Friday, 12 October 2012

Azores 1: Corvo and back

One of seven often approachable White-rumped Sandpipers at Mosteiros, São Miguel.
All of the White-rumps were juveniles, with their tell-tale chestnut-tinged cap, ear-covert spot and mantle 'braces'.
So many birds, so little time - and ditto internet access, so I'll be brief. I arrived on the Azores three days ago for a few days ahead of leading the annual Birdwatch magazine reader holiday around the islands. With just a morning to spare on São Miguel on 10th I visited Mosteiros and rounded up seven White-rumped Sandpipers and a Eurasian Spoonbill, before returning to Ponta Delgada and finding the islands' fourth-ever Caspian Tern in the harbour (perhaps the same bird being responsible for a previous unconfirmed report of Royal Tern).

This very lost Caspian Tern, a moulting adult, is just the third record for the Azores. Here it shares a jetty in Ponta Delgada harbour with distinctively plumaged 'Azores Gulls' (true atlantis Yellow-legged Gull).
Then it was straight on a plane to Corvo, teaming up with Josh Jones and Danish birders Jens and Lars en route, before dropping off luggage at the Comodoro and getting a lift from Kat up to Ribeira da Ponte, where a Chinese-whispered Blue-winged Warbler had become a Magnolia Warbler by the time we got there. Elusive at first, it finally gave good enough views in the canopy before I left to try not for the 'mega' Wood Thrush on the island (more time needed) but for American Cliff Swallow, at least one of which appeared in a flock of hirundines above the Miradouro.

A record shot of the Magnolia Warbler, flitting through the canopy of the open laurel woodland.
Next day duly brought the Wood Thrush, fleetingly but stonkingly, plus a bonus Blackpoll Warbler at the same site. An Indigo Bunting, and later more White-rumped Sandpipers and a couple of Semipalmated Plovers on the airfield, ended a highly memorable day, while this excellent side trip concluded the following morning with the long-staying Solitary Sandpiper up on the mountain. With barely time to catch my breath on arrival back in Ponta Delgada, I again had the Caspian Tern flying over the harbour. Phew ... time to crash, and start all over in the morning. Can't wait.

Indigo Bunting on Corvo:  the species seems to be annual not just on the island, but in the same group of trees.

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