|After dipping by 10 minutes yesterday, we could not have hoped for better views of White-tailed Tropicbird today.|
This most westerly European island has provided exhilaration and frustration in imbalanced measure, most of it on account of one of the rarest seabird vagrants to reach the Western Palearctic.
For the last few days a White-tailed Tropicbird has been appearing late afternoon at the coastal village of Fajazinha, even perching briefly on buildings before returning to the sea, and when I arrived with the group yesterday afternoon a text from Staffan Rodebrand revealed it was back. Cue a mad cross-island dash for this much-wanted bird, only to arrive and be told we'd just missed it. Mortified was not the word, but we took it on the chin and elected to try again the following afternoon.
|At times the bird flew right over our head, sometimes attempting to land on buildings.|
So that came good, unlike what was surely one that got away. After the tropicbird we visited Ponta da Faja, the recent temporary home of a Swainson's Thrush. While 'squeaking' in an area of overgrown orchards and fields, I glimpsed a movement of something coming in to investigate - it quickly flew through cover around us in a semi-circle and went into the hedge behind me. I turned and squeaked some more, and could again detect branches moving, but could not properly lock onto the skulker through the dense foliage. Another squeak from me, and this time it responded with several harsh, scolding cat-like calls in quick succession. It had to be a Grey Catbird, a species I know well from North America, and a distinctive call with which I'm very familiar. I immediately got out my iPod and tried to lure it in with a recording, which was almost identical to what we'd just heard. Alas, the bird did not come out this time, presumably having already sussed us out, and further searches of the area by dusk proved fruitless.
All this in a day which started with a vagrant Barn Swallow which I picked up in the lane next to our guest house, and then a far rarer vagrant Wood Duck (albeit one which may have been present for a year, on a lake where two were found last autumn).
|One of the three Semipalmated Plovers at Cabo da Praia, Terceira, yesterday.|
|Also at Cabo was a trio of juvenile White-rumped Sandpipers.|