Sunday, 28 October 2012

Back on the Azores for the late show

It's been real tough of late. Updating the Azores Bird Sightings website from London while everyone basks in the glory of their 2012 stint on the rock, combined with the usual crazy days at school and all those rare sibes during the week on the British east coast. But, at last, I finally arrived on the Azores yesterday morning and met up with Sao Miguel birding legend Gerby Michielsen and my good buddy Vincent Legrand, fresh off Corvo the previous day with his usual selection of mind blowing images. And certainly for Vincent, it was back down to earth with a bang, while for me it felt like one of those nights where you roll up to a party that is just winding down... but I guess we'll see what happens this week.
Ring-necked Ducks at Lagoa das Furnas
Highlights on Sao Miguel yesterday included a couple of female (adult and 1st-winter) Ring-necked Ducks, the usual Pied-billed Grebe at Lagoa Azul and a Green-winged Teal at Lagoa dos Espraiados. We searched forlornly for ghosts of birds that we knew had gone - such as the Willet and Little Blue Heron - and we even managed to dip a couple of Double-crested Cormorants that had been chilling out on rocks at Vila Franca do Campo (that Gerby found there midweek) that were seen in the morning (and again today). Other highlights included Gerby almost getting his hand bitten off my a pretty mean mofo of a dog that he thought was his friend, and Vincent being renamed unintentionally as Victor for the day by Gerby. Oh yeah, and Pochard was an Azores tick...
Pochard at Lagoa das Furnas
And so today, it was to Terceira which is always packed full of birds. Arthur had already arrived last night, so as soon as my flight arrived we hit the sites. We managed to find a couple of new birds - a 1st-winter Bonaparte's Gull in the gull roost at Praia da Vitoria, and a 1st-winter drake American Wigeon at Paul da Praia. Otherwise, it was great to see two Double-crested Cormorants together at Ilheu da Mina just to the west of Porto Martins - a place I'd dipped this species with Lee G back in November 2008. Five (presumed!) Common Scoters and a Euro Golden Plover at Lajes airfield were both nice new Azores birds for me. And of course, you can never not mention the legend that is Cabo da Praia - c.60 White-rumped Sandpipers were brilliant stuff (more than I've seen in total in the WP before today), 8 Semi-p Plovers and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs were the yank offering today.
One of many White-rumped Sandpipers at Cabo da Praia

Semipalmated Plover - one of eight at Cabo da Praia
Meant to fly to Corvo tomorrow. See whether the weather is on our side.
juvenile Cory's Shearwater - a common site across the islands in late October

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