November trip to Cap Verde, we’re planning to do 3 different islands here, the first being Santiago. Santiago hosts all the endemic land birds as well as all the passerine WP specialities.
A couple of weeks ago, a Black-headed Heron was seen here and that bird was high on our want-list. The first day we searched for the Black-headed Heron twice in the reservoir where it had been seen previously. First year-tick on Cap Verde was Grey-headed Kingfisher. The Kingfisher is abundant all over.
On our way up to the reservoir, we saw swifts, stopped and photographed the Cap Verde Swift.
Once at the reservoir, we started to scan. Cap Verde has an excellent track record for rare vagrant birds, anything can occur. However the reservoir only held the expected waders and herons. The rarest heron there was a Squacco Heron.
Counting subspecies, the Bourne’s Heron is also rare. It’s counted as a subspecies of Purple Heron.
A common bird around the reservoir as well all over the island was the local subspecies of Common Kestrel, (alexandri)
We walked a small path below the dam, and almost immediately heard the song of the Cap Verde Warbler (which we had just studied in the car) The warbler was cooperative and easy to photograph.
With the warbler bagged, we had a spectacular pork lunch in a little mountain restaurant. The endemic Iago Sparrows feeding around the restaurant.
Next up was the Cap Verde Buzzard, we drove to a mirador recommended by Arne Torkler. After scanning the mountain tops for a while we found two buzzards, we saw them several times and we had decent views in the scope. Too far away for any pictures. At the same spot, we also heard the Helmeted Guineafowl (cat C, introduced species ) calling. After some time a group came flying crashing into the bushes. Too fast for pictures though.
In the evening we went back to the reservoir. It was a show of Cattle Egrets coming in to roost. Nothing rare though. Just when we’re about to leave at last light, the Barn Owl (ssp detorta) came flying in. It felt like a tick, this Barn Owl was dark.
Next day, we headed east to the village of Pedra Badejo. Two pools there that looked interesting on Google maps. The first one held nothing out of the ordinary, but the second one was as MEGA as it can get in a listers life. First we found a Black Heron, it was feeding out in the open, doing it’s Night-time Day-time thing. This was 9’th for WP. Heavy.
Just 10 minutes later, up in the little creek we see a small cormorant fishing and we immediately understood that it was a Reed Cormorant.
This as much MEGA as it gets these days. It’s a first for Cap Verde, and the only other place it can be found inside WP is Banc d’Arguin in Mauritania.
After lunch we went to investigate a couple of ponds in the city of Tarrafal, In one of the ponds a White-winged Tern sat, That just has be a rare bird here given it’s easterly distribution.
Update: It turns out that the Tern is the first for Cap Verde ever.
Tried one under birded reservoir that held nothing special, beautiful place though.
We spent the evening – once again – at the reservoir scanning through all the Cattle Egrets.