As I promised, here are the highlights of my trip with my family (Ricard Gutierrez, Helena Arbones, Ariadna Gutierrez) to the Azores islands this last July.
We visited Sao Miguel (21-25), Pico (25-29) and Terceira (29-31) islands with a brief visit to Faial on 29/7. All transfers were made using airplanes (no possibility of booking boats from Spain) except Pico-Faial on MV Cruzeiro do Canal the 29/7. A car was rented in all islands using a special inter-island fare (reasonably cheaper). Hotels had been booked from Spain.
Besides the tens of thousands (e.g. 6000 in one flock in Sao Miguel) of Cory's Shearwaters everywhere (even one killed by a car in the middle of a forest in Pico) and hundreds of dolphins of 5 species (Stenella frontalis, Delphinus delphis, Tursiops truncatus, Globicephala macrorhynchus, Grampus griseus) and 5 Sperm Whales (Physeter catodon), these were the most interesting of the 36 bird species seen:
The 22/7, nine Azores Bullfinches (Pyrrhula murina), belonging to 5 pairs, were recorded in a two-hours search along a track at Serra de Tronqueira, Sao Miguel, the last stronghold of this endemic species. As far as I know, previous maxima of a one-day search were 5 birds. An immature 1st summer Eider (Nearctic? Palearctic?) was at Ponta Delgada harbour at least from 22-24/7. Five Little Egrets were at Mosteiros, Sao Miguel,the 23/7.
An adult summer Gull-Billed Tern (G.nilotica) was seen at close range at Madalena harbour, Pico island, the 25/7, perhaps one of the few records of the species in the islands. Up to 9 Roseate Terns (S.dougallii) were together at Lajes do Pico, Pico island, the 26-27/7, accompanied by 119 Common Terns. Other scattered pairs elsewhere. Also from Pico were a Mute Swan (C.olor) (of unknown origin) at Lagoa do Capitao, and an unexpected Moorhen (G.chloropus) at Lagoa do Caiado both the 27/7. However, the gem came in the form of a 1st winter Wilson's Phalarope (P.tricolor), the 3rd for the islands (and probably Portugal?) and an adult summer Least Sandpiper (C.minutilla) (probably 3rd for Azores and Portugal?), among other 7 species of waders at pools near Praia da Vitoria, Terceira, the 30/7, which were a perfect end for this rather unseasonal (but as I expected, amazing) July birding trip.
I look forward to submit descriptions of both American waders to the Portuguese rarities committee. By the way, does anybody know (Elias Torres?) if descriptions can be submitted in Spanish? I understand Portuguese more or less but I can't write it, so I think Portuguese people also understand Spanish. If not, is English also a possibility?
Azores are beautiful islands certainly interesting for birding. And ideal to go with family (my 2-year-old daughter enjoyed dolphins and gulls)! Cetaceans are fantastic. So I recommend them for any Western Palearctic lister interested in adding some birds to his/her list.
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