Sunday, 18 March 2012

Azores 1: ducks deluxe

One of the two drake Blue-winged Teal which have overwintered on Sao Miguel (there were originally three).
After an unfeasibly early start yesterday, I was on Sao Miguel by lunchtime ready to begin an exploratory late winter/early spring trip to the Azores. A day and a half later and I'm shattered - but it's been well worth it. Haven't got time right now to do it justice in words (though watch out in Birdwatch for more on this in due course), but hopefully these images will do some of the talking in the meantime.

A drake Lesser Scaup (right) with two drake Ring-necked Ducks today. Just outside this picture were a female Lesser Scaup and three Greater Scaup - an impressive mixed flock in a European context.
The same lake held a pair of Northern Pintail (drake above left) and two American Wigeon (above right).
Though the mix of species is different, the dominance of quality American vagrants and a few other surprises echos the theme of autumn tour I lead. Of course, in autumn migration is taking place and the possibilities for exciting birding are even greater, but already in 36 hours this trip has exceeded expectations.

This long-staying American Coot (rearmost bird) is still keeping company with its Eurasian cousins.
Large gatherings of atlantis Yellow-legged Gulls (better known as Azores Gull) often attract other larids, this wayward second-winter Iceland Gull being a case in point.
Not all vagrants are from the west, as this beautiful Purple Heron proved yesterday.
 Special thanks to Gerby Michielsen, who as always has been a big help, and keep tabs on the Twitter feed on my homepage for interesting sightings as they happen.

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