A suspected breeding pair of wheatears was observed
on a pasture in the Caldeira on Corvo at the end of May 2006. This was
probably the first record of Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
on Corvo (and the Azores) - the most westerly
breeding occurrence in the Palaearctic.
The female flew into a hole in a stone wall. After
approx. one minute the bird left the hole, while the male remained in
the area. A check brought to light nesting material deep in the hole.
Two further male wheatears were in the area, one of which began shortly
to sing. The bird had very probably bred in the crater in 2006.
The observations imply at least a breeding attempt.
Apart from an historic breeding occurrence in the same location, which
is evaluated in the relevant literature as hardly credible, there is no
previous record of the species breeding on the Azores.
Further studies, above all to clarify if the birds
belong to the leucorhoa subspecies, are planned for spring/summer
2007. A detailed description will be published in the next issue of Limicola.
Jens Hering, Germany (text and photos).
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