Friday, 22 October 2010

Three islands, six Yanks

The Great Blue Heron on Terceira could not have performed better.
Our last whole day on the islands was a long one. It started on Faial and ended on São Miguel, but the lion's share was spent on Terceira, where this cracking Great Blue Heron put on a fine show at Paul da Praia.

Lesser Yellowlegs (left) and Pectoral Sandpiper go head to head at Cabo.
We quickly moved on to the famous quarry at Cabo da Praia, where the tide was up and waders were congregating in several discrete areas. Sanderlings and Turnstones always seem to dominate at this unique tidal location, but careful scrutiny over two hours produced no fewer than 16 species of shorebird - four of them American. Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated and Pectoral Sandpipers numbered two each, while a Buff-breasted Sandpiper was our third individual of this species of the trip. A juvenile Little Stint made for good side-by-side comparison with the 'Semi-ps', while another candidate for a female-type Green-winged Teal boosted the Yank total further to five species at the site and six for the day.

A record shot of today's Buff-breasted Sandpiper (right) with a Ruff.
After Cabo there was just time to visit another wetland location, where we flushed a possible Wilson's Snipe - the bird showed almost no white trailing edge and appeared cold in tone and rather dark, but unfortunately dropped out of view and was not seen again. One that got away, and arguably the hardest of the regular Nearctic vagrants to clinch.

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