viernes, 18 de enero de 2019

Great Cormorant...the story continues.

 Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

I was lucky to find the Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) at the same location in Tazacorte yesterday, on a sunny day with good light. The solitary bird was standing on the edge of the concrete irrigation pond, together with a Little Egret (Egretta garzetta). Behind the two birds, the Atlantic Ocean can be seen.

 The pond itself is well-stocked with small fish, which I have been told are a species of tilapia. There are also larger-sized carp swimming around in the rather murky water.

I was hoping the Cormorant would decide to dive in for a snack, and within a few minutes my hopes were rewarded.

 Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

This was the first time I had seen the bird in the pond. It dived several times, and managed to catch a minnow-sized fish at one point, before eventually flying off.

And finally, this is what the very unscenic irrigation pond looks like in low light. The shot was taken in the late afternoon on Jan 10, when I first discovered the bird. The Cormorant can just be discerned as a miniscule black line to the right of the far corner...honest.

sábado, 12 de enero de 2019

Great Egret and more...

 Great Egret (Ardea/Egretta alba)

At last a photo of a Great (White) Egret (Ardea/Egretta alba) on La Palma! I think this is the first record for the island backed with photographic evidence...

I had a brief glimpse of one at in irrigation pond in Las Martelas, back in March 2018, but the bird took flight before I could capture it with my camera. In September the same year, a visiting British birder (Dave Steel) informed me of a sighting of two birds seen in flight from the balcony of his room at the Princess Hotel in Fuencaliente: no pictures either.

 Great Egret (Ardea/Egretta alba)

Other visiting birders may have submitted records of this species to SEO/Birdlife, the Sociedad Ornitológica Canaria (SOC), or wherever, but I am unaware of these sightings.

So finally, this evening at the Dos Pinos reservoir (Los Llanos de Aridane), where I was counting Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea) for the annual wintering waterbird census, I was able to get a few distant shots of the solitary Great Egret shown above.

Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

 Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

On Jan 11, I re-encountered the juvenile Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) at the same irrigation pond in Tazacorte where it was discovered on Jan 10. The photos are a distinct improvement on the previous ones, although the surroundings are far from idyllic.

 Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

2 x Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)

 Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)

Back at the Dos Pinos reservoir again, I spotted two Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) this morning, Jan 12. This is a difficult location for photography, due to the fence, and the limited access points.

In the evening, the birds were no longer there, but I was treated to a brief view of one of them in flight, just before nightfall.

 Spoonbbill (Platalea leucorodia)

Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)

jueves, 10 de enero de 2019

Great Cormorant

 Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

There haven't been very many sightings of Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) on La Palma. I recall about 4 altogether, but don't have a more precise figure. Off the top of my head, there was one several years ago at the Fajana de Barlovento, then another along the section of coastline between the airport and Santa Cruz de La Palma, a few years later. The most recent I can remember was also seen off the east coast of the island, just north of Santa Cruz, by two visiting British birders, Simon Priestnall and Anthony Cooper, in April 2017.

 Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Of course, there may have been other records, but this one is the first for me personally on La Palma. And it was found on the west side of the island, rather than the east, in a freshwater environment, rather than a marine one. There were shoals of small carp in the pond, which the bird presumably feeds on.

Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

The photographs were taken at the irrigation pond in Tazacorte where the discovery was made this afteroon, 10/01. I was actually scouting the area as part of the preparations for the annual census of wintering waterbirds, which will be held all over Spain this weekend.

My reconnaissance took me to an area I don't usually bother to inspect, as it tends to be unproductive...and there to my surprise was the cormorant, standing on the edge of one of these ignored ponds.

I only had my bridge camera with me at the time, so the photos are not very good quality. Hopefully, I'll be able to improve on them over the next few days.

martes, 27 de noviembre de 2018

White-rumped Sandpiper, latest update.

The two White-rumped Sandpipers (Calidris fuscicollis) were still present at the saltpans (Las Salinas) in Fuencaliente this afternoon, Nov 27.

The Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) was also still at the site.

In addition to the above species: 2 x White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) and 1 x Red Knot (Calidris canutus) in winter plumage.

martes, 20 de noviembre de 2018

White-rumped Sandpiper, 2

 White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)

I returned to the saltpans in Fuencaliente at about 11 this morning. The Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) was no longer to be seen, but the 2 x White-rumped Sandpipers (Calidris fuscicollis) were still present at the site.

This post shows more images of one of the two sandpipers. The second bird was foraging by itself, along the far side of one of the pools, and the two stayed away from each other during the hour I spent observing.

 White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)

As commented in my previous post, there is a striking amount of brown on the bird's bill. In my experience of this species to date, the brown had always been restricted to a small area at the base of the lower mandible.

 White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)

The extremely long primary projection can be appreciated in the image above, and the white rump is also discernible. For size comparison, note the Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) top right.

 White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)

White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)

I will probably make another trip to the saltpans this week, in the hope of being able to photograph the two Nearctic waders together. An Atlantic depression is forecast to hit the island by tomorrow, with rain for the next three days. The bad weather could possibly influence the length of the birds' stopover.

In addition to the species featured in the last 3 posts, the following migrants can also be expected at the saltpans, at the time of writing:

1-2 x White Wagtail (Motacilla alba), 1 x Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula), 1 x Little Stint (Calidris minuta), and 1 x Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos).

At the freshwater irrigation ponds near Los Llanos de Aridane, in addition to the usual small numbers of common waders, other migrants include ca. 15 x Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca) and 5 x Common Coot (Fulica atra).

White-rumped Sandpiper, 1

 White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)

As briefly mentioned in my previous post, two Nearctic waders were present at the saltpans yesterday afternoon (Nov 19), in addition to the Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna).

In recent years, the White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis) has almost become a regular visitor to the island, with birds often arriving in pairs. According to the latest 2018 SOC (Sociedad Ornitológica Canaria) checklist, 12 of the 57 Canary Islands records have been on La Palma, either at the saltpans in Fuencaliente, or at the irrigation ponds in Las Martelas (Los Llanos de Aridane). The present sighting now brings the figure to 13, from a total of 58 records.

 White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)

The bird shown in the first 3 images was easy to photograph and obligingly raised its wings at regular intervals to reveal its distinctive white rump.

 White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)

The second bird, shown in the last image below, remained at a greater distance from the pool edges. The extent of pale brown on its bill is partly due to translucence caused by late-afternoon sunlight, but the impression is remarkable nevertheless. Its apparently warmer plumage tones can also be attributed to the effect of lighting.

White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)

This record will be submitted to the Spanish Rarities Committee in due course.

lunes, 19 de noviembre de 2018

Common Shelduck

 Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)

This morning, I was alerted by Eduardo García-del-Rey that a Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) had recently been reported on La Palma. The author of this interesting sighting is unknown to me, and the bird's precise location on the island was not given either.

 Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)

The logical place to search was at the saltpans in Fuencaliente. Mainly, because the habitat is suitable, and there had been a previous sighting of 5 Common Shelducks (Tadorna tadorna) way back in 2004, but also because it is a popular spot for visiting birders.

 Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)

I arrived at the saltpans at about 5pm this afternoon, and found the Shelduck there, resting on one of the stone embankments in the middle of the complex. The bird was difficult to approach, and the light was from the wrong angle for satisfactory photos. I managed to take several of similar quality to the first picture above.

Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)

I then moved to another position to observe some Nearctic waders (see forthcoming post), and was rather surprised to see a tourist with a camera moving around the saltpan complex, calmly entering the no-access areas and evidently about to flush the Shelduck. Sure enough, the bird took flight, but promptly landed in one of the pools, allowing me to capture the last three pictures in this post.

The Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) is a rare visitor to the Canary Islands, with only 13 records, mainly from Gran Canaria. All records are from October-January, but predominantly in November-December. (Note that there may have been a few more since this information was published in "Rare Birds of the Canary Islands" by Lynx Edicions in 2013).

Note: The latest SOC (Sociedad Ornitológica Canaria) checklist from 2017 gives 15 records altogether:

La Palma, n = 1; Tenerife, n = 1; Gran Canaria, n = 6; Fuerteventura, n = 3; Lanzarote, n = 4. 

There has apparently been a very recent record on Tenerife, so with the present one on La Palma (possibly the same bird as on Tenerife), the total number of records now stands at 17.