lunes, 13 de junio de 2016

American Golden Plover, update 3

The American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica), first discovered on May 25, was still at the same location this morning, June 13.

The irrigation pond is rapidly drying up, there being little more than a shallow puddle of water left in the bottom at the moment. Two things can happen:

1. The owners will allow the pond to dry out completely, in order to carry out cleaning or repairs.

2. The pond will be refilled, and the habitat will be transformed, making it unsuitable for the plover, and for waders in general.

It looks like the American Golden Plover will soon be forced to move on...

lunes, 6 de junio de 2016

American Golden Plover, update 2

The American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica) was still present at the same location in Las Martelas this morning, June 6.

martes, 31 de mayo de 2016

American Golden Plover update 1

 American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica)

The American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica), first discovered on the evening of May 25 was still present at the same location this morning (May 31).


The bird is foraging in the bottom of a partially-empty irrigation pond in Las Martelas (Los Llanos de Aridane), and is not unduly disturbed by the presence of a few vehicles and people in the vicinity.

However, it deliberately bypasses the resident Coots (Fulica atra), now incubating their second clutch of the year, and behaving territorially towards this Transatlantic migrant. The Muscovy Ducks (Cairina moschata) which also live in the pond, just ignore the visitor.

jueves, 26 de mayo de 2016

American Golden Plover

 American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica)

I don't usually expect waders on La Palma at this time of year, let alone rare ones, so imagine my surprise yesterday evening when I discovered this American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica) at an irrigation pond in Las Martelas (Los Llanos de Aridane). The last time I observed this species on the island was Sept-Nov 2010, when no less than three individuals turned up at various locations.

The first photo above was taken in less than ideal light conditions on May 25. The bird's  long primary projection can be appreciated, with at least 4 of the primary tips beyond the tertials. Also its slim, elongated build, and prominent supercillium are diagnostic.

The remaining images were all captured this morning, May 26, at the same pond:


To further support the case for dominica, note the buff-grey axillaries above.

 American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica) with another denizen of the pond.

 American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica)

Clearly visible above, the wing tips extending well beyond the tail.


The American Golden Plover is a Nearctic shorebird which breeds in W. Alaska and N. Canada, and winters in S. America. There have been at least 23 records on the Canaries in recent years (La Palma, n=4, Tenerife n=13, Fuerteventura, n=3, Lanzarote, n=3), mostly in Sept-Nov. ["Rare Birds of the Canary Islands", E. García-del-Rey and F. J. García Vargas, Lynx Edicions, 2013].

The present sighting will be submitted to the Spanish Rarities Committee in due course.

sábado, 6 de febrero de 2016

Black-tailed Godwit

 Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

On Feb 8 2013, and then one year later almost to the day, on Jan 29 2014, I photographed two migratory Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa) at irrigation ponds in Las Martelas (see relevant blog posts). In 2015, I drew a blank for this species on the island. However, on Feb 5 2016, a solitary bird was discovered at a pond in Tazacorte. The dates are all very close, and the half-empty irrigation ponds are all located on the west side of the island, within a short distance of each other.


In the above image, the black tail is clearly visible, plus the white square on the bird's rump. Two races of Black-tailed Godwit are currently recognized, the nominate limosa, and islandica. With its deep bill base, the present bird looks like an adult limosa in non-breeding plumage. The winter distribution  of islandica does not extend as far south as the Canary Islands.

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)


The white underwing coverts enable the Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica) to be discounted.

sábado, 19 de diciembre de 2015

Little Bittern

 Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus)

Well-camouflaged and motionless, the Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus) is not easy to discern amid the tangle of dry branches, but its reflection is visible in the lower righthand half of the image. This female bird was found in a partially empty irrigation pond in Tazacorte this morning, December 19.

 Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus) in typical "Bittern" alarm posture

The bird kept low for some time until it was finally disturbed by the erratic movements of a pair of Moorhens which had become aware of my presence.


I particularly like the shot above: the subtle greyish tones give it an almost impressionistic quality: surprisingly ethereal for the inside of a concrete pond...

 Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus)

This is only my second sighting of Little Bittern on La Palma. The previous record dates from the end of March 2012,  and was also of a female, found in exactly the same half-empty pond in Tazacorte. The species is classed as a "passage migrant to the Canary Islands (all islands) and an occasional summer breeder (Tenerife)". [Field Guide to the Birds of Macaronesia, Eduardo García-del Rey, Lynx Edicions 2011].


sábado, 7 de noviembre de 2015

Miscellaneous sightings, Late October - Early November 2015

 Juvenile Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea). Photo: Antonio Camacho Lorenzo

There have been a number of interesting migrants on the island in recent weeks, including the birds featured in the present post...

On Nov 3, at one of the irrigation ponds in Los Barros, a residential zone located above the town of Los Llanos de Aridane, a local observer (Antonio Camacho Lorenzo) discovered the juvenile Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) shown above. This species is a passage migrant to the Canaries (all islands except El Hierro), but is recorded irregularly on La Palma, usually in spring rather than autumn.

 Pale morph Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus). Photo: Oivind Egeland

The Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus) is becoming a regular visitor to the island, with solitary birds being recorded almost every year. The pale morph individual shown above was photographed near Santa Cruz de La Palma by Oivind Egeland on Oct 28. I saw what was probably the same bird yesterday, Nov 6, in the same part of the island.

My thanks to both observers for sending me the details of their sightings.

 Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)

It has been a poor autumn for migratory waders so far, but there have been up to nine ducks of various species in the irrigation ponds in Las Martelas (Los Llanos de Aridane). The highlight of recent weeks has undoubtedly been the Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) featured in two previous posts, which was the second record of this American vagrant for La Palma, with only 20-odd records for the Canaries as a whole.

The other Anatidae discovered in the same area include the female Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope) shown above, and an eclipse male Northern Pintail (Anas acuta), plus the following two species:.

 Common Teal (Anas crecca)

Common Teal (Anas crecca), 5 females/juveniles.

Garganey (Anas querquedula)

Garganey (Anas quequedula), 2 individuals.

At the tidal pools near the airport, there are presently about 3 Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula), and one or two Common Sandpipers (Actitis hypoleucos). The results of my trip to the Laguna de Barlovento reservoir were described in the previous post.

Surprisingly, no wintering Coots (Fulica atra) have turned up on the island this autumn.