Saturday, 18 June 2011

Vagrant Yellow-crowned Night-heron: the movie


I first heard there was a Yellow-crowned Night-heron in Madeira in late March, when Hugo Romano posted news of the amazing retrospective discovery to WestPalBirds - it transpired the bird had first been seen by a non-birder in early February. Coming hot on the heels of one on Terceira in the Azores, it was clear from plumage details that they were different birds.

Then came the amazing revelation that there had been an earlier bird on the Azores last autumn, this time on Pico. So, after no previous Western Palearctic occurrences, three birds in the space of five months – amazing! For those who like to know such details, WP records are therefore as follows:
  • Azores: immature at Angra do Heroismo, Terceira, 24 July 2010-18 April 2011.
  • Azores: juvenile at Lajes do Pico, Pico, 18-28 October 2010.
  • Madeira: second-calendar-year in Funchal marina, from early February to at least 18 June 2011.
I didn't expect it would stay, but the Funchal bird lingered for quite a long time, and though elusive I managed to find it at the second attempt in May when I was visiting the island. I’ve already posted a still image of it in my earlier trip coverage on this blog, but thought this short sequence – shot on a Canon EOS 7D in high-definition movie mode – would give a better feel for the bird’s jizz (thanks to my son Ed, as always, for the excellent video editing).

Only time will tell if this unprecedented arrival was a one-off event, or whether more Yellow-crowned Night-herons – especially in less obvious juvenile plumage – will be detected in future.

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