Tuesday 29 October 2019

American Bittern

Most birders have now left the island as the autumn starts drawing to a close. However an American Bittern on Saturday (26th) proves that new vagrants for the year can still occur and there is always a chance of a late autumn speciality. 

The last couple of days has seen a couple of European vagrants arriving including a Shelduck yesterday and a Marsh Harrier. 

A Vagrant Emperor dragonfly recorded last Friday appears to be a first for the Azores. With the Green Darner earlier on in the season and now this record, that's potentially two dragonfly 'firsts for the Azores' (if accepted) in the last few weeks from Corvo.   

 American Bittern (Vincent Legrand) 
 Red-eyed Vireo (Vincent Legrand) 
Common Shelduck (Vincent Legrand)
Vagrant Emperor, 25th October in the Lower Fields Tamarisks (Marcin) 

Daily Logs:

26th October: 
1 American Bittern (Lapa), 1 Red-eyed Vireo (unringed bird)1 Barnacle Goose, 1 Long-eared Owl
27th October:
24 Snow Bunting,  8 Pintail, 2 Blue-winged Teal, 1 Glossy Ibis, 5 Eurasian Wigeon, 1 Lesser Yellowlegs (Caldera)
28th October:
1 Shelduck, 
29th October:
1 Marsh Harrier 

An interesting article about a first visit to Corvo by Paul French (Chair of the British Birds Rarities Committee) HERE

Friday 25 October 2019

Yellowthroat and Corvo ringing

It's still relatively quiet on the island but there was a new american bird yesterday in the form of a Common Yellowthroat in the village that was subsequently ringed. David Monticelli and co. are currently conducting a ringing study on Corvo aimed at monitoring the movements and duration of stay of vagrants across the island and also taking samples to determine geographical origin using isotope analysis. A Red-eyed Vireo was also ringed today at Poco d'Agua.

Otherwise still rather quiet on the western front, a few more ducks are appearing and there's been another (or the same) Long-eared Owl seen. Unfortunately the Spotted Sandpiper was looking exhausted today and was picked up this evening from the beach and has been taken to the vets.

Common Yellowthroat (above and below) (Vincent Legrand)

Red-eyed Vireo (Vincent Legrand) 
Spotted Sandpiper (Vincent Legrand) 
The ringing group 
Daily logs:
24th October:
1 Common Yellowthroat (Village- ringed and released), 1 Spotted Sandpiper, 1 Northern Wheatear,
1 Long-eared Owl (Tennessee Valley), 1 Blue-winged Teal, 1 female Teal sp (Caldera)
25th October :
1 Red-eyed Vireo (Ringed and released at Poco d'agua) , 2 Wigeon sp (Windmills), 1 Spotted Sandpiper (taken into care), 2 Pink-footed Goose, 6 Pintail, 1 Glossy Ibis, 1 Blue-winged Teal (Caldera) 

Thursday 24 October 2019

Very quiet on the Western front

It's been a quiet few days (20th-23rd October), the highlights being Blackpoll Warbler and Philadelphia Vireo on 20th which were only seen by the finders leaving only a few birding scraps for the 50 or so birders on the island. 

A timely presentation by Pierre-Andre Crochet on Sunday evening provided some much needed entertainment, a slide show and talk titled 'Chasing 900 birds in the Western Palearctic', an excellent look at Pierre's twitching career over the last couple of decades. Pierre has now seen more birds in the WP than anyone else (Rankings here ) and is currently on 885 species out of the potential 1030 on the list.  
 Semipalmated Plover (Vincent Legrand) 
Cory's Shearwater (Vincent Legrand). Juvenile Cory's Shearwaters are currently vacating their burrows and gathering off shore (there are thousands of birds circling the island like a giant ring doughnut). Some of the juveniles get distracted by the village lights so there is a SPEA/Government led rescue programme called SOS Cargarro (Here) where the locals collect disoriented birds from the village and release them during the day to sea.
Pierre's talk, 'Chasing 900 species in the Western Palearctic' (above and below) 

Daily logs:
20th October: 
1 Blackpoll Warbler (Upper Cancelas), 1 Philadelphia Vireo (Da Ponte), 1 Indigo Bunting, 1 Long-eared Owl (Lighthouse Valley), 1 White-rumped Sandpiper (Reservoir), 1 Blue-winged Teal, 1 Glossy Ibis, 2 Pink-footed Goose (Caldera), 1 Alpine Swift, 1 Barnacle Goose (Village), 1 Common Scoter (past windmills), 4 Snow Bunting, 1 Lapland Bunting (reservoir)
21st October: 
1 Red-eyed Vireo (Pico), 1 Alpine Swift (Village), 1 Corncrake (Power station), 2 Blue-winged Teal, 1 White-rumped Sandpiper, 2 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Glossy Ibis, 7 Pintail (Caldera), 9 Snow Bunting (reservoir)
22nd October:
1 Semipalmated Plover, 1 Spotted Sandpiper (Village), 1 Alpine Swift (Village), 2 Pink-footed Goose, 7 Pintail, 1 Glossy Ibis, 2 Blue-winged Teal, 1 White-rumped Sandpiper, 1 LesserYellowlegs (Caldera)
23rd October:
1 Semipalmated Plover, 1 Spotted Sandpiper, Scoter sp (Windmills)

Saturday 19 October 2019

A trickle of new arrivals

Despite the unfavourable wind conditions a few more American birds were discovered today, a single Dickcissel in Upper Lapa and a Scarlet Tanager in Tennessee Valley both found by Marcin Solowiej and a Lesser Yellowlegs and White-rumped Sandpiper in the Caldera. A Meadow Pipit also found today in the Caldera is a rarer species on Corvo than the new american species.

 Indigo Bunting (Vincent Legrand) 
Hermit Thrush (Vincent Legrand) 

Other species still present include:
 1 North Parula (Lighthouse Valley), 1 Hermit Thrush (Fojo), 1 Indigo Bunting (Poco d'agua), 1 Red-eyed Vireo (Pico),  1 Blue-winged Teal, 1 Glossy Ibis, 2 Pink-footed Goose (Caldera), 1 Alpine Swift (village) and 1 Pomarine Skua (Channel)

Friday 18 October 2019

A nice selection of yanks and a treat from the east

Today (18th October) the only new arrival was from Europe, a juvenile Alpine Swift, only the second record for Corvo and 14th for the Azores. However there were still a nice selection of american birds on the island with the Hooded Warbler still in Do Vinte, the Yellow Warbler still in the same area as yesterday, the Hermit Thrush still showing well in Fojo, the female Northern Parula at the Lighthouse Valley, the Indigo Bunting at Poco d'Agua, 3 Red-eyed Vireos (2 in Da Ponte and 1 in Pico), the Northern Harrier still quartering the sides of the caldera and the two Semipalmated Plover still on the airfield. 

The weather is not looking particularly good over the next few days for new american arrivals but anything is possible on Corvo.  

Male Hooded Warbler- this bird has been present for nearly two weeks, it was first found at the campsite in the village and then relocated to Do Vinte where photographs showed that details of the throat pattern confirmed it as the same bird. (Vincent Legrand) 
Yellow Warbler, a different bird to the male in the village tamarisks. This bird is duller, not as green and lacks orange streaks on the breast (Vincent Legrand) 
The Hermit Thrush again at Fojo. The pale tips to the median coverts is a feature that other catharus thrushes do not show. (Vincent Legrand) 

Alpine Swift- for many this was the bird of the day; An Azores tick! (Vincent Legrand) 

Hermit Thrush

Highlight since the last post was a Hermit Thrush found by Paul French. A Western Palearctic lifer for many birders and also for top WP birder Pierre-Andre Crochet and only the 4th record for the Azores. Other new birds included an Indigo Bunting on 16th October and possibly a new Yellow Warbler on 17th.

A Barnacle Goose on 16th was a Corvo/Azores tick for many birders, with only 13 previous records on the Azores. This species is a national rarity for Portugal. 

25+ Short-finned Pilot Whales were off Lighthouse Valley on 17th. 

 Hermit Thrush (above and below) (Vingent Legrand)

Female Northern Parula (Vincent Legrand) 
Bobolink (Vincent Legrand) 
Barnacle Goose (Peter Alfrey) 
Short-finned Pilot Whales

Daily Logs: 

16th October
1 Hermit Thrush (Fojo), 1 Cliff Swallow, 1 Bobolink (near da Ponte), 1 Indigo Bunting (Poco d'Agua), 1 Red-eyed Vireo (Pico), 1 Northern Harrier, 1 Barnacle Goose (in Channel), 2 Semipalmated Plover, 1 Lapland Bunting, 1 Snow Bunting 

17th October
1 Yellow Warbler (Lapa), 1 Northern Parula (Lighthouse Valley), 1 Hermit Thrush (Fojo), 1 Buff-bellied Pipit, 2 Red-eyed Vireo (Da Ponte), 1 Northern Harrier, 2 Semipalmated Plover, 1 Barnacle Goose, 4 Snow Bunting 

Wednesday 16 October 2019

A steady few days

It's been a relatively quiet period with no new arrivals although the weather has made birding difficult. The highlight has been the first calender year male Northern Harrier showing well between the Reservoir and Lapa and the Northern Parula at the Lighthouse Valley. There's also a few Red-eyed Vireos around and a Buff-bellied Pipit. 

 First calendar year male Northern Harrier (Vincent Legrand) 

 Buff-bellied Pipit (Vincent Legrand) 
Red-eyed Vireo (Vincent Legrand)
Lapland Bunting (Vincent Legrand) 

Daily logs:
13th October:
1 Northern Parula (Light House Valley), 1 Buff-bellied Pipit (Reservoir), 3 Red-eyed Vireos (1 Pico, 2 Village), 2 Semipalmated Plover, 1 Northern Harrier, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 Lapland Bunting (Cape Verde Farm), 3 Great Shearwater
14th October:
1 Buff-bellied Pipit (Reservoir), 2 Red-eyed Vireo (De Ponte), 2 Blue-winged Teal (Caldera), 2 Semipalmated Plover, 1 Northern Harrier, 1 Redpoll sp, 1 Lapland Bunting (Reservoir), 1 Glossy Ibis and 1 Pintail (Caldera)
15th October : 1 Northern Parula (Lighthouse Valley), 1 Red-eyed Vireo (De Ponte), 1 Lapland Bunting (Middle Fields), 2 Semipalmated Plover (airfield)

Sunday 13 October 2019


Almost a year to the day, Thijs Valkenburg has found another first for the WP on the neighbouring island of Flores. Last year on 13th October Thijs and company found a Western Kingbird and yesterday (12th October) they caught a Connecticut Warbler while conducting a ringing project. Connecticut Warbler is a notoriously skulking species and like other members of the Oporornis genus are the most difficult american wood warblers to detect in the field. More ringing activity on Flores and Corvo could well reveal more elusive american species. 

Once again the potential of Flores for attracting new species for the Western Palearctic has been highlighted and while currently most birders travel to Corvo, the neighbouring and larger island of Flores will undoubtedly hold a different potential to Corvo. The larger size of the island means that larger numbers of birders would be required to cover it adequately. 

However the last week on Corvo has also been full on with new arrivals of Yellow, Hooded, Magnolia, Black-throated Green Warbler and Northern Parula in addition to White-eyed, Philadelphia and up to six Red-eyed Vireo with Buff-bellied Pipit, Northern Harrier, Bobolink and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. Interestingly there have also been up to two Green Darners on the island, a vagrant dragonfly from North America. 

So far weather has not permitted Corvo birders to twitch Flores for the Connecticut Warbler and apprehension is currently high, for if history does repeat itself, like the Western Kingbird last year, the skulking Connecticut may never be seen again ? 

Connecticut Warbler (above and below)- a first for the Azores and the WP. Flores (Thijs Valkenburg)

 Prothonotary Warbler - last seen on 7th October (Paul French) 
 Magnolia Warbler (Paul French) 
Female Green Darner (Paul French). According to Dijkstra (2010) fromer occurrence in the Western Palearctic comprised six individuals on the Isles of Scilly and Cornwall in 1998 and one in Nantes, France in September 2003. 

 Daily logs:

7th October: 
1 Prothonortary Warbler (still at Cantinho), 2 Yellow Warbler (Cape Verde Farm), 1 Magnolia Warbler (Middle Fields), 1 male Hooded Warbler (Campsite), 1 Philadelphia Vireo (Middle Fields), 1 Scarlet Tanager (Village photographed by a local person)
8th October:
1 Black-throated Green Warbler (Upper Lapa), Northern Waterthrush (Reservoir), 1 Black-and-white Warbler (Cantinho), 3 Red-eyed Vireos (Da Ponte, Poco do Agua and Fojo), 1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Upper Lapa)
9th October: 
1 White-eyed Vireo (Upper Lapa), 3 Red-eyed Vireo (Da Ponte, Upper Lapa), 1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Poco do Agua) 2 Blue-winged Teal , 1 Garganey, 1 Glossy Ibis  (Caldera)
10th October:
1 Hooded Warbler (do Vinte), 1 White-eyed Vireo (Upper Lapa), 1 Buff-bellied Pipit (Caldera), 2 Red-eyed Vireo (Upper de Ponte and one De Ponte), 2 Semipalmated Plover (airfield)
11th October:
1 Yellow Warbler (Tamarisks), 1 Hooded Warbler (do Vinte), 1 White-eyed Vireo (Upper Lapa), 1 Bobolink (Lapa fields), 6 Red-eyed Vireo (3 Pico, 2 De Ponte, 1 Pig Farm), 2 Semipalmated Plover (airfield) 1 Osprey (over Campsite), 1 Common Swift (Village)
12th October:
 1 Yellow Warbler (Cape Verde), 1 Hooded Warbler (Do Vinte), 1 White-eyed Vireo (Upper Lapa), 1 Buff-bellied Pipit (Reservoir), 1 Northern Parula (Lighthouse Valley), 1 Northern Harrier (upper Reservoir), 2 Semipalmated Plover (airfield), 1 Blue-winged Teal (Caldera), 2 Pink-footed Goose (Windmills), 1 Gloosy Ibis (Caldera), 1 Common Swift (Village), 1 Osprey (over Reservoir)


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Monday 7 October 2019


As starts to the season go, things dont get much better than what has happened over the last couple of weeks. Last week's, Cape May and Chestnut-sided Warbler were unbelievable topped by something even better- a first for the Western Palearctic, and top of the dream wish list; Prothonotary Warbler found by Jean-Pierre Jordan.

This is now the 25th species of american wood warbler recorded on Corvo (only Palm and Cerulean on the WP list have not recorded on the island). This is the third first for the WP american wood warbler following Yellow-throated Warbler and Prairie Warbler. A hybrid Golden-winged x Blue-winged 'Brewster's Warbler' was also a first for the WP.

 First-winter female Prothonotary Warbler (Paul French), above and below
Ovenbird (Paul French) 

Daily Logs:
29th September: Northern Waterthrush (Lower Lapa),
1st October: Northern Waterthrush (Upper Lapa)
2nd October: 2 Black-and-white Warbler (Cantinho)
4th October: 1 Prothonotary Warbler,  (Cantinho), 1 Bobolink (middle fields), 1 White-rumped Sandpiper, 1 Dunlin (Airfield),
5th October: 1 Prothonotary Warbler, 2 Black-and-white Warbler, 3 Red-eyed Vireo (Cantinho, Fojo and De Ponte)
6th October: 1 Ovenbird (Fojo), 3 Red-eyed Vireo (2 Fojo, 1 Poco d'Agua), 2 Black-and-white Warbler (Cantinho)