Sunday 7 October 2018

Prologue to the 2018 season…

Over the last few days, the Whatsapp group “Azores Bird News” has gone live again with news being more and more regularly reported from multiple islands as birders from all over the Western Palearctic are progressively colonising the archipelago. For the fourth year, this blog will focus on the spectacular island of Corvo, from where we will report bird news on a fairly regular basis throughout October.

Some of the usual stalwarts (Daniel, Mika, Vincent, etc) touched ground on Corvo a few days ago to find out low Nearctic activity on the island with only a few individuals reported over the last days. Not much to worry about as historical records have shown that, with the exception of a few particular years, the season usually starts at a slow pace and goes crescendo with a peak usually towards mid-month.  Not totally unrelated to this is the pattern of birder’s attendance on the island that also usually peaks from 10-25 October, providing around that period the most exhaustive coverage. 

This year, an estimated 90+ birders are scheduled to visit this tiny island during the course of the month, a quite promising tally that is somewhat unprecedented. Thus the only limiting factor to finding great birds here will be weather! At the moment, the charts are not very encouraging for the next day or two but by mid-week, the wind will start blowing from the west with stormy conditions predicted for Thursday. Having experienced Corvo over the last 13 years, my own bet here is that the first decent American land birds will have been found by the end of next week. Time will tell…

Nearctic species seen from mid-September onwards:
White-rumped Sandpiper: 2 at Caldeira & 2 at Camping site (12 & 16/09)
Buff-breasted Sandpiper: 2 at Reservoir (13/09)
Pectoral Sandpiper: 1 at Caldeira (4/10)
Spotted Sandpiper: 1 on shore west of Doctor’s house (5/10)
Northern Harrier: 1 at Caldeira (4/10)

Buff-breasted Sandpipers, Grassland around Reservoir, 13 September 2018 (Tim Collins)

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