You are on page 1of 12

1

Azores
Bird tour summary: 12-19 October 2013

So Miguel, Flores and Terceira
____________________________________________________________________________________________________


Text and images Dominic Mitchell (www.birdingetc.com)


Every autumn sees American vagrants reach the Azores, Europes most westerly outpost. Among the more sought after are the
Nearctic wood-warblers, and in October 2013 our group was lucky to watch this subtly beautiful Myrtle Warbler at close range in
central Flores. It was one of at least 16 species of North American origin seen during this years trip.

Participants: Dominic Mitchell (leader), Gerby Michielsen (So Miguel), Bill Bailey, Graham Beevor, Max Dettori, Maurice
and Lyndsey McCann, Bob Swann.

From the leader: For the committed birder, especially those with a keen interest in Western Palearctic listing, the Azores
in October is a must-visit destination. And once again, during the course of our regular mid-month tour around three of
the most important islands in this isolated Atlantic archipelago, we racked up an impressive list of vagrant American birds
in total at least 16 species from across the pond, several of which had not been recorded on our previous trips. My own
total of American vagrants in the Azores now stands at 61 species, showing the value in returning repeatedly over the
years, with something new to see on seemingly every visit. Although we experienced quiet periods at times on Flores this
year, persistence by those who try is usually rewarded, and so it proved again with some much-wanted birds.
2
Saturday 12 October: UK to So Miguel
Our first day was a travel day, flying from London
Heathrow to Lisbon, then after a short interval onwards
to Ponta Delgada on So Miguel, the main island in the
Azores archipelago. On arrival we were met by local
birder Gerby Michielsen, but as we didnt arrive until after
dark there was no opportunity to see our first Azorean
birds. Instead, we had to make do with a White Wagtail
during the inter-flight transfer at Lisbon a very common
species on the Continent but a true rarity in the Azores.
Sunday 13 October: So Miguel
We met up with Gerby early for the drive to the east end
of the island. The mountains in this part of So Miguel are
the only place in the world where Azores Bullfinch can be
found, and though numbers of this endangered endemic
(known as Priolo locally) are slowly rising, seeing the birds
can be very dependent on the weather. Although
conditions were not ideal, we maintained our excellent
track record for the species and after a little searching
everyone got good views of perhaps six different
individuals, mainly adults, in one of the areas I regularly
visit.
With the pressure off, smiles on faces and ticks in
notebooks, we headed down to sea level before working
our way back west. A Little Egret and the first Corys
Shearwaters of the trip were notched up on the south
coast, while regional endemics in the form of Atlantic
Canary and Azores Gull the local atlantis form of
Yellow-legged Gull were simply impossible to avoid. We
checked a major lake and then the interior plateau of the
island, which is dotted with ponds and marshes, but aside
from Garganey (seemingly becoming more regular in the
Azores) we didnt locate anything exceptional, so headed
on north-west to Ribeira Grande on the other flank of the
island. Here, in addition to the regular Sanderling flock, a
frustratingly brief Charadrius plover Ringed or more
likely Semipalmated, seen here recently flushed off the
beach and out of view.

Five Ring-necked Ducks were a nice find on So Miguel, and
our first American vagrants of the tour.
We therefore had to wait just a little longer to confirm
our first American species, but the mission was
accomplished within the hour when a farm pond turned
up an impressive group of five Ring-necked Ducks. We
sated ourselves with views before pushing on in the heat
of the afternoon to the crater lakes in the west. Common
Waxbill was another addition to the trip list but, with
wildfowl numbers generally low this year, we cut our
losses and headed back to Ponta Delgada to check the gull
roost.
With the light fading we worked through the many
hundreds of Azores Gulls arriving to spend the night in the
harbour. Sometimes this thronging mass of larids attracts
something more unusual, and on this occasion it was an
apparent first-winter nominate michahellis Yellow-legged
Gull. Distinctions can be subtle but this cleaner, paler
Continental European bird stood out distinctly from its
darker, same-aged atlantis congeners, and I duly made
notes as the group enjoyed scope views of the bird. A
Black-headed Gull (our second of the day after one at
Ribeira Grande), a good-sized Ruddy Turnstone flock and
three Eurasian Whimbrels brought to a close a day which
also included our first endemic Azores Noctule bats.
Monday 14 October: So Miguel and Flores

Glossy Ibises again managed to reach Flores in the west.
Another early breakfast and start in the dark today, but
this time to say goodbye to Gerby, and So Miguel, and
catch the first flight out to the island of Flores, Europes
most westerly point.
The plane was on time and we duly arrived at 10.15 am,
on landing flushing a small wader off the runway. The
airport can be excellent for waders at times so as soon as
wed collected our luggage and the minibus, I drove round
to the end of the runway so we could check where Max
thought the bird may have landed. We couldnt locate
anything initially, but then had four Glossy Ibises fly in to
3
feed in front of us welcome compensation! It was only
on last years visit to Flores that wed found the first-ever
Glossy Ibis for this island.
With a decent chunk of the day still to utilise, I decided to
head up to the northern tip of the island to check the
fields and any temporary pools. As we drove down a
weedy track near the most northerly point at Ponta
Delgada, Atlantic Canaries and Azores Chaffinches (surely
a split to come) were everywhere; our diligent checking of
the flocks of seed-eaters produced not one but two
Lapland Buntings, Bob and I calling different (and brief)
individuals simultaneously, as well as a very lost Northern
Wheatear.
Better still were the waders, and we more than made up
for the vanishing act at the airport with Semipalmated
Plover, a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper and no fewer than
three White-rumped Sandpipers (two adults and a
juvenile), along with Sanderling and Eurasian Whimbrel.
We also bumped into Carol and Tim Inskipp, whod
already been on the island for a couple of days, and after
exchanging notes we headed towards the centre of the
island to check a couple of lakes en route to our hotel.

Adult White-rumped Sandpiper at Ponta Delgada, Flores.
The first provided nothing of greater interest than a Grey
Heron, but when we stopped at the second to follow up a
lead from the Inskipps on American ducks, everything
happened at once. A small patch of water remaining in
the corner of an otherwise dry lake held a drake Wood
Duck and a group of dabblers, of which by my estimation
two were female American Black Ducks and the other six
American Black Duck x Mallard hybrids or backcrosses.
While we were watching them I heard a Lesser Yellowlegs
calling somewhere high overhead; scanning the skies in a
bid to locate it led to one of the group picking up a
Peregrine at some distance. And then came shouts from
Max, who had wandered to a nearby patch of juniper
scrub and was now waving frantically we all
immediately dashed over to discover hed flushed a
Myrtle Warbler! An anxious few minutes followed when
the bird seemed to have gone to ground, but before long
it popped up again and we all enjoyed good views as it fed
and flicked about among the bushes, occasionally
revealing its yellow rump. Having put the news out
quickly, the few other birders on the island started
arriving, and we were able to repay the Inskipps in kind
for their helpful duck gen.

Pure and hybrid American Black Duck can be found on Flores;
note also the partly obscured drake Wood Duck.
Delighted with the successes of the afternoon, we headed
over to our base on the west coast, notching up a
roadside Eurasian Woodcock en route and making one
final wetland stop, the reward for which was two distant
Ring-necked Ducks. Flores had quickly done us proud!
Tuesday 15 October: Flores
Our superb first day on the island was always going to be
a tough act to follow, and so it proved today. We started
off north of our hotel at Ponta da Faj, the area where on
the previous two trips I had found Grey Catbird and
Northern Parula. This time, however, our repeated
checking of every movement in the dense vegetation of
the overgrown orchards and laurel scrub produced only
the familiar Blackcaps, Goldcrests (here of the subspecies
inermis, unlike the azoricus birds we had seen on So
Miguel) and Azores Chaffinches.
The coast from here down to Faj Grande is the
westernmost point of Europe, and so is first landfall for
any arriving shorebirds from across the Atlantic. None had
come in recently, by the look of it, with the rocky pools
giving up only Eurasian Whimbrel and Ruddy Turnstone,
along with a Grey Heron. Some distance offshore, lines of
Corys Shearwaters sheared in relaxed fashion back and
forth, and a couple of Common Terns patrolled inshore.
4
Having given this area a good grilling, we decided to head
back in to the centre of the island and revisit Lagoa
Branca, which had been surprisingly lacking in birds
yesterday, but this time came at it from the other side. As
we approached along a rough road, we were amazed to
see a Polecat this mammal has been long naturalised on
the island but is hard to see, and in fact this was my first
live individual on Flores, my only other encounter being a
dead one on a road. We watched it go back and forth for
a while before it retreated into cover, and then we
checked the lake from a good vantage point.
Here, duck numbers were up to two! A single dabbler
turned out to be a Eurasian Wigeon, while a somewhat
distant diving duck was clearly a scaup, and doubtless the
bird which variously had been reported as both Lesser
and Greater; record shots reveal it to have been the latter
species.
Next up was Lagoa Lomba, where another duck attracted
our attention. It was a wigeon again, but which species?
This far out into the Atlantic there is obviously a fair
chance of American as well as Eurasian, and so it proved
this time American Wigeon! Delighted to add another
American vagrant to our list, we headed back towards the
west, stopping briefly to enjoy another rarity when a
Glossy Ibis flew around an upland stream one of
yesterdays birds again, or a new individual?
We birded around the village of Fajzinha en route to the
north-west and ended with another circuit at Ponta da
Faj, producing good views of the usual suspects but
nothing new.

Juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper and Semipalmated Plover.
Wednesday 16 October: Flores
Today was always going to go one of two ways. We had
high hopes when we set out on our initial circuit of likely
migrant areas in the north-west, but other than a brief
Woodcock had little to show for our efforts. Tim and Carol
Inskipp had previously caught a glimpse of a partially
obscured passerine showing bright yellow at great range
on a well-wooded hillside at Ponta da Faj, so we staked
out the area for some time in the hope that the bird
would appear again it was clearly nothing local.
However, despite our vigilance it was a no-show, so
eventually we cut our losses with little to show for the
time invested.
We headed on and decided to work the sheltered
surrounds of Faj do Conde, which last year produced an
Indigo Bunting but this time had little unexpected other
than Lesser Black-backed Gull (noteworthy on Flores).
Before we had finished working this attractive area,
however, I received hammer-blow news which would
disrupt the rest of the day. The Inskipps were leaving the
island early afternoon, but shortly before boarding the
plane Tim saw an American Mourning Dove fly across the
southern part of the airport! I was delighted to get the
news so quickly, and we immediately hit the road.
At its south end the airport is right on the edge of the
island, so it seemed likely the dove would have pitched
down locally rather than carried on over water. We
systematically worked the perimeter fence and adjoining
areas, but despite our best efforts there was simply no
sign of it. We widened the search, checking every group
of Feral Rock Doves we found in case it had tagged along
with a flock of its congeners, but drew a blank.
Repeated checking of the airfield produced a couple of
juvenile White-rumped Sandpipers and a Eurasian
Whimbrel, and unfortunately a dead Glossy Ibis inside the
perimeter fence which we were unable to examine for
rings or cause of death. There was better news in nearby
Santa Cruz harbour, where a brief Spotted Sandpiper was
new for the trip list. But even this welcome American
straggler felt like scant compensation for the real deal
that had gone AWOL, and after four hours of relentless
searching we returned to base empty handed.
Thursday 17 October: Flores
Today was our last full day out west. Had sea conditions
permitted it we would have taken a boat across to Corvo
and birded there, but with strong winds and a deep swell
this was ruled out by the captain. In any case, the
knowledge that an American Mourning Dove was
probably still on Flores, and quite possibly still in the area
5
where it had originally been seen, continued to play
havoc with our plans.
Before attempting to relocate that bird, we began with a
change of scene in the north back at Ponta Delgada. Here,
an adult White-rumped Sandpiper was still in residence
along with an adult Sanderling, and we enjoyed good
views again of the juvenile Semipalmated Plover which
also clearly found this headland to its liking. But otherwise
it was the usual suspects, so we headed south-east back
to Santa Cruz to work the airfield area again.
There was a definite feeling of groundhog day as we
checked the same sites as the previous day, and further
afield, but again without luck. Two juvenile White-rumped
Sandpipers were still present and Eurasian Whimbrel
were up to three, but there was no sign of the dove all
day. The harbour produced plenty of Common Terns and
the obligatory Corys Shearwaters offshore, but the
Spotted Sandpiper was now conspicuous by its absence.
Eventually it was time to head back to the hotel, but we
stopped off on the west coast to explore a couple of new
areas in the hope that some migrants might be in
evidence. It was while in one small, overgrown valley that,
after pishing for a while, I heard several deep, low single
hoo notes. I squeaked again, waited and sure enough
heard the low hoo hoo hoo once more. I called Bob
over and the mystery voice sounded a final time before
falling silent. I can only attribute the call to Long-eared
Owl, and Bob agreed; the species does breed in the
Azores but no closer than the island of Faial, some 180
miles to the south-east, and is unknown on Flores.
Friday 18 October: Flores and Terceira
Departure day dawned on Flores. My motto in birding is
Never give up, and it still applied even after spending
many hours over two days unsuccessfully searching for
the now seemingly mythical American Mourning Dove.
We discussed options for the limited time for birding
before our flight to Terceira, and then headed to the
airport early with that one bird as our sole target.
Initially we checked around the airport itself, where a
Eurasian Whimbrel was still in evidence, and a single
Glossy Ibis flew over. We then followed up one or two
groups of Feral Rock Doves that were feeding in
smallholdings and weedy areas on the east side, not far
from the original sighting, but still no joy. We ended up on
the north side of Santa Cruz, birding near the cliffs, still
dove-less, but enjoying the hordes of Clouded Yellow
butterflies before it was time to head back to the terminal
and check in our luggage.

Bizarre: juvenile Least Sandpiper in the road in Santa Cruz!
Most of the group decided to walk back to the airport, in
the hope that the dove might still appear. Its generally
not a good idea to split up in such circumstances, running
the risk of some people seeing the bird while others dip,
but theyd made their decision so Max and I drove around
the one-way system to meet up with them back at the
terminal. As I pulled up at a roundabout in the north of
town, a small wader suddenly appeared on the tarmac
ahead. I expected it to be one of the White-rumpeds from
the airport nearby, and we raised our binoculars. But this
wader had pale greenish legs: Least Sandpiper! The bird
was only on the ground for a few moments before calling
and flying off towards the industrial area we tried to
follow but it didnt appear to stop. I screeched back round
to where the others were walking, picked them up and
searched the area again, but there was no further sign.

Bingo! American Mourning Dove, by the skin of our teeth.
Every cloud has a silver lining, however. Back at the
airport as we were unloading the bags, my phone rang. It
was Dutch birder Thierry Janssen, just letting me know
that he was near the control tower and watching the
dove! I dont quite know how, with bags everywhere and
the minibus keys just about to be handed back, but we
were there in what seemed like seconds bingo! Thierry
6
had the bird staked out on a fence between two houses,
just above a small walled garden in which it had obviously
been feeding. No wonder we couldnt find it if the bird
wasnt on the fence when you happened to walk past, it
would have been out of sight in this private garden. We
all thanked Thierry for finding the bird and letting us
know so quickly, and then had to dash back to the
terminal and check in before the flight closed.
After the short flight to Terceira, our smiling group arrived
at the tidal pools at Cabo da Praia to a veritable
waderfest. Some 21 species of shorebird included Short-
billed Dowitcher, Lesser Yellowlegs, Red-necked
Phalarope, two Semipalmated and 20 Kentish Plovers,
Spotted, Pectoral, two Semipalmated and at least seven
White-rumped Sandpipers and a juvenile Little Stint.
Nearby, a Surf Scoter in the harbour and a flying visit to
another wetland rounded off a day in which we had
unequivocally snatched victory from the jaws of defeat!
Saturday 19 October: Terceira

Red-necked Phalarope with juvenile White-rumped Sandpiper
and three Sanderlings on Terceira.
Reinvigorated after our hard graft on Flores, we were
ready for action on our last whole day in the Azores. The
plan was for a grand tour of Terceira, at least those parts
with a track record of producing birds, so we set out for a
full session in the field.
We hadnt had time to do the wetland in Praia justice
yesterday, so we began proceedings by checking the small
lake and its margins. It wasnt long before the first shout
of the day went up: Osprey! This raptor is a vagrant to the
Azores so it was a welcome addition to the trip list. A
Canada Goose may or may not have had such authentic
origins, but a Squacco Heron stalking the shallows in a
nearby ditch was yet another welcome write-in for the
checklist. After views of some Common Waxbills, we
headed on to check Cabo da Praia for any new arrivals.

Long way from home: Squacco Heron on Terceira.
The selection was broadly similar to the previous day, but
Semipalmated Plovers were up to five, Semipalmated
Sandpipers to three and White-rumps to nine, while the
Short-billed Dowitcher and Lesser Yellowlegs continued.
Next head up we headed inland to a series of damp fields
and cattle pasture, the main objective being to locate any
flocks of snipe present, and then the hard bit to
isolate and confirm any candidate Wilsons Snipe. This
wasnt to be an issue this year, as all the usual spots were
either dry or largely lacking in birds. Had hunters been
through before us? Perhaps, but there was no point
worrying now, and we continued to work our way west
through the centre of the island. One usually dry lake, in
contrast, had plenty of water this year, and whats more a
single wader Greater Yellowlegs! Wed heard one had
been reported elsewhere on the island previously but not
since, so relocating the bird now was a real bonus. Lesser
Yellowlegs is annual in small numbers in the Azores but
Greater Yellowlegs, in contrast, can muster just 17
records in total (closely recalling their respective status in
Britain and Ireland).

Relocated: Greater Yellowlegs on Terceira, another welcome
find for the group on the last day of the tour.
7

This vagrant Osprey was encountered at two sites in eastern
Terceira during the course of the last day.
After enjoying this major vagrant and checking some
other sites, we went back to the east coast for a quick
check of the harbour and to see the Surf Scoter again, and
then returned to Cabo da Praia for another check through
the waders. While doing so, I picked up a distant snipe
which was sufficiently well marked to arouse my
suspicions. We watched it for some time on the ground,
but were distracted briefly by the mornings Osprey
performing a quick fly-past. We later also saw it on the
wing along with a Common Snipe, and in direct
comparison the birds visibly more heavily barred flanks
and underwing confirmed its identity as a Wilsons Snipe.

Common (left) and Wilsons Snipe (right) on Terceira.
Our day had gone very well indeed, and was completed
with the final addition of a Sandwich Tern in the harbour
late in the day this species is a vagrant here but the bird
had a metal ring and, I suspect, was therefore a returning
Polish-ringed individual that has visited Terceira
previously. My objective on this last day, generally the
highest scoring of the trip in terms of species diversity, is
to try and beat the previous years total, and this year we
managed to do exactly that.

This Sandwich Tern (centre, wings raised) with Common Terns
on Terceira may have been a returning bird.
Sunday 20 October: Terceira
Today the tour concluded with an early flight home. We
had just enough time after an early breakfast for a pit-
stop at the local wetland, where the Canada Goose was
still in residence, and also at Cabo da Praia for a last check
of waders, and then headed to the airport for our flight to
Lisbon (delayed by an hour and 50 minutes, as it turned
out) and onwards back to London.

Overall, in my estimation it had been another superb
tour. Some days had required determination to push on
and keep looking for birds, as can be the case on islands,
but nowhere has new rarities continually on show, and
you have to make your own luck. The eventual rewards
this year on the Azores had certainly been worth the
effort roll on 2014!
Acknowledgements
As well as to the participants in this tour, thanks to Gerby
Michielsen for his assistance on So Miguel, and to Peter Alfrey,
Ernie Davis, Carol and Tim Inskipp, Thierry Jansen, Josh Jones,
Hannu Palojrvi, Kris de Rouck and Rainer Sottorf for exchanging
information and other help while in the islands. Thanks also to
Martin Garner for his feedback subsequently on the field
separation of Sandwich and Cabots Terns.
8
Species list
Participants completed a detailed daily trip list at the group log each night; this is an annotated summary.
1. Canada Goose Branta canadensis One at Paul da Praia, Terceira, on 19-20
th
had been present for several days
previously (originally with a second bird); there have probably been fewer than
10 records in the Azores. There is a possibility that at least some individuals
originate from the species native American range rather than from the large
feral population in north-west Europe.
2. Wood Duck Aix sponsa A drake at Lagoa Seca, Flores, on 14
th
but not subsequently. This is presumed to
be a returning individual first seen on the island in October 2010 (when there
were two drakes). It is often elusive, and appears to be absent in summer.
3. Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope Singles on Flores on 15
th
and Terceira on 18
th
, with three on the latter island the
next day.
4. American Wigeon Anas americana One at Lagoa Lomba, Flores, on 15
th
.
5. American Black Duck Anas americana Two females (and four hybrids) were at Lagoa Seca, Flores, on 14
th
, and a single
female (and three hybrids) were seen again on 17
th
.
6. Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 20+ at the crater lakes on So Miguel on 13th was the only record this year.
7. Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata A single bird on Terceira on 18-19
th
.
8. Northern Pintail Anas acuta Three on Terceira on 18-19
th
.
9. Garganey Anas querquedula Three were seen on So Miguel on 13
th
.
10. Eurasian Teal Anas crecca Seen on three dates this year, maximum four on So Miguel on 13
th
. Additionally,
single female-type teal either this species or Green-winged were seen on 13
th

(two) and 14
th
.
11. Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris Five together on So Miguel on 13
th
were followed by two on Flores on 14
th
.
12. Greater Scaup Aythya marila A distant female-type at Lagoa Branca, Flores, on 15
th
.
13. Surf Scoter Melanitta perspicillata One in the harbour at Praia da Vitoria, Terceira, on 18-19
th
.
14. Corys Shearwater Calonectris diomedea Regularly seen offshore, occasionally in large numbers.
15. Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus Four were at Santa Cruz airport, Flores, on 14
th
, with one of these or another
seen flying over a stream in the west-central area of the island next day, and a
single again over Santa Cruz near the airport on 18
th
; in between these dates, a
dead bird was seen on the airfield on 16
th
. At least one of these birds was ringed,
and may possibly have originated from southern Spain.
16. Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides One at Paul da Praia, Terceira, on 19
th
, was wholly unexpected.
17. Grey Heron Ardea cinerea Recorded on six dates, with nine on So Miguel on 13
th
the maximum count.
18. Little Egret Egretta garzetta Recorded on four dates, maximum four on Terceira on 19
th
.
19. Osprey Pandion haliaetus One initially seen soon after first light on 19
th
at Paul da Praia, Terceira,
reappeared later in the day to the south at Cabo da Praia.
20. Common Buzzard Buteo buteo Noted on both So Miguel (maximum 15+ on 13
th
) and Terceira (4+ on 19
th
);
endemic subspecies rothschildsi.
9
21. Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus One watched distantly soaring over central Flores on 14
th
.
22. Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Noted on five dates on all three islands, the peak count this year being seven on
Terceira on 19
th
.
23. Eurasian Coot Fulica atra As with the previous species, seen on five dates on all three islands, with a
typically higher maximum of 32 on So Miguel on 13
th
.
24. Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola Noted on all three days on Terceira, with four at Cabo da Praia on 18-19
th
the
highest count.
25. Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula 12 at Cabo da Praia, Terceira, on 18-19
th
and several again in brief visit on 20
th
.
26. Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus A single juvenile at Ponta Delgada, Flores, on 14
th
and 17
th
, with two at Cabo da
Praia, Terceira, on 18
th
and five the next day. A charadrius plover at Ribeira
Grande, So Miguel, on 13
th
that flew before it could be identified was probably
also this species.
27. Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus Recorded on all three days on Terceira, with a maximum of 33 on 19
th
.
28. Eurasian Woodcock Scolopax rusticola Singles recorded on three dates on Flores.
29. Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago Recorded only on Terceira this year, with a maximum of six on 19
th
.
30. Wilsons Snipe Gallinago delicata One at Cabo da Praia on 19
th
was confirmed when flight views allowing direct
comparison with Common Snipe (and a record shot of the two species together)
clearly showed the darker-looking, heavily barred underwing and flanks of the
Wilsons.
31. Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus A juvenile moulting into first-winter plumage at Cabo da Praia, Terceira, on 18-
19
th
.
32. Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa Noted on three dates on Terceira, with 13 at Cabo da Praia on 18
th
the best
count.
33. Eurasian Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus Recorded on six dates this year, peaking at a low three on three dates.
34. Common Redshank Tringa totanus One at Cabo da Praia, Terceira, on 18-19
th
.
35. Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia One at Cabo da Praia, Terceira, from 18-20
th
.
36. Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca One seen previously by others elsewhere on Terceira was relocated by the group
at Lagoa Ginjal on 19
th
.
37. Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes One was heard calling in flight, but not seen, at Lagoa Seca, Flores, on 14
th

(scanning for this bird leading to the discovery of a Peregrine), while another was
at Cabo da Praia, Terceira, on 18-19
th
.
38. Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia One at Santa Cruz, Flores, on 16
th
, and at least one at Cabo da Praia, Terceira, on
18
th
.
39. Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres Recorded on seven dates and on all three islands, max c 50 at Cabo da Praia,
Terceira, on 19-20
th
.
40. Red Knot Calidris canutus An adult at Cabo da Praia, Terceira, on 18-19
th
was the only record this year.
41. Sanderling Calidris alba Recorded on seven dates on all three islands, with a peak count on c 130 on
Terceira on 18-19
th
.
10
42. Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla Three at Cabo da Praia, Terceira, on 18-19
th
was a typical showing.
43. Little Stint Calidris minuta A juvenile at Cabo da Praia, Terceira, on 18-19
th
.
44. Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla One of the most bizarre records of this years trip was a juvenile briefly on a
tarmac road in industrial Santa Cruz, Flores, on 18
th
. Unfortunately, it was missed
by those who wanted to walk to the nearby airport rather than travel in the
group minibus, and couldnt be relocated.
45. White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis Three birds on Flores on 14
th
, 16
th
and 17
th
, and then up to nine were at Cabo da
Praia, Terceira, on 18-19
th
.
46. Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos For the second year running this species proved hard to come by, with single
juveniles on Flores on 14
th
and Terceira on 18-19
th
.
47. Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea Four adults were at Cabo da Praia, Terceira, on 18-19
th
.
48. Dunlin Calidris alpina There were four at Cabo da Praia, Terceira, on 18
th
and five the next day.
49. Ruff Philomachus pugnax Up to three were at Cabo da Praia, Terceira, from 18-20
th
.
50. Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus One at Cabo da Praia, Terceira, on 18-19
th
was our first on these tours.
51. Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus Noted on So Miguel and Terceira, with a maximum total of 12 on the latter
island on 19
th
.
52. Azores Gull Larus (michahellis) atlantis This endemic larid, a potential split from Yellow-legged Gull, was recorded daily
in good numbers, with 1,000+ on So Miguel on 13
th
and Terceira on 19
th
. A first-
winter michahellis Yellow-legged Gull was also noted on So Miguel on 13
th
.
53. Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus Recorded on So Miguel and Flores this year.
54. Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis An adult in Cabo da Praia industrial port, Terceira, on 19
th
. The bird had a metal
ring and may be the Polish-ringed individual returning to the island.
55. Common Tern Sterna hirundo Unusually late and numerous this year, being recorded on seven dates with a
maximum of 250 on Terceira on 19
th
.
56. Feral Rock Dove Columbia livia Abundant and widespread.
57. Common Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus Recorded on So Miguel, Flores and Terceira; endemic subspecies azorica.
58. Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto Noted as usual at Cabo da Praia, Terceira.
59. American Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura After many hours of searching over three days in Santa Cruz, Flores, we finally
caught up with this elusive vagrant on 18
th
, literally minutes before we were due
to check in for our flight off the island.
60. Goldcrest Regulus regulus Noted daily, with endemic subspecies azoricus on So Miguel and inermis on
Flores and Terceira.
61. Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris Endemic and genetically distinct subspecies granti noted daily on all three
islands.
62. Common Blackbird Turdus merula Endemic subspecies azorensis recorded daily on all three islands.
63. European Robin Erithacus rubecula Noted on So Miguel and Terceira.
64. Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe One on Flores on 14
th
.
11
65. Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla Endemic subspecies gularis recorded daily on all three islands.
66. Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild Recorded on So Miguel and Terceira, maximum 12+ on the latter island on 18
th
.
67. House Sparrow Passer domesticus Abundant and widespread on all three islands.
68. Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea Common and recorded daily on all islands; endemic subspecies patriciae.
69. Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs Endemic form moreletti, a potential split, frequently encountered on all islands.
70. Azores Bullfinch Pyrrhula murina Six individuals of this sought-after So Miguel endemic were noted this year.
71. European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis Common, and recorded on four dates.
72. Atlantic Canary Serinus canaria This Macaronesian endemic was recorded on all islands in numbers every day.
73. Myrtle Warbler Setophaga coronata One of the star finds on the tour this year, this beautiful American parulid
eventually showed well to all the group and some other birders in an area of
junipers west of Lagoa Seca, Flores, on 14
th
.
74. Lapland Bunting Calcarius lapponicus Two individuals were seen well but briefly at Ponta Delgada, Flores, on 14
th
.

OTHER WILDLIFE
Above: mammal of the trip was this smart
Polecat. Right: Painted Lady.
Mammals seen included the endemic Azores
Noctule Nyctalus azoreum on three dates on
So Miguel and Terceira, House Mouse Mus
musculus domesticus, Black Rat Rattus
rattus, European Rabbit Oryctolagus
cuniculus and, best of all, a Polecat Mustela
putorius on Flores on 15
th
.
Butterflies included Red Admiral Vanessa
atalanta, Painted Lady Vanessa cardui, Large
White Pieris brassicae and numerous
Clouded Yellows Colias croceus (maximum
30 on Flores on 18
th
), and two Hummingbird
Hawk Moths Macroglossum stellatarum
were seen on Flores on 17
th
.

INTERESTED IN THE NEXT TOUR?
The autumn 2014 trip to the Azores takes place from 11-19 October. The itinerary will again see us stay on So Miguel, Flores and
Terceira, with the potential option to visit Corvo by boat. For full details of this fully ATOL-bonded tour, organised by specialist operator
Archipelago Azores, see http://www.azoreschoice.com/holidays/guided-birdwatching-holiday.

Dominic Mitchell (www.birdingetc.com)

12

Archipelago Azores


Migrant traps like this sheltered valley in northern Flores can be a magnet for American vagrants. Corvo can be seen in the background.