Sunday, 10 November 2013

Purple chicken in Lisbon

Probably once a year, my WP listing urge kicks in when a top drawer rare turns up outside of Britain and Ireland. It's been a decent autumn, with three 'dream' yank wood warblers seen (Wilson's, Cape May and Black-throated Green) and a few nice finds thrown in too. So with news of an American Purple Gallinule filtering out on Friday, and within easy reach of Lisbon airport, my weekend plans changed a bit (sorry Mum, Dad and Grandma!). And so, for the third successive Saturday (!!!) I found myself in the environs of Lisbon airport...

Here I was met by David Monticelli, who had been instrumental in whacking the news out and confirming the bird's identification. Going beyond the call of duty, David picked Gordon B and I up from the airport and we headed the 15 minutes or so to Parque Florestal de Monsanto - an area of woods and parkland within the city boundary, where the gallinule was favouring a small pool in a private, fenced off area. No sweat though, as this Belgian who is conversant in Portuguese had sorted out some access.

1st-winter American Purple Gallinule, Monsanto, Lisbon 9th November 2013

Given that temperatures were near to freezing at Heathrow early on in the morning, it was a pleasant feeling to be walking about in the 20 degree Lisbon heat and sun mid-morning and, immediately on arrival, the 1st-winter American Purple Gallinule was located sitting motionless having apparently just digested a large frog. Once finished doing this, the bird generally skulked slowly through the edges of the pond, either picking at the long grass or feasting on more frogs and even a dragonfly during the five or so hours I was present. The views were astounding at times, with it being fearless towards the 20 or so birders that passed through the site. This really was a quality bird and the experience was great - yes, it may turn up in Britain and Ireland again but history suggests it won't be about for long. With this bird though, it had found perfect lily-filled habitat, a plentiful food supply and it looked nice and healthy too.
David M and PAC watching the American Purple Gallinule on its favoured pool

No comments:

Post a Comment