the autumn of 2007 westerly winds were dominating up to the first two
thirds of October, while thereafter the weather changed and new arriving
birds were mostly of European origin. There were no extreme strong winds
or low pressures moving eastwards from the Nearctic, but more of a continuing
rather slow air current.
The total number of Nearctic birds reaching the Azores
was also rather average. But with one very obvious exception - the Semipalmated
Plovers. The first signs of this unexpected and large influx of Charadrius
semipalmatus came when Carol and Tim Inskipp reported a record number
of 5 birds on Flores 9/10, followed by an almost unbelievable 18 together
at Fajã Grande 10/10. Then the birds just kept coming (or in some
cases was discovered), with a maximum just after mid month.
Most of the birds where seen on the western islands
(Flores and Corvo), but birds where also discovered in the central group
of islands, as well as in the east (São Miguel). In the Birding
Azores bird database the number of reported birds are separated (to avoid
double counts), and the total number for the autumn of 2007 is at the
moment calculated to 82. This can be compared with the normal yearly average
of 5 (2000-2006), or the total up to 2006 which was 55.
The Semipalmated Plovers occupied both fields and shores
with lava blocks and tidal pools where they could be hard to spot. The
coverage from visiting birders was rather good this autumn, but since
there are a lot of fields and shores never visited, the number of missed
birds is probably still high. Even in well covered areas birds often "disappeared"
in the lava block/tidal pool areas.
The figure below demonstrates the occurrence in time
divided into the three groups of islands. Note that maximums are about
one or two days later in the central and eastern groups respectively.
The birds seem to have disappeared at the end of October,
and visiting birders in mid or late November have found very few. It remains
to see if some of them will turn up in the Azores or mainland Europe next