Monday 30 May 2011

Back on the Azores

These days, away from Rotherhithe, the Azores seems to be my second home. And in particular, the island of Terceira. So once again, I was back there for the day in preparation for the ferry to Graciosa (where we'll be doing some pelagics this week). Highlights have included visiting some old faithfuls - the White-winged Black Tern (now a third calendar year) looks fully kitted out, a Pied-billed Grebe that got hooked during the winter has now seemingly fully recovered and acquired breeding plumage while a couple of Semipalmated Plovers were to be almost expected in the quarry at Cabo da Praia.

Saturday 28 May 2011

Killdeer breeding on the Azores again this year

Later today I'm off to the Azores, again. And it was the recent news of breeding Killdeer, where two young were observed on Santa Maria, that prompted me to post this. Though debatable whether or not the Azores really is 'this side of the Atlantic', a breeding record of any Nearctic wader there is still pretty incredible... and it's presumably the first definite American species of wader to have had successful breeding confirmed (this year and last).
You may ask 'what about those Pec Sands in Scotland'? They bred successfully but how certain can you be of their Nearctic or Siberian origin?

White-rumped Sandpipers displaying in Arctic Norway? No chicks. And those Spotted Sandpipers that attempted to breed on the Isle of Skye were apparently unsuccessful.

So there we go, Killdeer is the only definite yank wader to have bred in Europe.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Back on the patch...

It's been a slow time of late in Rotherhithe, briefly punctuated by this 1st-summer Yellow-legged Gull at Greenland Pier on Sunday. Not too regular this time of year in London, certainly not on the inner part of the Thames that I live on. Quite a smart bird to boot too.

The storm earlier this week unfortunately whacked out the Great-crested Grebe nest on the south side of Greenland Dock, though a check this evening of Inner London's only breeding Common Terns was more encouraging - the two pairs still on their islands on Surrey Water.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Cabo Verde... a recent trip.

This blog is bouncing around a bit, and I imagine it will continue to do so...

At the end of April and start of May, I managed to use the Royal Wedding weekend to its full potential. I watched the event on the TV while whacking out a lesson on coastal erosion for my Year 7s. And then, as soon as it was over, I hot footed it to Gatwick and the fun began. By the early hours of Saturday morning, I was in Praia... capital of the island of Santiago, Cabo Verde! You'll find my trip report here - enjoy it, fully loaded with photos and the usual [anally retentive] detailed directions etc.

You'll have seen the way the islands are trying to pump themselves up as a holiday destination, and even since my 1st visit 4 years ago things have changed - Boavista and Santiago now have their own international airports, whereas previously you had to fly to Sal and then do internal flights using the rather unreliable TACV. But the good news is, at least on Santiago, tourism seems to be taking off in a sustainable way. Not sure that this is the case on Boavista though, looking at the massive hotels being advertised in a brochure I received a few weeks back. Just hope they don't mess up that lovely beach at Curral Velho. 

Tuesday 24 May 2011

A local Red-breasted Goose

Ringed birds can, unfortunately, be a bit of a let-down. There's no denying that this Red-breasted Goose is a bit of a looker, but when I found it a weekend or so ago at Cross Ness, London, I knew exactly where it had come from - ring or no ring. This yellow-ringed adult has been at large for quite some time now, having been seen at Rainham earlier in the winter. Hanging around with Canada Geese into the summer months isn't a good way to endear yourself...

Monday 23 May 2011

Macaronesian Spoonbills

Following on from my last post, a couple of ringed Spoonbills I've recorded recently whilst on my travels. The 1st-winter Spoonbill (above) got itself lost on the Azores, and when I saw it back in February at Lagoa das Furnas, it was allowing approach to just a few yards. It was ringed at Beveren, Belgium, on 21/7/2010 and was first seen on the Azores on 29/11/2010.

In fact, it was only earlier today that I received the details of another ringed Spoonbill I recorded at Barragem de Poilao, Cape Verde, on 30th April 2011 - again a 1st-winter, it turned out this was a French bird, ringed as a nestling on 13/5/2010 at Lac de Grand-Lieu, Loire-Atlantique.

Another ringed gull in Rotherhithe

Last weekend, I noticed a ringed gull chilling out by the sailing club on Greenland Dock. With a distinctive red ring, this 1st-summer Herring Gull had been ringed by the NTGG ( - it had been ringed at Rainham on 18/12/2010 but hadn't been seen or reported since. The first ringed gull here in Rotherhithe for a while.