Category Archives: Azorit

Azores pelagic 28th of August to 3rd of September 2016

Slowly travelling

I had been dreaming for years of joining a pelagic trip to somewhere far WP corner. I had always enjoyed seeing sea-birds and I still had some species missing on my list. Autumn pelagics have been arranged from Madeira, Lanzarote, Graciosa on Azores, Northern Spain, Portugal and Scillies in England. Azores trips have been organized by Archipelago Choice and my friends Rich Bonser and Peter Alfrey which was one of the reasons to join it. Of course one reason was that there had been some incredible rare birds like Swinhoe’s Storm-Petrel every single year and even one South Polar Skua. And the third reason was that on Graciosa there was possible to see and study Band-rumped Storm-Petrels that will be split soon to several species. It is possible to see Graciosa endemic summer-breeding Monteiro’s and winter-breeding Grant’s Storm-Petrels side by side. So I booked myself in already in early spring and the whole trip was paid before summer. So it was good to wait for the early autumn.

Finally the long waiting was over and I was waking up in Kirkkonummi where I had been already for more than a day.

The 28th of August. I hadn’t been sleeping almost at all when I woke up at 2 a.m. Anyway I had planned to sleep in the plane. Soon we were driving towards Helsinki-Vantaa airport with my father. On the way I got a text-message from TAP that my flight would be late and it was possible to check more information from their sites, but there was nothing there. So we continued driving. My father dropped me to the airport and there I soon found out that the flight had been delayed for a couple of hours. So it seemed that I would miss my second flight to Terceira which was leaving almost the same time when the first flight was landing to Lisbon.

After 4 hours trying to get any sleep on very uncomfortable benches my flight finally left, 20 more minutes late. So I had to hope that the strike, that TAP security persons had been having on early morning, was delaying also my second flight.

I was sitting in the middle seat so even though I fell asleep already before the plane took off, I woke up immediately as there was nothing to lean to. Finally I managed to get some sleep when I turned my bench as back as possible, but when I woke up, my neck hurt very bad.

When the plane finally landed to Lisbon, I opened my phone immediately and received an SMS from TAP that told my second flight was also late, but only for 20 minutes, so it was just leaving…

So in the airport there was an officer collecting all the people together that had missed their flight and we were given new tickets to next flights and 10 € food-tickets. Hooray! My flight was after 8 hours, so I had a long wait again…

I wondered around the airport and spent time and tried to sleep again a little, but without success. Only funny moment was when I realized that I was sitting next to a King! A legendary football player Eric Cantona was waiting for his flight to Paris!

I ate in Pizza Hut and walked more around, but I wasn’t able to buy anything as I was really out of money after buying a new car a week earlier.

Finally the boarding started and it wasn’t a surprise that also this flight was a little bit late. I was again sitting in the middle but managed to sleep some more and once I woke up my neck was even worse.

Twitching right away

Finally the plane landed to Terceira and after I had found my luggage, I took a taxi to Hotel Teresinha where our group was staying. We had planned to meet the leader of the tour, my old friend Josh Jones, in the hotel at 6 p.m. but it was already 8 p.m.

I got a comfortable room from the hotel and then sent once again an SMS to another old friend Pierre-Andre Crochét with whom I had planned to do birding for whole day. I should have been on Terceira already 11 a.m. and we were supposed to go birding with “PAC”, Hugo Touze and Josh.

After sending a message I went to lobby to see if there were any other from our group and found Swedish Bosse Carlsson, Hans Rudhe and Luxemburgish Guy Mirgain. They were about to go to eat something and I planned to join them as it was already getting dark outside anyway.

Long-eared Owl twitch

We walked around the pool of Paul do Praia and saw some Coots and Moorhen and also a Glossy Ibis that was walking on the grass on the shore of the pool. Then we stopped to see a couple of Long-eared Owls that were roosting on a tree in the backyard of a kindergarten.

But then PAC called me and told that they were watching a Sandwich Tern in the harbor and right away my alarms went on; that was a bird I should see! I asked if they had watched it carefully as American Cabot’s Tern had recently been splitted as an own species. And PAC told that they of course been thinking of that possibility and they had plenty of pictures and there was probably something strange in this tern. So PAC promised that they would pick me up from the hotel where they hadn’t been at all yet. And soon PAC, Hugo and Josh had taken rooms, dropped their luggage and we were driving to the harbor.

Belgian David Monticelli, who had accidentally booked a room from a different hotel, had also arrived to the harbor, but also too late. The bird wasn’t there on the wire where it had been perched together with many Common Terns and a couple of Roseate Terns. It wasn’t found from the harbor at all, so once it was getting too dark, we decided to give up. Only other birds to mention were some distant Cory’s Shearwaters and a Whimbrel.

So we visited our hotel briefly, took relaxing showers and left to search for a restaurant. Unfortunately Pescadore, which we knew was good, was closed on Sundays, so we had to continue to another one where Bosse, Hans, Guy and David were already. They had been waiting for their foods for ages already and after all it took amazing long to get anything also for us. But at least we had time to check Hugo’s tern-pictures and check everything that was possible to find about Cabot’s Tern on internet. And the bird really looked like a Cabot’s! There were only two previous records of Cabot’s Tern in Western Palearctic and they had both been found dead. Both had been ringed birds, of course ringed in America, and one had been found in UK and another one in Holland. So there were 3 happy persons in my table and one not so happy – thanks TAP!

After all some of us had really difficulties to get any food and at least one got too raw fish, but at least the octopus I had was really tasty!

It was too late when we finally walked back to hotel and got to sleep. I was too tired!

Successful morning

On the 29th of August we woke up early and headed to the harbor already at 6:30 a.m. Josh drove us, who hadn’t seen the tern yet, to the harbor first and then left to pick up the rest. With Bosse, Hans and Guy we started to scan the terns that were already visible sitting on the wire even it was still quite dark. Unfortunately they were all same size, Common Terns and a few Roseate Terns again.

We were wondering where David was when Bosse said: “The tern is there now!” It had managed to come to the wire without any of us noticing. I had been watching so many pictures of this bird, so it was easy to see darkish tertials, narrow white edges on the primaries that didn’t go around the tip of the feather, almost completely black cap-patch with only very little white in it and the size of the bird as it wasn’t much bigger than the other terns. Soon the bird was flying and we could see the darkish secondaries too.

Cabot's TernCabot's Tern

We were watching the tern for about 15 minutes and tied to call David, and finally he arrived. But then the tern was in flight again and didn’t land back to the wire but flew far towards the sea. Luckily David managed to see it well enough to tick it. But I must say that we all need to wait for the absolutely sure Cabot’s Tern tick, as the species is not very well known yet. But if the id-criteria that is now known is right, our bird fits very well!

We had really had perfect morning so we could happily drive back to the hotel to enjoy good breakfast already at 7:30 a.m.

Day-trip on Terceira

Cabo da Praia

HarborBlack-tailed Godwit

After the breakfast we met the rest of our group that had started the tour already on the previous day on Sao Miguel, where they had been birding with local guide Gerby Michielsen. I didn’t know British Brian Gregory, Dutch Barti Brieffes or Canadian Heather Pantrey before, but they all seemed to be very keen travelers. Heather was an older lady who wasn’t really a birder but had been travelling very much with nature-people in recent years, but anyway I had a feeling if she knew where she was joining as birders pelagic-trips are quite extreme birding trips. Luckily the beginning of the trip was something else than swinging on a smelly boat in the middle of the sea.

Soon our drivers arrived and we got into a van and a 4-wheel drive and of course headed once again back to the harbor first. But there were almost no terns at all, so soon we continued to famous Cabo da Praia quarry which has really good pool for waders.

There were quite a few waders in Cabo da Praia but not as many as later in the autumn in October when there are lots of American vagrants. Anyway we found 4 Semipalmated Plovers, which 2 of them were adults, a Ringed Plover, some Kentish Plovers, Sanderlings, a Curlew Sandpiper, a Little Stint, a Knot, a Ruff, Turnstones, 2 Grey Plovers, a Whimbrel, 5 Black-tailed Godwits, a Redshank and 2 Common Snipes. Quails were calling, Collared Doves flying around, a few Blackbirds and a couple of Blackcaps and Grey Wagtails, and a flock of Waxbills were also seen. The weather was perfect and I started to feel that I had packed too many warm clothes with me. Anyway you never know how much the weather can change when you are in the middle of the sea…

After we had been watching for the waders enough, we continued towards inland and made the first stop in Cabrito artificial pool. There were Azorean Yellow-legged Gulls like almost everywhere in the coast too but also a Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Black-headed Gull and a Tufted Duck. There was also a very strange duck, but whatever it was, it was a domestic “plastic duck”.

Then we headed towards the volcanic mountains and walked a little bit on one hillside where local Chaffinches were calling very strangely and a couple of bigger bats were hunting over the field. Soon we continued higher to the end of the road and walked on the meadow and tried to find an endemic butterfly-species. Soon we found plenty of these Azores Greylings (Hipparchia azorina). It was a greyish-brown butterfly that was always flying too fast with the wind and landed with wings closed. So at least I didn’t get any good picture of it. Next to the parking place there was a pool where we found plenty of American damselflies Citrine Forktails (Ishnura hastate). They were tiny dragonflies, only 2 centimeters long and I would have never found them as they were flying so low between the grasses. All Citrine Forktails on Azores are females and reproduces by parthenogenesis, making this the only population of Odanata anywhere in the world known to reproduce by this means.

YHighlands

Hipparchia azorinaIshnura hastata

We had planned to visit Angra do Heroismo too, but we had spent so long on the meadows that we decided to drive back towards Praia de Vitoria. We stopped to see a Goldcrest which is a different subspecies, inermis, than what some of the group had seen on Sao Miguel on the previous day.

Ship to Graciosa

Finally we were back at the hotel where we just picked up luggage and continued to harbor to wait for the ship to Graciosa. There was a mess in the harbor and it was impossible to find any info about the ships that were leaving. Actually there was no ship at all after an hour waiting when the ship was supposed to leave, but we didn’t worry as there were so many other people too. Finally there were 2 different ships coming and the bigger and much older one was ours. Finally soon after 6 p.m. it left, more than an hour late and we of course climbed up to the deck to watch seabirds.

ShipsOn the deck

Bulwer's Petrel

In the beginning there were only some Azorean Yellow-legged Gulls, Common Terns and Cory’s Shearwaters and once we got to the sea, there was almost nothing at all. I saw briefly some flying fishes, but it really seemed that the weather was too good and the sea too calm for seabirds. Anyway we kept on trying and finally saw a couple of Sooty Shearwaters, one too distant small shearwater and then also a Bulwer’s Petrel. We also saw some whales that were jumping very far, but from the pictures we could identify them as Sowerby’s Beaked Whales (Mesoplodon bidens).

We were closing Graciosa and it was getting dark when we saw the first Band-rumped Storm-Petrel. Soon we found a couple of birds more and one of them was seen a bit closer so we could see that it was molting and therefore most probably a Monteiro’s Storm-Petrel. These Monteiro’s Storm-Petrels are breeding in two islets close to the shore of Graciosa and it is still not known, if they are the only Monteiro’s Storm-Petrels of the world or if they are breeding also on other island and islets around Azores.

Finally we were in Graciosa, in Praia harbor, where we met our contact Rolando. His friend was speaking very good English and they had arranged us a late dinner in a restaurant nearby. Normally all the restaurants were closing very early and as our ship had been late for an hour; it was good to know we had a reservation. First we drove to Santa Cruz to our hotel where we didn’t have as many rooms as we expected, so we took a double room with Josh. After dropping our bags to our rooms, we drove back close to Praia to restaurant Green Light.

The chef in Green Light was a funny man and after welcoming drinks we ordered fish. We enjoyed really good dinner and had fruits as a dessert, before drove back to the hotel and finally got to sleep about at midnight.

The first pelagic day

Our boat

On the 30th of August the breakfast was at 7:30 and after some relaxing in our rooms, we took a van we had got in the evening and left towards the harbor nearby. There was not enough space for all of us, so Josh drove the first group to the harbor, where we met Rolando. But Rolando was surprised to see us as he wasn’t going to the sea with us and we were supposed to leave from Praia harbor! We had no idea about that, but luckily Rolando helped us and drove that part of our group that didn’t fit to the van to Praia, so we made it there in time.

But in Praia harbor we still had to wait for some time before our boat arrived and we met our captain, a young assistant and his girlfriend. Soon we had carried our equipment to the boat and left to the sea.

Common Bottlenose Dolphin

First we saw only the same gulls, terns and Cory’s, but after about an hour we saw the first Great Shearwater and soon also a Bulwer’s Petrel and some Band-rumped Petrels. But we didn’t want to stop yet and continued towards Bank of Fortune, a huge shallow area about 34 kilometers from Graciosa. But soon we saw a couple of dolphins which made us to stop as they were too close not to take photographs. We followed these Common Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) for some time before we continued again.

Soon we had the first sea-sick on the board, but surprisingly it wasn’t any of our group but the assistant’s girlfriend. So the chumming was started a bit earlier than we had thought. None of us hesitated to tell her that luckily there were only 8 or 9 hours to survive…

Finally we arrived to Bank of Fortune where is an underwater volcano and therefore a shallower sea which is for some reason a good place to see seabirds. Especially storm-petrels have always been seen in this area. Rolando and co. had arranged us a big tub full of chum, which is fish-parts in oil and bread and anything that floats. Josh and PAC started to throw this chum to the sea and soon there were the first Band-rumped Storm-Petrels coming close to us! This chum smelled incredible bad which was of course good as seabirds have really good sense of smell. Unfortunately our chum wasn’t floating very well but mostly sinking straight away. Anyway there was soon a big oil-slick around our boat. And the slick was getting bigger and bigger all the time when we were floating with the wind and waves. I must say that of course our chum was fully organic and we weren’t polluting the sea at all.

ChummingChum

Finally a couple of storm-petrels arrived nearer to the boat and we started to take pictures. Birds didn’t come as close as I had expected; mostly they were flying around and just flying quickly over the slick and picked very quickly something from the surface in flight, but always quite far from the boat. Sometimes they just quickly flew past the boat and then cameras were clicking. But the boat was of course bobbing on the waves and there were many photographers with long tubes, so it was extremely difficult to get any good pictures of these fast flying birds; at least for a beginner photographer who had his wife’s camera.

After seeing some storm-petrels, we were sure we had seen both molting and fork-tailed Monteiro’s and fresh-looking a bit paler greyish and square-tailed Grant’s Storm-Petrels. There was a slight difference in wing-length and the way of flight too but mostly we were just taking pictures and had no idea what we were photographing. We just hoped to get some sharp pictures from where we could maybe identify the birds later. But these birds are still not very well known, so for sure there can be some mistakes still found even on pictures of this story.

Monteiro's Storm-PetrelGrant's Storm-Petrel

Every now and then a Cory’s or Great Shearwater past the boat and cameras were clicking again. After some time we had floated away from the slick and we drove back to the beginning of the slick to float through it again while photographing the birds again; and this was repeated about every 30 minutes.

It was already late afternoon when once again all the birds had been missing for some time and we decided to drive around a little bit and try to find some birds. But we found nothing and soon came back to the ordinary place to the slick. The weather was incredible good, wind was mild and sun was shining hot. So PAC and Josh, who had been doing the hard and smelly job with the chum and even without any other protection from the sun than sun-cream, were swimming a couple of times. In one more quiet moment pictures were taken from a Lesser Black-backed Gull that came to the chum, but then suddenly I found a dark-looking storm-petrel flying quite distant past the boat. It took some time before the others found it, but we all thought it was completely dark and clearly a storm-petrel. But it never came any closer and soon disappeared behind the small waves. We just didn’t see it well enough to identify it 100% sure as a Swinhoe’s Storm-Petrel!

After a frustrating dark storm-petrel it was again quiet for some time, before PAC finally shouted: “Wilson’s Storm-Petrel!” I found the bird immediately and there was a shorter-winged storm-petrel with a bigger white rump and long feet flying low towards us. It soon turned around and disappeared, but soon it was flying past the boat but quite distant. And in the same time there was also a Sooty Shearwater flying past the boat! I had got a lifer that I had been expecting.

Wilson's Storm-PetrelSooty Shearwater

After some more Band-rumped Storm-Petrels PAC found another dark-looking bird that was flying away from us. We tried to catch it but it was impossible. We managed to follow it for some time, but never got any closer. Hugo managed to get a couple of pictures and it seemed to be a Bulwer’s Petrel after all.

It was already getting late, so we had to start driving back. We still stopped to take pictures of a swimming Great Shearwater and then suddenly saw some big blows not too distant! We drove closer and found a couple of Sperm Whales! We followed these big whales, which can be even 16 meters long, for some time and it was amazing to hear the blows! And still it was not enough as we soon found also a couple of Cuvier’s Beaked Whales and again got also pictures.

Sperm WhaleSperm WhaleLesser Black-backed Gull and Great ShearwaterCuvier's Beaked Whale

Close to Praia we still drove around the Praia Islet a couple of times and tried to find a Sooty Tern that has been breeding on the island for years, but we saw only plenty of Common Terns and some Roseate Terns. After all we were back in the harbor after 9.5 hours on the sea and we had seen 15 Great Shearwaters, 4 Sooty Shearwaters, 5 Bulwer’s Petrels, 6 distant smaller skuas, a Wilson’s Storm-Petrel and about 30 Band-rumped Storm-Petrels. From the harbor we drove straight to Green Light to have dinner. This time we had delicious meat. After the dinner it was good to get to the hotel and go to sleep a little bit earlier.

Second day pelagic

On the 31st of August we had planned to leave to the sea earlier, but again we had some misunderstandings and we weren’t sure to which port we were supposed to go and how we could all get there with one car. Luckily everything had been arranged for us and Rolando’s English-speaking friend arrived to the parking place and we all got a ride to Praia, from where we were leaving.

Long-tailed Skua

The wind was now much harder so we drove around Praia Islet only once and still saw no Sooty Terns. Then we continued straight towards the Bank of Fortune. Already on the way we saw quite a few Great Shearwaters and also a nice Long-tailed Skua flying over us.

Our chum was now much better; it smelled much worse and it floated well, as it had much more bread and also popcorn in it. Maybe it was the bad smell together with very bumpy driving that made me feel pretty bad. I had survived the previous day extremely well as I had been using a transdermal patch behind my ear. It was supposed to last for 72 hours but anyway I decided to take some extra medicine and took also pills for sea-sickness. But after some time I still didn’t feel any better. I started to look so bad, that Guy noticed my condition and offered me also ginger-pills; and maybe it was the triple-medication or then the sea just got a little bit less rough, but I started to feel better soon. Or maybe the main reason was that we finally arrived to Bank of Fortune and started to see storm-petrels immediately once we started chumming.

It didn’t take long before there were several Band-rumped Storm-Petrel flying around the chum but now the photographing was even more difficult as the waves were big and it was very difficult to stand on the boat. Soon another Long-tailed Skua was seen and right after that Hugo spotted a stunning Fea’s Petrel flying behind the boat. Luckily it flew once very close by the boat and we all got pretty good pictures. Soon one more Long-tailed Skua was seen and after some Band-rumped Storm-Petrel photographing we noticed 2 Wilson’s Storm-Petrels that were showing us their beautiful dancing on the sea-surface. We really were enjoying the species-selection!

Fea's PetrelFea's PetrelWilson's Storm-PetrelWilson's Storm-Petrel

In the best time there were about 10 Band-rumped Storm-Petrels and Great Shearwaters were flying past the boat quite often. So cameras were clicking and even though the boat was swinging a lot, I didn’t feel bad at all anymore.

Short-beaked Common Dolphins

We also saw a pack of Short-beaked Common Dolphins that dived right under our boat. But then it was a short gap without any interesting records, until Josh shouted: “Swinhoe’s Storm-Petrel!” We all found the bird easily flying straight towards us but it turned behind the boat and only I and Hugo managed to get some kind of pictures. I took mine while I was sitting behind someone and just reached my camera around him and pointed it towards the bird. Surprisingly the bird was in almost every picture and even almost sharp in a couple of them! But even though the bird disappeared very soon, the atmosphere in the boat was high! We all had got a lifer and Swinhoe’s Storm-Petrel had after all been the target number one for probably all of us, as it had been seen in every Azores Pelagic before and always in Bank of Fortune!

Swinhoe's Storm-Petrel

For some time there were too happy birders in the boat to concentrate to find more new birds, but soon we were all again scanning the sea and checking every single storm-petrel and shearwater that was flying passing the boat. And again many Band-rumped Storm-Petrel pictures were taken before one Great Shearwater landed next to us and after we had taken really good pictures of it, we were ready to start a long way back towards Praia.

Great Shearwater

The Bank of Fortune had offered us about 40 Band-rumped Storm-Petrels, 55 Great Shearwaters, 10 Sooty Shearwaters, a Bulwer’s Petrel and all the candies already mentioned. And one more candy was seen on the way back, when I spotted a distant petrel that was barely possible to identify a a Fea’s Petrel.

The wind was still so hard that we checked Praia Islet only briefly and were back in harbor soon. We had planned to relax a couple of hours and then head back to the sea in the evening. On the way to our hotel, we made a brief visit in Praia town and on the only fresh-water pond of the island we saw a long-staying Mandarin Duck.

In the evening the wind had dropped and the sea was calm again, so we drove around Praia Islet several times and checked all terns. We had got information that the pair of Sooty Terns hadn’t been breeding this year, but at least one bird had been seen still one week earlier, but all we found were Common Terns, some Roseate Terns, Turnstones and a Grey Heron.

We headed back to the harbor before 8 p.m. and soon were back in our hotel, where we had dinner. The food wasn’t really good and there was only one choice of meat and fish to eat. Luckily after all we all got our portions and the hunger was moved again to the future.

It was good to relax in the evening and to go to sleep a bit earlier.

3rd pelagic day

On the 1st of September Josh drove us all to Praia harbor, which meant he had to drive there twice. This time we made it to the sea in time and the rarity-hunt was on again.

Praia and Pico

The sea was very calm again and it was very warm already. Also the visibility was incredible and we could see 4 Azores islands when even Pico was clearly visible behind Sao Jorge.

On the way to Bank of Fortune we saw almost nothing but when we got there, the first Band-rumped Storm-Petrel was seen immediately. And once we started chumming, there were soon more of them flying around the boat.

Once again we managed to get pictures of both Monteiro’s and Grant’s Storm Storm-Petrels, but of course only very few birds were possible to identify in the field. But almost no other birds were seen, so we had time to photograph young Azores Yellow-legged Gulls and Cory’s Shearwaters too.

Monteiro's Storm-PetrelGrant's Storm-PetrelAzorean Yellow-legged GullCory's Shearwater

We were enjoying the sun and filled our memory-cards with too many storm-petrel pictures. But then together with March, we noticed 2 storm-petrels and another bird looked completely dark – “Swinhoe’s Petrel!” I shouted, and this time the bird was flying past very nicely and all of us managed to get pictures. This time the bird stayed on chum for some time and we managed to follow it for some time and even moved a little bit closer once but then it once again disappeared like all the storm-petrels always somehow did.

Swinhoe's Storm-PetrelSwinhoe's Storm-Petrel

We saw also less Great Shearwaters than on the previous day, but again one of them landed next to our boat and started to follow us. After all we were feeding it from about 1.5 meters!

Great ShearwaterGreat Shearwater

Striped Dolphin

When we thought we had got enough pictures and too much sun, we started to drive back. Altogether we had seen about 20 Band-rumped Storm-Petrels, 10 Great Shearwaters, 2 Bulwer’s Petrels, which another one was seen on the way back. During the day we had also seen a Blue Shark briefly and a pack of Striped Dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) jumping quite distant.

Close to Praia Islet we found incredible flocks of Cory’s Shearwaters swimming and while driving around the flock, we were able to get really good pictures of them. Then we drove around the islet once again but still found no Sooty Terns. We were back in harbor at 2 p.m.

Cory's ShearwaterCory's Shearwater

Once back in the hotel, I did a short walk in Santa Cruz and managed to find cold drinks from the third shop I visited. But soon we were heading back to the harbor again. We were going to check the islets once again. When we were back in the boat, we noticed that there was no chum at all, but luckily we managed to get lots of small fish with us.

The sea was still very calm and it was nice to drive around Baixo and circle around on the sea, but only birds were completely missing. Our target was to find a place where Monteiro’s Storm-Petrels were supposed to arrive before they head to these breeding islets, but we saw only 1 storm-petrel and 1 Great Shearwater. So in the end we headed to Praia Islet to try to find Sooty Terns.

Baixo

Praia

PAC and Josh were doing the dirty job again and cutting the fishes in pieces with their bare hands and throwing them for terns. And soon we had plenty of Common Terns with a couple of Roseate Terns catching their share, but no “sooties”. We had heard that the pair hadn’t been breeding this year, but at least one bird had been seen still at least one week earlier. But we had no luck. Soon our fish-box was empty and we headed back to the harbor.

We had dinner in Green Light again, where we were once again warmly welcomed. We got some drinks while we were waiting for our food which was once again good and too much. After all Rolando came once again to help us all to get back to hotel. He also brought some bad news as the weather-forecast promised storms for the next evening. It seemed that he didn’t want to take any risks and go to the sea at all on the next day. Anyway it seemed that we would meet him again on the next morning to find out what happens. Once we were back in our hotel, I was soon ready to sleep.

Graciosa sightseeing

On the 2nd of September we thought that we’d meet Rolando after breakfast. But after 30 minutes waiting we started to worry. After 1 hour waiting, Josh called him but his wife was answering and telling that Rolando had gone diving! We were a bit confused, as the weather still looked perfect to go to the sea. We had told that if it was impossible to go to the sea, we’d get another car so we could all go together somewhere in the island, but there still was no sign of anybody bringing it for us. But after 30 minutes more waiting, we somehow found out that there had been all the time a car for us in the parking place!

So we left to see what kind of island Graciosa was. We did a couple of stops on the shore nearby, but saw only some Turnstones and a Whimbrel and of course black rocky shore. Then we stopped in the lighthouse in Farol da Ponta da Barca, before we headed inland to the volcano. We drove through a tunnel to Furna Do Enxofre Caldeira and found out that it was extremely green inside the crater. There was supposed to be a small lake too, but it was now completely gone. Anyway we saw plenty of Chaffinches, Goldfinches and Canaries, some Blackbirds and Wood Pigeons and heard some Robins too.

Shore

Caldeira

The most important sightseeing was a cave that was behind the information center. Most of us bought the 3.5€ ticket and climbed a long way underground to see the cave. The cave was nicely enlightened and there was also a small fumarole that of course smelt bad. Anyway I think the cave was really worth a visit.

CenterUnder ground

Cave

After I had climbed back to the center, we just relaxed a little bit after continued driving around the island. After all the small island of Graciosa was soon driven around and we had seen a few new island-ticks like Grey Wagtail, Common Buzzard and Collared Dove.

Then it was time to head to the airport. Josh went with a couple of other friends to collect our luggage and soon we were all waiting for our flights.

The plane left after 6 p.m. to Terceira where we landed very soon. There it was time to say goodbye to all those who were continuing with the same plane to Sao Miguel.

In Terceira airport Bosse and Hans, PAC and Hugo and also Marc had booked rental cars, so with Guy we didn’t need to do it anymore, there was enough space in the other cars. So we joined Marc and headed straight to the harbor once again. And once we got there, we found a familiar tern perched on the familiar wire once again. But once we got out of the car, the bird was already in flight and soon flew far to the sea and it didn’t come back in about 30 minutes that we still stayed there.

Messing up

It was already dark, when we headed to our hotels. Swedes and Guy were staying in Teresinha again but the rest of us had booked rooms in a hotel Branco nearby, which was a bit cheaper. I had booked a room with help of Marc while waiting for our flight. But once we got there to Branco, there was no room for me at all! We found out that we had accidentally booked a room from hotel Branco II and it was quite far from Praia de Vitoria! Luckily the owner was from the same family as the owners of this Branco I, and we could sort out that I went to the room with French, as they luckily had a third bed in their room.

After some refreshing in our rooms, we headed to restaurant Pescadore where PAC had booked us a table for 7 persons. The Swedes and Guy were already there and soon we had ordered food. We were already eating our delicious portions when PAC’s phone rang and someone was asking, where were we? PAC soon understood the call was from the restaurant and they were still keeping a table free for us and they had been turning other customers away from the door already as the restaurant was completely full. PAC tried to explain that we were inside and already eating. But then everything cleared, PAC had called to another restaurant called Pescadore; there was still an empty table for us on Sao Miguel! We were quite embarrassed!

Well the most important thing was that at least I got one of the best dinners I have ever had, and soon it was good to go to sleep next to my full stomach.

Moring birding around Praia de Vitoria

On the 3rd of September we woke up after a hot night and soon met everyone in the familiar place in the harbor. We were a little bit late and there were only a couple of terns left. They had gone fishing already.

It was windy and rainy weather so we went to have morning coffee to Café Europa nearby, before headed to Cabo da Praia again.

It was soon clear that there were more waders now and among the closest waders there were a Lesser Yellowlegs and a Pectoral Sandpiper. I counted 50 Sanderlings and there were also quite a few Ringed Plovers, Turnstones and so on but also a couple of new Semipalmated Plovers, 4 Semipalmated Sandpipers and 2 White-rumped Sandpipers with many birds that had already been there on our previous visit.

Lesser Yellowlegs ans Pectoral SandpiperSemipalmated SandpiperSemipalmated PloverSanderling

With Guy we had a flight in the afternoon, so Marc who still had a couple of days in Terceira, promised to drive us to the airport. We still had some time, so we visited the other parts of the harbor, swimming beach, Paul do Praia and went to twitch the Long-eared Owls, before Mar dropped us to the airport.

Paul do Praia

Praia de Vitoria

Our flight to Lisbon was in time (it was the only flight that was not organized by TAP but SATA). In Lisbon I said goodbye to Guy who had only an hour before his flight to Brussels, while I still had 3 hours to wait. I ate again and walked a lot around and even bought some souvenirs, before my flight to Helsinki finally left at 9:25 p.m.

I was in Helsinki at 3:30 a.m. 30 minutes earlier than in the schedule, but luckily my father was there already. We drove to Kirkkonummi where I went to sleep and woke up in midday. After a relaxed day, I still did some birding before started a long drive to Parikkala where I was in the evening. And on the next morning I had to go to work…

J.A.

Azores 7th to 25th of October 2014

During the whole year 2014 I hadn’t been travelling abroad at all so my WP-list hadn’t got any bigger. It was already early autumn and I still had no ideas what to do on my summer holiday. I had been asking if there was any room on Corvo, Azores, but it seemed that there was no room in Comodoro or any rooms that Finnish birders had. So I ended up to ask if any of my foreign Facebook friends knew any place where to stay there. It was a nice surprise when a Swedish birder Stefan Ettenstam, who I had met first time on my previous trip to Corvo, contacted me and told that he had room in a double-room that he had booked!

Everything went fast after I had contacted Stefan. He had planned to stay on Corvo from the 8th until 21st of October so soon we were booking flights. I had some holiday more so after all I booked my flights to Corvo from 8th to 24th. From Sweden there were direct flight to Sao Miguel so we planned to fly there and then to Corvo – luckily it happened to be the cheapest choice for me too. I also thought that I had already been twice on Terceira, it wasn’t necessary to go there. I hoped there might be something to twitch on Sao Miguel.

Finally when the trip started to get close a Willet was found on Sao Miguel. So we just counted days and it looked good that the bird was staying there for long enough.

Holiday

On Monday the 6th of October after my work, I packed my car and drove to Kirkkonummi. It was a long drive and I did stop on the way to try to see some Pomarine Skuas in Taipalsaari Kyläniemi without luck, but finally at 9 p.m. I was with my parents. And I had to go to sleep early as I had an early wake up.

Finally on Azores

Willet

On the 7th of October I woke up at 3 a.m. and soon I was in Helsinki-Vantaa airport where my dad drove me. Once I got to the right gate I met Markku Santamaa, the Finnish WP-lister nr 1, who had the same flights to Sao Miguel. Our flight left on time at 5:30 a.m. and I slept almost the whole time. We landed to Lisbon where on the next gate we met Dutch Thierry Jansen and Belgian David Monticelli. Finally at 11:55 a.m. (local time) our flight left to Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel.

After landing to Ponta Delgada Thierry left immediately to twitch the Willet, but the rest of us had to get our luggage first. But soon we were taking a taxi and heading toward the ETAR, where the bird had been. First we stopped to Davids hotel where we also could leave our luggage with Markku. Then it was only 100 meters walk to ETAR. And once we got there Thierry was also just getting out from his taxi, he had got a slowly driver.

We met a couple of French birders that had stayed on Sao Miguel for longer and they had already seen the Willet on the previous day. So we followed them as they knew the places better. And soon they found the bird with their telescope about 400 meters from its usual place. We all watched it through the scope and then started to walk closer. A lifer! The bird was sleeping on a rock just about 10 meters from a walking way. So soon we were photographing the bird very close! It did wake up for a while and cleaned its feathers but only some seconds every time. In almost a couple of hours we stayed there, it flew only a couple of times from a rock to another one and than we could see the beautiful wing-marks it had. Other bird we saw on the shore were a couple of Knots, a Dunlin, a Little Egret and a Kestrel that was migrating over us.

WilletWillet

Finally we had good enough pictures and with Markku and Thierry we walked to a harbor and to a cafeteria to have lifer-beers. David still stayed photographing the bird.

Once we walked back to ETAR, Willet had moved to its usual place and was feeding along a small smelly river. David had followed it and was now photographing it on the rocky shore. Thierry had to continue to the airport as he was flying to Terceira, but with Markku we walked to David’s hotel to pick up our luggage and luckily got a ride from the owner to our own hotel Alcides.

Willet twitchETAR

In Alcides we found out that it was completely full, so Markku had to move to the another hotel. I had already booked a room with Stefan Ettenstam and Seppo Haavisto, who were coming in the evening. After some relaxing we met with Markku again in Alcides restaurant and enjoyed really good steaks. Stefan and Seppo arrived late at night as their flight had been almost 2 hours late. I was already sleeping then. The rest of the night I was listening snoring of these too tired men.

To Corvo

On the 8th of October we woke up at 7 a.m. and even though it was raining we decided to skip the breakfast and headed straight to ETAR. It was 10 minutes walk from our hotel and once we got there we couldn’t find the Willet. We soon spread around the area where the bird had been seen but we couldn’t find it. When we all were walking back to the smelly river, we saw it in flight and landing to its usual place again. It was a WP-tick for Stefan and Seppo. We watched the bird feeding for some time but then the rain started to get worse so we decided to go to have our breakfast. After the breakfast we took a taxi back to ETAR and the bird was still there, but on very bad light. Stefan decided to walk down along the river and managed to get to good light after all. Other birds there were the same Knots, a Dunlin, Turnstones, a Little Egret, a couple of Sanderlings and a Ringed Plover. But then our taxi-driver came back earlier than he should so pretty soon we drove back to hotel, picked up luggage and headed to the airport.

At 1:20 p.m. left our plain to Faial, Horta where the plane got full of birdwatchers! There were my old friends Petri Kuhno, Tero Toivanen and Janne Kilpimaa, WP-lister nr 1 Ernie Davis and many other old friends and also some that I didn’t know yet. Soon we continued to Corvo where some birders had already been for a week and birders would stay until the end of October. I was going there for 16 days!

Our apartment

At 15:25 we landed to Corvo and it was really strange that there was no bird to twitch right away. It was the first time even for Seppo that there was no hurry from the airport. It had been so quiet on Corvo that quite many birders were leaving to twitch a Short-billed Dowitcher from Terceira and Willet from Sao Miguel! And they all knew the first rule of birding on Azores – “Never leave Corvo!”. Well because of we weren’t in a hurry, we took our luggage and got a ride to our apartment that was close to the church. With Stefan we got a tiny room and a couple of German birders got much bigger ones alone, which was strange. Our host Fernando didn’t speak any English and her daughter Vera seemed to be in a hurry, so there was no point to say anything – we were just happy to be on Corvo! We had no idea if we were going to have a breakfast and Vera wasn’t really helping. She just said that we should go to Comodoro to have breakfast. It didn’t sound good for us, so after all we walked to Comodoro and discussed with Kathy “Katt” Rita and hoped she could talk to our hosts about it. Then we went shopping something to eat and drink. Only birding we did, was a short walk through the Middle fields and a twitched Spoonbill from the beach. At 8 p.m. we gathered to a big building close to a rubbish tip and had a good dinner. It cost only 10 € including drinks too – so it was really good! Like Janne K said: “We can drink our food cheap”.

Tanager

On the 9th of October we woke up at 7 a.m. and as we had no idea if we had a breakfast or not, we were planning to walk to taxis to Comodoro before 8 a.m. When we were leaving, Fernando came out and asked us to come in to downstairs and there was a surprise – we had a breakfast after all! We ate traditional bread, ham and cheese and were happy to make a couple of breads with us too. Then we had to hurry to get to taxi.

At Comodoro there were many birders already and soon 3 Hiace-taxis arrived. So everyone could get either to upper road to Reservoir or Caldeira, middle road until Lighthouse valley or lower road until Cantinho. We, like many other, headed to Lighthouse valley where an exotic visitor, a Snowy Owl had stayed for a few days.

We walked up and down the valleys before the Lighthouse valley as the Snowy Owl had been there but unfortunately we couldn’t find it. After all we started to walk back along the road with mostly Finnish birders. It was raining so we walked until Da Ponte which gave the best shelter from the rain. I had already walked until the bottom of the valley, when we heard from our walkie-talkies that there was a Scarlet Tanager found in Tennessee valley! I didn’t remember how to get there so I decided to climb back up and follow Seppo as he had already started walking there. It was raining pretty much when we walked along the road but luckily we got a ride from Comodoro’s owner Manuel. It was a wet ride on a pickup, but soon we were above the village Vila Nova and Miradouro view-watching place. From there we took a path up to the valley. It was a hard walk as I followed Danish Christian Leth and Petri who were almost running. So soon we saw a group of birders above us and thick blackberry bushes. We tried to get through the bushes but it was impossible! So soon we decided to go around them. Once we got to other birders we were told that the bird had been missing since it had started to rain, but luckily the rain had just stopped. And soon Christian found the bird! He was watching the bird just 10 meters above me but I couldn’t see it. I had to climb through some more blackberry bushes and a big stone wall but somehow I managed to get to Christian and soon found the bird! Scarlet Tanager was perched almost on the top of a bush but it wasn’t easy to find, so when many other birders came to us, most of them couldn’t find it before it dropped inside the bushes. But luckily it was active and came close to us when we played a tape for it. And finally even Petri managed to get his 700th WP-tick!

Scarlet TanagerCelebrations

More and more birders were still coming to see the Scarlet Tanager that was showing well, when we decided to start walking down to the village. My shoes were completely wet, so I went to change dry shoes and then walked to harbor to digiscope a White-rumped Sandpiper and a Little Stint that were there. I still went to evening seawatch but all I saw were 3 Common Dolphins and lots of Cory Shearwaters.


Bosse photographing in harborWhite-rumped Sandpiper

After the dinner we both, me and Stefan, started to feel very sick. Our stomachs were really bad and after all I started to throw up. And I was very sick for whole night!

Dinner

Offline

10th of October. I had slept maybe 15 minutes and still felt really bad but Stefan had managed to sleep and he had been less sick, not throwing up at all. Anyway we went to breakfast but I was mostly only looking at it. Then we walked to taxis but there we decided to stay down anyway. After we had walked a little bit, I started to feel too bad again and I had to give up and walk back to bed. Luckily nothing was found during the morning, so I could sleep pretty well. During the day I did a walk around the airfield but it was almost too much. I felt so tired on the halfway that I almost called a taxi! So soon I was back in the bed and trying to sleep. When some birders had already walked down to village and also plane-twitchers and some new arrivals had came too, walkie-talkie started to tell me about very nice birds here and there! A Rose-breasted Grosbeak, an Indigo Bunting, a Red-eyed Vireo, a Bobolink, a Scarlet Tanager and so on, but luckily I had seen all the species already and I didn’t have to go twitching. Of course I wanted, but I was just too sick to do anything, so I just tried to sleep more in my hard and noisy bed. In the evening I managed to join the dinner and even ate something, but anyway I had to go to bed as soon as possible.

Philadelphia Flyer

On the 11th of October I woke up feeling much better but still weak. Anyway after breakfast we walked to taxis and I got out from a taxi in upper Poco da Aqua with Kalle Larsson and Seppo Järvinen who had arrived on the previous day. We walked downhill along the dry river and stopped to check every single bush very carefully. We were almost on the Middle road when we met Danish Jens Hansen and Tommy Frandsen who were climbing up. I told them not to find anything as I was still too weak to run uphill. And after a couple of minutes we heard Tommy from the walkie-talkie – they had seen a Philadelphia Vireo on the bushes that we had just been watching last 45 minutes! We ran up and found Jens and Tommy soon but the bird had flight to a big bushy area a little bit lower. We walked there and soon there were many birders checking the bushes but the bird wasn’t found. We waited and waited, played the tape, but nothing. I saw very briefly a yellowish-green bird flying over us and Mika Bruun saw it too a little bit lower along the road and managed to see that it was another Scarlet Tanager!

Finally we gave up and planned to walk to some of the ribeiras that are closer to the village. We were on the road when we heard a message in walkie-talkie, but all we could hear was that there was something in Fojo. I started to walk there immediately and when I got there, there were already many birders. Probably the same Philadelphia Vireo had been seen there! Seppo H played tape and soon Stefan noticed that there was some bird moving in the bush just in front of us. And there it was – a Philadelphia Vireo! It came very well visible in front of us and we could see it extremely well! Soon it flew to the trees behind the small open area but it still stayed there so everyone managed to see it very well.

Philadelphia Vireo placeBobolink

Once I had been watching the Philadelphia Vireo for long enough, I started to walk together with Hannu Palojärvi towards the village. I visited the shop again and then walked a little bit around the fields and managed to twitch a Bobolink that had been found once again, this time near Cape Verde fields. In the evening we had dinner and it was great to eat well again. Anyway I went to sleep early as I was extremely tired.

The day we have been waiting for

On the 12th of October I got out from the taxi together with Seppo J and Kalle near Do Vinte. Once we finally found the right path to the forest we stayed there for some time but then it started to rain very much. We still climbed on the slippery hillsides for some time but it really wasn’t worthy. Only Blackbirds, Canaries, Chaffinches and Blackcaps were found. When the rain had stopped and we were having the second breakfast along the road, we heard that there had been a possible Northern Parula seen in Fojo. I left immediately there and soon I was in the picnic-area with many other birders. I walked a little bit in the forest where on Polish birder had seen the bird, but then went to sit on the bench and wait if the taping would attract the bird visible. Nothing happened so some gave up but I decided to stay there as long as someone is still trying. Seppo H was once again playing the tape when I heard a chip-call above me and saw a tiny bird flying over us. I saw to which tree the bird landed but couldn’t see it. Luckily Kalle found it soon and there it was – a Northern Parula! Kalle managed to get a couple of pictures of the bird before it flied over us again and landed to the trees where it still was visible for some time before it disappeared into the forest. Unfortunately it wasn’t found again so quite a few birders missed it.

Picnic placeNorthern Parula

While we were still waiting a parula to come back we saw already second time a snipe flying over us. It really looked dark and it had no white trailing-edge on the wing. Surprisingly it landed to the road just behind us and we all could seen that it really was a Wilson’s Snipe! Some managed to get good pictures of it before it flushed again and then Stefan got a couple of good flight-shots too.

After some time I left together with Seppo J to walk towards the village. We still got down to the lowest part of Poco de Aqua but couldn’t find anything. When we had climbed back to the road and got a connection to mobile-net, I got a message that a possible Common Yellowthroat had been seen in tamarisks South from the airfield. Together with Seppo and old Italian friend Daniele Occhiato we started to walk quickly towards the village hoping to get a lift from any car. There was no traffic at all so it was a long 45 minutes walk to the tamarisks where we saw other birders. But we couldn’t find the right path inside the tamarisks and we walked a long round around the area before we finally found the right path. And once we got there all the birders had moved a little bit. The bird had just been seen again for the first time for almost 2 hours and it had really been a Common Yellowthroat! We had missed it while walking around the tamarisks! Anyway we now knew where the bird might be and just stopped and started to wait. And once again the tape worked and the bird soon flew just in front of us! Cameras were busy while the (for us not so) Common Yellowthroat was showing extremely well just some meters from us! Then after a couple of minutes it moved into the bushes and disappeared. And nobody saw it later in that afternoon and evening.

Common Yellowthroat placeCommon Yellowthroat

We left others to wait if the Common Yellowthroat would show up and walked together with Markku and Hannu through the fields and saw a young Lesser Black-backed Gull flying towards the rubbish tip. In the evening we ate again well and soon after that I was ready to sleep. It had been a day with 2 lifers!

Parties

The morning of the 13th of October was misty but anyway we took the taxi to Cantinho, where while waiting the sun rise we stayed on the bridge and waited and listened if there were any calls. Then I walked up to climb the upper side of Cantinho from where I landed down to the lower part before continuing to the lower part of Canselas. But all I could find were Chaffinches and Blackcaps. Then I continued to Fojo and climbed up the northern side for some time but soon I realized the fog was coming lower so I walked back to the road. There I met Swiss Jerome and together we walked to Da Ponte where we met Seppo H, Bosse Karllson and Pierre-André Crochet. After some quiet listening PAC found a Red-eyed Vireo and we could see Pierre watching the bird which of course disappeared before we saw it. So all we could do was to wait it to come back. Most of the American passerines seem to make a round on the forest and come back sooner or later. And it didn’t take too long when Thierry, who had also came there found the bird. We could all see it well and once it came to the tree tops just above us, we realized that there were two Red-eyed Vireos together!

ViewsDa PonteParties

 

After some time I walked back down to the village together with Hannu and Kari Haataja and after some rest I still went to seawatching. The western wind was very promising, but all better I could see were two Great Shearwaters. After the dinner we all gathered to Comodoro where we celebrated 10-years birding on Corvo birthday – the first birder to visit Corvo in autumn, Peter Alfrey, had arrived and we had a surprise parties for him. It was very nice, but anyway I left to sleep pretty early as I had an early wake up to work.

Repeats

On the 14th of October I headed to Fojo by taxi and from there I walked to Canselas together with French birder Daniel Mauras. But soon we heard that another Scarlet Tanager had been found in Cantinho so Daniel hurried there. I climbed up until the middle-road and then walked back down to lower-road through Southern Fojo. But all I saw were 2 Woodcocks. On the road I met Stefan and while we were walking near the picnic-area, we saw a snipe flying over us. It was clearly a Wilson’s Snipe again! We told about the bird to walkie-talkie and surprisingly Josh Jones had seen it landing near the crossroad above us. We climbed there and soon saw the bird hiding in a grass while a couple of photographers were taking pictures of it. But when more photographers arrived, the bird got enough and flight too far to see it landing. It was a mistake as many birders still missed this species, but luckily we soon saw it coming back and landing to a field above us. We sent messages about the bird and after some time everyone had arrived. Then photographers went to walk to the field while the rest of us waited on the road to see it flying again. The bird was flushed a couple of times and everyone saw it pretty well after all. So everyone was happy – I think even the snipe when it was finally let alone.

Photographing Wilson's SnipeHappy twitchers

Together with Stefan we continued to Da Ponte again where we stayed for more than an hour and saw the Red-eyed Vireo again. Then together with Janne K, Tero and Petri we started to walk back towards the village. We had planned to rest on the Lapa-bridge but there we met Pierre-André who had just seen and heard a small warbler in flight. We followed PAC up along the river, but lost him soon as he was going really fast. And of course soon he walkie-talkied that he had found the bird again and it was a Northern Parula. I was the only one of us who had seen the first parula so it was a lifer for Janne K and Tero so we continued walking higher. Soon we found PAC but the bird was missing again. Many birders were coming soon and most of them followed the river higher and some decided to stay where the bird had been seen last time. So I decided to walk back where the bird had been found. There I sat down to a rock and started to check a sheltered bottom of the river with nice hortensias and soon saw a tiny bird landing to a bush. All I could see were feet and white stomach, but it was enough, I walkie-talkied everyone to come and soon the bird was showing extremely well to everyone! I watched the Northern Parula for maybe 5 minutes and then decided to start walking again. While walking back to the road we saw another dark looking snipe again in flight.

Parula placeParula photographing

In the village I visited another shop that was close to our place and once I was back in our room I heard that another Wilson’s Snipe had been found in the harbor. I decided to go to try to get some digiscoping pictures. But when I got there, the bird was already flying far over the sea.

Seawatching

In the afternoon I still went to seawatching with Hannu and we saw a couple of Great Shearwater, a Black-headed Gull and 3 White-rumped Sandpiper that came from the sea. In the evening we managed to move to a bigger room downstairs. This room had been empty all time, so we asked Fernando if we could move there as the room we were was absolutely too small. We should have asked about this much earlier! After the dinner I was ready to go to sleep again before 11 p.m.

Climbing

ViewsFojo

The 15th of October. We had agreed that taxis would leave 15 minutes later as it was still quite dark when we got up. But I think no-one had told it to our driver Joao as the first taxi had already gone when we got to Comodoro. There were several birders waiting for the next taxi but it didn’t come. We tried to call Joao but he didn’t answer. Finally after more than an hour waiting he came and we got up. With Kalle and Seppo J we went to Cantinho where I went first to lower part but found only plenty of Blackbirds from a big pear-tree. Then we climbed together on the upper parts, but found out that it was impossible to climb until the middle-road because of too many fallen trees. So we walked back to lower-road and until Fojo picnic-area. Then we heard that there had been a flock of 3 vireos, 2 Red-eyed and a Philadelphia Vireo in Northern Fojo, so we climbed there. We stayed there for some time but managed to see only those 2 Red-eyed Vireo briefly. I must say that after seeing Red-eyed Vireo now quite many time, even a singing Willow Warbler on the background was a better bird.

Black-and-white Warbler twitchBlack-and-white Warbler

After a couple of showers, I started to think we were too lazy and walked to the middle-road and there I got an SMS that a Black-and-white Warbler had been found in Da Ponte already more than an hour ago. While walking there I met a couple of birders that had already seen the bird and even managed to get amazing pictures – with using the tape of course. Once I got to lower Da Ponte the bird had already been missing for 45 minutes, but luckily we found it again soon! The Black-and-white Warbler was still showing well but now only pretty high on the trees. It had probably heard enough tape already?

Petri and Kalle

Then I decided to walk down to the village even though it was still quite early. Together with Hannu and a couple of British birders we went to seawatching but there was nothing happening. So I just went to rest a little bit. After the dinner we gathered to Finnish birders house where we celebrated Petris 700th WP-tick with Finnish and Swedish team.

Too windy

Again pjotographers

On the 16th of October I got out from the taxi near Do Vinte and climbed up to the higher part of the forest. The weather was really good in the beginning and Canaries, Chaffinches and Blackcaps were really active but then it started to blow so hard that I was afraid of trees to fall over me. So I walked back to the road and then down to Pico. There I followed a path until lower Da Ponte where the Black-and-white Warbler was still present. But the wind was getting so strong that birding even in Da Ponte wasn’t clever anymore, so I started to walk towards the village earlier than ever. So I was by the shop already before it opened at 1:30 p.m. In the shop I met Ilkka Sahi and Jouni Riihimäki who had just arrived which was a miracle – no-one really thought a plane could come in this weather! Then we heard that Daniele had seen a Catharus-thrush in tamarisks near the Common Yellowthroat place and we hurried there. Soon we were watching into a big bush with many other birders and together with Jouni and Seppo H we saw too briefly a bird in flight that might have been the right bird, but after that it was never seen again even though we stayed there for hours. When most of the birders had already given up, I found the Common Yellowthroat again, but it disappeared inside the bushes too soon before Jouni and Ilkka managed to see it.

Vila NovaWindyPAC

In the evening I was relaxing because of it had started to rain too much. After the dinner PAC showed us pictures from his trip to Western Kazakhstan. It really looked interesting and the areas were inside Western Palearctic.

Caldeira

On the 17th of October the morning was still very windy and some showers moved over the island. Taxis had again left already at 8 a.m. so we were late with Stefan. We decided walk around the airfield and then go to see if there were still people searching for the yesterdays thrush. There were some birders and also we stayed there for an hour or so before I found again the Common Yellowthroat. Once again it was really fast and only a handful of birders managed to see it, and again Ilkka and Jouni missed it. I decided soon to go to walk to Middle-fields and heard later that they had soon after I had left finally seen the bird. And after that they had really managed to see almost everything else too that still was on the island.

After 10 a.m. we took a taxi up to Caldeira with Kalle and Seppo J. On the way I finally saw a Collared Dove. 3 Collared Doves had been on the island all the time but I just hadn’t seen any yet. Once we got up to the crater the wind was extremely strong. We hoped it would be better inside the crater but surprisingly the wind only turned from the walls and it was eastern wind down on the bottom.

CaldeiraRaining

We started to walk around the lakes and tried to find a flock of 5 Buff-bellied Pipits that had been there. After we had flushed some Common Snipes it started to rain very hard but luckily it didn’t last too long as there was of course no cover at all. There were quite a lot of birds but just all the same – Chaffinches and Canaries. We just couldn’t find the pipits.

After some walking we found a Pectoral Sandpiper and soon after that 3 White-rumped Sandpiper. I tried to do some digiscoping but it started rain again so I had to give up with the pictures. When the rain stopped again, we found 4 Teals and probably another Pectoral Sandpiper. A couple of Black-headed Gulls were flying over the lake. Finally when we had walked back along the neck of land which goes between the lakes, we climbed to one hill and saw a flock of Mallards, hybrids and dark American Black Duck -type of ducks. They flushed once again too soon and I managed to see them pretty well with my scope and I would say that there was at least one real Black Duck. After some flying around the flock of ducks landed up to the cliffs!

Pectoral SandpiperLake Caldeira

Once we had climbed back up, we called Joao to pick us up. The weather was still bad, but luckily he came soon. We then drove back to the village where we did some shopping, had muffins in Bomberos -cafeteria and then I still walked a little bit above the village checking the fruit-trees. Then I was just too lazy to go to seawatching which I should have gone as there were 2 Grey Phalaropes and a Storm-Petrel seen. In the dinner there were almost only Nordic birders eating in our ordinary place, other had moved to more expensive restaurants that were still open.

Caldeira

The first for WP

On the 18th of October we went early to taxis as they still seemed to come at 8 a.m. Together with Stefan and some others we drove until Lighthouse valley where we first tried to find a Redpoll that had been seen on a couple of days before, but it wasn’t in ordinary junipers. Then we walked down to the valley but found nothing. We were already climbing back up when we met Jens who was going up faster than we did as we still tried to find something from the bushes. Soon Jens told in walkie-talkie that he had found a Great Grey Shrike! He was some hundreds of meters above us so we started to climb there. While we were climbing he told that he thought that the bird was “only” a European bird and he had even checked it from a couple of pictures that he had managed to get before the bird had flight up behind the hills. Of course it was still the first Great Grey Shrike for Azores, but I wasn’t very keen on climbing after it. At least because of it started to rain really hard! Soon there were a couple of twitchers more and when the rain stopped they started to climb after the bird. With Stefan we decided to stay where we were as it was probably the best place to scan the valley if the bird was coming back down. But soon Jens walkie-talkied that they had found the bird again a couple of hundred of meters above us. So we had to start climbing again.

Lighthouse ValleyFlowering valley

When I had finally climbed to Jens, David and Daniel and got the bird to my binoculars, my first worst were: “That has nothing to do with a European!”. The bird was darker – especially on the head, really scaly on its breast and flanks, mask was weak, tale was short with white only 2 outer feathers and the closed wing didn’t show any white at all. Chaffinches were attacking it but anyway it was calling and even singing and I could say that calls were also clearly different from North European race “excubitor”. It was clearly a “borealis” – Northern Shrike from Canada – soon a split and the first for WP of this sub-species!

Northern Shrike

Finally the shrike got enough from the chaffinches attacks and flew over us, hovered a couple of times and showed its tiny white patches on the wings. Then it flew fast down along the valley and disappeared behind the hills. There weren’t many birders yet so others left after it but with Stefan we had got enough of Lighthouse valley and started to walk towards the road. We walked again a little bit on the Redpoll place but couldn’t find it. Soon other birders started to arrive and we had good news as the shrike had been found again. But it had soon disappeared again after some time so not all saw it.

We continued to Canselas and right after it we took a path through the fields down to lower-road. Then we went to Fojo but in an hour we couldn’t see anything better. Stefan stayed still there and hoped to photograph some vireos, but I left to walk along the road were I met Kari and together we decided to walk up to Reservoir. It was a hard walk but we could see that there was a group of birders above us so we walked to them and there was a Dotterel that had been found on the previous day. I was wondering why these birders were watching a Dotterel when there was the first for WP on the island, but anyway I was happy to add this northern bird to my Corvo-list this easily. After some waiting another good wader which had been wandering around the area for some time, a Golden Plover landed to the fields too. Kari left to walk towards Tennessee valley, but I wanted to keep on going high up to the Reservoir.

Lesser Yellowlegs poolReservoir

It was really windy and it started to rain very hard, but once I got to the top, the rain stopped. I found a long-staying Lesser Yellowlegs and a couple of White-rumped Sandpipers. Then I still walked a little bit around before headed towards Tennessee valley. I managed to follow the right valley down to Miradouro and soon I was back in the village.


On the topTennessee valley

After some shopping I still went to seawatching, but already at 6 p.m. I went to Comodoro to check emails and so on. After the dinner I was very tired, I had been walking quite much today.

A good double

19th of October. We started the morning with a funny episode. While having a breakfast we locked the door and the key was outside in a lock. A British Stew decided to climb through a tiny window and ended up hanging head towards the ground while Fernando was holding from his feet. Somehow Stew didn’t hurt himself and got the door open.

Breakfast action

The wind had now turned and was from East, so we headed to Lighthouse valley again. All birders that hadn’t seen the shrike were also going there. With Stefan we checked the Redpoll place again and this time we managed to hear it a couple of times but couldn’t see it at all. We also walked through almost whole Lighthouse valley but again saw nothing. When we were already walking back to the road we heard that Northern Shrike had been found from Caldeira and again by Jens! So we jumped to the taxi that soon arrived and got a ride until Do Vinte. I climbed up to the forest again and I was just checking the highest area when I heard from walkie-talkie that Pierre-André had found a Black-throated Green Warber from the lower Poco da Aqua! I stopped for a second and decided that I am not going to twitch as I had seen the species already on the previous autumn. It was a good bird and a beautiful too but I really wanted to check Do Vinte if I could find something by myself. I walked around the forest quietly for 20 minutes but when I heard that the warbler was still showing very well, I had to give up and go to see it.

Black-throated Green Warbler

Soon I had walked down to Poco da Aqua where I could see the Black-throated Green Warbler immediately. And it was showing really well indeed! It was the first “real” lifer for many and the funniest thing was that Mika and Markku had taken some cake with them from previous dinner so they could celebrate Markkus first lifer of the trip! When the warbler had been hiding for some time, I decided to go on birding. Luckily the bird stayed there in small area for the rest of the day and almost everyone managed to see it.

Black-throated Green Warbler placeMika and Markku

I walked again along the path from Pico to lower Da Ponte and from there I continued together with Hannu and Petri to wet Lapa fields. A Corn Crake that Hannu had seen earlier wasn’t found, just some Common Snipes. Petri also dipped his shoe pretty well. Then we still walked down to rubbish tip, where had been a Buff-bellied Pipit twitchable for the whole day. It was still showing extremely well so I decided to get my scope and camera. Luckily the pipit was still there and I got really good pictures and videos of it. When I left and had walked a couple of hundreds of meters I heard the pipit calling and flying high on the sky towards the Miradouro. Maybe the cats that were living on the rubbish tip had flushed it, or then it was just going to sleep somewhere else? After the dinner I fell asleep very soon while Stefan was still packing his luggage.


Rubbish tipBuff-bellied Pipit

What a day

On the 20th of October after breakfast I said goodbye first to Fernando. I had decided to move to a Finnish apartment where was space now. I wasn’t happy to pay 30€ per night from the first week that we had stayed in tiny room without a single nail on the wall to put wet jacket or so on. I happily paid it from the second week room even though it was still more expensive than Comodoro. Then I said goodbye to Stefan who was leaving. Then I headed to taxi. Together with Kalle and a few Swedish birder that had missed the Black-throated Green Warbler on the previous day because of they had been up in Caldeira watching the shrike, we got to Poco da Aqua. After some waiting we heard clearly some chip-calls of a warbler with Kalle but couldn’t see the bird. After some more waiting we heard it again and soon the Black-throated Green Warbler flew over us and landed to the top of trees. But it really stayed on the top all the time and only me and Bosse managed to see it well before it flew again back down to the unreachable bottom of the ribeira.

After some time we decided to give up and continued with Kalle to Do Vinte which I hadn’t managed to work well enough on the previous visit. But we got only to the road, when we got a message that there had been a Blackpoll Warbler near the village! We walkie-talkied the message so also Swedish friends got it and then waited for Bosse and Jesper Segergren to join us. Even Bosse needed this bird – he had missed it several times before. After some tries we finally contacted Joao and soon he came to pick us up. When we were driving above the village we could see some birders between the road and the rubbish tip. We headed there and soon were on the place where the bird had been seen last time. We heard that the bird had been extremely mobile and had been seen only a couple of times before it had disappeared. But everyone who had been on the village had seen the bird – even those who were now sitting on a plane in the airfield! Or everyone except Kari who had forgotten his walkie-talkie to his apartment. So together with Kalle, Kari and Swedes we started to search for the bird. We walked around and of course watched all the bushes where the bird had been seen, but it really started to feel hopeless after more than an hour. I still sat on the place where it had been seen last for a half an hour and then heard on walkie-talkie that Mika said in Finnish: “We are coming there”. I asked what was going on and heard that Jouni had seen a possible cuckoo-species in the tamarisks near the Common Yellowthroat place. Petri translated the information in English to walkie-talkie and soon everyone was hurrying towards the tamarisks.

Once we got to the tamarisks Jouni told that they had seen the bird landing to the last tamarisk closest to the road. I planned to wait for everyone to arrive, but Kari was already going into the bush. And soon he shouted that: “Here it is, coming towards the top of the tree!”. I had no idea which side of the bush to go if the bird flushes! Then I decided to run to the road, which was at least the highest place. And luckily the bird had stopped almost to the top and was well visible from the road – it was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo! Soon there were people coming but luckily the bird stayed on its place. It really looked tired. But this was the bird that many of us had hoped to see. Of course many had seen it before as it wasn’t really that rare on Azores, but us who hadn’t – we were really happy!


Yellow-billed Cuckoo twitchYellow-billed Cuckoo

After some time I started to think if the bird would stay on its place so long that I could get my digiscoping equipment. I already took a couple of steps but then heard on walkie-talkie that Blackpoll Warbler had been found again – I just couldn’t hear where it had been found. But I saw Kalle and Kari running already and I followed them as fast as I could. We ran around the airfield and luckily after 400 meters running I saw it wasn’t going to be a marathon – there were birders looking down towards the airfield just 100 meters from us. And once I got there I saw the bird already while running – a Blackpoll Warbler! The bird stayed next to the wall on the bushes, cut branches and on the ground for about 10 minutes and everyone who was down managed to see the bird really well!

Blackpoll Warbler twitchBlackpoll Warbler

Happy twitchers

When the warbler had flight to the other side of the airfield and gone missing again, I decided to go to get my scope and camera. Then I walked quickly back to see the cuckoo but it was gone. And it was bad news as at least Richard Ek had stayed up with the Black-throated Green Warbler as he had seen a Blackpoll Warbler before and he we didn’t know if he even knew about the cuckoo yet! Luckily the cuckoo was found again and I saw Richard walking towards us on the other side of the airport. I hurried to see the cuckoo too and hoped to get some pictures but photographers were there already. So I saw only backs and heads through my scope while photographers were going closer and closer to the bird. And then the bird flushed again – just before Richard arrived. But luckily there were birders already on the other side of the tamarisks and they saw it landing to a bush behind the fields and it was visible even from the road. So Richard finally got it too! The bird was inside the bush so it wasn’t really photographable anymore but I wanted to get at least some kind of pictures. And after all I managed to get close enough (it’s not needed to get very close when you are digiscoping) and got pictures that I was happy.

After shopping I moved to the house next to Comodoro and got a comfortable room by myself. The cost was 25€ breakfast included. On the dinner there were only Nordic birders, but happy Nordic birders – it had been a great day!

Almost

The 21st of October. Previous day had been so good that we were hopeful when we got to Cantinho where we walked together with Kalle first on the hill-forest and then got down to the lower parts, while Mika was doing the same round opposite way. Anyway nothing was found. After 11 a.m. we continued to Fojo where we sat down in the open area in the middle of the huge forest. There were also a couple of Germans and after a half an hour or so they started to talk something that had a word “vireo”. We watched if they were watching somewhere and realized that they were indeed watching a bird. With Mika we turned around very quickly and managed to find a bird that they were watching. But once I got it to my bins it flew down behind the bushes. All I saw were bright yellow breast and white stomach! We ran after the bird but couldn’t relocate it. So we climbed back to ask what the Germans had seen and now they were talking about a Northern Parula. But I was thinking that I had seen a little bit bigger and different-shaped bird and Mika thought so too. Mika and Germans had also seen two white wing-bars, and Mika said it could have been a Yellow-throated Vireo. Germans checked the book and said it really could have been it, after all they said they were 99% sure about it. We of course kept on searching the bird and also walkie-talkied about it and soon there were everyone searching for it, but it was not found anymore.

I gave up after a few hours but some stayed searching for the bird until 5 p.m. On the walk back towards the village I saw a Collared Dove. While I was shopping I heard that a Yellow-billed Cuckoo had been found somewhere but I understood that it was somewhere near the Miradouro. After all it had been somewhere close to the shop, but it had been flushed by a photographer so almost everyone missed it anyway. On the dinner the atmosphere was quiet, everyone had expected the day would have been better.

Mika and SendariVillage from harbor

Foggy

On the morning of the 22nd of October a wet foggy cloud was covering the higher parts of the island. Anyway we headed straight to Fojo where we hoped to see the yellow-breasted bird again. After an hour waiting the weather cleared a little bit, but unfortunately only for an hour. Then the fog came even lower and I decided to move and climbed for some time on the Southern part of Fojo but the forest was so wet that I gave up soon. I was completely wet when I got to the picnik-area where I met Darryl Spittle and together we walked towards Lapa. I had decided to walk down to Lapa but because of the fog I somehow though I was already there when I got off the road and walked along a river-bottom towards a small forest. Soon I realized that I was somewhere else which was Do Cerrado das Vagas that was impossible to check very well as the cliffs were too steep. Anyway I checked the places that were possible and then continued to Lapa which I walked down and back up but once again couldn’t find anything. With very wet boots I finally walked together with Mika and Kalle to the village where I did some shopping again and then went to have a muffin to Bombeiros.


Fog in FojoArt from Yellow-legged Gull

In the afternoon we still did a short walk around the fields and somehow I managed to hit an electric fence with both my legs. Nice! Once I got back to our apartment I met Janne Riihimäki who had arrived for the late season trip. In the evening our dinner was excellent!

Last day on Corvo

23rd of October. It was my last full day on Corvo so I really had planned to try hard. The weather looked ok when we left up by taxi but soon we realized that the fog was even worse than on the previous day. So with Kalle we got out already in Pico and we walked down to check the forests there. But the forest was again so wet that soon we continued to Da Ponte. But nothing was found and soon my shoes were wet again. So we started to walk back down early. The weather was still much better near the village so we walked a lot checking all the fields and I also continued to the rubbish tip and around the airport but found absolutely nothing.

After a short break I still continued to seawatching and it was a surprise that I was there by the windmills alone. Soon I found a Cory Shearwater chasing a small, pale bird very far on the sea. They were coming closer all the time but I lost the smaller bird many times behind the waves but luckily the shearwater kept on chasing it so I found it always soon. After some time they were so close that I could identify the bird as a Grey Phalarope! But right then it disappeared behind the waves again and the Cory Shearwater stopped chasing it. I walkie-talkied about it anyway as I thought it could be found when it gets up again. About 10 twitchers arrived but only 1 had a scope. After some time Peter Alfrey found surprisingly 2 Grey Phalaropes but they landed to the waves right away. Then I found one bird swimming, but it also disappeared when the first twitcher tried to see it with my scope.

Our apartment and Comodoro

After some time I gave up and left walking around the airport. Soon after that the twitchers saw a Spotted Sandpiper coming towards me, but it also got lost somewhere. Then Petri saw 3 Grey Phalaropes from the camp-site but again the birds disappeared and they weren’t seen after that at all. In the evening I packed my luggage and at 8 p.m. we had the dinner again.

Sao Miguel

On the 24th of October I and several other birders that were leaving went to say goodbye to all the birders that were going up by taxis at 8 a.m. The weather was still bad but I went to walk around the airfield one more time. I heard a Willow Warbler singing on the tamarisks but that was the only bird found. After all I had to go to get my luggage and at 10 a.m. we got a ride to the airport.

After we had said goodbye to some of the birders and other people that were at the airport our plane left at 10:55 a.m. to Faial, Horta. There we said more goodbyes to some birders that were still going to Terceira and soon got back to the plane and continued to Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel. There we got our luggage, rent a car with Kalle and dropped Petri to twitch the Willet that had still been in ETAR and continued to search our hotel Alcides. Unfortunately I couldn’t remember how to drive there but finally after some searching we found it with help of my phones navigator. We dropped our and Petris luggage into our rooms and soon hurried towards the eastern parts of the island.

Kalle was hoping to get lifer of the only endemic of Azores, Azorean Bullfinch – and I had nothing else to do so I had promised to join him. Of course it was good to go birding by a car. Kalle had got driving instructions to the last place where Finnish birders has seen the bullfinches, but they were through Povoacao. Se it meant that we weren’t driving the easiest and fastest roads. After many Common Buzzards and some U-turns we finally made it through Povoacao and found Serra do Trangueira road. Clouds were hanging low while we were driving slowly along this forest road which is the only place in the world to see Azorean Bullfinches. After about 5 kilometers I started to think that we were near the places where we had seen some bullfinches at 2011. And right after that I saw a bird just in front of our car on a dry branch. Kalle stopped and soon found the bird too! We got out and managed to get some pictures of the bird too, before it flew up to the tops of the trees. We walked around a little bit and found easily four Azorean Bullfinches but they were mostly calling from the tops of the trees. They landed to the hillside a couple of times but too far to get any more pictures. Other birds we saw were Goldcrests, Robins and lots of Goldfinches, Canaries and Chaffinches. Then it started to rain very hard, so we decided to continue driving to Nordeste from where we continued along the motorway towards Ponta Delgada.

Azores BullfinchHappy Kalle

We drove straight to our hotel and soon Petri, who had already been celebrating his Willet-tick for a couple of hours, arrived too. Then it was time to go to eat well. We found a nice Swedish-owned 27 restaurant and luckily met also Kari there. It was nice to have a really good dinner in a good company! But soon we were too tired and had to go to sleep.

Back to Finland

Mosteiros

25th of October. With Kalle we woke up at 7 a.m and left to Mosteiros. Once there we tried to find a Double-crested Cormorant which had been seen there in many autumns but not in this autumn. But all we saw were 3 Manx Shearwaters. At 10 a.m. we continued backwards and to Lagoa Azul. There we met Swedish team, Bosse, Jesper and Richard who had already been birding there for whole morning. So we just checked the best place and saw 11 Coots, a Moorhen and 4 Common Waxbills as trip-ticks.

Soon we continued to Ponta Delgada where we still visited ETAR where we met Richard Bonser who was still waiting for the Willet to show up. Richard was again going to Corvo for the late season. But Soon Kalle had to drive me to the airport. My flight to Lissabon left at 3 p.m. After a long flight I had to do some souvenir-shopping in Lissabon airport but I had almost 4 ours time so it was not a problem. Finally at 10:10 p.m. (local time) my flight left to Helsinki. A long and boring flight was over at 3:45 a.m. (local and winter-time that had just changed) and my father was picking me up. In Kirkkonummi I was able to go to sleep some more.

Afterwords

The trip was after all very good, event though the autumn was one of the worst ones in 10 years birding history of Corvo. I got 7 WP-ticks and even though they weren’t super-rare birds, I had hoped to see at least some of the most common species missing from my list. My another goal was to find something good by myself but I failed on that. When there is only one bird found every day and even 43 birders searching you really need also luck to find it. I would say that I was trying enough. Anyway I was many times very close when the bird was found, so at least I was birding in right places. It was good to see most of the birds very quickly and then keep on trying to find something new.

It was also good to visit Corvo on the peak-time when it is really full of birders. I had heard rumors of fights between birders but luckily everything went pretty smoothly. Of course information about rare birds could go much better and everyone aren’t best friends. But I got many new friends and of course it was nice to see many old friends too. Special thanks to Stefan Ettenstam and Kalle Larsson for giving me some bird-pictures that I am using in this report.

J.A.

Azores 17th of October to 2nd of November 2013

Towards Azores

On the 17th of October we woke up at 5:30 a.m. and soon my father was driving us, me and “Potu” Suojarinne to Helsinki-Vantaa airport. In the airport we met Ilkka Sahi with whom we were going to Azores.

Ilkka had booked a room from Corvo already a year earlier when he had been there. He had planned to go there together with the same friend than then, but this friend wasn’t able to go this year, so Ilkka decided to ask me to join him. I still had my holidays left so I was ready to join him. Once I had contacted to this Comodoro where we had the room, I found out that there was a possibility to ask a third person to join us and naturally I knew immediately who to ask – Potu.

During the autumn we planned the trip and finally the plans were ready. We’d fly via Frankfurt and Lisbon to Terceira, where we would have 2 days, then we’d continue to Flores for 2 days before getting to Corvo. We’d stay on Corvo for 9 days before getting back to Flores for 2 days and then we’d still have a short stop on Terceira before our flight to Lisbon and then on the morning of 2nd of November we’d fly back to Finland.

Now we were ready to begin our journey. Our luggage were booked straight to Terceira but we had to stand in several long lines before we got to right gate and soon after that to our Finnair plane that left towards Frankfurt at 8:00 a.m.

After 3 hours flight we landed to Frankfurt at 10:10 a.m. local time. Again we had to line for some time before a long transition by sky-train and walking to the right terminal and gate. Then we had to wait for 2 hours to our next flight to Lisbon that left at 1:25 p.m.

I managed to sleep a bit in TAP plane that finally landed to Lisbon at 3:30 p.m. local time. We ate in Pizza Hut and then checked us in again and finally at 6:20 left our plane towards Terceira. The flight was long but finally after 16 hours traveling, we landed to Lajes airport. We found our luggage soon and got the car I had booked very easily. We got even bigger car than I had booked so we managed to squeeze our luggage in easily. Soon we were driving towards Praia da Vitoria from where I had booked a room from Hotel Varandas do Atlantico. It was the same hotel we had used 2 years earlier. Ilkka was driving as he knew the roads of Terceira very well, he had been there plenty of times – this was already 8th year in a raw that Ilkka was on Azores. We got a nice room and soon we had carried our luggage there. Then we left to the nearest restaurant to eat. Finally at 10:30 p.m. (1:30 Finnish time) we got to sleep.

Wader-hunting on Terceira

On the 18th of October we woke up at 7 a.m. and after a half an hour we were having a delicious breakfast. Soon we were ready to go birding and walked towards our car that we had parked pretty far from the hotel. While walking we saw a heron flying over us and landing to dock – a Squacco Heron, nice Azores-tick. On the sea we saw lots of Cory’s Shearwaters, some Yellow-legged Gulls and Common Terns and House Sparrows, Starlings, Blackbirds, Rock Doves and a Honey Buzzard were also seen.

First we stopped to Paul do Praia pool where we saw a couple of Coots and Moorhens, a Shoveler, a Pintail and of course feral Muscovy Ducks. Soon we continued to Cabo da Praia wader-paradise. There we took our scopes and cameras and were ready to a lifer-hunt. There were lots of waders but I was concentrated to try to find only one bird, the most interesting one – there had been a Short-billed Dowicher for weeks already, even on the previous day.

But after 15 minutes I still hadn’t found the dowicher. So I started to check all the other waders and found Turnstones, Sanderlings, 11 Black-tailed Godwits, 4 Grey Plovers, Kentish Plovers, Ringed Plovers, at least 4 Semipalmated Plovers, 2 Ruffs, a Snipe, 9 White-rumped Sandpipers, 2 Semipalmated Sandpipers, a Little Stint, 2 Dunlins, 3 Curlew Sandpipers, a Pectoral Sandpiper, a Red-necked Phalarope, a Redshank, a Greenshank, a Lesser Yellowlegs and a flying Whimbrel. Some Collared Doves were seen and heard, a Wigeon, a Teal and 2 Pintails were swimming on the pool. On the bushes we saw some Blackcaps and Robins that were also singing and some Grey Wagtails were seen along the pool. A small flock of Waxbills was found from the bushes, but the dowicher was still missing. But then I found it feeding in the middle of the pool! Where it had came from? The first lifer of the trip was true! It was pretty far but I got some digiscoping pictures and videos and soon I could start photographing the other waders. I managed to get some pretty good pictures but I couldn’t get any from Semipalmated Sandpipers. Well at least something was left to the next visit.

We visited the airport where we booked a car to the Flores and soon continued towards Lagoa do Junco. We found a couple of pools from the fields but only birds we saw were a young Moorhen and a couple of Grey Herons and Little Egrets and of course Chaffinches, Canaries and some Buzzards and so on.

We had planned to visit Lagoa do Ginjal too but Ilkka wasn’t sure how to drive there so we decided to go to check Cabrito pool. The pool was empty but when we continued driving uphill we both with Potu saw a tiny pool just behind the stony walls and there was a bigger wader on the pool! We parked the car and walked closer and when we saw the bird it was a Greater Yellowlegs!

We took lots of pictures and videos but a Buzzard flushed the bird and it flew towards the Cabrito pool. We checked the pool again but couldn’t find the bird there. We had found the first self-found lifer of the trip!

Next we went to walk around Paul do Praia pool but found only 4 Coots, 2 Moorhens, a Shoveler, a Pintail and a Wigeon. Then we drove to check the harbour-area and from the flocks of Yellow-legged Gulls we found a young Great Black-backed Gull, saw an Arctic Skua on the sea, flushed a Quail from a grassy area and saw 2 Canada Geese on a field almost in the middle of the town.

In the afternoon we still drove to Cabo da Praia to study and photograph waders. There were no new birds, but I managed to get much better pictures of the Short-billed Dowicher. On the way back to the hotel we still checked the sea from harbour and managed to find a Surf Scoter that had been found a couple of days earlier. On the hotel we packed everything, loaded some batteries and then left to eat to a little bit better restaurant nearby. I took “a Steak on a rock” as we were soon going to Corvo, to the “Rock”. After all we got to sleep at 10:30 p.m.

To Flores

On the 19th of October we woke up already at 5:15 a.m. and soon were having a breakfast that was served just for us. Soon we were filling up the tank and driving to the airport. We were there too early so we had to wait for the car-rental office to open. Then at 8:10 a.m. our plane left to Faial where we stopped for an hour before continuing to Flores.

Before 11 a.m. we landed to Santa Cruz, Flores. While Potu and Ilkka were waiting for our luggage, I went to get our Ford Fiesta. Soon we had squeezed our luggage in but then we started walking towards the control-tower which was only 200 meters from the parking place. On the previous day we had met a Dutch birder Thierry Jansen that had told us instructions to the place where he had managed to twitch a Mourning Dove. So we walked to check the small garden behind the tower. There were some people in the garden so soon we started to walk around and found a couple of good looking fields a little bit further. We had stayed in the area for an hour and Potu was once again going to check the garden when he saw a dove in flight. It landed to a fence behind the garden and there it was, a Mourning Dove. Potu shouted and waved for us and I had at least 200 meters to run but luckily the bird stayed there for long enough! When I started to digiscope, it flew behind the wall. Luckily Potu had managed to get a couple of pictures. It was another wp-tick for me and Potu, Ilkka had seen it last year on Corvo.

We still waited for a half an hour but the dove didn’t come back. We did some shopping nearby and when we were walking towards our car, we saw the dove in flight over the town. We thought it landed behind a couple of houses but we couldn’t find it anymore. So soon we continued to find a hotel where to stay.

We drove to a new Hotel das Flores that Ilkka had used a year before and managed to get a room with an extra bed. The room was pretty small but we managed to get our luggage in. So soon we were out and ready to go birding again. From the closest shore we found the first Goldcrest of the trip and saw a Sandwich Tern passing by.

Soon we were driving north towards Ponta Delgada. Once there we went straight to old soccer field and we decided to drive around it to find out if there were any waders. Soon we found a Sanderling, a White-rumped Sandpiper and a Semipalmated Plover. I was trying to get as close to the birds as possible while Potu and Ilkka were taking pictures from the car. Soon I parked the car and continued to take some pictures by myself too. But pretty soon we started to walk around the area.

We found lots of Canaries, House Sparrows and Chaffinches and finally also 2 Lapland Buntings and a Wheatear, but nothing better. Then we continued to Ponta de Albarnaz but the wind was so strong and soon it started to rain too so there was really no way to get out of the car almost at all. So nothing was found there.

We decided to drive back and check the best lakes on the top of the mountains. So we checked Lagoa Branca and Lomba but they were both empty. The wind was so strong that I think it was impossible for any bird to stay on the lakes anyway. After all we got back to the hotel and in the evening we went to eat to HotelCafe nearby. After the dinner we were soon ready to go to sleep.

No passerines but…

On the 20th of October we woke up after 7 a.m. and after a poor breakfast we left birding. The hills were covered by thick fog so there was no visibility to the lakes at all. When we got to the western parts of the island, we stopped first in Moinho. It was again very wet on the meadows and it wasn’t a surprise that soon both I and Potu had managed to get our boots soaking wet! And of course no birds were found at all.

In Faja Grande we walked all the paths and checked every possible bush and fruit-tree well but we couldn’t find anything else than lots of Blackcaps. In a beginning a very heavy rain made us extremely wet but luckily it stopped soon. On the shore we saw a Little Egret and a Whimbrel but nothing was found on the other side of the village either. Then we continued to Lagoa dos Patos where we had to climb along a very slippery rocky path that took about 30 minutes. The view around the lake was amazing but only bird we found there was a young Moorhen. We didn’t walk to check the other side of the lake as the forest was too wet and slippery.

Next we continued to old abandoned village of Caldeira, which had nice paths full of fruit-trees but the wind was again getting so strong that even Blackcaps were hiding very well. Then we drove to Fajazinha where we hoped to see a white angel-bird that I had found 3 years earlier in same time of the day. We did find a familiar whitish bird but unfortunately it wasn’t a White-tailed Tropicbird but a similar or even the same albinistic House Sparrow than 3 years ago.

On the way back to east we checked extremely windy Branca before drove down to Santa Cruz. While we were driving around the airfield I found a Glossy Ibis that was feeding on a grass just behind the fence. We stopped and started to take pictures of it and then I saw a wader landing just 20 meters from the ibis. My first thought was that it was a Buff-breasted Sandpiper. We walked closer but the bird flushed with the wind and I immediately identified it as an Upland Sandpiper! It landed to the other side of the road to a field and we of course followed it there. Soon we had surrounded the place where the bird had hidden but soon it flushed again and wind was really throwing it back down to the field. We still didn’t see it well, so we surrounded it again and started to get closer very carefully as we wanted to see it on the ground. We still had seen it only for a couple of seconds altogether. But again it flushed too early, called a couple of times and continued with the wind towards the harbour. Now we had seen it well enough -it was a good lifer to Potu and Ilkka and another good self-found wader for me!

We continued to the harbour but we couldn’t find the Upland Sandpiper there. Lots of Cory’ Shearwaters were seen on the sea and Potu found a Sandpiper from the rocky shore. It was very far and it was already getting late, but the bird looked like a Spotted Sandpiper. Soon Potu found another one and soon even the third bird. And they all looked like Spotted Sandpipers! We drove around the bay and managed to get down towards the rocky shore. The sun was already setting down but we managed to see the flock of three Spotted Sandpipers well enough!

Once we were back at hotel room we finally got our wet shoes away. With Potu we still walked in the town and tried to find an open restaurant, but on Sunday evening nothing was open. So soon we were back in our room and waiting to fall asleep.

Potu finds a Mega

On the 21st of October we had bread and ham breakfast again and at 8 a.m. we headed to Faja do Conde which was very close to Santa Cruz. I dropped Ilkka and Potu up and drove down along the narrow road and started to check trees and bushes there. Once Potu and Ilkka got down, we continued together checking the fields and meadows before at the end of the road we took different paths again. There were lots of birds but only common ones; Canaries, Blackcaps, House Sparrows, Starlings and so on. Some Wood Pigeons were seen flying along the mountain.

Then we headed back to Santa Cruz where a Glossy Ibis was still on the airfield. The harbour was empty and soon we had to continue to hotel to pack our luggage. With car full of luggage we continued just somewhere as the wind was again so strong that we really had no ideas what to do before we had to be back in the airport. So we turned to Florestral Park where we saw only Peacocks and other cage-birds. We also took some pictures of the views from the hills before we decided to go to check some lakes we hadn’t visited yet. We turned towards Lagoa Rasa and after 1.9 kilometers I realized that we were on the open bog-area where we had tried to see a Northern Harrier 3 years earlier. We stopped there and started to scan the area. Soon we heard angry Goldcrests that were having a fight behind us. They were really calling a lot. Then we realized that there were deeper and lower “tweet” calls also coming from a flock. We heard different kind of harsher calls too but I thought that they were all just Goldcrests and continued scanning the area. Potu kept on follofing the flock and soon he saw some Gold crests crossing the road. One of the birds stopped to a top of a bush and then Potu shouted: “Why this Goldcrest has only bright red on its head!” I turned and saw the bird and realized that it had no markings on its face except a white eye-ring. I saw it only from the side before a couple of Goldcrests chased it for some 10 meters from the road. The bird I had seen had looked strange – like a tiny flycatcher. I somehow understood what I had seen and what Potu was talking about what he had seen and shouted: “Ruby-crowned Kinglet!” Ilkka had been reading the map in the car but he was there with us soon. But the bird wasn’t found anymore. Probably angry Goldcrests had been chasing it further to the area where it was impossible to go because of dense blackberry-bushes. We waited and pished but only Goldcrests were seen. These Goldcrests were still fighting but they had only yellow or some orange on their crowns.

Soon we had to leave to the airport where we waited for an hour before we were told that the wind was too strong for the plane. So it would have been ok to go to Corvo but because of the direction of the wind it was not ok to land on Flores. So many birders left Corvo but the plane skipped Flores. SATA offered to pay us the next 2 nights and also foods on the same hotel where we had been as the next flight to Corvo was only after 2 days. So once we had continued the rent of the same car, we decided to go to try to find the Kinglet again. We stayed there for an hour and then visited Lagoa Rasa and Funda with Potu but only a grey heron species was seen briefly in flight.

After we had checked empty and extremely windy Lagoa Lomba again we were soon driving back down to Santa Cruz. In the evening we got a dinner on the hotel and it was good to go to sleep next to full stomach.

Must get to Corvo

On the 22nd of October had simple breakfast again and we were all pretty bored as we didn’t like the idea to do birding on windy Flores for 2 more days. We had found great birds already but Corvo had been our target place. Luckily I mentioned about our frustration to a lady in reception and she told that there were 2 boats going to Corvo during the day – the first one already in 2 hours! She told us to go to Riac office to try to buy the tickets. The weather was ok now but she also told that the wind was getting stronger in the evening and after that several days would be extremely windy! So our only possibility to get to Corvo was today and by boat!

We packed everything and headed to Riac office already before 9 a.m. The office wasn’t open yet, but because of the doors were open, we went in to ask about the tickets. Soon we found out that there were only 2 empty places in the 12 people morning boat. There were more tickets for the evening but we decided not to buy any tickets yet. We headed straight to the harbour as we wanted to ask straight from the captain of the boat, if there was any possibility to squeeze all 3 of us in?

We were in the harbour early and soon locals started to arrive too. The boat came at 9:55 a.m. and 2 Belgian birders were coming away from Corvo. They also stayed there and waited if we could get in or not. We were waiting and waiting but nobody spoke any English or really noticed us at all. Finally I found a man who spoke some English and he was kind to help us. He found the captain soon but he told there was no way to get extra passengers in. Actually there was even a police officer checking everything went legally. But when the boat was leaving the captain waved us in! We had to pick up our luggage from the car and I asked if the Belgians could drop our car key to the office to the airport and just after some tens of seconds we were heading towards Corvo! And there were even more empty places than we needed, not every ticket-owner had arrived.

When the boat left I started to send text-messages; first to another boat-owner that I had contacted via Hotel Occidental; she could have taken us to Corvo with 250 € or maybe much cheaper if there was some group coming and if they were going to visit Corvo. Then I send some messages to the Finnish birders on Corvo that we were coming and if they could tell to Hotel Comodore too. Then I called to the reception of Hotel das Flores and told that we had managed to leave and if she could call to SATA that we didn’t need to fly there anymore or any accommodation or food from them anymore. When I had finished, I realized that the boat was swinging quite a lot and it was also extremely hot in the boat! So soon I started to feel very sick! I tried to watch the horizon where some Cory’s Shearwaters were flying almost all the time, but it didn’t help. Soon I started to throw up… Luckily then someone managed to open the window and I got some fresh air and the temperature dropped down. And soon “the rock”, Corvo started to get closer and closer and after 53 minutes travelling we finally were in the harbour.

We got a Hiace-taxi ride to Comodore where we met Kathy. “Katt” was surprised to see us, she hadn’t got any message from our friends that were up on “the rock” and in the valleys where is no phone connection. Luckily our room was empty now as the Belgians had left. So we had a very comfortable big room for three. Soon we were ready to go birding!

Twitching on Corvo

I got a message from Mika Bruun where were instructions to our first target-species White-crowned Bunting. We climbed to the second floor of Comodore and got out and started to follow Ilkka. Soon we found out that we were heading to a wrong direction, but luckily we managed to take a shortcut through a area that was full of wrecks. Then we headed to the village and asked help and soon we had found a shop and were heading up, out from the village. After some walking we found the right bend where was a car and a boat in a garden, and in the corner of the building there was a sand-pile with a tiny feeder in front of it. Some House Sparrows left from the sand-pile when we sat down to wait for a sparrow to arrive. After about a half an hour Potu saw it landing to a pile and soon we all had it – a White-crowned Sparrow! The bird walked behind the pile soon but after some waiting it stopped to the top so we could get some pictures of it before it flew away with some house Sparrows.

Soon we met David Monticelli who was walking down along the road and he showed us the place where had been an Indigo Bunting and Rose-breasted Grosbeak on the previous day. Both birds had been seen only very briefly, but anyway that was a good place for us to spend some time. David told us that there had been nothing new on the top or on the valleys, so we had nothing else to do anyway.

We were staring at the figtrees and bushes and walking around in a small area but we saw only Rock Doves, Starlings, House Sparrows and Blackcaps. I saw briefly a Glossy Ibis in flight but it disappeared immediately behind the ridge. Then we heard a call from our walkie-talkie that we had tuned to channel 4 that was used by birders, there was a young Gannet flying on the sea near wind-mills. We didn’t have much visibility to the sea, but luckily we saw just to the right direction, once we had found the wind-mills, we soon found the Gannet too. It was a good Azores-tick.

We had been in the area for about 3 hours but we hadn’t seen anything special. Well Ilkka had seen some strange-looking bird briefly in flight. Anyway we decided to go shopping as we had heard that the shop was closing already 5 p.m. After shopping we visited the White-crowned Sparrow place but all other birders had stopped there and were trying to get pictures of it. Even though the bird was just seen by one birder they hadn’t got any pictures yet. So we left then to try and walked back to try to find Indigo Bunting or Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

We had waited for more than an hour again and it started to get late, when we decided to give up. I had already my scope on my back and I just took the first steps downhill when I saw a bigger passerine, a little bit like a Yellowhammer, flying over me and landing to a figtree in front of us. I told to Potu and Ilkka to check the tree carefully and soon Potu found it, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak was perched almost on the top of the tree! He managed to get a couple of pictures of it before it flew away. We celebrated a little bit as our 5 hours persistent trying had been rewarding! But then I saw the bird again and it landed to a wire in front of us and I also managed to get some pictures of it before it left towards the village again.

We were walking towards the hotel where we had planned to drop our shopping-bags when we got news that the Indigo Bunting had been found on the Middle fields! We hurried there but the bird had been seen landing to a field just 5 minutes earlier. We waited to everyone to arrive and then a small group walked to the place where the bird had landed, but it wasn’t there anymore. We checked every field nearby, but the bird wasn’t found anymore.

After an hour rest we left to eat to a Snack Bar nearby. David had organized the dinner for all. There we met all the other 15 birders: 5 Polish, 3 British, 2 Swedish, 2 Belgian and Petri Kuhno and Mika Bruun. Most of them I knew earlier but for example Polish guys were new faces. After the dinner we still got to the upstairs of Comodoro with Potu, Mika and Petri and we surfed in the internet, made some pictures and so on. We were really tired when we got to bed; it had been quite a day – but the most important thing was that we were now on Corvo!

Getting familiar with Corvo

On the 23rd of October we woke up too early but soon we were having bread, cheese and ham again. At 8 a.m. Joao, the taxi-driver that we had already met, came to take us up. Also Mika and both Swedish guys were going up. With Mika we went to Cantinho forest-valley, where we walked around and just waited something to be found for a couple of hours before we started walking towards the village. On the way Mika told about the places we passed and after some walking we walked down to Da Ponte valley, which I was already familiar with. There had been some good birds 3 years earlier so we had visited the place on both days we had visited Corvo. We stayed there for 1.5 hours but found nothing else than Blackcaps and Chaffinches.

Once we had climbed back to the road we realized that the wind was very stormy (our plane wouldn’t have arrived) and occasional rains made us to take cover in different kind of places while we were slowly walking down towards the village. Mika wanted to go down fast because he had his huge camera-bag on his back, but Ilkka had some problems with walking downhill on asphalt, even though he had walking-sticks with him, so we were slower. The wind was really strong and there were sand, small stones and branches flying in the air.

Finally we managed to get down to the village where we did some shopping and then Ilkka decided to go to rest a little bit as his knees were hurt. With Potu we headed to Middle fields to try to find an Indigo Bunting or anything. The wind made it impossible to find anything so soon we decided to try to get to the wind-mills to do some seawatching. We had no idea how to walk to the other side of the airport, but soon we saw Mika walking on the other end. We followed him and the wind was amazing strong – it was really difficult to walk against the wind. Soon we found Mika photographing the storm-waves and he had just been hit by a huge wave that came over the rocks almost to the road. Luckily he had managed to keep his camera safe. We also stopped to photograph the waves but there was so much water and salt in the air that it was really difficult!

But while we were photographing, we got news that the Indigo Bunting had been found again and exactly from those fields we had just checked! With Potu we started to run and it was really difficult in that back-wind. I am sure I broke my own records but they were wind-results. Luckily we remembered to take a shortcut through the wrecks and soon we close to the right place. Ilkka was already there with other birders and when we were only 20 meters from them, we saw a small passerine flushed in front of them and flying just over us – there it was an Indigo Bunting! Surprisingly the bird landed to a top of a reed and stayed there. I saw it pretty well with my binoculars but soon I tried to get it into my scope, but its lenses were totally salty. I tried to clean them and then managed to get a couple of pictures of the bird, but the lenses were still foggy and also the light was pretty bad. Soon the bird dropped down to the field but again it just disappeared. It wasn’t found from the ground anymore even though soon some birders walked through the area. But now we had seen all the birds that we knew were still on the island, we could really start to concentrate finding new rarities!

We still walked around the airfield but now from the other side, which was much easier and faster way and continued until the wind-mills. There we saw a sandpiper in flight and managed to identify it as a Common Sandpiper. There had been a Spotted Sandpiper earlier, but this was a different bird. Also Mika came to do seawatching and together we saw lots of Cory’s Shearwaters and about 100 Dolphins.

In the evening we gathered to eat again at 8 p.m. We were still 17 birders as British birders plane hadn’t been able to arrive. After the dinner we went to help local people to collect Cory’s Shearwaters from the street. Young Cory’s were leaving their nests and on their first flight some of them were hitting to the lights and even walls. They were collected to boxes, ringed and weakest birds were taken care, but after all they were all released to the sea in the harbour. The locals weren’t very talkative so we had no idea where they had been walking already so after a half an hour walking we hadn’t found any birds. So we decided to go back to hotel to sleep.

Mega Warbler!

On the 24th of October we woke up before 7 a.m. and after “breadfast” that Manuel once again offered, we were ready to go up by taxi. Only Mika and another Swedish birder, Stefan joined us. We got out on Fojo where had been a Red-eyed Vireo for many days and it had been last seen only 2 days ago. We climbed up along the ribeira and it took about 30 minutes to climb to the right area. There we stayed about an hour but saw only Chaffinches and Blackcaps. Ilkka took the easiest way down while I and Potu walked down along the Southern slope where we saw a couple of Woodcocks.

We were continuing to walk along a couple of southern ribeiras when we heard that there had been a Mourning Dove near the Power Station. We realized that we were only some hundreds of meters from the place, so we hurried there. Polish and Swedish birders and Vincent Legrand were there already and they were carefully walking to the place where they had seen the dove landing. But the bird was gone. They walked around the fields when I saw a dove flying pretty far but coming straight over towards them – and it was the Mourning Dove! I shouted to them and luckily all managed to see the bird. And surprisingly it was a lifer to Swedish guys so soon we were shaking hands with them.

We still continued towards the village where we had seen the bird disappearing. Other guys were walking so fast that we thought that someone had found it already. But they were walking further and further, so after all we were almost running after them. Then we saw Manuel’s car coming with full of birders, British guys and David were in. And they told that Mika had found a Mega on Pico! So maybe we had been hurrying down because of guys had heard something on their walkie-talkies but they had no idea what. So we had been running towards better connection. But now we had to turn around and start running up again – towards Pico and Black-throated Green Warbler!

We were in a fastest group with Stefan and Potu and soon Petri joined us, so when Manuel came back, he picked us up and soon we were in Pico. We had no idea which part of Pico the bird was so we asked some more information and soon David gave us instructions. Soon we turned into the forest and found the others. And very soon we heard some ticking calls from the tops of the trees and after some waiting Ernie Davis saw the bird. I was standing next to him, but the bird seemed to be far. Luckily he pointed the exact place to me and I managed to see the bird briefly before it continued to the next tree. I still saw the bird continuing so all we could do was to wait it to come back. Anyway I had seen this pale-stomached, stripy-flanked and yellow-headed bird already!

Soon the rest of the birders came but one of the Polish guys was still on the top, on Caldeira. And there was even no phone-connection. Soon we saw the bird moving quickly on the tops of the trees again and it stopped just above us. Then most of the birders saw it, and I saw it very well. But some were too nervous or excited to find it before it was gone again. And then it started what I had been afraid of – the photographers started to run after the bird and of course also those birders that still hadn’t seen it. I decided to stay on exactly same place as I was sure it comes back sooner or later. The Swedish guys decided to stay with me. So soon we heard ticking again but after that noise when birders were chasing the ticking. After some waiting I heard it well again and soon the bird landed just over us! It stayed on the same top of a tree for a long time and I told about it to everyone with my walkie-talkie. It took some time before everyone was there again, but finally almost everyone saw it. But when it continued again it was followed again. With Potu we thought that we had seen it well enough and we decided to go to try to find something new. We still waited there for a moment and heard that Mika had found the bird again and finally even the last birders had seen it, so then we left away from the forest. On the way we met the last Polish guy and could give him instructions to find to the right place and later he had seen the bird too.

With Potu we walked to small part of Aqua forest and then walked down to ribeira of Lapa. But only interesting observation was a cat-like yelling that probably was a cat, but also Grey Catbird was in our minds, but nothing was found. So hopefully it was just a cat… After all we walked down to the village where we still checked the harbour, where only Turnstones were seen, before we headed back to Comodoro. When we were having the dinner, Mika got his food free as he had found so good bird. The funny thing was that Polish Birding Team were wearing T-shirts with a picture of a Black-throated Green Warbler – it had been they logo-bird for their Corvo-T-shirts! And they had seen the bird on their last day! After the dinner we still walked a little bit in the village and tried to find some shearwaters but we didn’t find any. So we went to sleep at 22:30 p.m.

A quiet day

The morning of 25th of October was normal but when we got out, we noticed that it was extremely foggy on the slopes of Corvo. So we didn’t call taxi at all, but decided to walk around the airfield and saw a Northern Wheatear in the village and 2 Glossy Ibises on the airfield. Then we continued through Kapverde-fields to Middle fields and then took a shortcut towards the miradour, vantage point. Petri had told us about a Cory’s Shearwater nest that was nearby and after some searching we found it. There was a big young bird in! After some photographing, we walked back down to the Middle fields but found nothing. After some shipping we walked to Comodore to rest a little bit, as the weather was getting even worse.

After some resting we climbed up to the rubbish tip but the wind was so strong that there was lots of rubbish flying in the air. So soon we were walking on the fields again. After some walking we continued to the wind-mills for seawatching with Potu. After some time I found a Great Shearwater which was a lifer for Potu. It was following Dolphins with many Cory’s Shearwaters. Later also Mika came there and he managed to see a shark briefly. We also laughed to the young Cory’s Shearwaters that were flying poorly; some hit the waves and dropped down with somersaults. But soon I started to feel cold as I was wearing only walking clothes and my shoes were absolutely wet, so we headed back to Comodoro where I wore some more clothes and we still went to check the closest fields. But soon it started to rain and the fog was getting to the village too so soon we were back in. At 8 p.m. we had the dinner again and now there were much less people as Polish, finally also British but also Petri had left Corvo. In the evening we stayed for some time on the upstairs before we went to sleep.

And the fog gets worse

26th of October was the day that couldn’t have come. During the breakfast Manuel (72) told that there was the worst fog he had ever soon on the island! So it was no point to get up. We were walking around the airport and found a Ruff with 2 Glossy Ibises. We had no idea that it was a good Corvo-tick but told about it when we met some other birders that were shortly out from their rooms. It was even the 100th Corvo-tick for Ingvar. Mika had gone up anyway and at midday he sent a message that the weather seemed to be getting better. We took a taxi with Belgians and 3 Norwegians that had surprisingly managed to get to Corvo by boat from Flores and were going to twitch a Black-throated Green and also White-crowned Sparrow that Mika had seen in the morning. Belgians dropped out near Lighthouse Valley and it really looked better on that side of the island. So we got out in Cancelas but there the weather was getting worse again. It was pretty soon clear that Cancelas was too difficult to walk fro Ilkka, at least now when it was extremely slippery there. The steepest parts were really dangerous, when Potu was climbing on the other side and I was on the other side of the ribeira on the slopes. Somehow we managed to get up to the road but it wasn’t a surprise that we hadn’t seen anything; we had been concentrating not to fall down, not watching up to the tops of the trees.

We still walked down to Da Ponte but then it started to rain very heavily. We really got ourselves wet! So after all we were walking back to the village in very heavy rain and fog that was again getting even worse! So the highlight of the day was the dinner. We heard that Norwegians had been successful and even managed to get back to Flores.

Hard work

On the 27th of October we took a taxi up again, even though the fog was still very thick on the hillside. This time we headed to ribeira of Cantinho, which was even more difficult to walk than Cancelas had been. Anyway we had planned to visit every single good biding place with Potu. We wanted to get familiar with them so we’d know where to go if there is something found; or actually we wanted just to get familiar with the places so we could do birding as well as possible in the future visits to Corvo. And of course we wanted to find something good as soon as possible! It was again impossible for Ilkka to follow us, so he stayed lower in the area and then continued towards south, while we walked again up until the road. There we followed the road north and continued until the Lighthouse valley. We followed the paths all way to the coast and it was again very slippery! But all we found were 2 nests of Cory’ Shearwaters with big nestlings and one Woodcock.

We had walked already a lot when we were heading towards south again. In upper Da Ponte we met Stefan and together we decided to head up to the Reservoir. It was situated on the top of the southern hills so it was a long way to climb up there. We were almost on the top when we met Ingvar who had already been there on the Reservoir. He hadn’t seen anything, but we decided to go there anyway as we were already so close. We walked in a couple of hillsides and valleys and along the muddy road with some tiny pools but found only about 20 Turnstones and lots of Canaries and Chaffinches. Only interesting looking bird was a partial albino Blackbird with all white head.

On the way down we showed the Cory’s nest to Stefan, the huge nestling was still there.

In the afternoon we still walked around the fields but found nothing. On the way to eat, we heard lots of calls and shouts of Cory’s Shearwaters, the youngsters were leaving their nests now when the weather was finally getting better. Soon we saw some of them flying above us, and then one bird flew straight towards the wall and dropped down to the street. Of course I caught it but I didn’t know the right way to handle a bird like this, so it really managed to use its bill to my hands. I carried the bird to the Snack Bar where one boy immediately knew how to make a cardboard box suitable for the bird. After we had eaten, with help of Vincent we carried the bird to the place where the villagers were meeting before they headed to the streets to find the shearwaters. Now we met also a ringer and then joined a young maiden and went to walk around the village. We found 5 more Cory’s in 40 minutes, but again we felt that people weren’t really talking to us, even though this girl really spoke English well. Altogether there were already at least 15 Cory’ on the boxes, but we were too tired and really out of orders what to do, so we headed to sleep.

Caldeira – an amazing place

On the 28th of October after the bread, cheese and ham, we were waiting for a taxi again. When it didn’t come we called to Joao and soon got a ride to up. Joao hadn’t noticed that the weather was now really good. Everyone else was leaving from Corvo in the afternoon, so only Mika was going with us. Actually Mika was already walking up and he had seen the White-crowned Sparrow again. We picked him up along the road and then dropped him to Aqua. We continued to the top to Caldeira. It was finally good weather to go there! We got a ride until the edge of the crater and once we got out from the taxi we saw a stunning view down to crater and to lakes on the bottom of steep edges of the crater! We saw immediately a flock of ducks on the lake but they were still too far to check well enough. Most of them were Mallard but there were at least 7 dark birds with them and also a Wigeon. 4 Teals were seen in flight and a pale wader was walking on the shore.

We started to walk down towards the lake but stopped several times to take pictures of the view. Once we got down we started to walk around the lake. First we flushed a couple of Common Snipes and found 2 Barnacle Geese that had stayed on the lake for some time already. Then we flushed a darker and higher-voiced snipe but Potu managed to get a couple of pictures of it and it was just very dark Common Snipe – whatever Icelandic or Greenlandic bird, which I’ve seen also in Shetland.

Soon we found a flock of 18 Teals which one of them looked more interesting but soon they flushed to flight and we never found them again. Anyway I think the interesting-looking bird was just a Teal too. There was also a Cory’s Shearwater swimming in the middle of the lake and it looked that it could have been stuck to something. Anyway it was moving towards the shore, but it was using only its wings to swim. When we were walking along a thin neck of land towards the path we had landed down, we found 3 waders from the shore. 1 of them was much smaller than 2 White-rumped Sandpipers. With binoculars it looked very interesting so I put my scope up and indeed – it was a Least Sandpiper! After I had taken some digiscoping pictures, we started to get closer to the birds. And they let us to get very close and after all we managed to get very good pictures. After some days we had finally found a lifer for me and Potu, Ilkka had seen the species once before on Azores.

We were already in hurry to get back up, as we had told Joao to come to pick us up at mid-day. Anyway with Potu we still climbed to one hill from where we had a visibility to the place where the flock of ducks had been. We got to the place but when I put my scope up, the birds flushed. Potu took some pictures and I followed them with scope and there were at least 16 Mallards, 1 or 2 good-looking American Black Ducks, 5 or 6 hybrids and a Wigeon. On the shore we saw 3 more White-rumped Sandpipers but then we had to start climbing up. After all we climbed the deepest hill in 12 minutes and while we were waiting Joao, we saw a flock of 10 Snow Buntings. When Joao arrived right on time, I still checked the lake once and couldn’t see any ducks, also the Cory’s Shearwater was gone but there was a black-backed gull which looked like an adult Great Black-backed Gull but it was too far to make sure identification. When we got to the taxi we could just tell to Joao how we had enjoyed our visit in amazing Calreira!

Birders leaving

Ilkka headed down to hear what other birders had seen and also welcome the new arrivals, two British birders Rich Bonser and Le Gregory. With Potu we dropped out in lower part of Vinte and started to climb back up. It’d have been much easier to walk in other way but we didn’t know the right place to start walking down.

Vinte was a nice place but all we found were 2 Woodcocks. Once we got to the upper-road we continued along a tiny path for 100 meters to hydrangea-bushes. We had got really good instructions to the exact place where had been a White-throated Sparrow before we had arrived. There hadn’t been anyone visiting so we wanted to check if the bird was still there. But in an hour we found only Canaries and Chaffinches.

When Ilkka sent us an sms that they were heading towards Pico with Rich and Lee, we started walking down towards them. We took the fastest way and walked along the fields and climbed many stone-walls. From one field we flushed 3 Quails.

Once we got to Pico we met Ilkka and Lee, Rich was somewhere deeper in the forest trying to find the Black-throated Green that had been heard still on the previous day. We also walked around Pico for some time but found nothing. Then we realized that we had to go shopping as we had absolutely nothing to eat or drink anymore. When we got back to the road we had only 20 minutes to get to the shop, so we hitchhiked ride from the locals. So we managed to get to the shop in time before it was closed again too early.

We still did some seawatching but saw only huge numbers of Cory’s Shearwaters. We also got news that Rich and Lee had managed to find Black-throated Green, so we were extremely happy! At 8 p.m. we went to eat to the same Snack Bar again and after the dinner we carried a Cory’s Shearwater that we had found from the street to a meeting place. On the way we found another bird too. Now the ringer was ringing the birds, which was nice to see. Then we walked for some time on the streets and found a couple of shearwaters more but again we didn’t get any instructions where we should walk, so we went soon to Comodoro to use internet before going to sleep.

a href=”http://www.caligata.com/tripreports/azorit-17-10-2-11-2013/wp_000543-copy” rel=”attachment wp-att-3024″>

Something good again

On the 29th of October we had an early breakfast and already before 8 a.m. we were walking around the airfield while Rich and Lee were checking the Middle fields. 2 ibises and the Ruff were still there and while we were checking the tamarisks near the shore we saw a Whimbrel flying over us. After 9 a.m. we walked to the airport and asked if they knew what the weather would be on the next days as we had started to plan to delay our flight for 2 days until Friday so we could stay on Corvo a little bit longer. But the weather didn’t look good. It seemed that the wind was turning to north on Friday which meant that the plane couldn’t land on Corvo but it could land on Flores. Anyway we planned to come to check the forecast again on the next day.

At 10:10 a.m. we took the taxi up and we headed to Fojo while British guys went to Cantinho. It was again very foggy and also the wind was getting very strong again. So we walked up to Fojo along the bottom of the ribeira which was pretty easy. When we got up to the deepest forest, we stayed there for some time, but then we heard Rich saying something on our walkie-talkies. I had to climb higher to the fields to ask what he had to tell as the connection was better there and then Rich repeated: “There is an American Bittern along the road between Fojo and Cancelas!” We had just seen Ilkka lower on the valley but now he was gone. I told the instruction in Finnish and told him to get down to the road and then we could ask more instructions. He didn’t answer at all, so I repeated again, but still no answer. So we decided to start running down with Potu. We really ran along the bottom of the ribeira which wasn’t easy or safe but once we were heading to the road we surprisingly saw Rich standing on the road. Soon we found out that Rich had seen the bird flying over him on this place! We told new instructions to walkie-talkie but no answer again. Then we heard Lee on walkie-talkie that he had found the bird perched on the tree just under us along the field. We once more called Ilkka but got no answer before heading towards Lee. Lee hadn’t seen the bird before so he had hurried after it and had been trying to find the bird all the time we had been walking down with Potu. And the timing was perfect to find it! So soon I found the bird on the top of a tree and I started to digiscope it.

The tree was swaying in the wind but the bird stayed still. Once the bird had to open its wings to stay there but it stayed. We called Ilkka again but only after some time we heard him on the walkie-talkie. Potu climbed back to the road and soon he heard Ilkka’s walking-sticks clicking to the road. But then came a huge foggy wind-blow and even though we were all watching the bird, it just suddenly weren’t there anymore when the blowing stopped and the fog cleared! We were sure it couldn’t have flown anywhere; it had probably just stepped inside the tree. But even though we stayed there for a half an hour and Rich tried to see inside the tree from under it, we couldn’t see the bittern anymore. Ilkka of course decided to stay there and he also explained that he had heard only the first messages fro his walkie-talkie, then he had been walking down along the fields and then started heading towards Cancelas. He hadn’t got the news that the bird was indeed in lower Fojo at all. When he had got to the road, I don’t know why he hadn’t asked any instructions then.

So Ilkka stayed there while the rest of us went birding. With Potu we headed to lower parts of Aqua but found nothing. Then I started to feel very sick, too many days wearing wet shoes had exposed myself to the contagious disease that almost all birders had been suffering on Corvo. It also started to rain very heavily so we headed down and straight to Comodore where I took a warm shower and went to bed. Potu woke up up an hour later and he was very worried, there was still no sign of Ilkka even though it was already completely dark and still raining. We send a couple of messages and after some time I called him. He answered that he had just stopped waiting for a bittern – he had been standing on the exactly same place all the time! Finally he came down by taxi and pretty soon we were leaving to have the dinner. Ilkka decided to stay in Comodoro and eat his packed lunches, so we went together with Rich and Lee, only 4 of us. After all we went to sleep after 11 p.m.

Life is Black-and-White

On the 30th of October I felt much better already. After the breakfast we were checking the fields while Rich and Lee were walking around the airfield. After 9 a.m. we met in the airport and unfortunately got bad news. Even Rich had to change his flight for this afternoon – there was no way to get out from Corvo on Friday.

Once we had walked back to Comodoro, we called taxi and headed up even though it was again foggy there. We drove up to Caldeira to check if there was any visibility to the lakes so Lee could have seen the stunning view and Rich could have tried to get Barnacle Goose as a Corvo-tick, but fog was too thick.

While we were driving down we dropped out in the upper end of Lapa with Potu. Then we walked all the way down to the road in wet river-bottom or even more wet fields and saw only 3 Snipes, but managed to wet our shoes again.

When we had walked to upper-side of Da Ponte, we met Rich and Lee. Ilkka was still down in the ribeira. We ate some packed lunch (bread, ham and cheese) when we heard Ilkka shouting something. Soon Ilkka had climbed closer and shouted again: “Black-and-White Warbler!” We started to run down with Potu and Rich and Lee were following us. Soon we found Ilkka and he explained that he had seen the bird a little bit lower in a small open area, so we continued there. Once we got to the right place, there was no sign of the bird. Ilkka had seen it with bare eyes climbing on some dry branches in front of him. Luckily Lee had Black-and-White Warblers calls on his player and soon he was playing it. And after a minute Potu found the bird right behind us. It moved very quickly, but soon landed just 10 meters from us and stayed there nicely before continuing to a deeper forest. It had been one of the most beautiful birds I had ever seen! We waited for it to come back and Lee played the player again, but it didn’t come. Soon we had to climb back to the road as Joao was picking us up and soon we were driving back to Comodoro. It had been amazing find for Ilkka who had really had a bad time on the previous day – Ilkka said it well: “Life is Black-and-White!”

On the hotel we talked with Katt for some time before she drove us to the airport. Lee was still staying in Corco, as he wasn’t in hurry to get back to England. Lee had an honour to be the last man on Corvo this year.

Again to Flores

At 3:15 p.m. our plane left to Flores. The flight took some 10 minutes and soon I was renting a car. Luckily we were given a car, even though the last car we had left to the harbour a day too early. Soon we were driving with our luggage to Hotel das Flores, but there we found out that they were closing it for the next 3 months. So we continued to Hotel Occidental and got 2 nice rooms for the next 2 nights. Potu and Rich were walking from the airport, so we called them to walk to Occidental.

Soon we were ready to go birding again. We headed to check the lakes but once again it was so thick fog there that we couldn’t see the lakes. So we continued to Lajes harbour where had been reported 2 Sandwich Terns and a Caspian Tern. We wanted to check the Sandwich Terns if they were European or American? But it was so foggy in the harbour too, that even though we saw 3 bigger terns flying towards the sea and disappearing to the fog, we couldn’t really tell what they were. There was a Cory’s Shearwater swimming on the dock, which we photographed. In the evening we ate in HotelCafe and after all we went to sleep before 11 p.m.

Flores giving its best

On the 31st of October we woke up at 7 a.m. and had a breakfast again at 7:30. We had hoped to get better breakfast but it was even worse than on Corvo. Potu had become sick and he wasn’t feeling very well. He was really in a need of coffee when he swallowed the first gulp – and the coffee was cold! I should have got a picture of his face! Luckily the coffee was heated up soon.

Soon we were heading to Ponta Delgada. We drove straight to the old soccer field and I decided to drive around it again. We had hardly got to the field, when we noticed some waders, a Ringed Plover, a Semipalmated Plover, 2 White-rumped Sandpipers and one smaller sandpiper. It was a little bit too far so I drove closer and soon we realized that it was again a Least Sandpiper! I drove next to it and Rich and Potu started to take pictures, Ilkka had forgotten his camera to the trunk. While boys were photographing I scanned the rest of the soccer field with binoculars and found what I was searching for – a pipit which was just against the sun. But soon it turned and it was clearly a Buff-bellied Pipit! It had been seen some days earlier, so I knew to expect it. Soon we continued to photograph the pipit which was a lifer for Potu and a race-tick for Ilkka.

After some photographing I parked the car and Ilkka decided to drive to take pictures now. I took my scope and also went digiscoping. Ilkka was probably too excited as he almost broke the car to atoms while driving around a soccer-field!

The wind was amazing strong again, so I really had difficulties to get any kind of pictures. But after some trying I was happy – I knew I would get Potu’s pictures to this trip-story anyway.

Potu was very sick but he also joined us when we started to walk around the area. First we found only Canaries and House Sparrows and so on but when I was climbing to one of the hills, I saw a bigger wader flying over me. Even though it flew straight against the sun I was sure I didn’t see white on its back. I shouted to the others and they also saw it but also in bad light. Soon we saw it dropping down to a bay behind the edges. We ran after it and luckily soon found it on the rocky shore – it was my second self-found Greater Yellowlegs of the trip! Soon the bird was flying again and it landed soon back to the shore. Rich managed to get a couple of pictures before it flew again and then Potu managed to get some pictures. But soon the bird continued against the sky and flew inland. It had clearly just come to the island and was still searching a place where to stay longer.

Soon we were heading back towards our car but again walking through different meadows and fields, when I flushed a bigger passerine that called “bssst, bssst” and again flew straight against the sun with the wind. I immediately thought that it looked like a Bobolink and shouted to the others and ran after it, but I lost it behind one hill. Soon the others had come to me and I told them what I had seen and heard. Rich remembered that the call might suite better for Dicksissel, so we really needed to find it again. I knew the bird hadn’t gone far as it had been flying so low. We went to check the fields and meadows from that direction but we couldn’t find it. After some searching I had to go to check a book, as I wanted to know what I had seen and heard. From Sibley I found out that the call had really been better for Dicksissel, but the size and coloration of the bird fit better for Bobolink. It hadn’t been as yellow as the only Bobolink that I had seen on the same island a couple of years earlier that I was sure.

So I had to keep on searching like the others were all the time doing. Luckily Rich soon called us that he had seen and heard the bird. We ran to him and he had seen it landing to a meadow in front of us. He was sure it had been a Bobolink but the call had still been exactly like I had described. Soon we were walking towards it and when we were 10 meters from it, it flushed. It was clearly a Bobolink – a lifer to Potu and Ilkka. It was calling again, but later I listened to Bobolink calls in the internet and found exactly similar flight-calls. It had been written wrong to the books.

Soon we continued towards the lighthouse and there we walked for some time on the fields but the wind was again so ridiculously strong that we soon realized that there was no point to walk there anymore. At 1 p.m. we headed to Faja Grande and there we walked in this amazing-looking place for the rest of the afternoon but found absolutely nothing. The place is just too big!

In Santa Cruz we checked the harbour and found a Spotted Sandpiper, a Whimbrel, a Grey Heron, a Little Egret, 7 Black-headed Gulls and of course lots of Cory’s Shearwaters on the sea. After all we got back to hotel. We ate again in HotelCafe and I ordered fish which was not a good choice. It really wasn’t fresh or good. Ilkka and Potu, who was still feeling worse, went straight to sleep but with Rich we still worked in the internet and with pictures almost until midnight.

Still time to find something

On the 1st of November we woke up at 7 a.m. and after some packing we were going towards Conde. I dropped the others on the top and drove down. There I took a small path that went straight down towards the shore. It was a nice path with lots of fruit-trees but all I saw were too many Blackcaps. When I got back to the road the others had passed me already. I picked up sick-looking Potu and we continued until the end of the road. There Potu stayed nearby but I started to climb up along a path. Soon I chose the path that headed towards the shore and I walked almost a kilometer down to the shore.

I was just taking view-pictures when I got an sms (we had packed the walkie-talkies) that Rich had found a White-throated Sparrow! I tried to call to Potu but there was no connection. So I started to run up. I was sweating like a pig when I finally found Potu and Ilkka and together we continued to Rich that was only 100 meters from them. Rich had been shouting but they hadn’t heard him.

Rich had seen the bird briefly on a rock but soon it had moved behind a stone-wall. Soon we walked there but didn’t find it. We waited for about 15 minutes but almost all other birds that had been there were gone too. So we spread around to search for it. I had been walking around for 10 minutes when I got an sms that Rich had found it again. Soon we were all back but the bird was gone again. Now it had flight behind some bushes, so after some waiting I started to sneak under the bushes. And there I found it from the ground. I waved to the others but only Potu managed to see the bird flying to the bushes. Ilkka saw soon some bird flying away. But luckily Rich found it again and soon we all saw the bird on a fence! Then finally Rich managed to get pictures of it – I had got a lifer with Potu!

Short stop on Terceira

Then we had to hurry to the hotel to have a breakfast that was ending at 10 a.m. And then after an hour we were packing our luggage to a car and soon we’re heading to the airport. Ilkka wanted to walk as there was room only for 3 of us.

The officers in a car-rental office were happy when they saw me. I had told them that if we aren’t coming the car can be searched from the highest place of the island as we had been planning to take a space-shuttle.

Our plane was almost an hour late but finally it left towards Terceira. We said goodbye to Rich who was continuing until Sao Miguel. Anyway there was a possibility to meet again next morning in Lisbon airport.

After an hour we were in Terceira airport where we packed our luggage to a storage, took only everything we needed for birding (except Potu who forgot his binoculars) and then took a taxi to Cabo da Praia. We spent almost a couple of hours on the pool and managed to get really good pictures of the Short-billed Dowicher. There were fewer waders now and nothing new really. The best birds were 13 Black-tailed Godwits, 7 White-rumped Sandpipers, 2 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 4 Semipalmated Plovers, Lesser Yellowlegs and so on.

When we had photographed waders enough we decided to start walking towards the town. We checked the harbour from different places and found a young Great Black-backed Gull again. But then it started to get foggy and rainy again. We kept rain in a small Snack Bar but when the rain stopped, we continued to the other side of the harbour. It was getting really dark when I saw an interesting looking 2 c-y gull but it was too far to identify. Then it started to rain again so we went to another Snack Bar where we ate a little bit and then called a taxi.

We drove to the airport and finally at 8:30 p.m. our flight left to Lisbon. The flight was long but at 11:30 p.m. (local time) we landed to Lisbon. We had booked our luggage to Helsinki already so soon we took a taxi to a cheap hotel that Ilkka had booked before the trip. After 15 minutes we were in Hotel Chile where we got a room and Potu and Ilkka went straight to sleep. I did a short walk around the hotel, but the area nearby wasn’t very nice, so I came back and to sleep after 20 minutes.

To cold Finland

On the 2nd of November we woke up at 6:40 a.m. and soon we were in a taxi towards the airport. In the restaurant are we met Rich shortly but soon he had to go to his gate. We still ate some pizza and did some shopping before we had to go to our gate. At 9:25 a.m. our flight finally left to Helsinki.

The flight was very long but the food was good and we managed to sleep at least an hour. Finally at 3:55 we landed to Helsinki. Our luggage was found soon and then it was time to say goodbye to Ilkka. With my father we drove to Kirkkonummi where we had our cars. And soon we started our long ways back home with Potu.

The end

After all trip had been really good! The weather could have been better in many days but maybe we wouldn’t have seen this many birds in a good weather? I had got 12 WP-ticks, Ilkka 10 and Potu 20. And the best thing had been that we had found many birds by ourselves: Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 2 Greater Yellowlegs, 2 Least Sandpipers, Upland Sandpiper, 3 or 4 Spotted Sandpipers, Black-and-White Warbler, Bobolink and White-crowned Sparrow had been found by our group. And at least I believe now that those 2 weeks that everyone is going to Azores are not the only ones to see rarities. There are lots of them also later! And also it is possible to find rarities in other islands than Corvo too. We found good birds in Terceira and Flores too. I wonder what would be found if there was more birders in these islands too? What I think is that at least those WP-birders that haven’t been on Azores before; they can really begin on the other islands. Thanks for a great trip to Ilkka, Potu, Rich and Lee and of course Mika and Petri and all other birders we met! And I will go back to Azores sooner or later again…

J.A.

Azores trip 7th to 23rd of October 2011

Azores trip from 7th to 23rd of October 2011

As we have been listing Western Palearctic bird-species for years, it was just a question when it was time to do our first trip to Azores. We had already been in all other island-groups of Macaronesia, but now it was time to go to the westernmost islands to see some American birds. Our friends that were with us in Kuwait, Petri Kuhno, Tero Linjama, Tero Toivanen and Janne Kilpimaa had also been planning to get there so we decided to go together. Also Mika Bruun was coming so we had a group of seven birders, Hanna wasn’t able to spend all 17 days there but she was coming for 9 days. The timing was easy to decide as most of the American birds have been seen in autumn, so we booked our flight from 7th to 23rd of October, Hanna was coming a week later than the rest of us and Mika decided to stay a couple of extra days.

7th of October

I had already driven to Kirkkonummi on the previous evening and at 3 a.m. I woke up when the alarm was calling. My father drove me to Helsinki-Vantaa airport where the rest of our group already was. Our flight was supposed to be at 5:35 a.m. but it left half an hour late. So after 5 hours we landed to Lisbon at 9:00 a.m. at local time. Our luggage were on their way straight to Azores so we just got Renault Megane that we had rent and left to birding (all except Mika who had an earlier flight to Azores). After a morning coffee, we were soon driving along a long Ponte Vasco da Gama bridge over Setubal and towards Benavente and Barroca d´Alva which situated 30 km from Lisbon.

We parked next to a small bridge and started to search for “cage-birds”. Marsh Harriers, Kestrels, a Green and a Common Sandpiper, a Kingfisher, some 30 Glossy Ibises, a Squacco Heron and then the first flock of Common Waxbills were found. Some of our group got their first lifer. A couple of female-plumaged Weavers were flying over us before I managed to see one beautiful yellow and black male Black-headed Weaver which just flew in front of us but nobody else saw it. But soon we found some female and young Black-headed Weavers perched on the reeds and we all got a lifer.
After we had walked a little but along the river, we found more male weavers too but one of the target birds was still missing. So I decided to walk a little bit longer to the middle of the fields to the place where huge flocks of House Sparrows were flying around. It’s common that other birds join this kind of big flocks. And there they were- first I just saw a flock of some 80 smaller birds flying under the sparrows and when I got closer I identified them as Yellow-crowned Bishops. I shouted to the others and seen we all were watching these smaller black and yellow birds that had a bright yellow crown.

My tripod was packed to my luggage that were already going to Azores so I couldn’t even try to digiscope these cage-birds, but probably I wouldn’t have succeed anyway, they were so fast. Only some of us managed to get any pictures with their real digital cameras. We still walked a little bit around and found more Common Waxbills and Black-headed Weavers and also 2 Spoonbills and a Water Rail before we decided to keep on going.

Next we drove 50 km to the other side of Lisbon to Carcavelos, where a castle was on the sea-shore. There we walked along the road and started to check grassy areas next to the road and the castle but first we couldn’t find any other birds than some Gannets and 2 Mediterranean Gulls from the sea. It was very hot – even +26 degrees and we were walking for some time when I finally heard a weak singing from a date palm next to the road. And there it was – a young Crested Myna was singing very quietly and once we saw it with Petri, it disappeared inside the dense tree. Luckily it soon came back to the same branch and we all managed to see it before it flushed and flew to the other side of the road and disappeared. Some of us got already their 4th cage-bird lifer and I got already 3rd! After we saw a Zitting Cisticola we decided to drive back to the airport where Mika’s plane had just left.

We ate on the restaurant upstairs and spent a couple of hours waiting for our next flight. Then we drove by bus to the other terminal and at 7:10 p.m. our flight to Azores, island of Sao Miguel and its capital Ponta Delgada left.

After a couple of hour’s flight we landed to Ponta Delgada at 8:15 p.m. (already 3 hours different time than in Finland). Mika was already there with one small car and soon we got another one too. So soon we were driving towards out hotel Barracuda which situated on the other side of the town. There we went to sleep very soon; we had been travelling for long time already!

8th of October

We woke up early in the morning with Tero L. and Mika and went to have a breakfast at 7:25 a.m. The sun started to rise and the first bird we saw from the window was a Hudsonian Whimbrel flying along the shore! Soon some Turnstones, a Sanderling, some Azorean Yellow-legged Gulls and Rock doves were seen too. When we got out and were packing our luggage to the car, we saw the first House Sparrows and Starlings (granti).

While we were driving through the village of Relva, we saw a couple of Collared doves and soon also some Common Buzzards (rotschildi), Blackbirds (azoricus), Grey Wagtails (patriciae), Atlantic Canaries, Chaffinches (moreletti), some Goldfinches (parva) and 3 Greenfinched (aurantiiventris). When we had climbed quite high to the mountain, we checked one lake which was empty.

After some driving we drove down to the bridge between the lakes Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde. And right away we found a couple of flocks of Coots, a male Pochard, some Grey Herons, some Common Terns and Woodpigeons (azorica). On the shore of Verde we saw a Common Sandpiper and 5 Moorhens were hiding on the reed-beds. Also 2 Sanderlings landed o the bridge where we photographed them.

I continued searching the shores close to the reed-beds as we knew there had been a Pied-billed Grebe for a long time and even Mika had seen it there in August. Chaffinches, Blackcaps (gularis), Robins and Goldcrests (azoricus) were singing on the trees nearby and a small flock of Common Waxbills was flying over us. I was checking the shores once again when I finally fount the Pied-billed Grebe – there it was suddenly swimming with the Coots! I walked closer and managed to get some pictures and video of this lifer!

We continued along the coast of Azul to the village of Sete Cidades and managed to locate a Sandpiper I had already seen from the bridge – a Spotted Sandpiper! The bird was very shy so I managed to get only one video of it.

Pretty soon we had to start driving back to Ponta Delgada where the rest of our group had decided to do birding as they wanted to sleep a little bit longer. They had been photographing the Roseate Terns that Mika had already found on the day before and of course we had to see them too. I had been searching this species already in several countries without luck. Actually I had already thought that I just couldn’t identify it, at least in Madeira we had seen so strange looking terns and after all they had all been Common Terns!

But when we parked to Ponta Delgada harbour we immediately heard a strange call, like a Spotted Redshank and Sandwich Tern hybrid – and there were several Roseate Terns flying around with Common Terns! They were flying also very differently with stiffer and lower wing-beats, a little bit like Little Terns. Of course we could see some differences in their plumage and shape too but after some photographing we had to keep on going to the airport again.

In the airport we met the others and at 12:50 p.m. our plane left towards Terceira. A short flight was over soon and at 1:20 p.m. we landed to Terceira. We got a big space-car under us and drove to Praia de Vitoria to our hotel Varandas do Atlantico. After we had left our luggage to our rooms, we continued straight to Cabo da Praia to wader paradise!

Cabo da Praia is a small tide-pool close to the shore and the water is coming to the pool under the ground. In this place there had been almost more American waders than in the rest of the Western Palearctic together! When we had parked our car and got our telescopes up, we started to scan the numerous waders. Tens of Sanderlings, Kentish Plovers and Turnstones and right away the first rarities too: the closest plover was a Semipalmated Plover and while we were still identifying it someone found a Semipalmated Sandpiper! Of course we wanted to get the another lifer as soon as possible and when we had seen the sandpiper we started to search where did the plover went but we couldn’t find it anymore. Actually these plovers were a problem to a birder that is used to see only Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers. Even the Kentish Plovers were difficult but then these Ringed Plovers and Semipalmated Plovers were a nightmare! I already started to worry has the first bird been a Semipalmated Plover at all but then I remembered that I had taken a short video of the bird and it really was one. But now we just couldn’t find it anymore.

We really enjoyed this afternoon with wafers in Cabo da Praia pool! We were studying and photographing for hours! There were 2 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 47 Kentish Sandpipers, 6 Ringed Plovers, 50 Turnstones, 40 Sanderlings, 3 White-rumped Sandpipers, 5 Knots, 2 Curlew Sandpipers, 5 Pectoral Sandpipers, 6 Whimbrels with already the second Hudsonian Whimbrel of the trip, 4 Grey Plovers, 13 Black-tailed Godwits, a Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Common Snipes. And then a small greyish plover landed just in front of me and I identified it immediately as an American Golden Plover. It called a couple of times and then flew in front of the others. This bird had been identified as a Pacific Golden Plover a couple of days earlier and also now it started to call a bit like a Spotted Redshank when it was perched but anyway all the identification marks fitted to the American better. Later we listened to recordings of both species and found exactly similar calls from American Golden Plover.

We also heard a couple of Quails (conturbans) calling, saw a Black-headed Gull, a Northern Wheatear and again a Collared Dove. Then we decided to drive to a pool where had been a Killdeer a couple of days earlier. We found this tiny pool which was in the middle of huge fields with good instructions that we had got from the birders we met in Cabo da Praia, but there was only 4 Pectoral Sandpipers, nothing else. We still drove around the fields for some time as it really seemed that the Killdeer could have been anywhere there, before we drove back to Praia da Vitoria

We still stopped by the pool of Paul do Praia where were tens of different kind of feral and Muscovy Ducks but also a Blue-winged Teal.

In the late afternoon we went to a restaurant nearby where we had to wait for our food for more than an hour and a half. So after that we were ready to go to sleep.

9th of October

After the breakfast we headed again to Cabo da Praia. The tide was now low so there was less water now. But the waders were there again and mostly all the same birds than last afternoon. An Oystercatcher flew over us and now (after some studying) it was easy to find. There was also 4 Semipalmated Plovers (maybe they were also colser now), 4 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 2 Pectoral Sandpipers, 3 White-rumped Sandpipers, 7 Knots and 5 Curles Sandpipers. A Hudsonian Whimbrel was again with Whimbrels and it was possible to identify as it had much wider and more contrastic eye-brows and crown-stripe (also the call was different). After we had checked the waders we started to search passerines from the bushes and soon Mika found a Common Whitethroat that had been found a couple of days earlier – it was the first for Azores! I climb to the shore with Tero T. and soon we found some shearwaters. First 2 were Cory’s but then the 3rd bird was a Great Shearwater! We alarmed to the others by walkie-talkie and soon most of them were running as it was a lifer for them. We saw altogether 8 Great Shearwaters but soon there were only Cory’s anymore.

After a mid-day we continued to the southern part of the island to Angra de Heroismo harbour where we started to search for another Pied-billed Grebe. Of course another half of our group hadn’t seen the first. After some searching Petri found the bird sleeping on a jet ski with a Muscovy Duck. The bird was very co-operative and we got plenty of good pictures of it while it was swimming just 10 metres from us.

The rest of the day we were checking several ”lakes” close to the Killdeer place but all of them were very dry. 9 Snipes were seen but they were almost all too shy so we couldn’t really try to identify any as Wilson’s Snipes. In Killdeer place we saw now 2 Pectoral Sandpipers. Then we still went to check some forests close to a golf-course. There were lots of Chaffinches, Goldcrests (inermis in Terceira and Flores), Canaries, Blackcaps, Grey Wagtails and Blackbirds but they weren’t very interesting, at least not a birder who has already visited many other Macaronesian islands.

In the evening we stopped at Paul do Praia again and I flushed a Black-crowned Night Heron from the reed-bed. It was only the 26th record for Azores. Then in the restaurant we gave interviews to a local nature research officer and managed to get to sleep before midnight.

10th of October

Again after the breakfast we drove straight to Cabo da Praia where we again checked all the waders first. American Golden Plover was also back and Mika managed to find again the Common Whitethroat but also 2 Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff. New birds started to be from the wrong direction unfortunately! Photographers were again photographing the waders for a long time.

So with both Teros we decided to go to check the harbour nearby and also some shores. With hundreds of Yellow-legged Gulls there was a young Great Black-backed Gull and also a couple of new Quails were heard.

After all we drove back to the hotel and at 1 p.m. we packed our luggage and drove to the airport. At 3:15 p.m. our flight left, half of an hour too early to Flores which was our main destination of the trip! The flight was also faster that it was supposed to be so we landed to Flores early. The island really looked big when we saw it! I really started to worry how on earth it’s possible to find any American passerines there? In the airport we got our luggage pretty fast but then we lost lots of time in the line of a rental car office as we somehow managed to be the last on line.

We got 2 cars rented, Teros, Petri and Kilpimaa took the bigger and we took the smaller one with Mika and his camera-arsenal. We drove straight to the northern part of the island to Ponta Delgada where had been a Baltimore Oriole seen briefly earlier during the day and an Upland Sandpiper in several days. Even though we spent the rest of the day there, we couldn’t find anything special. Of course many Flores-ticks were seen, but only better bird we saw was a Sanderling.

In the evening it started to rain so we drove back to the eastern part of the island to the capital Santa Cruz to do some shopping. After shopping we decided to visit a hotel Occidental, which has been favoured by birders, to ask if there was any opportunity to get some day to Corvo where plenty of birders had been finding many really good rarities recently. And surprisingly we managed to arrange a boat already for the next morning! And even the price was cheap, only 30€ per person! Luckily it wasn’t a problem for us that there had to be at least 6 participants. Anyway I still sent an SMS to Daniele Occhiato, an Italian birder that we had met in Terceira and who had also just arrived to Flores, if he wanted to join us and he wanted. Then I sent also SMS to my old friend Keijo Wahlroos who was in Corvo and he promised to be our guide next day! I also sent a message to another old friend Pierre-André Crochet who was also there.

It was already late when we drove to our apartment Aldeia da Cuada which situated in the western part of the island between the villages of Faja Grande and Fajazinha. We found the apartment surprisingly easily and it was a huge apartment! We all had an own room on the upstairs and the first floor was also very comfortable! I got the biggest room as Hanna was also coming pretty soon.

Unfortunately all the restaurants nearby were closed so we had only very light dinner. But we didn’t mind at all, we were really happy that everything seemed to go very well now!

11th of October

We woke up very early – too early, but we were just too excited. At 7 a.m. we left towards Santa Cruz harbour where we were a little bit too early but Daniele was already there and soon also Carlos, our captain came with his big inflatable boat. Soon we were on the sea and the sun was just rising. Pretty soon we started to see more and more Cory’s Shearwaters but soon also Great Shearwaters, also a couple of groups of dolphins – 2 different species – were seen. Photographers started to think about photographing them as the weather was good for photographing as there was almost no wind and waves were small, but we didn’t want to lose time, we had so many things to do in Corvo – and it wasn’t a small island either!

After 9 a.m. we were in Porto Novo harbour where Keijo Wahlroos and Hannu Palojärvi were already waiting for us and when we were stripping some clothes off we got the first rarity messages. Keijo had informed everyone in the island about a Finnish twitchers so all the resident birds were already been searched from the early morning and now the first one had been found from the coast behind the airport. So we started to walk there, but on the way we met another group of birders that called us that they had just relocated a Yellow Warbler! So we rushed there and soon saw this bright yellow bird moving inside a bush. It disappeared soon, but we found it again as it was calling. And then I managed to get even a digiscoped picture of this first ever American warbler for me!

Soon we had to continue towards the coast behind the airport where Swedish birders were still waiting for us with a bird that they had been searching from every single place where it had been seen earlier and then it had been found from the last possible place. We walked to the rocky shore and there we could watch a bird that they had on their scopes – a Yellow-crowned Night Heron! Thanks Swedes!

We still stopped at Yellow Warbler place but the bird was moving even more rapidly now so we didn’t even try to get more pictures of it. Soon the only taxi of the island came to pick us up and we drove up to the rock and as far as it was possible to get to north. From there we started to follow Keijo along a small patch that was going up and down inside thick bushes. Finally we landed to a valley close to the lighthouse where a couple of birders had just relocated a Northern Parula. We were very close when they still saw the bird but then it just disappeared! We waited and searched for the bird for an hour and a half but we couldn’t find it. Then we had to start walking back, because of we still had plenty to do. And of course the Parula was found again when we were far enough not to hear anything from our walkie-talkies anymore.

We climbed back up to the middle part of the island and it was a hard walk. The weather was maybe even too good! In Coroa do Pico we met a group of birders that were twitching a Red-eyed Vireo that had been seen in the place only 15 minutes earlier. Even though it was even on Keijo’s list, we decided to keep on walking down to green valley of Ribeira da Ponte.

There in Ribeira da Ponte we had our main target species of the trip, a Blue-winged Warbler waiting for us. Once we were there we go info that the bird had been seen in the morning but in last hour or so it had been only heard once 20 minutes earlier. We were waiting and waiting and maybe after an hour the Finnish WP-top Markku Santamaa, who was already familiar with Blue-winged Warbler’s call, heard it again. And soon the rest of us heard it too but we couldn’t see it. Soon one Danish birder decided to walk up to the forest to search it and as nobody of us expected it to happen, he managed to find it! We climbed after him but of course the bird was gone again. And soon it was heard again on the bottom. So we decided to walk back down and stay there quiet as long as is needed to see the bird. After a half an hour waiting we heard a familiar buzzing call again and soon this absolutely bright yellow bird flew over us! It was moving extremely fast on the top of the trees but luckily it flew several times over us so everyone managed to see it! The second Blue-winged Warbler in WP – Great!

Some of us still decided to stay there on Ribeira da Ponte and try to see the Blue-winged Warbler better but some of us including me decided to continue to the next target. Keijo was leading us to the upper meadows which were over Vila Nova where a Tennessee Warbler had still been seen in the morning. Now the bird had been missing for a couple of hours, so we started to hammer the meadow. We walked in the hays and bushes that were full of sharp needles but could find only some Willow Warblers. I once heard a similar ”tic” call that Yellow Warbler had called but again we found only a Willow Warbler. And of course this bird was found again when we were already on the boat and going back to Flores. Well you can’t get everything and anyway we had got 3 from 5 of hour target-species – thanks to all that had helped us! We had also learned a lot! It really seemed that American passerines were extremely difficult and they were acting very differently than we have used to passerines to act. They were flying a circle on the top of the trees and coming back to the same trees in some time again. So if you can’t see it on the first round, you have to wait for the next one.

At 6 p.m. our boat left back to Flores. We said goodbyes and thanks to Keijo, Markku, Hannu and Swedish-Finnish Seppo Haavisto and Swedish Bosse Karlsson and others and promised to help them in Flores as soon as possible!

On the boat our plan was to get pictures of the shearwaters. Our captain Carlos was extremely good and he really knew how to drive if we wanted to get good pictures. The first stop was made not because of birds but because of Mika who was sitting on the bow of a boat was making the balance of the boat bad and he was getting wet! Once Mika was sitting with the rest of us the balance was good so could continue hunting shearwater pictures. On the first flock there were mainly only Cory’s Shearwaters but on the second flock there were also lots of Great Shearwaters! Carlos was telling that the shearwaters were following flocks of tuna-fish and for a while he was also shouting from which direction the birds were coming. It was probably him who first called that there was a dark shearwater coming and once everyone of us saw it some were calling Sooty, some Bulwer’s but I had seen plenty of them before and I had no idea what it was! I just shouted to the photographers to take #)((|=@ pictures! Petri noticed that the bird had a bill like petrels and I saw the under-wing which had two pale markings well. It was Daniele who first said that it must be a Herald Petrel. Tero L. managed to get his book from the bag and there it was a picture of dark morph of a Herald Petrel – exactly similar bird! Petri had somehow managed to get a good picture of the bird and so the identification was sure!

We still tried to find a Herald Petrel for some time before continued to the next big flock of Shearwaters – there were really hundreds of them! We were still moving when someone shouted again – Petrel! But this bird wasn’t that dark at all, but anyway darker than what I was expecting a Fea’s Petrel type of a bird look like! I remembered that the birds in Cape Verde had a W-shaped dark marking on upper-wings like a young Little Gull but this bird had all dark upper-wings. Its neck-sides were also extremely dark. I also remembered that Bugio Petrels in Madeira weren’t this dark and the bill was far too thick for a Zino’s. So what was this? “Tertsi” took his book again and there in old book “A field guide to the rare birds of Britain and Europe” there was a picture of exactly similar looking bird – a Soft-plumaged Petrel. The bird was lost again soon but we had again got good pictures of it, so we could finish the identification when on land. Anyway I send an SMS about both of the birds to Corvo.

We still photographed Great Shearwaters that were feeding right next to our boat but soon the sun started to set so we continued to Santa Cruz harbour. After shopping we still went to pizzeria. There I received an SMS from Pierre-André where he asked if our second petrel had had a full neck-collar. We were sure it hadn’t but we still checked the pictures when we were back in our apartment and found a picture of a Soft-plumaged Petrel from a book “Birds of the Atlantic Islands” and also checked our Bugio Petrel pictures from Madeira and it was clear that our bird had been a very dark Fea’s (probably Bugio) Petrel. Soft-plumaged Petrel should have had a full neck-collar. I also found a Finnish name for Herald Petrel (“Mauritius Petrel”) and found out that it was only the 7th ever in WP – amazing! We were really happy – it was difficult to go to sleep.

I must still mention that on the way from Santa Cruz to our apartment we saw 2 Woodcocks with
Mika.

12th of October

It was raining very hard in the morning se we slept a little bit longer. When the rain wasn’t so continuous anymore, we went to explore the surroundings of our apartment. There were lots of Blackcaps! A flock of cats were following us wherever we walked and they were annoyingly noisy! Smallest cats didn’t really have any idea how they should walk as they were all the time in front of our feet. These cats were pretty cute anyway.

At 10 a.m. we left again to Ponta Delgada. On the way we stopped at Lagoa Branca where were one maybe real American Black Duck and one clear hybrid.

In Ponta Delgada we first stopped on the old soccer field, where a White-rumped Sandpiper was feeding on a small puddle. A Grey Plover was feeding in the middle of the soccer field. We met an older German birder who had identified the sandpiper as a Semipalmated, but we told him it wasn’t. Next we continued to try to find an Upland Sandpiper again, but even though we walked through all the fields near it favourite are, we didn’t find it. Only better birds were 4 Whimbrels.

We continued to Lagoa Lomba where a Wood Duck was found hiding under the trees on the other side of the lake. There were also a couple of European Wigeons and a Coot. From Craveiro Lopes miradouro (view-watching place) we checked a distant lake, Lagoa dos Patos, and saw some Morhens and a couple of Coots. Some other new Flores birds were Goldfinches and Wood Pigeons.

In the afternoon we continued to Faja Grande to twitch a Bobolink that we now had got recent instructions as Daniele had seen it. First we were waiting for it in the exact place but we couldn’t find it. So we started to walk around the small plantations that were surrounded by stony walls. Finally the bird flushed in front of Tertsi and before we heard him shouting, we could hear the bird that was calling very actively and came to fly just over me and Petri. The Bobolink was flying around a couple of times and then landed to a stone wall where we could photograph it very well!

We were photographing the Bobolink for a half an hour and the bird was changing place several times but mostly it landed to the walls or to the tops of bushes. We all were happy to see this American bird so well! After all we drove back to our apartment pretty early.

13th of October

We were extremely tired in the morning and we were having a breakfast a little bit late, but we got a really good wake up when we got a message that Daniele was watching a Common Nighthawk flying around the old soccer field in Ponta Delgada! It took only seconds that we were out with Mika, but the other guys had a little bit more problematic start – Tertsi was still upstairs in the bathroom when the message came and before he came down someone locked the outside door and the door didn’t open without the key. Luckily another door opened and Tertsi got out too.

It took 28 minutes to get to the soccer field with Mika. There we found Daniele who had seen the bird flying around only for 5 minutes and then the bird had probably landed somewhere between the soccer field and the coast. We waited for the rest of our group to some and when everyone was out from the car started to think how to work the area. I noticed a good looking place just next to our cars where bushes had been cut down and there were some branches and roots on the ground. It somehow looked like a good place for a dating nightjar. I started to walk through the area and had taken only 3 or 4 steps when the Common Nighthawk flushed in front of me! I was shouting like a Hyena and luckily everyone was still close and they all managed to see the bird flying around and then landing to or behind the bushes on the shoreline.

Surprisingly the bird wasn’t found from the bushes or nearby so we spread around to look for it as we knew that a big group of twitchers were coming from Corvo. Actually they were coming to twitch a Dicksissel that the German man, we had met earlier, had seen. We had warned them not to come but at least this bird was very interesting for them. Luckily we flushed the bird again more than 100 metres from we had thought it to be and now it landed in the middle of the grass and visible. So we managed to get good pictures of it. We tried not to flush it anymore but anyway it still once more got frustrated because of the photographers and flew towards the sea and landed to the meadow.

We now tried to do everything not to flush the bird anymore but of course we had to find it one more time. There were more than 20 twitchers coming soon and they would flush it for sure. Mika walked through the area where the bird had landed but the bird had disappeared again. He walked it again, and again and then just accidently noticed it on the long grass just some tens of centimetres from his feet! The bird was so tired that it didn’t care anymore. So Mika found a place from where the bird could be seen as far as possible and soon the twitchers arrived and they all could see the bird resting on a long grass.

Because of we were once again in Ponta Delgada, we decided to continue to search for an Upland Sandpiper. Luckily we finally found it from the usual fields. The other group of us found it but luckily we managed to drive there soon and saw it with Mika too. The bird was on the field maybe 300 metres from the road and we were planning to walk closer to see it better and get some pictures when we got a message that Daniele had just found a Ring-billed Gull close to the lighthouse! We were only 1 or 2 kilometres from the lighthouse and the lifers come always first on my list, so with both Teros we continued towards the light house immediately. We could always get a lifer and then come back to photograph “bartramia”.

We found Daniele and Ring-billed Gull very soon as the gull was on the field on the half way to the lighthouse. The gull was very easy to find as it was the only smaller and only young gull on the flock. It was still in young bird’s plumage and it hadn’t changed any feathers at all yet. I digiscoped this gull for some time and soon Daniele came to tell that he had seen a possible Upland Sandpiper flying over us with Starling. So we thought that the rest of our group had flushed the bird and we were not in a hurry to go back there. So we studied this lifer gull carefully and started to search for an Upland Sandpiper from the fields nearby. Soon the rest of our group came and they had seen the Upland Sandpiper leaving but landing to a field far from here! It had been too shy to get any photos. Anyway we couldn’t find the Upland Sandpiper anymore from anywhere so soon we continued to Moinho valley where we walked through the bushes and the river valley very carefully but we couldn’t find anything else than a European Wigeon.

On the way back to south we went to check if the Common Nighthawk was still alive. At least we hoped that a cat hadn’t caught it. But there we heard that some heroic twitcher had come from Corvo alone by a small rubber-boat and had flushed the bird again. It was good to know it was still alive anyway. The only bird we saw there was a Northern Wheatear.

We then checked several miradouros before we continued to Faja de Conde where we walked in the bushes from a couple of hours but couldn’t find anything else than common birds, I saw a migrating Pomarine Skua on the sea.

In the afternoon we went to Santa Cruz to do some seawatching. With Mika we saw one very distant Sooty Shearwater and an Osprey came to soar over us. After some shopping we still visited Faja de Conde where we checked the last wall as the German guy told that he had seen a Philadelphia Vireo there. He seemed to see everything everywhere even though we never saw him using his binoculars – so we really didn’t care about his birds anymore. Anyway the place looked good so we decided to come back some morning.

14th of October

On the next morning we woke up early, which wasn’t a surprise, we all remembered the previous morning. Actually I think Mika was never sleeping – he was always awake, or actually just going to update Tarsiger blog, when we went to sleep and always up first in the morning.

After a short walk in our own forest, we drove to Faja Grande, Ponte, where we walked in the forested area for a couple of hours and checked every single place as carefully as we could but still we weren’t sharp enough! Experienced Flores-veteran Staffan Rodebrand was walking after us and he found a Swainson’s Thrush from a place that probably all of us had checked already. I had stayed in that particular place for a long time! We rushed there and the place was really too good looking place for a catcharus-thrush! There were just too mane shadows and bushes where to disappear and never show up again. I got a message that Daniele, who had fallen down very badly on previous day, had difficulties to find the exactly right place, so I went to help him to find the place. And of course then the thrush came to visible, probably because of Mika’s mp3-player was playing Swainson’s Thrushes song and calls. We almost ran there and Daniele managed to see a glimpse of the bird disappearing to the woods. But I missed it, shit!

We were waiting and waiting for the thrush to come back again, but without success. Only I and Kilpimaa hadn’t seen the bird at all. We walked along the closest ditches and valleys and then Linjama found it close to the first place eating small red berries in a dense bush. But before we got there it had disappeared again. Again we waited for a long time it to come back and after an hour Petri saw it, but they were with Mika on the bottom of a dry river and with Kilpimaa we couldn’t see the bird from where we were. So we tried to climb down to the ditch but the land fallen under my feet and I felt down to the bottom with a big noise. Surprisingly the bird didn’t get scared but again it disappeared when we saw it! But then after some time I saw the bird a little bit further in the bush for a couple of seconds and soon after that it flew straight towards us, landed right over us to a branch for a couple of seconds and then disappeared to the bushes again. It had really taken time to see this bird, but finally also we saw it!

Finally we could keep on going and we decided to go to see what kind of place is northern of the closest villages Fajazinha. Our bigger car group stopped to check some forests just before the village opened under us on the valley but with Mika we decided to continue to the village. We were driving just to the village when I noticed a big white bird flying against the sky straight towards us. I immediately realized it was a Tropicbird, I had seen plenty of Red-billed Tropicbirds in Cape Verde. I shouted to Mika but he couldn’t see the bird because of the wind-screen corner-beam. So he stopped the car in the middle of the road and we got out. I knew it was possible that the bird wasn’t the species I was familiar with, so I shouted to Mika to look at the bird’s bill, I just remembered that another possible species, White-tailed Tropicbird had a yellow bill. I already saw that the bill was yellow indeed but I couldn’t believe my eyes, so I shouted to Mika to take pictures and watch if the bill still looked yellow in the pictures. The bird was still just flying over the village and then I realized that I must alarm the other group of us and by walkie-talkie I contacted them and soon I could see and hear that they had also found the bird. Soon the bird left straight to the sea, so then I sent an SMS to Daniele that the bird was probably flying towards Faja Grande, but after only some minutes the bird came back so I sent another SMS and Daniele came very soon. Mika had sent an SMS to Staffan who surprisingly was already in Fajazinha, he had been checking the green valley just behind the village so he was also watching the bird soon.

Surprisingly the White-billed Tropicbird still stayed all the time close to the village, sometimes it was flying along the edges of the valley and it tried to land to the wall a couple of times but soon it arrived to the village. It was chasing Rock Pigeons and then started to search a place to land. It landed to a ground once and then a couple of times it tried to land to the roofs of the houses, but then it started to try to land to the roof of the church. It was flying against the church windows a couple of times and finally it landed to a rain gutter that was between the church bell-tower and the wall!

The bird was standing on the rain gutter with its wings spread and it started to squeeze itself to the small hole. Somehow it fit there with its wing still pointing up and finally it managed to place itself to a better position and it crawl deeper to the whole so that only the long tail-feathers were visible. I walked a little bit further and managed to see the bird still and then I got a couple of digiscoping pictures of it. Of course the others had already taken good quality pictures of the flying bird. When the church bell was hitting 4 times the bird flushed and left straight towards the sea, but less than a half an hour later it came back again and landed almost straight to the same hole. But again at 5 it left to the sea and didn’t come back even though we waited for a long time.

Kilpimaa had been talking to some local man who had told that the bird was coming to the village every evening and it had been there already from August! So I sent all information to Corvo too and there they started to organize another twitching trip again for the next morning.

Some of us stayed still in the village but some including me went to check the tree-area behind the village where Staffan had seen a possible Northenrn Parula shortly. We couldn’t find anything special so after all we decided to drive to our apartment. We still went to check that we needed to walk only some hundreds of metres to the shore where we could see Fajazinha valley and even the church. But the White-tailed Tropicbird wasn’t seen but we were sure it would come back again tomorrow.

15th of October

We woke up early again and at 8 a.m. when the sun was rising we headed to Faja do Conde. We really tried to find something but in 2 hours we couldn’t see anything better than several Wood Pigeons. When we already had left with Mika the rest of our group saw a Garden Warbler which was the 4th for Azores!

At 11 a.m. we picked up Hanna from the airport (Hanna had been travelling whole previous day until Sao Miguel where she had managed to see a Roseate Tern in a heavy rain). After we had seen a Wood Duck in Lagoa Lomba again, there were also 2 European Wigeons, a Shoveler and a Coot, and American Black Duck looking bird and the hybrid from Lagoa Branca, we headed to our apartment to get rid of Hanna’s luggage. Then we continued to Fajazinha where the twitchers from Corvo had already been waiting for White-tailed Tropicbird for hours. Soon we decided to leave towards north and drove to Ponta Delgada. From the old soccer field we found a Snow Bunting. Then we continued towards the lighthouse and Ponta Albarnaz but we couldn’t find anything better there. Then we got a message that 24 twitchers had finally got their price and the White-tailed Tropicbird had arrived to fly over the Fajazinha village at 3:39 p.m. so about at the same time as I had found the bird on previous day!

We continued west along the mountain road which was surprisingly fast. So we were soon in Fajazinha but neither twitchers nor the tropicbird was there anymore. The bird had left again to the sea about at 5 p.m. and twitchers were in a hurry to get to their boat that left at 6 p.m. They were anyway more than lucky as at least some of the twitchers saw a Nothern Harrier on the way in Ribeira Grande! Soon it was getting dark again, so we went to our apartment and had pasta meal again.

16th of October

Sometimes there are bad day in paradise too. This was one of those days. So there are nothing much to tell, but – I dipped in wet place a couple of times, we dipped several birds and we weren’t in a best mood because of all that.

In the morning we spent time in Faja Grande where we checked several fields and Ponte. Swainson’s Thrush wasn’t found nor nothing else either. We had to visit Santa Cruz where we bought gasoline and of course we visited the harbour but nothing was found. In Faja Grande we checked the Bobolink place and surroundings but without any better observations. Our another group found saw the best looking American Black Duck so far in Moinho where we tried to relocate it but even though I really walked in every deep ditch of the meadow, we couldn’t find it either. We also tried for hours to see a Northern Harrier that Daniele had seen again in Ribeira Grande, but even though I went to hammer the wet bog where he had seen it landing, it wasn’t there anymore. Only bird I flushed was a good looking candidate for a Wilson’s Snipe.

While the rest of us were trying to see the harrier Hanna was spending quality time with the White-tailed Tropicbird in Fajazinha so there was at least one happy person in our group in the evening.

17th of October

We started early and walked to the Lagoa dos Patos. The views were stunning and once we reached the lake there were also some birds. We found 4 Shovelers, a European Wigeon, Teal/Green-winged Teal, 3 Moorhens and 2 Coots. Then we had an arranged meeting in Moinho, where we checked the American Black Duck place again. The bird wasn’t there where it had been seen already twice by our other half, but Mika found it from another ditch. And it really was a good looking bird – for sure the darkest female we had seen. Soon it flushed and we could see perfect wing-marks, similar than another of the birds on Lagoa Branca had too. But for sure now we could count this duck to our lifers.

Then we continued again up to Ribeira Grande marshes to try Northern Harrier, but up there the weather was extremely foggy and soon also rainy so we decided to continue towards Lajes. We birded in Lajes and then continued to Lajedo where only interesting thing was a huge basalt wall.
In the afternoon we decided to go to Fajazinha once again. There we waited for more than an hour before White-tailed Tropicbird finally arrived at 3:45 p.m. It was again flying around the valley before it came to the village where it finally landed to the rood of the church. It didnot stay there fo long but at 4:45 it left to the sea again.

In the evening we went shopping to Santa Cruz and we had planned to go to eat too but as it was Monday, all the restaurants were closed, at least still this early. So we drove back to our apartment and had pasta again. Meanwhile another half of us were having a gorgeous dinner in the closest restaurant. But they managed also to reserve Carlos for us and next morning we were heading to Corvo again.

18th of October

In the morning we were up early and at 7 a.m. started to drive to Santa Cruz harbour. Carlos came early and he had some girl, maybe his girlfriend with him. While we were wearing all our gore-tex clothes they still were wearing t-whirts and shorts. Soon we were heading towards Corvo again.

The waves were much sharper and also bigger now so at least on the back-seat we got some water over us. Kilpimaa was getting wettest but he didn’t seem to bother at all. The sea was too rough to photograph anything but actually there was almost nothing to photograph. We saw only handful of Cory’s Shearwaters and only some Great Shearwaters. When we were very close to Corvo, we saw more shearwaters but we already wanted to get on land.

All birders were already spread around the island so we tried to remember the right way up towards the first miradouro. Somehow we managed to find the short-cut and were soon climbing up to the rock.

The weather was very warm again so we were extremely sweaty when we reached the miradouoro. There it was time to start the day’s project which was swallows – there had been a Purple Martin and an American Cliff Swallows flying around the island on previous days. They had been extremely difficult since the first day but still on previous day someone had seen a Purple Martin with a smaller swallow shortly up on the rock over the Vila Nova. So we took our Finn-sticks and started to work.

After an hour we had seen only a Kestrel and a Grey Heron, so with Mika and Hanna we continued to the power station, which had been the most regular place to see the swallows. We continued an hour there but still couldn’t see a thing. Then the rest of our group climbed there too and they started to think about to continue to Ribeira de Ponte to try to twitch a Red-eyed Vireo which had been seen there on previous days. Hanna was also keen to see a Swainson’s Thrush which had been in the same place. So we all except Mika decided to keep on climbing up towards the middle part of the island.

After a hard climb we landed down to the Ribeiro da Ponte which was the same place where we had twitched a Blue-winged Warbler. Hanna was walking first if the thrush would’ve been somewhere on the patch, but it wasn’t. Then we heard from walkie-talkie that Daniele (who was now spending 3 days in Corvo) was watching a Red-eyed Vireo just a hundred of metres in front of us! We hurried there and Daniele was pointing to the top of trees, but I only managed to see some movement behind the branches and leaves. Then Hanna and Kilpimaa saw the bird dropping down and they could see it better for a second before it disappeared to the forest. I had seen the bird too badly and most of us hadn’t seen it at all so we decided to wait it to come back.

After an hour waiting it suddenly was back on the same branches, Hanna and ”Kilppari” had seen it. I saw it extremely well but some had difficulties to see it. It moved from branch to another but stayed visible for some 20 seconds. Finally all had seen it but some still wanted to see it better, so only I and Hanna left back to continue the mission swallows and the rest still stayed in Ribeira da Ponte.

We walked back to Mika who still hadn’t seen any swallows or nothing else interesting. We again continued scanning the sky and the hill-sides for a couple of hours in an extremely hot weather before we decided to walk to the miradouro again. Then we still continued to a hill on the other side of the village next to the rubbish tip from where we had even better views to the village and to the hillside.

After an hour we had seen now 2 Kestrels ant then we heard some chattering from the walkie-talkie and after some asking we got an answer that there was an American Herring Gull in the rubbish tip – and we were only 100 metres from there! We ran there and found a well known British birder there but he was just watching his camera, so the bird seemed to be gone. He came to show us the pictures, but I must say (even though I really am not good with gulls) that the gull seemed to be much paler than I expected. He told about the id-marks that he had seen and soon thought that one of the gulls perched behind the rubbish tip might be it. We started to watch the bird and it was different than the others but really didn’t fit to that what I expected an American Herring Gull to look like. Then Pierre-André Crochet climbed up there and saw the pictures and said what I should have said already – it was a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

After the gull-episode it was already 5 p.m. so we decided to climb down to the harbour where some birders were seawatching. They still hoped to see a Herald Petrel or something like that. We still continued scanning the hillside and then at 5:35 I found a strange pale thing flying very fast and turning and storming all the time. It was very pale underneath with no contrast between primaries and secondaries. Then suddenly there was another, much bigger and darker bird on the same picture – swallows! I saw the both birds only for a couple of seconds when they made a couple of turns together and shouted to the others that there were two swallows over the miradouro. Only Mika and Hanna found the birds right away and while they started to follow the darker bird I decided to follow the paler one – maybe because of American Cliff Swallow hadn’t been identified for a couple of days for sure. We all tried to get these birds to our scopes but they were too fast and they disappeared many times behind the hill-tops. I managed to see once the smaller bird (either by scope or binoculars) storming against the hillside so that I could see well a pale at least somewhat reddish rump – it was an American Cliff Swallow for sure. Also the shape of the bird and the colouration of underside were something I had never seen before. Meanwhile at least Hanna but also Mika could see some id-marks of the bigger bird and it was all dark from upperside but they saw some paler on the underside, but the shape and power in flight made it sure it was a Purple Martin. We saw these birds only for some seconds each time and the rest of us group weren’t there at all and came there when the birds had already disappeared behind the hills. But altogether I had followed the smaller bird for maybe a minute and seen it more than half of that time so I was sure of the identification. Of course it would have been great to see these birds better and that everyone had seen them, but they really were difficult. We had been trying for 9 hours and this was what we were offered.

At 6 p.m. we had to leave as Carlos had everything ready. Now it was my turn to seat on the worst place so soon I was completely wet! It was impossible to breathe in worst part of the trip as I got so much salt-water to my face. But luckily soon we were close to Flores and there we got some “girl-friend extra”! Carlos drove the boat close to the shore and then suddenly to a cave! After all we visited a couple of caves and saw a couple of beautiful waterfalls and many different kind of geological marks on the walls. Carlos was driving amazingly well and we passed some rocky island only by centimetres! It was very nice! Only better bird we saw was a Greenshank.

After shopping and pizzeria we drove back to our apartment and soon went to sleep.

19th of October

We woke up early again and with Mika and Hanna we started to head towards Ponta Delgada when it was still dark. We were on the last highlands a little bit North from Santa Cruz when Hanna noticed a harrier flying next to the road. We stopped and there were 2 young Northern Harriers flying and playing together. Mika and Hanna managed to get some pictures of them even though the sun was still behind the hills. I sent an SMS to the rest of our group but got an answer that some of them were still sleeping! So we continued following the harriers that were very close indeed! They soon crossed the road and started to soar and got higher and higher and seemed to start migrating but then they decided to drop down towards a valley over Santa Cruz. We sent this information and surprisingly after an hour the rest of our group had relocated the birds in Ribeira da Cruz. They had also seen a Kestrel and a Merlin there!

We continued to Ponta Delgada where on the old soccer filed we saw a Snow Bunting again and then we continued to walk to the fields again. Luckily we found an Upland Sandpiper again when it came in flight, called a couple of times and then landed next to us to a field. So finally managed to get some pictures of this amazing wader – and Hanna got a lifer of course. 2 cats flushed the bird soon and it flew towards the lighthouse.

When we were back to our car we met a Norwegian birder Jan Kåre Ness who told about a Ring-billed Gull that was only a couple of hundreds of metres from us. And we found the bird soon walking on the field alone. We photographed this one more lifer for Hanna from the car for some. It had beautifully Corvo on its back-ground. It was probably the same bird than we had seen earlier but now it had changed some pale feathers to its back.

Close to the lighthouse we found the Upland Sandpiper again. It was now feeding on a shorter grass so we managed to get even better pictures. Jan Kåre was hammering the fields not far from us and he saw us photographing and came to see the bird too.

After all we drove to Santa Cruz to search for the raptors but couldn’t find them anymore. In Lagoa Lomba the Wood Duck was still present and in Lagoa Branca we saw now 6 different kinds of American Black Duck lookalikes, a Eurasian Wigeon and 2 Teals.

In the afternoon we were in Fajazinha again and we planned good places from where to photograph the White-tailed Tropicbird differently than earlier. Mika was also watching to the sea when the bird would arrive and he picked up an owl migrating over the sea. We first thought it was a Short-eared Owl, but from the picture Mika took when the bird was as close as it ever was (which wasn’t close at all), it was possible to identify as a Long-eared Owl.

We were waiting and waiting but the tropicbird never came! So the well planned pictures never happened. At 5 p.m. we gave up and continued to Faja Grande where we couldn’t find anything better. After one more pasta-dinner we were ready to go to sleep.

20th of October

After we had awakened, we packed the rest of our luggage and with Mika nad Hanna we drove to Conde. Only better bird was a familiar Osprey.

At 10 a.m. we filled the tank and drove to the airport. We paid the cars and Mika who was still staying a couple of days in Flores managed to keep the small car for him. At 11:25 a.m. our flight left and after a short stop in Faial we continued to Sao Miguel where we landed at 1:25 p.m.

We rent two small Fiat Puntos from AutAtlantis again and with Hanna and Tero L. we packed to one of them. Then Tertsi as a co-driver we drove to Faja de Cima where we parked and continued by feet towards a farm. We opened the gate and walked to the pool that was behind the cow-shed. Tertsi had visited the place and met the owner of the farm and he had been very kind for birders. There on the pool were again ducks and Muscovy Ducks, one male Mallard and then one wader – a Killdeer! Now this bird we had been searching fo hours in Terceira was so easily in front of us! It was washing itself and walking by the pool just some 20 metres from us.

After we had photographed and watched Killdeer for some time we decided to start driving towards east. First we stopped at Lagoa de Sao Bras where only Waxbills and a Coot were found. Then we continued to Furnas where we first watched and photographed geological hot springs and strange landscape around them, before started to check the lake. On the beach there were again many feral ducks but also Coots, 2 Shovelers, 2 Teals, a Barnacle Goose and a Spoonbill amongst them. In the middle of the lake there was a Black-necked Grebe swimming. Furnas was a pleasant place to do birding at least now when there were no tourists at all.

We still continued until Nordeste, the notheatern village of the island where we found a hotel after some searching. The sun had already set down. We ate at the hotel restaurant and were soon ready to go to sleep.

21st of October

We were having a breakfast right away when the restaurant opened and before 8 a.m. we left towards inland. The road we were searching left almost behind our hotel so soon the landscape started to change more hilly and wooded. We were going to Serra de Tronguieira to find the only endemic bird of Azores!

After some driving we stopped to listen if there were any birds in the dense hillside forests and heard a couple of weak whistles of a bullfinch but couldn’t see a thing. We continued and after some driving left behind another car as they were driving a little bit too fast. But soon they had found Azores Bullfinches so we had drive to them. The birds weren’t visible anymore so we decided to continue and pretty soon found a young Azores Bullfinch! It was feeding small red berries in a bush but it was still too far to photograph. I tried to get out of the car and digiscope it but it was too shy and flew in to the woods. Then Petri came to tell us that the first bullfinches were still present so we decided to drive back a little. Actually we had to turn back anyway as there was a big forest cut going on in front of us. Once we were in the right place there were at least 5 Azores Bullfinches flying between the bushes and trees and after some trying I managed to get some digiscoped pictures.

Hanna wasn’t that lucky and she didn’t get any pictures but when we were already driving back towards Nordeste we still found one Azores Bullfinch which landed to a branch just next to our car and then Hanna managed to get a couple of pictures too. Altogether we had seen 13 Azores Bullfinches during the morning.

We started to drive back towards west and stopped in Povoacao and Vila Franca do Campo harbours but saw nothing else except Common Terns. We also stopped again in Furnas where mostly the same birds than on previous day were still present.

Next we changed direction towards north and headed to Lagoa do Congro. It was a long walk down to the crater-lake and then there were not a single bird on the lake. When we had climbed back up to our cars it was very hot first time after a couple of colder days.

Our next destination was Lagoa dos Espraidos, where was only a single Coot but then close to the lake we accidently found a couple of pools. On the first pool there were only some feral ducks but on the second there were lots of birds! There were 5 Teals, 5 Blue-winged Teals and a winter plumaged Red-necked Phalarope! On the field next to the pool there were 2 Lapwings and at least a couple of snipes were feeding by the pool, so we decided to go to walk a little bit to a wet field close to the pool. And we flushed 9 snipes which at least 3, probably even 6 were Wilson’s Snipes!

Finally we drove until Ponta Delgada where we got rooms from hotel Barracuda again. Then we headed to the harbour where we photographed the rest of the evening Roseate Terns. There were six birds and they were very active. They were now also perched on the rocks so I could digiscope them too. We also found a Cattle Egret that was in a big flock of Yellow-legged Gulls. Nearby on another rocky shore we saw a Spoonbill that was together with a more common Little Egret.

In the evening we had a great dinner in a restaurant near hotel.

22nd of October

After the breakfast that once again started at 7:30 we headed towards Lagoa Azul. When we reached the lake we stopped again to the bridge and found Coots, Moorhens and a male Pochard, but the Pied-billed Grebe was missing. We searched it for a long time but couldn’t find it. The same Common Sandpiper was still on the shore of Lagoa Verde. We still stayed searching the grebe while the rest continued to Sete Cidades to search for a Spotted Sandpiper. They hadn’t been on this place on the beginning of the trip se it was still a lifer for at least one of them. Soon we got a message that they had heard the sandpiper so we gave up with the grebe and went to see the Spotted Sandpiper too. It was a bit too far to get any pictures and we didn’t bother to get any closer anymore. A flock of 11 Mallards and 2 Pintails landed to the lake. Some of us had fun with floating pumice rocks that previous eruption had scattered around crater lake.

Next we drove to Lagoa dos Afferes which was again a crater-lake. We found 2 Spoonbills and 3 Teals but nothing else even though the lake looked very promising and we walked almost around it. There were amazing numbers of frogs on the wet parts!

We still continued north until Mosteiros where we did some seawatching in a hard wind. In an hour or so we saw plenty of Cory’s Shearwaters, some Great Shearwaters, a Great Skua, a Pomarine Skua and I saw shortly a Manx Shearwater looking bird disappearing behind the waves. We also photographed a tame Knot and saw a Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit and a couple of Whimbrels before started our way back towards south.

We still stopped at Lagoa Azul but the Pied-billed Grebe wasn’t found. Then we drove to Faja de Cima where Killdeer was still by the pool.

It was too windy on Ponta Delgada harbour so we didn’t photograph Roseate Terns for long before continued to our hotel to pack our luggage. At 7 p.m. we went to eat and got back to our rooms to sleep already before 10 p.m.

23rd of October

After 7:30 breakfast with Tero L. and Hanna we left to check the pools near Lagoa dos Espraidos. We had heard that there had been a Lesser Yellowlegs on previous day. Because of the motorway renovations we got lost once but after all found to the pools easily. The Lesser Yellowlegs was found immediately! The Red-necked Phalarope was also still there and a flock of 2 snipes – 1 of both species were flushed on the duck-pool. From the lake we found a Shoveler and the same Coot again. Then our second car had also arrived at the pool so we drove back there.

Lagoa dos Bras was again as empty as on the first try, again just some Waxbills.

After all we drove back to Ponta Delgada where a Spoonbill was still present and on the harbour we still saw an adult and 2 young Roseate Terns. Now there were much more Common Terns than earlier.

We packed our luggage ready and after filling the tank we drove to the airport at 1 p.m. After we had paid our rental cars, we started to wait for our flight to Lisbon. The weather was getting worse all the time and now it started to be extremely windy. Because of the wind our flight was delayed and left an hour late 4 p.m.

At 7 p.m. we landed to Lisbon where the weather was horrible! We drove by bus a long way to terminal where rain was coming through the roof! With Hanna we checked in and went to international side to McDonalds to eat.

Our last flight left also more than 1 and half an hour late at 10.15 p.m. and extremely tired flight was over at 5:50 a.m. when we landed to Helsinki-Vantaa airport.

We said goodbyes to our friends while we were waiting for our luggage. And we had to wait for a long time, and after all Hanna’s bag never came! So it was already 7 a.m. when we got out from the terminal and found my dad who had been waiting for us for a couple of hours already. With him we drove to Kirkkonummi to my parents.

After a few hours sleep we chatted some time with my mom and then drove to Helsinki to visit my grandma, before started a long drive back to Parikkala. We were finally back at home at 10 p.m. But our trip was over only on the next day when Hanna’s luggage was brought to us.

Altogether I had got 21 WP-ticks, 18 from Azores! In Azores I had seen altogether 97 species which 25 of them were American species. Probably some species that we have also in Europe were from America too?