Saturday, 8 September 2012

"September Wadering" = The Cabo.

Being based here in Malaysia at present has given me the opportunity to spend a lot of time studying the estuary of Mersing and especially trying to get to grips with both Greater and Lesser Sandplovers. I must admit I have really enjoyed every moment and observation of the juveniles of both Greater and Lesser Sandplover and have been able to obtain plenty of photos of both, however there is a "But" and that but is the lack of  those fresh juvenile American vagrant waders. After reading the recent RBA weekly round up and seeing photos of a stunning Bairds Sand in Wales and Holland see Vincent Van Der Speks excellent blog: Then the big news of the Short Billed Dowitcher in Dorset made me think back on the British and European scene during the autumn months. From Shetland through to Scilly there will be a steady flow of interesting and exciting waders throughout. I have been fortunate enough to visit the Azores for the previous 7 years and as I often quote "Cabo da Praia quarry, Terciera island, Azores is one of, if not my favourite wadering destinations". The list of waders at this location is truly impressive and the potential of new and exciting species continues. See RB's recent post on his blog: of a Terek Sandpiper find just recently which added a new species of wader to the ever growing list. So you can choose to travel Shetland to Scilly and Ireland to see various species of American wader or you can just head to the Cabo quarry and soak a load up in one hit. Here are a few photos of some of the species I have been lucky to encounter during my visits. 

Above shows you a Lesser Yellow Legs of which are annual at the quarry and below shows a Semi Palmated Plover. Numbers of Semi P Plovers fluctuate from year to year but I don't think I have ever gone there and not seen one. Below shows the "old boy Semi P Plover in the quarry. I first saw this individual during October 2005.

I really like Pectoral Sands as there is always a lot to look at on them, above shows you a heavily worn adult with a nice fresh juvenile below.

Above shows another nice juvenile Pec with an adult White Rumped Sandpiper in the background. 

Above shows an adult White Rumped Sandpiper with a nice juvenile below.

Above shows a juvenile Bairds Sandpiper, this individual is the only Bairds I have seen on the Azores. It was on the hit list for quite some time before it finally gave up the ghost. Bairds & Buff Breasted Sand both fell the same year leaving Greater Yellow legs, Solitary and Stilt Sandpipers remaining to fall. Greater Yellow Legs finally fell the following winter still leaving Solitary and Stilt Sandpipers to fall (have to leave something for another day I guess). 

Above shows a juvenile Semi Palmated Sandpiper. Pre Azores I had not seen that many Semi P Sands, 1 on a gravel pit near chichester, Sussex & 1 on Porth Hellick beach, St.Mary's, Scillies and I think that is it ? but the Cabo has really sent a lot of these in my direction. Below shows a cracking "fresh in" juvenile Western Sandpiper. Admittedly not originally found at the Cabo but at the Praia da Vitoria marina just up the road. This bird soon found its way in to the quarry where it remained for much of the autumn.

I have included this photo below just to give you some idea of how close you can actually get to some of waders out on the Azores. This photo, for me really does say it all. The other beauty of the quarry is that if you put your time in you really can get some great photographic opportunities.

Then there is the Dowitchers, above shows you a nice juvenile Long Billed Dowitcher in September 2010 with below showing a classic juvenile Short Billed Dowitcher. It took a while for me to actually get to grips with Short billed Dowie out on the Azores as the regularity of them seemed to dry up for a while but luckily it finally fell for me September last year.

Other waders I have seen here include Spotted Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Hudsonian Whimbrel, American and a Pacific Golden Plover (a truly monster vagrant find). So what could the future have in store in terms of species here at the Cabo ? well I personally have a small "wish list" which includes both Stilt and Solitary Sandpipers, Surely a Willet will stick around long enough to fall but isn't it about time for a Tattler ? and going in big a Marbled Godwit, although not a such a long distant migrant I guess it still remains out there as a possible-possible. Thats the yanks but what with an old record of a Sharp tailed Sandpiper, the PGP and now a Terek what will be the next beast from the east ? an adult Red necked Stint would be nice but how about a nice fresh Juvenile ?  

And so above shows you an adult Husonian Godwit in the quarry on that faithful date of the 25th July 2007 showing that the Cabo can strike at any time. It is only matter of time before another Hudwit falls again out here but how about a nice fresh juvenile in with the Blackwits the next time ? All of the above and a whole lot more in this one small area of an inter-tidal quarry below. 

Where is your next wadering destination going to be ? Mine will be Mersing when I pass through on route to KL as I have to make my way to Australia for a visit in a few days, of which is a necessary visit and I doubt I will get any birding in.   So sadly for me I can't see me making it to the quarry this year but it is only matter of time before I will be walking along that gravel entrance track wondering what could be lurking on those edges and pools in the photo below.......

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