jueves, 3 de octubre de 2013

September 2013 summary

 Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

The highlight of recent weeks was undoubtedly the juvenile Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola), found in an almost-empty irrigation pond in Las Martelas (see previous post). Otherwise, it was a pretty quiet September for migrants, with most of the main ponds in Las Martelas dried out and therefore providing hardly any suitable habitat for birds. Only a few common waders turned up in the first half of the month.

However, on Sep 29, on the road to the summit of the island at almost 2,300m altitude, I spotted the Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) shown in the two images above. The precise location was at Km 31, just below the peak known as Pico de la Cruz.

 Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

There have been several sightings of this species on La Palma in recent years, most of them at much lower elevations. The bird shown in the  image above, and in the next two pictures, was discovered at what might be described as a "classic" location for ground foragers: Llano de las Cuevas in the high part of El Paso, at around 900m above sea-level. The pictures were taken on Oct 2.

I am hoping a Desert Wheatear (O. deserti 12 records on the Canaries), or an Isabelline Wheatear (O. isabellina only one record on the Canaries) will turn up on the island one of these days, but the very long primary projection shown below, reaching almost to the tip of the tail, discounts both of these rarer species.

At the beginning of the month, when several juvenile shorebirds and a few wagtails were foraging in one of the irrigation tanks in Las Martelas, a surprise visitor spent several minutes perched on the edge of the pond...perhaps scrutinising the larder, prior to sampling some of the recently-arrived, overseas delicacies. Sparrowhawks are not often seen in such urban surroundings on La Palma...

I assume the bird below is a juvenile of the  resident sub-species granti.

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus ssp. granti)

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