Biotrotting the Canary Islands

Before embarking on a longer journey heading west, the first stop for Biotrotters Joel and Brenda is Fuerteventura, a small island in the Atlantic ocean close to Africa, which is also Brenda´s home island. While visiting family, working and finishing up university studies in the weekdays, the weekends are spent doing excursions to experience the beautiful scenary and wildlife of this very dry and old volcanic island. The volcanoes climbed and the hikes accomplished are part of a warming up program for the upcoming long journey we plan for South America!

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While there are not many native mammal species on the island, there are quite a few bird species present of which several subspecies are endemic to the Canary islands and some to Fuerteventura. The populations of endemic species have suffered a lot from habitat loss and introductions of invasive species but we head out to try to see the very endangered subspecies of egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus majorensis) and Houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata fuerteventurae) who’s extremely small populations are being driven towards extinction on the island.

Sacred ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) patrolling the beach in Barranco de los Canarios southern Fuerteventura

The plants you on Fuerteventura are quite few in comparison with other Canary islands, and the species you find are mostly small shrubs especially adapted for the dry and windy conditions on the island. The tallest peak, located in south the island (Pico de la Zarza, 817 m) holds a more lush vegetation because of the more moist conditions you find there.

Balsam spurge (Euphorbia balsamifera) and the town of Morro Jable going up Pico de la Zarza, Fuerteventura

Squirrels are cute and fun to feed for tourists but since their introduction from North Africa in the 1960s they have caused a lot of damage to the native wildlife, especially to the the birds.

Barbary ground Squirrel (Atlantoxerus getulus) in Calderón hondo Fuerteventura


  2 comments for “Biotrotting the Canary Islands

  1. M-R
    July 23, 2014 at 05:16

    The grey squirrel seems to cause trouble wherever he goes, eh ? – and now there are so few let of the reds (in the places they’re native to) … Presumably some halfwit introduced them here for some subjective reason.

    • July 26, 2014 at 23:48

      Yes, What we heard is that they were brought as pets or accidentally with boats. Its too bad since there were no squirrels at all before the the barbary ground squirrel (Atlantoxerus getulus) came to stay.

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