Saturday, 26 September 2015

Azores rares: read all about them

When I first visited the Azores back in September 1994, the only easily accessible birding ‘literature’ was a handful of random trip reports. They provided an exciting but inevitably incomplete taste of the rare and scarce species turning up in the islands. My own inaugural visit added a few more records of vagrant American waders and wildfowl, but also set in train an ongoing connection with this beautiful Atlantic archipelago. I’ve now made 14 visits (some the highlights of which are summarised in this BirdGuides article), and look forward to leading another group to the islands in a fortnight’s time.

The Azores birding scene is altogether more co-ordinated these days, with a small but active resident community of birders spread across the islands and a growing cohort of regular visitors. From this network the Azores Bird Club has emerged, and now, plugging that much-needed gap in archiving the growing volume of records, there is a bird report documenting the islands’ scarcer migrants and vagrants.

After last year’s first report, a more comprehensive edition for 2014 is about to be published. Compiled principally by Peter Alfrey, Richard Bonser, Josh Jones, Darryl Spittle, Vincent Legrand and Sofia Goulart, it includes a comprehensive review of the year, a 50-page systematic list, finders’ accounts for the first Northern Shrike and Barred Warbler for the islands (the former also being the first for the Western Palearctic), a rare regional record of South Polar Skua, and more than 50 mouth-watering photos of locally and regionally rare species, including a stellar cast of American waders and warblers.

I joined the editorial team in the latter stages of report production; naturally, my opinion is completely biased! But I do think that if you have ever visited the Azores or intend to do so, you may well want to obtain a copy; more than that, with details of many records of rare Western Palearctic species, it will serve as a key reference for keen birders elsewhere in the region.

The print run is limited, so any interest should be expressed now to guarantee a copy. You can order by emailing azoresbs@hotmail.co.uk with your name, email and postal address. The price is £10 UK/€15 continental Europe, including p&p.

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