The endemic stonechat

I am a birdwatcher since childhood. I don't do much bird watching actively these days: it's more of a constant background process, but whenever I am going abroad on vacation, I try to do at least a little research around what birds I may encounter. And during the vacation, I try at least a little to come across some of them.

During a trip to Fuerteventura recently we took a walk in the stony hills next to the hotel area, and during that walk I observed a Fuerteventura stonechat (also known as Canary Islands stonechat). This was a species that I was hoping to come across during the trip, but I was quite unsure how hard or easy it would be to find it. I did some reading of trip reports from birdwatchers and some of them indicated that it was not entirely obvious to find it. Well, I was lucky I guess. During the same walk I also noted trumpeter finch and (it would turn out later) Berthelot's pipit, all three new species to me.

The special thing about the Fuerteventura stonechat, as the name indicates, is that it is endemic to Fuerteventura, which means it's found only on this island. There are occasional reports from the neighboring island Lanzarote, but essentially Fuerteventura is the only place on earth where this specific bird is found. To some extent, this is the case also for Berthelot's pipit, which is found on the Canary and Madeira islands.

I took a few hours one of the days to walk around in the hills where I had seen the bird, trying to get close enough to get some photos of it. It was not so hard to find the bird, as it likes to sit quite visibly. Even though it did have a good sense of distance, I managed to get some photos I felt happy with. On my way back I stopped for a moment on a ridge to enjoy the view over the sea. Then I turned around to continue my walk home, only to see this little guy perched on a stone right in front of me. And it did something that birds don't do very often: it stayed while I got the camera up.

© 2021 - Fredrik Mörk