viernes, 23 de noviembre de 2012

More migrants

 Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

An irregular winter visitor to the Canaries, with records from all islands (Field guide to the Birds of Macaronesia, García-del-Rey, E., Lynx 2011), a single Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) was discovered in an irrigation pond in Las Martelas on Nov 22; the following day, when the photos were taken, there were 4 birds at the same location. I had not seen the species on the island since Nov 2008, and this is the first time it features in lapalmabirds.

 Two of a group of four Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

 Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)

The Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) has appeared several times in this blog, and is a regular winter visitor to all the Canary Islands. The group of 4 well-camouflaged birds shown above was discovered in a partly empty pond in Las Martelas on Nov 22.

 White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

In recent years, as many as 12 White Wagtails (Motacilla alba) have been recorded in Las Martelas, and smaller groups at the saltpans in Fuencaliente. At the time of writing, there are about 5 birds at the first location, where the above photo was taken. The bird is perched on the edge of a dry irrigation tank, with an out-of-focus Kleinia nerifolia bush in the background.

 16 of a flock of 21 Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)

Every autumn, flocks of Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca) turn up at the irrigation ponds in Las Martelas: on one occasion I counted about 30 in one pond alone. At present, there are approximately 26 birds in the area, which can occasionally be seen in flight, as above.

This evening (Nov23), a Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)  was chasing a flock. On Nov 12, a Barbary Falcon (Falco pelegrinoides) actually seized one of the ducks in mid-air, about 10 metres above my head, and carried it to the ground about 50 metres from where I was standing. I managed to get the two shots below, before the hawk noted my presence and abandoned its prey. Surprisingly, the Teal seems to have survived the experience.

 Barbary Falcon (Falco pelegrinoides) holding down a captured Teal.

Left: the Falcon abandons its prey and flies off with blood-stained talons; right: the Teal spreading its wings 

sábado, 10 de noviembre de 2012

Recent sightings

 Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)

Small groups of Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula) have been recorded on La Palma in recent years, in the irrigation ponds in Las Martelas, located south of Los Llanos. At the beginning of this month I found only two birds, whereas this morning the number had risen to eight. The species is described in the literature as a regular winter visitor to the Canary Islands.

 Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)

The Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope) is classed as a scarce - or irregular - winter visitor to the Canaries, with records from all main islands. Since Nov 5, there have been five birds in one of the artificial ponds in Las Martelas.

 Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)

 Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

The above group of 5 juvenile Black-headed Gulls (Larus ridibundus) landed in the pond where the 8 Tufted Ducks are presently found. Small numbers of these gulls have been observed on the island since October this year, and they are regular winter visitors to the archipelago.

There are also about six Common Teal (Anas crecca) distributed around various ponds in Las Martelas, at the time of writing.

 Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana)

The Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana) was photographed at a pond in Las Martelas on Oct 16 and 17. This is my second sighting of the species on La Palma, the previous observation dating from September 2009.

Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus). Photo: A. Camacho Lorenzo

The last sighting in the present post was kindly sent to me by Antonio Camacho Lorenzo, who saw the above dark morph Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus) in Los Barros (Los Llanos de Aridane) on Nov 6. This species is a regular but scarce passage migrant to the Canaries, with records from all islands except La Gomera. There were several birds on La Palma simultaneously between Feb and May 2007, with as many as 4 observed at the same time, mostly on the east side of the island.