Saturday, July 9, 2011

Madeira Day 3

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.