Monday 30 September 2013

Goodbye September..

A least there was something to celebrate tonight at the ritual gathering for dinner: tomorrow we are in October! For those who have followed Corvo's birding developments since 2005, October is the month which has most contributed to the reputation of this island on the western Palearctic birding scene...It is a very very 'heavy' month in terms of number of american vagrants scored. So needless to say that everyone here (9 birders now present on the island) is still highly-motivated despite the fact that today was another rather birdless day, with only the usual group of 6 Glossy ibises lingering around the airfield and a Buff-breasted sandpiper discovered around the Reservoir. This last species is nonetheless a welcome addition to the list for this year with just a few previous records for Azores and Corvo (3rd or 4th record for Corvo).

Buff-breasted sandpiper, 30 September 2013, Reservoir, Corvo
Since 2006, little efforts have been invested in birding on Corvo as early as end September although this has happened at least twice, in 2009 and 2011. Those two previous years had a similar coverage of Corvo over the 26-30 September period but have produced much more than this year. For instance, Bobolink and American redstart were found in 2009 by a single birder present at that time on the island (Olof Jonsson). In 2011, more birders were present (Richard Ek et al.) and produced in 5 days an astounding list of american land birds and megas including Yellow-crowned night-heron, Marsh hawk, Philadelphia vireo (2), Red-eyed vireo (4), Northern parula (4), Ovenbird, Grey-cheeked thrush, and Baltimore oriole. With this in mind, none of the birders present on The Rock since last Friday will want to look back at our first 4 days as a memorable birding experience but with September ending today, we hope that the worst days are now behind us!


Sunday 29 September 2013

Six Glossy ibises and nothing more

Take the log of yesterday evening and remove from it the two Nearctic waders (Spotted sand and Semi plover): you have the log of tonight. Surely not the kind of beginning to our trip that we were prepared for. The wind has been blowing harder and harder from west/north-west since Thursday, but still no american landbird have found their way to Corvo. Alternatively, there could be some birds already present here but then they have eluded us so far. Either way, everything remains to be done: finding the first good bird of the season!

Semipalmated plover (1st winter), 28 September 2013, airstrip, Corvo

Saturday 28 September 2013

Tomorrow is another day!

Despite some heavy rain making birding difficult this morning, we (6 birders) managed to visit the fields around the village and 3 wooded valleys (Fojo, Cancelas and Da Ponte) today without success. The only decent bird species seen were on the European side, a group of six Glossy ibises (high fields and airport strip), and on the Nearctic side, Spotted sandpiper (1 on rocky shore) and Semipalmated plover (1 on airstrip).

Glossy ibis (immature), 28 September 2013, airstrip, Corvo

The log is thus very light tonight despite the fact that the conditions are very exciting to start finding good birds: end September is a great period to be on Corvo (re-check the Birding Corvo 2009 blog if you have doubts about that), wind is blowing from the right direction (west) and we are a fair number of birders actively searching the island. Birding is, however, not an exact science otherwise we should have scored at least one american landbird today.

Tomorrow is another day and we keep looking at the bright side of can only get better!

Friday 27 September 2013

First afternoon on the island...

The first birder arrived on Corvo yesterday; 5 additional ones joined him today, including myself. Our flight landed at 2pm so we had only a couple of hours before sunset to start looking for birds. Da Ponte was the only wooded valley properly visited (lower and upper parts) without any success.  The low and mid-fields around the village were also checked later in the afternoon, again without scoring anything...

A quick look this evening at the wind charts suggest that westerlies will start blowing seriously from Saturday onwards until at least Monday evening (with gusts up to 30 knots), which shall be very helpful to bring more vagrants to the island! With this perspective in mind, the motivation level in the group is currently at its best! Tomorrow will be the first complete birding day on Corvo for most of us, so we hope to get lucky and find the first american lanbirds of the autumn..

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Warm up..

Blogging is not the stuff I am most familiar with but there is always a starting point to everything!
I have been enjoying birding and twitching on Corvo (Azores) since 2007. No doubts, October is a very busy month on Corvo with more and more birders visiting the island every autumn, some of them returning year after year.

It is well beyond any words what this place has offered me so far: great birds, intense birding moments, and durable friendship with all the happy birders. Not to mention the great pleasure in meeting the friendly community living permanently on the island. When speaking with some other birders last year, it came up that having a blog relating some "daily news" would be a 'must do' this time I decided to jump in for my 7th consecutive autumn on The Rock.

For those who haven't followed regularly the news last autumn, here is a sample of what we managed to see in a few weeks (American rarities on Corvo in 2012). Among the many highlights of the past 2012 season were Golden-winged and Prairie warblers..probably two of the best american landbirds I've seen there so far. 
Golden-winged warbler, 12 October 2012, Lighthouse valley, Corvo
This year, the very first birders coming from abroad will touch down on Wednesday 25, almost immediately starting to pace along wooded valleys of the NEWS are about to start now...
As for myself, it is almost on as I will fly from Lisbon to Corvo this Friday 27 September...for a full month of adventures.

My initial plan is to update this blog on a daily basis from Friday stay tuned!