Friday, 5 December 2014

Cape Verde

Last week the Duchess (wife) and myself were off to Cape Verde to celebrate a friends 60th birthday; it was going to be a relaxing 7 days in the sun, but having never been to Cape Verde before, and after a bit of research, I found that there were a couple of birds there I had not seen - Iago Sparrow (Cape Verde sparrow)  - which is an endemic, and the other was Black-crowned Sparrow Lark, so, on the 26th of November, and after a 6 hour non eventful flight, we found ourselves on Boa Vista - one of the islands in this archipelago 350 miles off the West coast of Senagal Africa. Our hotel - the Riu Touareg (which I can certainly recommend) is on the SE coast of the island. On our 30 minute transfer to the hotel, it was noticeable just how sparse the vegetation was - the first image (below) was taken from outside the hotel - and this what it was like as far as the eye could see - with just a few bushes scattered here and there.
 The hotel is very isolated apart from a tiny smallholding just north of the hotel; there are no other 
habitable buildings - or for that fact, no other buildings what so ever!  but on exploring,  the
following morning, the Duchess and and I were amazed just how much bird life was about - we 
first noticed small flocks of Spanish Sparrows feeding in the gardens of the hotel, and our first view 
of  the many Spectacled Warblers we would see

                                                                                      Spectacled Warbler
                                                                           Spectacled Warbler
                                                                            Spanish Sparrows

Just walking down the road adjacent to the hotel there were lots of Hoopoe Larks and then I came
across one of my target birds - the endemic Iago Sparrow - feeding a youngster.  I never managed 
to get a decent image of the male, but I think the female is quite a nice bird for a sparrow! Also in 
this arid habitat were lots of Bar-tailed Larks.
                                                                  Iago Sparrow

Bar-tailed Lark

Hoopoe Lark

We went out most mornings and my second target bird - a Black-crowned Sparrow Lark -was found on the third day - again just feeding at the side of the road. At one end of the hotel was a 
bit of a muddy area on which were a couple Kentish Plovers, also, a lot further away, was a Whimbrel and few Brown Boobies flying North up the beach

Black-crowned Sparrow Lark

                                                                Kentish Plover

 About 600 yards to the north of the hotel there is a settling pool from the sewage management plant, where a few waders feed.  I never tried getting close for any images as the birds were busily feeding and I did not want to interrupt them. Sanderling, Curlew Sandpipers, Ruff and Little Stint along with a couple of Greenshank were noted, also a few Wood Sandpipers, and Black-winged Stilts were the main birds. As I was leaving the pool, a single Turnstone was noted. Leaving this area on the fourth day, the duchess and I watched a bird glide over our heads - with it's sandy body with black tipped wings, it could only be Cream-coloured Courser! What a lovely bird, but sadly no images! The bird I did want to get an image of was the Brown-necked Raven, just because it was always around the hotel but never when I had my camera with me, so on the last day it was great to see this one land right in front of me
                                                     Brown-necked Raven

                                                             Black-winged Stilt

Altogether, I had 23 species of bird just from around the hotel, including 2 'lifers' - not a bad return for a chillaxing week!

Hope you have enjoyed your visit to my blog!