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