Tuesday 22 February 2011

Ring-billed Gull Gallery

A few more Azores shots. There is a regular winter flock of Ring-billed Gulls on Terceira (up to 50+) which presumably migrate to and from the US on a routine basis.
Here are some more photos from Vincent and Simon from the Azores winter 2011: http://www.surfbirds.com/cgi-bin/gallery/display.cgi?gallery=gallery11
Bonser, Olof and co are out on the Azores at the moment so expecting a big discovery soon. Latest news and more from the Azores here:
That's more or less it for the Azores winter now- back to Beddington next. There have been some interesting local developments.

Saturday 19 February 2011

A few more winter Azores photos

Top to bottom: 1. Male Lesser Scaup, 2. Bufflehead and 3. Female Greater Scaup (with Lesser Scaup and Tufted Duck)

Thursday 17 February 2011

American Herring Gulls on the Azores

Juvenile 'American Herring Gull' (Keijo Wahlross)
Markku Santamaa and Keijo Wahlross found this juvenile gull on Terceira a couple of days ago. Considering the location of the bird and the fact that American Herring Gulls are regular on the Azores, the various pro-AMHG features could be presented as a convincing argument to confidently label this bird as an American Herring Gull.

However if we were to apply strict criteria the undertail coverts on this bird have widely spaced barring and not the barcode barring which is generally regarded as an essential feature to secure a WP identification for American Herring Gull. Also is the bird a bit too pale - could that be a Glauc or Thayers influence?

What if this bird was seen in Northern Europe- would it get through a rarities committee with those undertail coverts? Also can we certainly exclude a gull from Iceland?

Does it make a difference that this bird is on the Azores? I think it does- which could mean that sometimes in gulling it may appear that.......'It's not what you see, it's where you see it'

More 'American Herring Gulls' from the Azores here:

Monday 14 February 2011


This bird was ringed as a pullus on the 17/06/2010 at Hellevoetsluis, Slijkplaat, Zuid-Holland. The first sighting of this bird was then on 16/10/2010 at Great Yarmouth seafront, Norfolk and then not seen / recorded until last week when on Praia da Vitoria beach, Terceira (via Simon).

Saturday 12 February 2011

Sandwich Tern or Cabot's Tern?

Click on image to enlarge.

Trying to work out if this bird can be identified as either a Nearctic or Palearctic bird. Simon and I came across it last week on the Azores. The answer is actually on the bottom of the left leg but I can't read it!
The identification of 'American Sandwich Tern' (also known as Cabot's Tern) has been dealt with by Garner et al in Dutch Birding Vol:29:5 but I still can't work it out :-)

Thursday 10 February 2011

Terceira, The Azores- Day Five

Common Buzzard



European Robin
Azorean Chaffinch

This morning was the last day for me- although Simon stayed for another day and there is a steady flow of observers twitching the heron over the next few weeks.
Of course it is not all rare birds on the Azores- in fact I worked out today that based on estimates from this trip- 1% of birds on Terceira (the east side of the island) are american vagrants. Here is the rough estimate:

Palearctic Migrants and vagrants
Black-headed Gull (500+), Lesser Black-backed Gull (100+), Mediterranean Gull (4), Common Gull (5), Common Teal (40), Tufted Duck (10), Eurasian Wigeon (2), Common Coot (8), Common Moorhen (6), Grey Heron (2), Little Egret (15), Greenshank (2), Spotted Redshank (1), Wood Sandpiper (1), Sanderling (50+), Turnstone (30+), Ringed Plover (10), Black-tailed Godwit (9), Little Stint (1), Common Sandpiper (1), White-winged Tern (1), Greylag Goose (3), Pink-footed Goose (1), Great Northern Diver (1) (Total 803)
Palearctic residents
Azorean Gull (1500+), Kentish Plover (20+), Starling (500+), House Sparrow (500+), Blackcap (50+), Atlantic Canary (200+), Azorean Chaffinch (200+), Robin (30+), Woodpigeon (300+), Feral Pigeon (100), Blackbird (30+), Cory’s Shearwater (50+), Common Buzzard (10+), Quail (10), Grey Wagtail (15), Goldcrest (5), Goldfinch (30+) (Total c3550)
Holarctic (either the Palearctic or Nearctic)
Greater Scaup (1), Slavonian Grebe (1), Sandwich Tern (1), Dunlin (4), Knot (5), (12)
Nearctic Migrants/vagrants
Ring-billed Gull (30), American Herring Gull (2), Lesser Scaup (1), Bufflehead (1), Ring-necked Duck (3), Blue-winged Teal (1), American Coot (1), Lesser Yellowlegs (2), Greater Yellowlegs (1), Semipalmated Plover (2), Spotted Sandpiper (1), Great Blue Heron (1), Yellow-crowned Night Heron (1), Pied-billed Grebe (1), (48)
That gives us 4353 Palearctic birds to 48 Nearctic birds and 12 either/ors.

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Terceira, The Azores, Day Four

Ring-billed Gulls, Adult, 2nd winter and 1st winter (top to bottom), Praia da Vitoria,

First winter Mediterranean Gull, Praia da Vitoria

Slavonian Grebe, Praia da Vitoria harbour

2nd winter American Herring Gull with Azorean Gulls and Lesser Black-Backed Gulls
Three Greylag Goose and one Pink-footed Goose
Two Azores ticks today- Slavonian Grebe and Pink-footed Goose.
More here:

Tuesday 8 February 2011



Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Angra Harbour, Terceira, last night. A first for the Western Palearctic.

Terceira- Day 3

Great Blue Heron, Paul da Praia

Pied-billed Grebe, Angra harbour
Greater Yellowlegs, Lagoa da Junco
Juvenile/first winter American Herring Gull, Praia da Vitoria
American Coot, Paul da Praia

Another great day on Terceira. Finally saw the 'herring gull' well enough today to confirm it as an American Herring Gull. The Great Blue Heron showed itself this morning at Paul da Praia.

All the news from today:


Simon's account here: http://shorebirder-waderworld.blogspot.com/

Monday 7 February 2011

Terceira- Day 2

Top to bottom: 1) Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup, Greater Scaup and Tufted Duck, 2) White-winged Tern, 3) Greater Yellowlegs , 4) Ring-billed Gulls, 5)Ring-billed Gulls, Common Gull, Common Gull/hybrid, Black-headed Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull.
Highlights today included two personal Azores ticks: Bufflehead and Greater Yellowlegs. Also we saw the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron again. A knackering and bird full day- more news here:
More photos from Simon here: http://shorebirder-waderworld.blogspot.com/

Azores Winter Trip 2011

Images top to bottom (Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Lesser Yellowlegs, Mediterranean Gulls with Azorean Gull and Black-headed Gull)
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was visible last night feeding on the waterside rocks of Angra, Terceira-visible in the street lights. We watched it until about 10pm- brilliant bird in an evocative nocturnal setting.
I spent the rest of yesterday around Praia- Lesser Scaup, Great Scaup, Blue-winged Teal, Lesser Yellowlegs, an American Herring Gull/hybrid, 5 Ring-billed Gulls, 4 Mediterranean Gulls and American Coot.
All the latest Azores news here:

Thursday 3 February 2011

Azores Gulls

Short-billed Gull, Terceira 2003. A first for the Western Palearctic.

1st winter Ring-billed Gull and Forster's Tern, Terceira 2003.

Juvenile American Herring Gull (rear) and 1st winter Azorean Gull, Terceira, 2005.

Juvenile American Herring Gull, Terceira, 2003.

First winter American Herring Gull, Terceira, 2003.

Off to the Azores next week to do a bit of gulling. Here are a few highlights of previous trips.

Wednesday 2 February 2011


Black-capped Petrel by Killian Mullarney

Monteiro's Petrel
Barolo Shearwater
Our spring pelagic mini expedition is now more or less booked up so will be interesting to see what we find. More information on this here: