Saturday 12 October 2013

Little madness!

Any birder who has been visiting Corvo during autumn would probably agree on the fact that the local birding conditions are amongst the most difficult ones in the entire western Palearctic. This is mainly explained by a very rough terrain which combined to the windy and rainy local climate render the birding conditions rather 'extreme' on The Rock. Thus, if you don't invest a great deal of energy on a daily basis to 'find out' the good birds on Corvo, you are likely to go back home with a poor list. But sometimes there are exceptions. Or in other words, there are days when you do not really need 'to fight' for the birds because it is the birds that come to you. And today was such a day. It started around 9.30am when Pierre-André Crochet literally bumped on an exhausted Cedar waxwing in the Middle Fields, very close to the Comodoro guesthouse. The news was quickly released on the walkie-talkie to the nearby birders and via sms to the most distant ones, so that within an hour almost everyone on the island was enjoying great views of the waxwing.

Cedar waxwing, 12 October 2012, Middle Fields, Corvo
This finding alone could have 'made our day' but in reality it was just the starting of a mad morning! Less than half an hour following the initial finding of Pierre-André, it was Phil Abbott who observed a flying Bobolink overhead, just a few hundreds meters away from the Cedar waxwing site. Thanks to the many birders present on the spot, Phil's Bobolink was quickly relocated in a nearby tree...with in addition a second Bobolink found at a short distance from the first one. And if that was not enough, it was soon Lars Mortensen on the walkie-talkie (around 10.30am) to announce the year's second Common yellowthroat discovered further up in the Middle Fields. Pretty impressive? Yes, but there was more: around 11am, Tommy Frandsen came on the walkie-talkie with this incredible news: there were now three Bobolinks sitting together in the same tree!

Furthermore, shortly before lunch time, Petri Kuhno had a flight view of a small dove over the Middle Fields (perhaps a Mourning dove?), although the bird could never be relocated despite intensive search. The afternoon was much calmer with only the lingering individuals being reported: Northern parula (Lower Fields), American redstart (da Ponte), Black-and-white warbler and two Cliff swallows (Lighthouse Valley).

Bobolink, 12 October 2013, Middle Fields, Corvo
Common yellowthroat, 12 October 2012, Middle Fields, Corvo
So, overall, a great day on Corvo with five new American landbirds discovered. The Cedar waxwing is the 10th western Palearctic record following 4 in UK, 2 in Ireland, 2 in Iceland and one in Corvo in 2010. Bobolink and Common yellowthroat are regular vagrants to Corvo but these two species are nevertheless a nice addition to this year's bird list. 

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