Sunday, 1 September 2013

Swinhoe's, Sooty Tern and seabirds on the Azores

It's been a while since I've been on here. I've been away again, this time on the Azores, where I helped my mate Fred Vanhove with a group of 10 Belgian birders and did three days of pelagics off Graciosa. Then I went straight back into work the morning after the evening I got back, loving every minute of a senior leadership weekend that I was compelled to attend. That said, at least it was at the Hilton here in Rotherhithe, so I could sneak in a peek at the local larids on both days.

Anyway, just a quick first post. Bird wise, the undobted bird highlight from the Azores trip was a Swinhoe's Storm-petrel appearing for a minute or so from the boat - mega lucky here given that I'd been in China for the Fair Isle birds and, doubly fortunate, that it stayed long enough for me to get my hands out of the chum bucket and onto my bins! Thirdly, and thankfully, one of the Belgians got a shot of it because, to take a phrase straight from the Corvo scene 'no photo, no bird'. Really big birds, Leach's in size, and much browner than the Monteiro's, Grant's and Wilson's that were regularly seen.
Monteiro's Storm-petrel, off Graciosa August 2013
Seabird diversity on the Azores is never great, so a single Bulwer's Petrel and a Long-tailed Skua from the boat along with dozens of Great Shearwaters, was kind of what I expected along with the petrels. I guess a nice South Polar Skua was always on the mind given the time of year and the migratory track these beasts take, but it wasn't to be this time around. Although I saw a distant Fea's/Zino's Petrel from Lajes, Terceira (my first in the Azores) I really didn't think I was in the zone for rare pterodromas - I still reckon that May-June is the time to score that Black-capped or Trindade in Azorean waters.
Great Shearwater, off Graciosa August 2013
On the way out to the seabird feeding areas from Graciosa, it's always worth a punt to scan Ilheu da Praia (an uninhabited seabird island I've actually stayed on a few years back) for Sooty Tern... and this year, we lucked out with the bird coming out from the ternery and flying around the boat.
Sooty Tern, Ilheu da Praia August 2013
Back on dry land, just like last year in late August, I hit 'the quarry' [Cabo da Praia] a few times but in easterlies and sunshine it was desperate times. Even when it's quiet, there is always a couple of resident Semipalmated Plovers to have a look at, and the near resident Hudsonian Whimbrel when it decides to drop in. There was a nice juvenile Pec Sand during the last couple of days of my trip, and locating a nice summer plumaged Spotted Sand nearby at Paul da Praia was better than the damage you can do in London.

I'm still conscious the one China post doesn't do the place justice at all so I'll revisit that, and the Azores, over the next few weeks as the monotony of the new term kicks in. Enjoy the autumn boys and girls.

1 comment:

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