. Night La Oliva      

Days 2 - 6
FUERTEVENTURA

Measuring approximately 60 miles long by 18 miles wide, Fuerteventura lies at the eastern end of this Atlantic archipelago and is second largest of the Canary Islands (after Tenerife). Its position just 60 miles off the coast of North Africa also makes Fuerteventura one of the two closest of the Canary Islands to the African mainland. Indeed its dry, desert-like terrain reflects that of southern Morocco and birding highlights similarly include a range of arid country specialists such as Cream-coloured Courser, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and Spectacled Warbler that can sometimes be tricky to find elsewhere. Egyptian Vultures still soar over the island's hills and plains, although numbers are low nowadays and they can often be hard to find.

The two star birds on Fuerteventura are the Canary Islands Stonechat - a perky Macaronesian endemic that’s found only on Fuerteventura and nowhere else in the world - and the furtive Houbara Bustard. The former has a penchant for the island’s vegetated barrancos (arid gorges), while the latter is a bird of the island’s semi-desert hillsides and plains. As the population of Houbara Bustards elsewhere in the world continues to dwindle due to persistent hunting, Fuerteventura is now probably the best place to catch up with this gravely endangered bird. Plain Swift, Berthelot’s Pipit and the scarce Atlantic Canary are three further Macaronesian endemics we shall be looking out for during our stay.

As we search for them, we should come across the engaging Trumpeter Finch and more wary Barbary Partridge, two semi-desert specialists which are more numerous and generally easier to find here than elsewhere in the Canary Islands. Lesser Short-toed Larks are also numerous on Fuerteventura and other notable species we should encounter during our travels around the island include Stone-curlew, Kentish Plover, Laughing Dove, Desert Grey Shrike and African Blue Tit. We'll scan offshore for Cory's Shearwater and watch the coastal cliffs and skies for Barbary Falcon. Barbary Ground Squirrels scurry amongst the rocks at our feet, although they are not native to the Canaries having been introduced to the islands from Morocco.

Unsurprisingly, wetland areas are few and far between in this arid landscape so the island's reservoirs act as a magnet to migrant birds. Ruddy Shelduck and Black-winged Stilt are resident and in November a variety of passage waders are also possible around the shore. Little Ringed Plover, Ruff, Greenshank, Whimbrel, Dunlin and Little Stint could all be about.

Windblown wetland birds of all shapes and sizes have a habit of turning up here on migration and more unusual sightings in recent years have included Bittern, Squacco Heron, Marbled Duck and even Allen’s Gallinule! This is also a good time to check for vagrants from ‘across the pond’ and North American waterfowl such as Blue-winged Teal and Ring-necked Duck are not infrequently recorded on the island. Five further nights at La Oliva        

Day 7
FUERTEVENTURA, FLY LONDON

Depending on airline schedules, we may have time to enjoy some final birding on the island today before catching our flight back to London Gatwick, where our birdwatching tour to Fuerteventura concludes.

Houbara Fuerteventura Canary Islands Malcolm McDonald 2013

Fuerteventura is nowadays probably the best place in the world to see the gravely endangered Houbara Bustard © tour participant Malcolm McDonald

What To Expect

Our birdwatching tours to the Canary Islands are not run-of-the-mill package holidays, bought off the peg. Instead, we use scheduled (not charter flights) and our trips to Fuerteventura feature six nights at a charming rural hotel, inland and well away from the sprawling hotel resorts on the coast. Our tour price includes the cost of flights, accommodation and all main meals, plus all birding excursions, transportation, guidance, tips and taxes.

The climate in the Canary Islands is pleasant and near perfect all year round. Lying closest Africa, the more easterly island of Fuerteventura averages a little warmer and drier than Tenerife in the west. Expect temperatures in the range of 18-21C (64-69F), with highs of 24C (75F) and up to 9 hours of sunshine. Rainfall is low year-round on Fuerteventura; November averages just three wet days and a monthly rainfall total of just 20 mm.

Birds

50-65 species

Butterflies

Fuerteventura has a small but fascinating list of butterflies. We may be out of season for some, but those we should see include the tiny African Grass Blue, African Tiger and Monarch.

Accommodation

Six nights at the charming and comfortable Hotel Oasis Casa Vieja, near La Oliva in the north of Fuerteventura. All rooms are en suite.

Meals

All main meals are included in the tour price, commencing with dinner at the hotel on Day 1 and concluding with breakfast there on Day 7. Breakfast and dinner at the hotel; lunches will usually be picnics although we sometimes enjoy a sit down meal at a local venta

Walking

Easy. Short walks. Comfy walking shoes or lightweight boots with good grip recommended. Training shoes may suffice at times but note that the volcanic rock can be hard and rough underfoot at times, so we advise you bring shoes with sturdy, corrugated soles.

Travel

Scheduled flights from London Gatwick direct to Fuerteventura with Easyjet. Flying time is approx. 4 hrs 30 mins.

Ground Transport is by minibus.

Lesser Short toed Lark Fuerteventura Stephen Daly

Lesser Short-toed Larks are numerous on Fuerteventura, where the arid plains provide ideal habitat © Stephen Daly/Daly Wildlife

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