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, Azores Chaffinches, 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. Azores 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 Azores 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
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 Northern 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?