Saturday, 23 October 2010

The final countdown

Finally - the American Black Tern in Ponta Delgada harbour.
At the third time of asking this morning, we finally connected with the American Black Tern in Ponta Delgada on São Miguel - a great piece of spotting by John. The bird showed very well for a short time, but before long it flew off east and was lost to view.

With our flight home necessitating a return to the airport mid-morning, we had time to visit just one last local site - a duck pond on a farm north of the capital. Amazingly, among a motley assortment of barnyard ducks and geese, it also held two Blue-winged Teal, a Eurasian Wigeon, a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper and - best of all in terms of rarity status - a White Wagtail which I picked up catching insects along the far edge of the pond. Having seen what must be thousands of Grey Wagtails in the islands over the years, it made a change to clap eyes on a different Motacilla species. With just 25 previous records, White Wagtail is only marginally commoner than, say, Red-eyed Vireo in these islands.

Vagrants from east and west: the 26th White Wagtail for the Azores
is flanked by two Blue-winged Teal on a small farm pond ...

... while a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper struts along a muddy edge nearby.
So another Azores tour comes to an end. Despite the complete absence of westerly winds this year - a rare event - we still logged 15 species of Nearctic vagrant, as well as some very rare Eurasian visitors to the islands. A great time was had by all, with every participant getting assorted lifers, and in due course I'll upload a full trip report online - watch out for the link on this blog.

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