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  BIRDING AZORES

Untitled Document
  Record influx of Great Blue Herons Ardea herodias to Flores in October - November 2006.
 
 

The westernmost island in the Azores - Flores - has hosted a Great Blue Heron since early autumn 2005. In early October 2006 another individual was sighted, and in the end of October at least six new birds arrived, making a total of at least eight on the island. At the same time (October to November 2006) Flores also hosted one Great Egret Egretta alba of the American race egretta, one Green Heron Butorides virescens, and two Snowy Egrets Egretta thula!
   Later both a Great Blue Heron and a Snowy Egret were found on S„o Miguel, but if these were different birds are difficult to say.

Before these eight Great Blue Herons present in 2006, there are at least ten previous records from the Azores. Plus one bird on a ship near Azores in October 1968 (not on the Azores list). There is one adult bird that was taken care of on Faial 2005-03-23, which however soon died. Another bird was sighted on São Jorge 1998-11-14, and the remaining eight were all recorded in a spectacular influx in april 1984, involving Faial, Pico, and São Miguel (see detailed rarity lists on the Species list page for data and references).

In the period of October 30th - November 6th Great Blue Herons seem to turn up "anywhere", and judging from aged birds and simultaneous observations the number was estimated to at least five. Later a dead first year bird was discovered, and a thorough comparison with all sight data, and a number of detailed photos showed that there must be at least eight birds involved!
   I did myself managed to see seven of them, only missing number 14.

A list of the birds involved:

Bird No. 11. First discovered at Lagoa Branca in 2005. At least present from 2005-09-22 until at least 2006-12-05, holding territory at Lagoa Branca, but also seen at Lagoa dos Patos.
Bird No. 12. First discovered at Lagoa Rasa 2006-10-03 (Andrew McMillan), and holding territory at Lagoa Rasa and Lagoa Funda until at least 2006-11-14.
Bird No. 13. First-year bird first discovered at Faj„ Grande 2006-10-30. Then in poor condition, and probably just arrived. Later on starting to catch food and improving its health. At least staying at the Faj„ Grande area until 2006-11-06, and maybe the same bird as in Santa Cruz 20-24/12.
Bird No. 14. One at Ribeira do Mainho 2006-10-30 (Kris De Rouck, Dirk Colin, and Joachim Taffereau), on the north coast. This bird was probably not seen on the west coast, but moved south and turned up in Santa Cruz where it was seen until 2006-11-17.
Bird No. 15. Was first seen at Faj„ Grande 2006-10-31, where it held territory among the lava blocks south of the harbour. Seen in the area until at least 2006-11-17.
Bird No. 16. Also first appearing at Faj„ Grande 2006-10-31, and a few times seen together with bird No.15. This individual seem to be more movable, and was seen at several places along the west coast until at least 2006-11-14.
Bird No. 17.This young large heron which could be mistaken for a young cinerea, was first seen at the Faj„ Grande coast 2006-11-03. While others herons (both herodias No. 16 and cinerea) were chased away by No. 15, this bird was accepted and often seen together with 15. Seen in the area at least until 2006-11-05.
Bird No. 18: It's a long way from America, and many probably didnīt make it. This first-year bird was fond by Rita Michelsson and Ingegerd Rodebrand on the path between Aldeia da Cuada and Fahj„zinha 2006-11-12. The bird had been dead for probably around 2 weeks, and was surely a new bird.

For many more photos of these birds - see the Photo section on this web site!

Staffan Rodebrand, Sweden.

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The first of seven new arrivals 2006. Lagoa Rasa 2006-10-03. Photo: Andrew McMillan

This first year bird turned up at Faj„ Grande 30/10. Then in bad condition, but soon recovering. Here in the fields near Ponta 2006-11-06. Photo: Staffan Rodebrand

The 14th Great Blue Heron on the Azores was first seen and photographed at Ribeira do Mainho 2006-10-30. Photo: Kris De Rouck

One territory holding bird that for long time was very regular and easy to see on the shore line at Faj„ Grande. First photographed on 2006-10-31. Photo: Staffan Rodebrand

The 16th Great Blue Heron on the Azores was also first discovered on October 31th. This rather movable bird was seen together with No. 13, 15 and 17. This photo is from Fajã Grande 2006-11-14. Photo: Staffan Rodebrand

 

The 17th Great Blue Heron for the Azores was a young and a little odd looking individual that turned up at Fajã Grande 3/11, where it stayed at least three days. This photo is from Fajã Grande 2006-11-04. Photo: Staffan Rodebrand

There were also a number of Grey Herons Ardea cinerea on Flores, probably around ten individuals. Here is one young bird which can be compared with the Great Blue of same age. Fajã Grande 2006-11-06. Photo: Staffan Rodebrand

  It is a long way from America, and many do not make it. This first-tear bird reached Flores, but the journey was probably too hard. Faj„zinha in the background, 2006-11-12. Photo: Staffan Rodebrand

 
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