Sunday, 2 September 2012

The best site for American waders in the WP - Cabo da Praia

Cabo da Praia will be getting a lot of air time over the next month, that's for sure. It always does in September and October when those low pressure systems roll in. I was only on Terceira 4 days the week just gone and I ended up going there on 10 occasions. Located at the east end of Terceira, the easternmost of the central Azorean islands, you wouldn't naturally think it's the best (western) geographically but it you're looking for wader habitat on the Azores, save for a few rocky shores, runways, muddy fields and caldeiras, then Cabo da Praia is the best option by a way. Admittedly it is slap bang in the middle of the Atlantic so that does help a bit! The only other real wader sites, Lajes do Pico and Faja dos Cubres, are phenomenally underwatched. 
Cabo da Praia, November 2008
Unfortunately, a lot of development has taken place next to the quarry in recent years but this seems to have stopped and the southern area of the quarry has remained unchanged for the last 5 years. And waders still seem to love this site. It's an interesting place as it affected by tides but not directly tidal - located just metres from (and below) the sea, and protected by an embankment, groundwater seepage ensures that water levels fluctuate with the tides. So, amongst the three regular species - Kentish Plover, Turnstone and Sanderling - you should be able to find the odd stray bird.
Semipalmated Plover Cabo da Praia November 2008

Semipalmated Plover Cabo da Praia May 2011
Semipalmated Plover is regular at the moment too, thanks to a longstaying bird that has been present for the last few years.
three of a flock of nine 1st-winter White-rumped Sandpipers at the quarry in November 2008
1st-summer Long-billed Dowitcher that overwintered at Cabo da Praia, April 2010

two juvenile Pectoral Sandpipers in October 2010

juvenile Western Sandpiper in September 2009

juvenile Spotted Sandpiper in September 2009

1st-winter Lesser Yellowlegs in October 2010
One of two Hudsonian Whimbrels in August 2012
Also the odd non-wader can frequent the quarry too: -
White-winged Black Tern in May 2011

Three of a record flock of nineteen Blue-winged Teals in October 2009

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