Friday, 1 November 2013

Way out west update

It has been a topsy turvy couple of days to be honest. I am writing this from a hotel in Santa Cruz on Flores because with the dreaded northerly winds predicted for tomorrow (Friday), they said it would be touch and go whether the flight from Corvo will leave. And reluctantly, yesterday, I made the decision to bust a move and take the five minute flight (yes, five minutes) to the neighbouring island of Flores - where the runway is much less susceptible to cross winds. Before I left Corvo though, with the two Glossy Ibises still chilling out on the airfield, Ilkka somehow managed to find this Black-and-white Warbler in Da Ponte: -
Black-and-white Warbler Ribeira da Ponte, Corvo 30th October 2013
So I've tagged on to a Finnish team here on Flores - exceptionally good company and really enjoying things with Janne, Potu and Ilkka. It was mad windy when we awoke this morning, but bright. So we headed up to the old soccer field at Ponta Delgada where the shit really did start to hit the fan from the word go. A small wader feeding unobtrusively was quickly nailed as a Least Sandpiper - a bird I'd never found before - while also there were some leftovers from the last week or two with an American Buff-bellied Pipit, Semipalmated Plover and a couple of White-rumped Sandpipers still present.
Least Sandpiper, Ponta Delgada, Flores 31st October 2013

American Buff-bellied Pipit, Ponta Delgada, Flores 31st October 2013
Then, as if it were like a leaf being blown off a tree, a wader tumbled out of the sky from the west and looked as though it was heading into the harbour. Rushing through the fields, and then down the steps, we found this fresh bad boy Greater Yellowlegs looking up at us: -
Greater Yellowlegs, Ponta Delgada, Flores 31st October 2013
It was evidently new in the area, as it flew about a bit not really having a clue where to feed, before it departed high to the south towards the hillside to the south of Ponta Delgada. I was well pumped with this, and as we headed back up towards the soccer field, Janne had a bird fly over him that he thought was either a Bobolink or Dickcissel. With reference to the literature, having heard it call (a rather electric buzz), he initially favoured the latter (because the literature described the calls poorly!) but after probably an hour or so I located the bird and firmed it up as a Bobolink. It was extremely flightly, but remarkably, all four of us managed to see it pretty quickly before it flew out of sight behind a hillside. We then headed off to the lighthouse at Ponta do Albarnaz where all the birds had been blown away, and so were we...nearly.

Faja Grande was crap, but nevertheless provided a nice afternoon stroll as I checked the area from Ponta da Faja southwards, but a Spotted Sandpiper in the harbour at Santa Cruz rounded off a pretty decent day, especially considering Flores for me is always second choice out of the two westerly islands.

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