28 October 2013

And now, the end is here,...

Managed to get off on Friday, got a surprisingly decent amount of kip in Lisbon airport and rolled over the Severn Saturday afternoon. Perhaps not a vintage season but a stand out bird and a few grip-backs. I'm going to blame illness for my lack of form, not sure I even scraped mid-table mediocrity. At some point there'll be more photos and ramblings on all things Corvo but, for now, it is back to the blankness of the page, the itching of the skin, the blaring of the music, and a slight wooziness caused by rain seeping in through the ear.

Stefan, Vincent, plane.

24 October 2013


Plane cancelled at lunchtime, watching my third Black-throated Green Warbler (of 4 [four] that have occurred on Corvo) by mid-afternoon.  Silver linings, silver linings.  The wee fella remained flitting about in the canopy, thus negating any chance I had of getting even the ropeyist of record shots but you can't have everything.  It did cross my mind that I have also seen three of the four Black-throated Blue Warblers which have graced this fairest isle.  There really should be some kind of 'swapsies' system in this WP listing game.

Forgot to share this masterpiece of the Black-throated Green Warbler with you,... slightly better images by Mika (who also found the wee canopy dweller) can be seen here.

23 October 2013

A little windypops

The plane didn't come. Something to do with a little bit too much wind. Still howling around out here.

Bumped into the Indigo Bunting this afternoon, which actually seems to be different to that which was über-flushed the other day.  Also pottered around the village this evening on crashed cagarro patrol, only one was found, which is almost certainly a good thing.

Much effort, nothing new

Melancholy is a demon that haunts our island. The black birds are upon our backs. Our dusky companions press upon us, and follow us in our flight,... or something like that.

21 October 2013

Is that a mojo on the horizon?

Finally blundered into an American passerine today. And a most awe-inspiring, aesthetically pleasing, gob-smackingly gorgeous one it was too. Unfortunately, for the Corvo-cum-latelies who needed it, moments after I found and photographed it, a bloke rolled up with a chainsaw and started chopping up the wood pile it had been sat on. Possibly, the most impressive flush of all time. It was, however, eventually relocated late in the afternoon on the opposite side of the village. Also relocated the Scarlet Tanager this morning, which was nice, albeit that also did a bunk before anyone else laid eyes on it.

Indigo Bunting, bit of a Corvo special.

20 October 2013

New birds

A Scarlet Tanager and an interesting White-crowned Sparrow appeared today. There is hope after a couple of slooow days.

Probable/possible/maybe western taiga/Gambel's/gambelii White-crowned Sparrow [photo from 21st, during the less-than-perfect initial viewing I had totally missed the 'western' potential]. Is it possible to rule out an intergrade with eastern taiga/leucophrys? Answers on a blog comment/postcard/talk amongst yourselves.

19 October 2013

Maybe tomorrow

Slow going again today. Did the lighthouse, Cantinho and Lapa, plus a few fields,... nothing.

Remember this? Well,...

Vincent in the eye of an almost ready to go Cory's Shearwater nestling. 

18 October 2013

A day off

Only got out in the field for a few hours today. A quick potter in the village fields, paid this fella a visit and saw a dose of Common Dolphins.

17 October 2013

Still looking

 Fojo on a good day. Neck ache much?

This valley has played host to Northern Flicker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Wood Thrush, Black-throated Green Warbler, Canada Warbler, Ovenbird,... And today? Nothing I could lay eyes on. 

16 October 2013


Another day to go down in Corvo lore,...

A ropey photograph of a stonking bird. Yellow-throated Warbler, Corvo, a first for the Western Palearctic find for Mr. Josh Jones. Unexpected and gorgeous.

Hel-lo! A slightly surprising first for the Azores on the slopes of the caldera.

On the way back to the village I spent 20 minutes hunkered behind a wall with the 'power station ibis'. We're pals now; me and the ibis, we see eye-to-eye on things, e.g. we both quite like the rain but thought this afternoon's downpour was taking the piss.

15 October 2013

Why did the ibis cross the road?

Wooded valley, open valley, hilltop, fields, another wooded valley, more fields and village. Naff all found, Black-throated Blue Warbler as briefly as hell, bit of a run-around for a no-show American Robin, and a Mourning Dove to end on. Another day on the rock done and done.

Two of the original five are now, unfortunately, ex-Glossy Ibises. But this one is still going strong,... and surprisingly adept at crossing the road and avoiding traffic.

The Mourning Dove. A goat carcass was being butchered just behind us as we were watching this. 

14 October 2013

Big and floppy

Spent all morning in Fojo and a fair part of the afternoon in Agua, didn't find squat in the way of yankee passerines. In fact, due to the fact that I shunned Black-throated Blue Warbler, Philadelphia Vireo and Common Yellowthroat, etc., I havent seen anything small and American all day. Did get an Azores tick in the form of a big floppy raptor though,...

Juvenile dark morph Rough-legged Hawk in absolutely god-awful light. 

13 October 2013

Drowning a cold

All the English breakfast has gone, down to green and chamomile. Tea crisis looming.

Most of my day consisted of the above and peering out (from the window of a 4x4 then the balcony of the guesthouse) at the Keystone coppery that was the Mourning Dove twitch. All very entertaining and, in the end, everyone who wanted to see it saw it, so that was nice too.

12 October 2013

Cedar not cidre

You won't be surprised to know there are better pictures of this, seek and you will find.

Bit of an arrival today with Cedar Waxwing, three Bobolink, Common Yellowthroat and Red-eyed Vireo new in around the village.  The Cedar Waxwing showed down to doughnut distance on at least a couple of occasions so it might be worth checking out Vincent's site at www.vincentlegrand.com just as soon as he gets round to uploading his shots.  Hopefully, something more exciting has piled into the valleys and will come out to play over the next day or two.

"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."

And one for Peter. Azorean Fairy-nipple?

11 October 2013

Bird of the corn

Today a juv/1st-winter male Rose-breasted Grosbeak and I stared at each other,... for quite some time. Got a bit awkward actually. Made my excuses and left.

Today the new bird was Indigo Bunting.  Hmmm, it's just all a little bit, ever so slightly, 'haven't-we-seen-all-these-species-before'.  Better get out there and find something different then hadn't we.

10 October 2013

Nice Philly

Fogo was in a strangely, borderline worryingly, giving mood today. Just a few man hours in her verdant womb produced an unseen American wood warbler, Philadelphia Vireo and Red-eyed Vireo all within about 100 metres of each other. What is she planning for us? WHAT IS SHE PLANNING?

After several prolonged episodes of dipping on this very rock, I finally have Philadelphia Vireo tucked away on the WP list. Well done me,... and it.

06 October 2013

That's quite enough of that for now

All the usual waders still at Goldcliff this morning minus Little Stint. The numbers of Curlew Sand and Ruff appear to have dropped, Spotted Redshanks remain steady and we seem to have gained a few Greenshank.  More interesting was the steady flow of Skylark, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, alba wagtails, Linnet, Goldfinch and Siskin.  There were just enough redpoll, Reed Bunting, etc., chucked in to give the impression that, any minute, something good might flop past,... it didn't,... but the stream of tasty passerine morsels did attract a female Merlin.

For those into plastic, the Canada Goose flock at Boat Lane includes both the Bar-headed Goose and a Black Swan (unofficial patch-tick!).

Nothing better than a record shot of the Merlin graced the sensor today so here's one from yesterday,...

The sunset at Uskmouth moments before the Rose-coloured Starling didn't come in to roost.

05 October 2013

The five stages of dipping

1. Denial and isolation - the first reaction to a dip is to deny the reality of the situation. It is a normal reaction to rationalise the inevitable overwhelming emotions. It is a defence mechanism, a buffer to the immediate shock. We refuse to look at the photos and hide from the facts. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain.

2. Anger - as the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear thin, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable psychological core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Anger may be directed at the dipped bird. Rationally, we know the bird is not to blame; however, emotionally, we may resent the bird for causing us pain and for 'doing a flit'. We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us more angry.

3. Bargaining - a normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control. Secretly, we may make a deal with the birding gods. This is a weak line of defence to protect us from the painful reality.

4. Depression - two types of depression are associated with dipping. The first is a reaction to practical implications relating to the dip. Sadness and regret predominate, we worry about the costs and the gaping hole on the checklist. This phase may be eased by simple clarification ('yes, you did miss it') and reassurance ('it will turn up again'). We may need a bit of helpful cooperation and a few kind words. The second type of depression is more subtle and, in a sense, perhaps more private. It is our quiet preparation to bid farewell to the chance of ever seeing that bird in that place.

5. Acceptance - not everyone reaches this stage of a dip. A dip may be sudden and unexpected or we may never see beyond our anger or denial. It is not a mark of bravery or manliness to resist the inevitable and to deny ourselves the opportunity to make our peace. This phase is marked by withdrawal and calm. This is not a period of happiness but must be distinguished from depression.

Coping with a dip is a ultimately a deeply personal and singular experience. Nobody can help you go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that you’re going through. But others can be there for you and help comfort you through this process.

Still mired in stage one, I tried an afternoon at Uskmouth. One Redwing, one Wheatear, 500+ House Martin and 200+ Swallows did their best to raise my spirits but the primary target remained unseen. The Starling roost included approximately 140 birds but the f**king-f**k-f**kity Rose-coloured f**k-stick of a Starling wasn't amongst them.

Ah,... that'll be stage two embarked upon then.

04 October 2013

Dark and dreary

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing; doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before; but the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token; and the only word there spoken was the whispered word, 'Bugger!'

Completed the missing of the Rose-coloured Starling today; stood adjacent to and pottered around the, largely starling-free, fields of the Newport Wetlands Reserve for little more than a lone Whinchat and the pleasure of hearing the rain bouncing off one's hood.  This Raven did flop past at Goldcliff Point mind.

A stately raven of the saintly days of yore.