martes, 5 de junio de 2012

Early June 2012

 Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica)

As mentioned in the previous post, the Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica) is a fairly scarce passage migrant to the Canaries, with records from all islands. The present individual was found foraging with a flock of 12 Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) and 2 House Martins (Delichon urbica) at an irrigation pond in Tazacorte on June 4.

In flight, the species appears to be approximately the same size as the Barn Swallow, but glides more frequently and for longer periods. From below, the pale underside of the head, and the black ventral area are other conspicuous aids to identification. The "red rump" of the bird's name is only visible when light and angle of view are appropriate, as in the following image:

   Red-rumped Swallow, showing characteristic rusty tones on back

Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)

Discovered at an irrigation basin in Las Martelas (Los Llanos de Aridane) on June 2, this is my seventh sighting of the "transatlantic" Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) on La Palma since 2009. Just to recap, I saw 2 individuals in September 2009, one in March 2010, one in September 2010, and two in September 2011, all at freshwater reservoirs in Las Martelas, except the second bird of September 2009, which was observed at the Fuencaliente saltpans.

The bird shown in the present post was foraging together with a solitary Greenshank (Tringa nebularia), and was photographed on June 3. A visit to the same pond on June 4 revealed only the Greenshank to be still present, so perhaps the American wader has already flown on.

The above image allows plumage details on the bird's back to be appreciated, including the narrow, indistinct central wing bar, the dark-centred rump, and the absence of contrasting tail bands characteristic of similar-sized, visiting waders such as the Wood, Green and Common Sandpiper (Tringa glareola, T. ochropus and Actitis hypoleucos).

While photographing the above species, I spotted the following raptor perched on the roof of a greenhouse about a hundred metres away. Unfortunately, the bird took flight almost immediately and I was unable to get closer to improve on the pictures. Swifts were foraging in the area at the same time - one of the prey items the Hobby (Falco subbuteo) is apparently able to catch in the air - and abundant dragon flies, another potential source of food, were also present at the nearby irrigation ponds.

Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo)

According to the "Field Guide to the Birds of Macaronesia" (Eduardo García-del-Rey, Lynx Edicions 2011), this medium-sized raptor is a passage migrant to the Canary Islands, with previous records from La Palma, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and Alegranza.

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