Been a busy week catching up with work and the family after the week away on the Azores but finally got round to sorting out some moth pics from the Azores. The high pressure was not great for bird migrants but the warm evenings were better for insects- still no yank moth identified (apart from White-speck aka American Wainscot which breeds on the Azores) but a better selection to attempts in the past. Monarch and American Painted Lady have been recorded on Corvo several times before and of course the only breeding population of the American damselfly Citrine Forktail is on the Azores. An American migrant moth is presumably a strong possibility- hopefully soon.
Here's a few preliminary ids (Thanks BILLY for ids):
So Ophelia brought Blackburnian Warbler and Yellow-throated Vireo to Corvo and then continued its course to the UK and delivered the goods to Beddington too. Under blood red skies from the Sahara sand her treasures were delivered in the form of a few migrant moths.
Sepia coloured skies caused by Sahara sand whipped up into the Ophelia vortex
What a hectic couple of days! We didn't expect Hurricane Ophelia to bring in American vagrants as it was moving up from West Africa (it's the furthest east a Hurricane has been in the North Atlantic since 1980!). However the intense disturbance dragged across a moderate westerly airflow from the US and with it.... came the Megas!
It had already started on Friday with the Blackpoll Warbler and by Saturday 14th things started to escalate fast sending birders in all directions. By the end of Saturday. new birds found included a Black-throated Green Warbler at the Lighthouse Valley, a Northern Waterthrush in Tennessee Valley, a Common Yellowthroat at the rubbish dump, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo (same bird from last week?), 2 Blackpoll Warblers, a Scarlet Tanager coming in off the sea, 5 Red-eyed Vireos, an Upland Sandpiper and White-rumped, Semipalmated and Spotted Sandpipers were also in the game from previous days.
Frustratingly an American Sparrow sp. was seen on the Caldera road, the description suggesting something like a Vesper Sparrow but the bird was not seen again. Further frustration was generated by the mobility of the fresh in vagrants. Some birders failed to connect with any new species at all. The Big Year WP crew spent the whole day running around after species that quickly moved on- ending the day with no new ticks despite several being on offer as they reach for the 750 species in a year for the WP- a good milestone for their world record.
Sunday 15th was a day for the history books but proved to be even more frustrating than the day before with mobile mega birds being found on treacherous mountain slopes.
At 9:50am Mika Brunn was looking for the Northern Waterthrush in Tennessee Valley when instead he found a first for the Azores and a 5th for the WP- a Blackburnian Warbler. Chaos quickly ensued and birders from all corners of the island attempted to make their way to the spot- a steep side of the Corvo volcano, of low scrub where birds often first arrive and move over the top to the valleys on the east side of the island. It was two hours until the bird was re-located and still several birders didn't connect with it.
Blackburnian Warbler (Vincent Legrand). More pics HERE
Then at 1.15pm with several birders still un-connected with the Blackburnian, Radek Gwozdz found a stunning Yellow-throated Vireo further up the Tennessee valley. Some birders deserted the Blackburnian to go for the Vireo and ended up missing both birds! The Vireo was last seen around 2pm - it had made it's way to the cliff-top Junipers, ready to move off to the Valleys.
Yellow-throated Vireo (Radek Gwozdz). More pics HERE
During the mayhem of twitching the megas, a few other birds were seen (but needless to say with bird finders on the chase, presumably other birds went un-found) with a Greater Yellowlegs briefly at the reservoir, two Semipalmated Sandpipers, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, 2 Red-eyed Vireo, 1-2 Common Yellowthroats and 2 Blackpoll Warbler.
New birds on the neighbouring island of Flores included an Osprey (on Saturday), Northern Waterthrush, Surf Scoter and Rose-breasted Grosbeak, found by the small numbers of birders on there- a reminder of the potential of the larger island of Flores if only there were the 200 birders of so needed to match the Corvo effort and cover the larger area.
With Ophelia continuing to drag in westerlies for the next few days- what will tomorrow bring??
I'm back home now and David will be taking over the Corvo story for 2017 HERE