Monday, 15 October 2018

Western Kingbird on Flores etc

It's been an incredible few days in the wake of Storm Callum with the hands down highlight being the first Western Kingbird for the Western Palearctic on the neighbouring island of Flores found on 13th by Thijs Valkenberg from the car! Most Corvo birders have spent the last three days trying to bridge the 12 mile stretch of drink between Corvo and Flores- unsuccessfully due to stormy seas. Seven Corvo birders finally made it off island today by plane but there has been no sign of the bird since early yesterday morning. Only five people have seen the bird with two birders on Flores even failing to see it. Whether you are a WP twitcher on the European mainland over 1000 miles away or 12 miles away on Corvo or even on the same ruddy island for some- it seems this bird has proved to give nearly everyone the slip. If it's never seen again it will be an instant alluring WP legend. 

 Western Kingbird (Thijs Valkenberg) 

The Kingbird was indeed the monarch of a significant arrival of yanks from the 13th to 15th with highlights on Corvo including White-throated Sparrow, a Dickcissel, a new American Redstart, a new Baltimore Oriole, Black-throated Green Warbler, Northern Parula, Swainson's Thrush, Scarlet Tanager, three Red-eyed Vireo, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, two Indigo Buntings and Grey-cheeked Thrush. The Wilson's Warbler was also still present today (15th) to the delight of birders arriving on the Monday flight.  

Additionally on Flores there has been Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Northern Waterthrush and Scarlet Tanager. 

White-throated Sparrow (Pawel Kolodziejczyk)

For full log of daily birds see Corvo Birders Facebook Page HERE

Friday, 12 October 2018

First landfall of Nearctic landbirds on Corvo

On the one side, it's about Floridians trying to deal over the week with "Michael", a Cat 4 Hurricane hitting shore on the Eastern American seaboard - wind speed approaching 200 km/h. On the other side (Corvo/WP//EU side), however, "Michael" is not such a bad guy because it drags behind him a system of sustained westerlies that had the potential to blow across the ocean a first wave of Nearctic landbirds...And so it did!

The Corvo 2018 autumn has indeed been triggered in style over the last days with an impressive cast of goodies scored: no less than 8 Nearctic landbird individuals have been reported since the 10th, including three American Redstarts scattered on the island, the first two Red-eyed Vireos of the year in Lapa and Cantinho, an Indigo Bunting at the Lighthouse Valley and a Baltimore Oriole in the Lower Fields! The pinnacle of the week came late in the afternoon of yesterday with the discovery of Corvo's 65th Nearctic land bird species, a stunning female Wilson's Warbler in the Middle Fields - a true mega for the records, being not only a first for Azores but also the 4th WP record (1st female).

With an estimated 30+ birders now present on the island and with the wind calming down, more discoveries should be expected over the week-end so stay tuned!

Cat 4 Hurricane "Michael" hits Florida, 10 October 2018 (David Monticelli)
American Redstart (1st w male), Middle Fields, 11 October 2018 (Vincent Legrand)
Wilson's Warbler (female), 12 October 2018 (Vincent Legrand)
Nearctic species seen from 8-12 October:
Blue-winged Teal: 1 (8/10)
Pectoral Sandpiper : 1 (8/10)
Spotted Sandpiper: 1 on southern shore (8-10/10)
White-rumped Sandpiper: 1 (9/10)
Red-eyed Vireo: 2, one 1 at Lapa and one at Ribeira do Cantinho (10 & 11/10, respectively)
American Redstart: 3, one at Lighthouse Valley, one at Middle fields, one at Fojo (10, 11 & 12/10, respectively)
Wilson's Warbler: 1 at Middle Fields (12/10)
Baltimore Oriole: 1 in Lower Fields (Cape Verdian Farm) (11/10)
Indigo Bunting: 1 at Lighthouse Valley (12/10)

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

The Azores Rare and Scarce Bird Report 2015

The 2015 report will be available on Corvo next week. If you would like to order a copy by post please email 

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)