This glorious day Darryl and I visited a few birding spots on Sao Miguel (if you ever visit the Azores this is the site guide you'll need Azores Birding Sites). We visited Faja de Cima, the Golf Course, the North road to Ribeira Grande, Mosteiros, Lagoa Azul and Ponta Delgada Harbour.
It was pretty quiet- best migrant birds of the day were a Lesser Yellowlegs at Faja de cima and a 'Semipalmated Plover' at Mosteiros. However best bird of the day was a local bird, a resident that has taken me 17 years to see- Long-eared Owl. Despite looking for them on more or less every trip Darryl and I finally caught up with them today- in a place that we visit every single year and have walked under them many times before. Never thought of looking for them in dense Cypress trees before (like Leylandii) but nonetheless (after getting a tip off from local birder Gerby that a good site for them is north of the new restaurant by the lake) we found them today. At first I found some pellets and as I was inspecting them another pellet fell on the floor right next to me- it was wet and soggy- never seen a pellet that fresh before. For the life of me I couldn't see the bird and neither could Darryl so we checked some other Cypress trees nearby and finally found a visible one. So my Azores bogey bird finally is laid to rest.
The yellow orbital ring, restricted dark on lores with white cutting in towards the lower mandible, the red to the bill base, the complete breast band and palmations between the toes all point towards Semipalmated Plover. However the bill appears long and Ringed Plovers can show palmations between the outer and middle toes and unfortunately we didn't hear the bird call to clinch it beyond all doubt. We have had several confusing plovers on the Azores over the years so caution isn't a bad thing.
Long-eared Owl! Finally.
Still couldn't see it even from this range