Day started with a Canary making some very odd calls, similar to Yellow Wagtail, glad I saw the bird.
Off to Lugar de Baixo this morning an american migrant hotspot, being one of only a handful of freshwater areas on the island. I say area, it is no bigger than your average village duck pond but does have quite an impressive vagrant list. No Waders there today or any interesting ducks so had to settle for checking all the Coots and Moorhens but nothing doing
Did see this though, our quiz bird for today
Also a Waxbill ventured out of the dense reeds in the middle of the pond
Two Grey Herons just offshore were the only ones of the trip
These are chicks from the mystery bird
Popped into Funchal again to check some more boat trips and have another quick look for the Heron.
Cap'ns mate on the replica of Christopher Columbus's galleon the Santa Maria
Off to the interior again. More Berthelot's Pipits and a singing Quails
Madeiran Chaffinch in a nearby plantation
Off now to suss out the famous Pico do Arieiro. The place of the breeding Zinos. Although we were going to go at night later in the week, a daytime visit just for the scenery is highly recommended
Pico de Arieiro
This is part of the walk out. Everybody who goes there says the same thing. Its not for the feint hearted! This is one of the less scary parts, later on there is a thin ridge not much wider than the path with a drop either side of a few thousand feet!
Back home via Funchal in the hope of connecting with the rather elusive Yellow-crowned Night Heron. 9pm came and went with no sign. There were a few of those ugly mis-shapen gulls about though, this one looked genuinely ill
Then at 9.15 it flew in. Another pretty ugly bird really. It came in with a crab which you can just see if you enlarge photo
Crept a bit closer
After flying off, it came back again closer than before, only problem was that the light was now disappearing fast. Cranked the iso right up and hoped for the best
The mystery bird from this morning. A lovely free flying Muscovy Duck, there were loads of these things about, mostly congregating at river outflows along the coast
Drove up to the high plateau of Paul de Serra today. Its really quite odd, when you are around the coastal areas all you see is mountains, you assume that they just keep going up until you get to a point where there are just peaks. However you go up and up the winding roads and when you get to the top it opens out to an extensive flat plateau.
On the way up was this Kestrel. The birds here are of a smaller darker race canariensis. Males have a darker grey crown and a deeper chestnut colour above.
One of the targets up here was Berthelot's Pipit. These birds are smaller than Meadow Pipits but have more of a large Pipit feel about them. The bill is large and they have a sort of large pipit confidence. Most interesting was the call which was a kind of higher pitched version of a large Pipit recalling Citrine Wag with even some large Pipit chups thrown in! They allowed pretty close approach
Just east of Rabacal where the road began to decend there were a load of Plain Swifts and some great views. The Swifts were spectacular, flying at break neck speed, obviously faster than Common Swift with lots of twisting and turning. At times passing extremely closely causing us to duck a few times when in reality with millions of years of evolution behind them, they were never going to hit us!
During all the commotion I kept hearing snatches of a sylvia singing. Knowing that it wasnt a Dartford and with not many other options I figured I was hearing a Spectacled Warbler. Eventually tracked it down.
These birds S.c. bella are distinctly darker an more richly coloured than the nominate Mediterranean birds with a grey area on the lower throat
Some more driving around gave spectacular views. This was one of the local Buzzards, yes you guessed it, an island race harterti though not a very good one, pretty much identical to the nominate birds.
Back to Funchal this morning to see what was happening regarding boat trips. Good job we were staying 10 days as the Ventura do Mar trip to Desertas wasnt going out until next week. Put our names down and had a look around the harbour.
Some of it was a bit of a mess, not helped by the presence of a large amount of spoil that had to be dumped on the beach after it had come down the mountainside in a rather horrific landslide / flood in February last year killing 42 people.
Little Egret making itself at home amongst the loafing Yellow-legged Gulls
From what I can gather at the moment the Yellow-legged Gulls are thought to be part of the recently split Azorean Yellow-legged Gull population although others put them in with michahelis. Anyway some of them are certainly ugly looking brutes.
More on these later
Had a quick look around the marina for the Yellow-crowned Night Heron but as expected it wasnt around. Just after 9pm is a good time apparently.
There was a close Common Tern fishing
A bit of time left so headed west, stopping off at Machico.
Confiding juv Canary here
Just see a bit of yellow coming through on the rump
Grey Wagtails here are of the race schmitzi, being distinctly darker above, with a much reduced supercilium and submoustachial stripe, males also have a more jet black bib.
Underparts also sometimes a deeper yellow
Ad with juv
Not sure whether I just havent looked at Grey Wags properly at home but this seems like rather a lot of white in the tail, present on all 3 juvs