Sunday, November 15, 2009

Last full day :(

Soooooo... last time I update this blog from Corvo (if my flight leaves as it's supposed to tomorrow). Feels strange and a bit sad, but I won't stand much longer here now so best to leave before I go (totally) insane!

Still somewhat windy today but no rain in the morning so Manuel took me up to the Caldeira. Did the walk down there but didn't find anything new. Nice walk though since I didn't get one single rain shower!

Walked back towards the village and decided to have a look around the reservoir as well. Walked up there and had lunch together with the two Red-throated Pipits.

Red-throated Pipit

As I walked around the reservoir itself I saw a Blackbird with a very long tail, but the bird jumped out of sight - Ring Ouzel? Went after it but got distracted as I stumbled over this beauty instead.

White-rumped Sandpiper

Anyway, as my photo session with the rump was over I went to the thrush and pinned it down as a Ring Ouzel. Still there after two weeks! Another guy that was still there was the Pale-bellied Brent.

Pale-bellied Brent

Had the Buff-bellied Pipit briefly a few times as well and a lonely Snow Bunting. On the way down I decided to have a look in Ribeira da Lapa. As I walked there I passed my secret snipe marsh and despite scanning the area first I flushed a snipe as I went closer - Common Snipe. Continued walking and flushed another snipe, a dark one! The same snipe as I called Wilson's Snipe the first time I saw it and "dark snipe" the second time I saw it. This time it looked like a Wilson's Snipe again and as I saw where it landed I went after it. Couldn't find it on the ground so had to flush it again, but didn't get any good views this time either. Was fortunate enough to see wereit landed again so went after it a second time. Of course I couldn't find it on the ground that time either so by mistake I flushed the bird. This time I was a bit luckier since the bird flew around me a few times before it settled again. Managed to get some pretty good record shots that I think pins the ID as a Wilson's:

Note the heavily and evenly barred flanks, axillaries and under wing coverts.

Note the very thin white edge on the back of the arm.

Note the back of the arm again, the Jack Snipe-ish look of the back and most important, the barred outermost tail feathers.

As I was chasing the Wilson's Snipe I flushed the Blue-winged Teal that went back to its favourite pool as usual. Birded my way through da Lapa in the heat from the sun(!!!) but didn't find anything except the B-w Teal again.

Blue-winged Teal

Walked back to the village and checked the rubbish dump, beach and airfiels before ending the day with some seawatching. The Ring-billed Gull was still on the airstrip and the sea was still pretty empty.
End of the day and over to a quick analysis. What conclusions can I make after spending to months here?
1) Go here! This is the place to look for American land bird vagrants in the WP!
2) DON'T go here for two months, it's too long!
3) Don't just follow the stream of birders and go here around the standard date 20th of October. Spread out over the season instead! Passerines turned up from late September (Yankstart and BO BO Link) to early November (Sick dick-all and Dark-eyed Junkie on Flores) this year.
4) Hmmm... Aaaaah, I'm getting too tired for this! If you have any additional thoughts, just visit Darryl's "Azores FAQs" on
Tomorrow I'm flying to Sao Miguel (I hope) to spend two days there looking for Pied-billed Grebe, the Double-crested Cormorant at Mosteiros and hopefully do some other birding as well. On Wednesday I fly to Terceira for two days birding before I go back to Lisbon-Copenhagen-Malmö on Friday. Will make a last update of the blog when I'm back in Sweden on the 21st!

Grey Heron 2, Mallard 15, Pintail 1, Common Teal 15, Tufted Duck 1, Ring-necked Duck 2, Pale-bellied Brent 1, Common Snipe 15, Wilson's Snipe 1, White-rumped Sandpiper 1, Great Black-backed Gull 4, Lesser Black-backed Gull 6, Black-headed Gull 2, Ring-billed Gull 1, Red-throated Pipit 2, Buff-bellied Pipit 1, Ring Ouzel 1, Snow Bunting 1

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Two months!

That's how long I've been here now. TWO MONTHS!

Today I went up on the higher parts of the island again. First took a ride with Manuel up to the reservoir as he was prospecting one of the other hills for a new reservoir he's planning to build now that he's mayor again. We never got out of the car but still managed to see a White-rumped Sandpiper up there! His conclusion about the hill was that it was too small so he'll have to move a part of it...

Continued down to Fojo where I planned to do some sheltered birding and down there the wind was acutally not so bad. As usual flushed the two American Great Whites with the car on the way there. Birding inside Fojo was pretty OK with good activity on Blackcaps, Chaffinches, Canaries and Blackbirds. But not much else. Since it was good activity I walked up to Cancelas and birded around there for a while as well. So much more enjoyable than last time when it was all noisy due to the water filled stream. After noon the wind picked up again and it started to rain. And that's how the weather was the rest of the day, further comments not needed I guess. Walked back and had afterwork with a few cuppas and four episodes of Simpsons on TV, that's the way to do it on a Saturday!

If weather allows me I'll do the Caldeira tomorrow again since I am pretty fed up with shaking trees and windy fields.

Grey Heron 1, American Great White Egret 2, White-rumped Sandpiper 1

Friday, November 13, 2009


Wind, wind, wind, wind, wind, wind, wind, wind, wind, wind, wind, wind. I wonder if there is a low pressure somewhere in the north Atlantic making this island practicly unbirdable at the moment...

Skipped morning birding today and did half a days seawatching in the afternoon instead. Saw the Ring-billed Gull flying by a few times, a few Bottle-nosed Dolphins and a shitload of Common Dolphins. Only tubenoses out there were about 50 Cory's.

Rain looks best from a distance!

Hope I have found some motivation to go up to the valleys again tomorrow.
Ring-billed Gull 1, Black-headed Gull 1, Great Black-backed Gull 1


Problems with the Internet connection here tonight.

It's been windy today! About 17 m/s west in average according to the forecast and a lot more from time to time... Tried to bird some sheltered places around Pico and da Ponte but didn't do vere well. Saw the Black-and-white Warbler as usual but apart from that only swaying trees everywhere!

Decided to try some seawatching in the afternoon but as I got down o the village it started to rain as well and that continued until dusk so I chilled back at the guesthouse instead. Some important government people visiting were supposed to leave to Flores today, but of course all planes were cancelled here because of the winds. Let's hope I can get off on the 16th as planned...

Black-and-white Warbler 1

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

B-b Pipit and new Ring-billed Gull!

Clear sky in the morning so I did the Caldeira today. Buff-bellied Pipit and all the ducks were still there. New birds were a flock of Teals which I spent a few hours studying in search for my 130th Azores tick. Couldn't see anyone looking like a Green-winged though, they were all Common ones.

Common Teals (Anas crecca)

The Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) and Ring-necked Ducks (Aythya collaris) are still going strong.

After six hours in the Caldeira I went back to the village and ended the day with a two hour seawatch. Strong wind, big waves and few birds. A nice surprise was this young Ring-billed Gull flying by, a new individual!

1st winter Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)

The last days constant westerlies are a result of low pressures in the NW and a high pressure in the SW creating a corridor of winds straight to Corvo. I wonder if such a high pressure has the potential of wipping stuff up and out from further south in the States... maybe thats what brought the Myrtle Warbler (if it hadn't already been there for some time)?


Grey Heron 2, Common Snipe 10, Mallard 20, Common Teal 15, Pintail 1, Tufted Duck 1, Ring-necked Duck 2, Great Black-backed Gull 2, Lesser Black-backed Gull 4, Black-headed Gull 2, Ring-billed Gull 1, Buff-bellied Pipit 1

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Myrtle magic!

Alright, here we go again! Today I planned to go to the Caldeira since it is November (duck month) and I haven't been here since the 1st! BUT, as we came up on the mountain with the pickup the fog was thick and low, very thick and very low. So Manuel dropped me off at Cantinho instead...

It had apparently been raining a lot during the night and early morning since loads of water was flowing in the ribeiras, thus making a lot of noise. And that means that you don't hear shit inside the ribeiras, so searching for passerines is a bit (more) difficult. Anyway, birded the easy-to-reach open spots in Cantinho, Cancelas and Fojo during the first half of the day. Saw the American Great Egrets and their homie the Grey Heron in the fields but as usual didn't see anything of interest inside the valleys. Weather was OK today though, so life was pretty uncomplicated. Pretty strong winds from west (sheltered in the valleys) and only one shower in the morning.

In the afternoon I birded Ribeira do Poso de Agua since it's one of my favourite places. Don't know why I like it really, I haven't seen anything there. But Pierre's Chestnut-sided Warbler prooves that it's worth visiting! Since it hadn't rained during the day the water had stopped flowing in the ribeiras and now it was birdable for real again. Began in the upper parts and when I got down in the lower part, to the small orchard with orange trees I heard a sound that made me freeze in an instant - SOFT BILL SNAPPING! This is how you find Canada Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler and other goodies on this island so now it was game on again! At first I couldn't see the bird but I could hear it catching insects all the time. After I while I had glimpsed it a few times, being able to tell that it was a small warbler with pale underparts - my pulse was rising! After a minute of glimpses the bird suddenly flew out and sat in the open - FINALLY! Now I could see what it was, and it was a... chiffchaff. (&#="(¤!=?(¤=)(/?="?`*>!)(("¤/"&&!%!%!&#=!)!!!!!! Why? WHY!? Why did it have to a piece of shit common European bird instead of a cool Yank!? That was REALLY annoying!

Finished birding the ribeira and then started to walk back towards the village. Had a banana stop on the bridge over da Ponte, but nothing in the Indigo tree today either. As I came to the small and almost unknown Ribeira do Cerrado das Vacas I looked up towards the bushes where we saw the Blackpoll Warbler last year. Wind was pretty strong in the fields but somehow I decided to go up there and have a look anyway. After checking some Canaries my bins stopped on a Yellow-rumped Warbler sitting out in the open - YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER - YES! Immediately noted the flank streaks and contrasting cheek - Myrtle Warbler. The bird was a bit flighty and hard to follow as it flew very fast in the wind, but I got decent views of it for half an hour before it flew out into a field, feeding among some herbs.

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler (Dendroica coronata coronata)

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler (Dendroica coronata coronata)

This was probably one of the most expected new species for me here now, even though the date is a bit late even for a Yellow-rump. I wonder when it came in... This bird prooves that there is still stuff to find on the island! And maybe more is coming in? Prett strong westerlies have been blowing all day.


American Great White Egret 2, Grey Heron 1, Myrtle Warbler 1, Chiffchaff 1

Monday, November 9, 2009

Village day

Today was field kick day. Had decided to give all the fields around the village a proper bash since birds have apparently moved down here from the fields higher up on the volcano. Ten minutes after I left the guesthouse it started to rain, and it rained a lot for about half an hour, soaking me as usual. This is one of the things that gets on my nervs the most - the unpredictable rain showers soaking you all the time! A month ago I would have thought: "Oh rain, maybe a system coming through, maybe it'll bring new birds!" It's almost starting to feel as if I've been here for eight weeks or so... ;) Lucky for me the sun came out half an hour after the rain and was then shining more or less the rest of the day.

This is how funny it is to get soaked for the 50th time out here. As you can see tamarisks isn't the best cover!

Worked my way from field to field scanning hundreds and hundreds of Canaries, House Sparrows, Chaffinches, Starlings and very ugly Feral Pigeons. After 7 hours of doing that, seeing two Goldfinches and a fly-over 1st winter Ring-billed Gull (nice one!), I gave up and quit for the day.

The wind turned from south to west during the afternoon and picked up somewhat in strength during the evening. Maybe the Juncos and Kinglets will start to arrive soon? They are numerous on Newfoundland now!
Ring-billed Gull 1, Lesser Black-backed Gull 3, Great Black-backed Gull 2, Black-headed Gull 2

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Have a cold spooking in my body so energy is at its lowest. Southern winds and almost clear sky today. Started with a short visit on Pico and then kicked fields on my way back towards the village. Checked every field that looked somewhat interesting but hardly found any birds at all. Most crops have been harvested now and birds have moved elsewhere, probably down to the fields around the village that will get a proper check tomorrow!
After a powernap did some seawatching in the evening. Only saw a few Cory's and Yellow-legged Gulls. Are the Cory's already leaving these waters? The juveniles have just left their nests!
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)

Grey Heron 1

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Questions anyone? Here are the answers!

Azores FAQs
Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:

Today was twitch day. Took the boat to Flores at 9 to give the Dickcissels a try!
Lifting the boat into the sea. The harbour here is very small and unprotected so no boats stay in the water overnight.
Good weather today and the sun was shining over northwestern Flores!
Nico and Ans de Vries as well as Urs and Edith Maienfisch met me in Santa Cruz harbour and together we drove to the old football field in Ponta Delgada where Nico and Ans saw the Dickcissels yesterday. On the way there they showed me their pictures of one of the birds from yesterday. Good pictures of an adult f*cking Dickcissel!!! This is only the second record for the Western P following a summer record of one bird in Norway almost 30 years ago.
Searched in the area for five hours but could only find a Lapland Bunting among the hundreds of Canaries, Chaffinches and House Sparrows.

Lapland Bunting record shot

Took a taxi back to Santa Cruz and got a place on the boat back as well despite not having pre-booked tickets either way. And well, that's the end of the story.

What about the 128th-129th? I had forgotten to update Great Egret and Goldcrest :)


Little Egret 1, Grey Heron 1, Common Tern 1, Whimbrel 1, Lapland Bunting 1

Friday, November 6, 2009

DICKCISSEL!!! ...on Flores :(

Dark-eyed Junco in Fajã Gande yesterday, two Dicksissels in Ponta Delgada today. Nico de Vries and Flores is ON FIRE! Saw a big boat pass towards east south of Flores, don't remember if it was yesterday or today. Maybe that's why they score...?

I started on the mountain today since it was calm and clear. Soon the fog came and it was not very clear anymore. Still I managed to see a Buff-bellied Pipit, two Red-throated Pipits, 30 Snow Buntings and a Pale-bellied Brent. B-b Pipit hasn't been seen on the site since 21st October despite quite a few birders running around in the area since then. Still the same bird or a new one?

Buff-bellied Pipit

Pale-bellied Brent

Snow Bunting

Red-throated Pipit


Did some bushy areas on the hill closer to the village for a while before I heade towards Ribeira da Lapa. Flushed some snipes on my way there, and judging from pictures at least one of them is dark (but seems to have thin white trailing edge). In da Lapa the Blue-winged Teal was still in as well.

Pale and dark Snipe

Blue-winged Teal

Grey Heron 1, Blue-winged Teal 1, Common Snipe 2, Lesser Black-backed Gull 1, Pale-bellied Brent 1, Red-throated Pipit 2, Buff-bellied Pipit 1, Snow Bunting 30

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Oops, it's getting late again and I'm getting up in seven hours. So here's another pretty short one:

Got a new Azores tick today as I walked back down towards the village in the afternoon - Merlin! A female flew over but unfortunately continued straight towards Santa Cruz on Flores. Raptors seem to fly back and forth between the island. Yesterday they probably saw the same bird at Lagoa Branca on Flores where they apparently had better views as they could tell it was an American one - Taiga Merlin. Too bad the bastard left the island!

Before the Merlin I had birded Ribeira do Vinte, the fields around Pico and Ribeira da Ponte for about six hours. A full days work that gave the usual Black-and-white Warbler and not much else.

New stuff is apparently still waiting to be found on the islands as a Dark-eyed Junco was seen today on neighbouring Flores! (see all Azores observations on I still have ten full days of birding out here so I hope I have the time and energy left to kick around until I find a new Yank.

Grey Heron 1, Great Black-backed Gull 1, Black-and-white Warbler 1, Merlin 1

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

No birds today

Slept long, birded the village all afternoon and early evening, didn't see anything. Even the cuckoos seem to have left now. Back to the valleys tomorrow to look for Grey-cheeked Thrush and Evening Grosbeak.

Interesting weather for the weekend?

European Whimbrel 2, Lesser Black-backed Gull 2

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mixed grill

The weather today wasn't relly what I hoped for. Got three hours of good weather and did Cancelas as good as I could. Nothing there,and when I was done it started to rain. Walked back down through Fojo where I got short views of the Ovenbird. It was calling a lot though so it's easy to locate.

Walked back to the village in the rain and got pretty cold and soaked, but what else can you expect when you are on a volcano in the middle of the Atlantic in November!?

As I got down the rain was a bit lighter and I had a walk around the airfield. The usual Turnstones and Yellow-legged Gulls were accompanied by two European Whimbrels, a Grey Plover and a Lesser Black-backed Gulls among others. Also found this giant in the shoreline.

This 1,5 m(!) dude was lying on the beach relaxing after his lunch snack.

Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)

Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) feat. Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

European Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)

As I have to much spare time now when all the other birders are gone I spent part of the evening adding my Azores list to the Club100 section on the Birding Azores website: Hopefully I will pass Darryl in the next few days! :)

Number two in the rankings is this handsome guy.

If you come here in October next year you might be fortunate to meet him!

European Whimbrel 2, Grey Plover 1, Lesser Black-backed Gull 2, Great Black-backed Gull 2, Ovenbird 1

Monday, November 2, 2009

Another delicata

Today Bosse, David and the Swiss couple left Corvo which means I now have the whole island to myself again. The others went to reservoir to look for the Ring Ouzel but didn't find it. Instead they found a flock of ~35 Snow Bunting! Now I'm the only birder here...
I went to the lighthouse in the morning and birded that area for the first hours of the day. Beautiful weather, beautiful place, but no birds. Continued through Cantinho on my way back and then decided to have a walk in da Lapa as last site of the day. Flushed the Blue-winged Teal in the same pool as usual. Surprised that it is still there since it is saying in a shallow 3x1 m pool! Continued to my Snipe place, a marshy area where I've flushed three Common Snipes on every visit so far. And after a minue on sie I had flushed three Common Snipes today as well. Continued through the area when suddenly Snipe no 4 flew up. It looked dark in the upperwing so I got my bins on it quickly and got good flight views of the bird. No white edge at all and evenly, dark barred underwing - Wilon's Snipe! Flushed the bird once more before I left the area.
Nice birding weather!

Tomorrow I'll go back to the valleys to have another look for the one.

Grey Heron 1, Blue-winged Teal 1, Common Snipe 3, Wilson's Snipe 1,

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A first for the Azores, a Buff-bellied Pipit and two Wilson's Snipes!

OK, it's late and I'm very tired now, so I'll have to keep this short. Started in the Caldeira today with Bosse and the Swiss couple. Beautiful weather thanks to a high pressure over the Azores!

Classic picture of Caldeirão, the crater

Found a Buff-bellied Pipit down there, no 3 for Corvo this autumn. Beautiful creatures they are!

Buff-bellied Pipit (Anthus rubescens rubescens)

The number of Snipes had increased and we had almost 40 of them down there, including two Wilson's Snipes! This is a very poor picture of one of them.

Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata). Note the lack of white trailing edge on the back of the wing.

After spending more than six hours in the crater me and Bosse went back towards the village and I decided to have a walk around the reservoir mountain for a few hours before heading back. One of the Dotterels was still in.

Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus)

Up there I also found a Ring Ouzel, an adult bird judging from the clear white on the breast. What I didn't know when I found it was that it was a first for the Azores!

Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus)

Let's hope the weather is good tomorrow as well!
Grey Heron 2, Great Black-backed Gull 3, Lesser Black-backed Gull 3, Mallard 15, Pintail 1, Garganey 1, Common Teal 1, Common/Green-winged Teal 1, Tufted Duck 1, Ring-necked Duck 2, Common Snipe 35, Wilson's Snipe 2, Dotterel 1, Ring Ouzel 1, Buff-bellied Pipit 1, Snow Bunting 1