viernes, 17 de abril de 2015

April migrants 2

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) in summer plumage

This is the second time this April that the the Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) has appeared in "La Palma Birds". In the previous April Migrants 1 post, two individuals were shown in flight, one of them an adult, the other an immature. There are now at least two adult birds at various irrigation ponds in Tazacorte, whereas the immature bird seems to have disappeared from the area.

I found the adult above quietly perched in a well-illuminated Rumex lunaria bush, and the resulting images reveal the attractive greenish tones of the bird's plumage, and also show the conspicuous breeding plumes sprouting from the back of its head.

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Above, is a shot of the second of the two adult birds, with less of the surroundings cropped out. As the water level in the pond has dropped significantly, a recently-occupied Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) nest can be seen stranded above the perched heron. There are presently 4 Moorhen chicks in the pond and the parent birds have constructed another refuge closer to the water surface.

As mentioned in April Migrants 1, the Black-crowned Night Heron is regarded as a regular passage migrant to the Canaries, and has successfully bred on Tenerife in recent years. These cute little herons certainly make obliging subjects for photography...

Alpine Swift (Tachymarptis melba)

Another fairly regular passage migrant to the Canaries, with records from all islands, is the unmistakable Alpine Swift (Tachymarptis melba). There were two birds foraging over irrigation ponds in Tazacorte yesterday evening (April 16), with a flock of Plain Swifts (Apus unicolor) and about 12 Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) nearby.

According to the Field Guide to the Birds of Macaronesia (E. García-del-Rey, Lynx Edicions), this species occurs "in a wide array of habitats during passage in Macaronesia, and is sometimes associated with hirundines".

Alpine Swifts breed in mountains from Southern Europe to the Himalaya, and, like Common Swifts (Apus apus), are strongly migratory. They apparently wander widely while on migration... widely enough, in fact, to reach banana-growing areas on La Palma.

Alpine Swift (Tachymarptis melba)

April has been a productive month - by island standards - for migratory birds so far.

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