Sunday 22 May 2011

Beer really does work!

So today it was a case of trying to catch up on a little sleep, organise a few bits of work (ie. get image files properly backed up), and catch up with Bob and Mandy and hopefully see a Trocaz pigeon or two.  So the morning was drizzly and not much fun outside, so a good chance to get the boring bits out of the way.  Headed across to Bob and Mandy's Hotel just before midday and caught up with them, talking with Bob more on his North Atlantic seabird projects, and reviewing some footage of Zino's and Deserta's.  Unfortunately we seem to have been a little early to see Desert'as petrels this year, but it sounds like last year they were back by this time.  Every year is different, and the trips have been a massive success from the point of view of absolutely awesome views of Zino's and the other species we have seen.  So I will just have to come back again...already hatching a plan with Bob on that one!

So we then headed up to Monte (above Funchal) to the cable car.  We checked out the valley down towards the Botanical Garden cable car, and within a few minutes I found a Trocaz pigeon.  Not sure what was up yesterday, but clearly they were all hiding and having their siesta when we were looking for them.  Within a few minutes we had notched up a good 5+ birds.  A coffee at the cafe there got us a few closer views, but I completely muffed it when I went down the path a little way without my camera and had the closest views, but with no camera.  Beautiful bird with lovely speckled necklace and the distant views just hadn't done them justice.  I went back, got my camera, and of course they were gone!  Stupid pigeons!

So we spent a little more time looking and then headed down on the cable car.  Great views of Funchal and managed to see a couple of kestrels along the way - a single and then a pair seemingly chasing each other around a nesting cliff above the houses.  At the sea front we wandered along towards the port, looking for roseate terns which are apparently in the area, but no luck.  At the port area we were on the lookout for a juvenile yellow-crowned nightheron (a rare vagrant from the US, 3rd record for the Western Palearctic), but instead we found Mike and Mandy.  Mike had been on the pelagics with us, and was also on the lookout for the nightheron...I'm sure the romantic lunch on the waterfront was just a ruse!

Anyway, after unsuccessfully searching the moored boats where it apparently rests during the day, we decided to have a beer in the 'Beer House' (YES it does exist!) and 'search for the nightheron'...a plan so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel!  Well we sat, ordered a beer, and before my first sip of beer have even been absorbed into the bloodstream I spotted the bird roosting on a boat in the middle of the marina - Eureka!  We had nice views of it, albeit a little distant, before it hoped up to another perch.  Originally it was on a boat on the eastern side of the second row of boats from the 'Beer House' on a boat about midway along the pier (opposite a yacht called Jackpot).  I texted Mike who had gone off to look in town with Mandy, and they came back just in time to see it fly...closer to us and it perched on a lightstand only 40m away.  It then flew down to a rock wall where apparently it usually hunts for crabs, so we got some stunning shots of it there, before it then flew back into the marina.  So, there was little left to do other than have another beer...after which a roseate tern decided to fly right past us, circle the marina and then off.  There is such a thing as lucky beer!

With our work complete, we decided to head up into town and enjoyed a lovely dinner together.  Life is good!

PS Ash...just in case you were wondering, Bob is working REALLY hard here, honest! ;)  Hopefully catch up with you at some stage over the next few weeks.

Spot the Trocaz pigeon (no prizes, it is in the centre of the photo afterall!)

Mmmmmm beer

Spot the yellow-crowned nightheron (again perfectly placed in the centre for those non-birders - who am I kidding as if any non-birders read this drivel!)

Aren't I clever

The juv yellow-crowned nightheron in flight. A bird in serious moult.

Look at me!

Mr Scruffy

Not a Trocaz pigeon

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