The past 48 hours have had their ups and downs but boy, have we seen some good birds. Yesterday started well with a group of Finns calling a [Common] Buzzard above Do Vinte. I saw the bird a few minutes later and it was clear that wasn't what it was - long-winged, very dark underparts - it had to be a dark morph Rough-legged Hawk! Sadly the bird quickly disappeared northwards and consequently I disappeared in to the depths of Poco d'Agua.
D'Agua was very still, and I amused myself with various juvenile Cory's Shearwaters in their burrows before being distracted by what I'm fairly sure was a Yellow Warbler. It didn't find the lower parts of the valley to its liking, though, and I lost it a few minutes later without getting a clear view. I moved on, working the entirety of the valley to the top and was soon alerted to the Hawk flying high above Pico. It was bloody high and seemed to be making an attempt to reach the caldeira, but failed on numerous attempts over the next thirty minutes. Eventually, after chasing it up and down the caldeira road trying to get some decent photos, I finally had some good views between Lapa and Da Ponte. I've got a reasonable series of shots of this fantastic bird, which is (I think) only the second dark morph - and therefore definite sanctijohannis
- Rough-leg to be seen in Europe.
Juvenile Rough-legged Hawk, Corvo, 14th October 2013
On the way down there appeared to be some scrambled message about the Black-throated Blue being relocated in Cantinho, but this was dismissed by the original finder (and perhaps one or two others), so I headed down to the main road where I bumped in to Graeme, Chris, Tom and David. David and I hung back waiting for the hawk to reappear while the others started heading down to the village. A great stroke of luck came as we approached Lapa only to hear Graeme radio that they'd just found a Philadelphia Vireo just below the road there! The bird showed fantastically well for the next 45 minutes or so before it moved down in to the valley and we all headed back down to the village.
For once, a showy Philadelphia Vireo.
Sipping a coffee at the Bandits a little while later came the gut-wrenching news that the Black-throated Blue relocation was true after all. Five of us rushed up there in the taxi but by that point everyone else had left Cantinho, the light was going and unsurprisingly our search drew a blank. As such the day really ended on an unnecessarily sour note given that we'd seen some great birds during the day.
Fortunately, the sour grapes didn't last long this morning as the Black-throated Blue was seen very well on numerous occasions this morning, often feeding just metres away on the ground(!). A stunning bird, the blue was really brought to life on odd occasion sunlight penetrated low enough to the forest floor and illuminated the colours. Simply amazing - one of my dream birds.
Monster Black-throated Blue, lurking in the dark depths of Cantinho.
Eventually hauled myself out of Cantinho early afternoon and slowly ambled back towards the village - distant views of the Rough-legged Hawk up towards the caldeira and a Peregrine passing offshore were the only distractions.
Back in the village, a quick search for the elusive Yellowthroat in pretty windy conditions proved fruitless. After a half-hour rest in the guesthouse, I hit the fields but news then broke that the Polish team had discovered an American Robin on the slopes of the caldeira! An uncontrollable and unnecessary urge to twitch overcame me so I met up with David and a few others to get a taxi up there. Just as the taxi arrived, the Mourning Dove was relocated in its favoured spot in the village so we quickly stopped off there to see it. Porning it, as they usually do, and seemingly unfazed by the cat sat five metres away - ominous stuff! We got up to the caldeira road only to find the robin hadn't been seen for some time, so we came back down to the village for seconds of the dove. The Peregrine flew over as it showed, and that concluded another fine day on Corvo...
Westerlies for the rest of the week. There should be more new birds before I leave on Friday, and probably afterwards too. Hopefully there won't be a repeat of last year's Caspian Plover/Prairie Warbler fiasco.