Saturday, 10 February 2018

Fuerteventura 10th-17th January 2018.

It was a sunny start to the holiday though with a somewhat turbulent end to it! More about that later.

Barbary Ground Squirrels had been brought to the island 4 decades ago as pets! They have now colonised the entire island. Not surprisingly they are an invasive species causing damage to Canarian native animals and plants. There are signs asking people 'Please do not to feed the Chipmunks' as the authorities do not wish for their population to grow. It was funny to see they are also known as Chipmunks.They do look cute though and are very photogenic.

This particular character was found along a promenade amongst the rocks on the shoreline, they apparently nest in burrows amongst the rocks. Similarly to Meerkats one will be on the look out for predators which this Squirrel appeared to be doing.


No doubt they are also on the look out for debris as a food source. I will say no more on the subject of ocean plastic!!!!
 
This character was spotted in a different area. As you can see there was more than one of them.
 
The squirrels were spotted appearing from the rocks in the centre of this image. It did seem strange seeing the squirrels so close to people and to the sea.
 
A couple of Monarch butterflies were active in the warm sunshine.
 
A splendid looking bed of various Cacti species.

This Cattle Egret looked quite lonely on it's own searching for insects, there was not a cow in sight on what was a huge area of wasteland between resorts.

                                                        
                                                 A shy Collard Dove?
                       
                                                           No, just preening!
  
I love the changing colours of the sea in the next 2 images.

 A Common Sandpiper, a Little Egret and a few Yellow-legged Gulls were the only birds found along the shoreline.
 

 
..............................
 
We took a taxi ride to Puerta Del Rosario a busy port and the capital of Fuerteventura. It is known for its whitewashed houses and open-air artworks.
 
 
Street Art, Puerta Del Rosario, Fuerteventura (David Lea Kenney)
This wall entirely covered in street art was amazing to see, quite surreal as it was so huge!
 
The cars that were parked give some indication as to the size of the wall art.
 
 
.........................
 
A mornings guided birding was enjoyed with Derek Bradbury (
 
Highlight species seen in order of sighting were:
Spanish Sparrow, Southern Grey Shrike, Kestrel, Laughing Dove, Chiffchaff, Barbary Partridge, Willow Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Collared Dove, Atlantic Canary, Raven (including hearing the Raven making the ' clicking/popping sound ' ), North West African Blue Tit, Grey Heron, Ring Ouzel x4, Spectacled warbler, Common Buzzard and Berthelot's Pipit. Not too shabby for a morning's birding and the scenery was awesome!

                                               Barbary Partridge...honestly! ;-)
                             
                                                      Berthelot's Pipit

                                                   Southern Grey Shrike
The Shrike was fairly close to a path we were walking and was not phased by us. I was told it is a juvenile and was practising it songs/calls, it could be heard from quite a distance. It was the closest I have ever been to one, such a stunning looking and sounding bird.

 
 

Spanish Sparrow
I reckon I saw more Spanish Sparrows throughout the week than I have seen House Sparrows back home in 6 months!


                                                         
                                                          Laughing Dove
What a treat to see and hear the Laughing Dove. It was fairly mobile in a not too extensive area of dry scrub land and fields so it was a case of waiting patiently for an opportunity to view and luckily photograph the Dove. It's call did sound like human laughter, amazing!

 


                                                              Common  Kestrel
Lovely to see the kestrel in such good light as it scoured the area below for food!
 
Spectacled Warbler
The Spectacled Warbler was the last bird seen on what had been a good 5 hours  birding! It sang beautifully as it busily flew from shrub to shrub no doubt trying to attract a mate.
 
Castor oil Plant
The green capsule dries and splits into three sections, thus ejecting the seeds. Several were seen on the scrub land as we walked along a ravine.




This was the only Lizard sighted on what was a lovely warm sunny day. I had expected to see a few out sunbathing.

 

A visit to Betancuria is well worth it and a fantastic experience coming over the mountains.



                                    Noria de tiro - water supply well - Betancuria.
They are also called blood waterwheels because of the animal strength required, from donkeys or camels, to extract water from the wells.
 
Betancuria is a small village that comes to life during the day thanks to the many tourists that visit on day-trips, filling the craft shops, cafes and restaurants.
 
We stopped at Castillo de Lara, a rural park that is surrounded by mountains. It is the only forest ecosystem on the island. It was here that we listened to a perched singing Atlantic Canary, a real treat that was too! The park was well equipped for visitors, locals and tourists alike. There were barbecues for whoever wished to make use of them, tables, benches, toilets and a playground and all surrounded by young pines which created a fresh and humid microclimate to the area.
 
 
It had been a super trip and in so many stunning areas!
......................................
 
Hoopoes.
I am going to indulge my love of Hoopoes now!
Two were spotted whilst we were walking along a promenade, they were busily searching for insects and quite oblivious (to a point) of people walking not too far away from them. I was told the  ' parrots are regulars' in the area! I politely informed the lady the correct name of the species. Good to see that they are noticed and enjoyed.
The Hoopoes gave me an opportunity to take a few pics of them at close (ish) range as they flew to the trees, grass and fence poles that separated the promenade from holiday bungalows.
So here we go:
 










 
.......................................
Now for the 'turbulent' end to the holiday. I am of course talking about the wind speeds and the turbulent sea. The name of the island Fuerteventura translates to "strong wind" this gives an indication of what to expect. Fair enough but the wind speed was averaging 30-35+mph, not what we expected and the residents were none too happy with the weather conditions either.
However it did make for some spectacular waves and sea sprays!



The strength of the wind lifted one of the concrete seats!! The local police cordoned a section of the promenade off as it was getting dangerous to walk along as you can see from the images.

 
 
                                   The Collared Dove didn't seem phased.lol

 
It was a great holiday despite the strong to gale winds at the end of the week and despite only managing just over an hours sunbathing!!! ;-)
 
I will end with a video taken of the tranquil sea.