Monday 20 October 2014

AZORES: Flores Island Week Two

The start of our second week continued with high pressure and southerly winds and delirium began to set in as we birded the same areas with little reward. However, things took a change on the 8th October when a front came through with associated wind and rain and although it did not look fantastic, it was a significant change in the weather!

We decided to persist with birding the Ponta do Albarnaz at the northern tip of the island with a good history of rarities. I thrashed all around the fields as the front began to abate and had nothing exceptional, though a Semipalmated Plover was a nice bird. In hindsight, perhaps we peaked too soon and should have waited until the front had completely passed!? The next day, in calm sunny conditions a group of Italian birders found a Scarlet Tanager in the very same fields - bugger! A Bobolink was also found and amazingly there were no American land birds found on Corvo this day!

We spent a final night back on Sao Miguel and managed to see the Willet that had been present since late September and rather fortuitously was just a short stroll from our hotel!

So, will we return to Flores? Yes, of course! - a beautiful island full of potential and the pull for me is that "most" things you see will be found by you.
Would I recommend it? Yes, but be prepared for pain! 
It is hard work sifting through the regular 8-10 bird species and frustrating hearing the news from adjacent Corvo. However, you have to remember Corvo is approximately 17Km2 with an average of 40+ birders in October compared to Flores which is approximately 140Km2 and has only a handful of birders at best! 
I think it is generally accepted that Flores would clearly compete with Corvo, but not until it has the number of birders required to cover the island fully - maybe in time.......??

Tally for two weeks in no particular order:
Little Egret - Sao Miguel
Grey Heron - daily on Flores
Eurasian Spoonbill - 1 juv. Faja Grande 2nd October
Hybrid Black Duck
Teal sp - possibly Green-winged Teal with seemingly strong ginger wing bar, but too distant to be sure...Lagoa Branca 29th Sep
Eurasian Wigeon - drake at Lagoa Lomba
Common Scoter - 1 female/imm Faja Grande 1st October presumed to be this species, but would have liked a photo/better view to check for Black Scoter!
Azores Gull - daily
Common Tern - daily
Cory's Shearwater - daily
Common Moorhen - Moinho
Snowy Owl - 1 female Faja Grande 3rd October in severe wing moult - relocated to Corvo from 5th!
Lesser Yellowlegs - 1 juv 30 Sep until at least 7th October
Willet - Sao Miguel on 10th October
Buff-breasted Sandpiper - 1 Ponta do Albarnaz 1st October
Semipalmated Plover - 1 Ponta Delgada 8th October until 10th October at least
Ruddy Turnstone - daily Faja Grande and Ponta do ALbarnaz
Eurasian Whimbrel - a number of birds on Flores at Faja Grande with a max. count of four
Eurasian Woodcock - 1 photographed at Alagoa and two other birds flushed whilst birding elsewhere
Feral Pigeon - daily
Common Woodpigeon - the odd bird every few days
Blackcap - daily
(Azores) Chaffinch - daily
Grey Wagtail - daily
Atlantic Canary - daily
House Sparrow - daily
Common Starling - daily
Common Blackbird - daily
Bobolink - 1 Ponta Delgada on the 9th October
Scarlet Tanager - 1st year female on 9th October Ponta do Albarnaz

Scarlet Tanager with the lighthouse at Ponta do Albarnaz in background

My first view of the Scarlet Tanager - Having narrowly missed finding it, the thrill of re-finding it the next day was slightly tainted, but still exciting....

Scarlet Tanager - 1st year female, Ponta do Albaranaz, Flores

Ponta do Albarnaz, Flores

Scarlet Tanager, Ponta do Albarnaz, Flores

Bobolink, Ponta Delgada, Flores

Semipalmated Plover, Ponta Delgada, Flores

Willet - Ponta Delgad, Sao Miguel

Willet, Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel

Cream Tea Birder celebrating the Willet in true style with a custard tart on the hotel balcony! The rocks where the Willet was frequenting are visible in the background just behind the marina.

Willet, Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel

Willet, Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel
Eurasian Woodcock - not often you get views like this!

Flores Island looking towards Fajazinha from the high plateau above Faja Grande

Think I may have exhausted the Mrs with all the birding!

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