"That time of year again" Arrival in Terciera was cooler and cloudier than in Lisbon. I went straight to Branco where I was advised there was no rooms vacant. I then headed to zig-zag but all the windows were blacked out and it appeared closed down. I looked for an entrance but no joy and just as I was about to leave the main door opened and 2 women, 1 Brazilian and the other Nigerian looking were coming out. I said that I was looking for room and they found the manageress for me. A rather large looking woman, with long greasy hair, wearing one of the old fashioned blue and white over-coats appeared. She proceeded to show me the room and advised the cost of 20 euro per night. This was for a room with en-suite and a TV. I was going stay when she proceeded to tell me that this would also include "entrance to the bar to talk to the girls" I paused and the pause seemed to take an eternity for me to reply as she held my stare.(I thought to myself this is the Azores not the deepest, darkest, depths of Asia I didn't know what was happening ? nor did I want to know, I needed to depart and fast) I had to think on my feet but I just couldn't think of an excuse, by the time I would find a reply the autumn would be over. She then showed me the bar. The bar is the old restaurant with blacked out windows. Then it hit me and I could only manage the feeble excuse and words of " er do you have wi-fi" I was praying she would say no, and luckily she did, "phew" I said, Thank you but I need a place with internet access not that Branco has but this place felt wrong and a lot had changed since I stayed here 6 years ago. I then found a room, close by at Terezinha which is very nice, en-suite, TV, internet access, small bar, pool etc. As I checked in the woman recognised me but I advised her that I hadn't stayed here before. She said I had and that she never forgets a foreign face. Then the penny dropped and I did stay here for one night, back in 2005 when all flights were grounded a s SATA put me up here for a single night on the 4th day of cancelled flights. For me all trips to the Azores start and finish on Terceira, and when on Terceira all roads lead to the Cabo da Praia quarry. I checked my tide app on my iPhone and Praia da Vitoria which is 2nd in my favourite locations, after the Thames estuary. I checked the time and high tide was around 13:00hrs and so I decided to go later when the water would be retreating and this would then expose fresh muddy edges and this would in turn provide a good feeding area for the waders as they are more approachable in the quarry when feeding. So after a shower, a coffee and a spot of lunch I decided to check the pool at Praia (above) which was real quiet, it looks in good conditions, low waters levels, lots of mud showing around the reed areas but the best it got was 6 KP's which included 2 very fresh downy chicks.
After this I headed on to Lagoa Ginjal (above) but the lagoa is dry, no water present at all. I sat on the wall by the road and scanned but nothing, well, nothing bar a common buzzard in the distance. I walked around the edge to see if any thing was hiding but the best it got was a single snipe. I then went and checked out Lagoa Junco but again this was totally dry with not a patch of water present. Turns out that the Azores has been dry this summer. I guess it will only take a small down pour and these water bodies will improve.
Then, saving the best for last, I reached the Cabo da Praia quarry (above) this is one of, if not my favourite "wadering" destinations. After the recent events at Tacumshin I felt that there just had to something lingering un-detected in this quarry, however the same thing happened last year when Tacumshin was on the boil and I was here on Terceira and just managed to salvage the trip with a juv western sandpiper. I had also set myself a small target this visit and that was at least seeing a Hudsonian Whimbrel. I have only seen one Hudsonian Whimbrel and that was on Corvo some years back but it was so brief I didn't get to enjoy the moment. Also how many times I have been to Terceira and the Birding Azores website shows that there has been a bird present near my time and yet when I am here all I manage to see is Eurasian's so this time I have made this a target. The water level was still pretty high as I arrived and the sun was out and it was hot, real hot and I could feel the sun burning my skin. The light wasn't so good and I scanned from the car park to the back of the pool. Sanderling, turnstones, 2 juv red knot and 3 adult curlew sands. Disappointing" I scanned again and the same but this time a single semi p sand gave up the ghost. Okay thats better" there is something here at least, the next scan produced a lesser legs and then I noticed a the head and bill of a dowitcher, hmmmm" looks interesting but the light was harsh almost silhouetting the bird. I headed to the back of the pool to try and relocate this bird from a different angle. I couldn't find the bird and continued to scanning. After several hours the list of american waders started to tally up with 1 semi p Plover, 1 lesser yellow legs (below) 4 semi p sandpipers & 3 pectoral sandpipers, but the dowitcher remained elusive.
Other waders today came in the form of little stint 1 juv, curlew sand 1 ad, dunlin 1 juv, at least 70+ sanderling, 40 + turnstone and 9 black tailed godwit. I then relocated the dowitcher about 3 hours after the initial sighting but it was feeding in the vegetation of one of the islands. I made my way closer and and the bird came out on the edge, rear on and I found myself looking at what appeared to be tiger striped tertials. It couldn't be, it has to be, a dowitcher with tiger striped tertials, it has to be a short billed. It was at this point the bird showed very well and came down on to the muddy edge in front of allowing great views of the bill, the head and the feathering details providing me with my first juvenile short billed dowitcher. Okay not a monster find but I was pleased all the same with this as this is the first short billed dowitcher I have found, and the first I have seen in the WP. I have only seen 2 short billed dowitchers previously and both of these were in Anchorage, Alaska which were both adults so this was also a new plumage for me. I left the quarry just on dusk feeling pleased and also grateful as the weather seemed more that of a Balearic island than that of the Azores in the autumn. Below shows the short billed dowitcher early evening. A rather nice looking individual. This quarry has been good to me over the years ...