16/04/2016
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Azores Rare and Scarce Bird Report 2014 and Macaronesian Birds, Volume 1

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The Azores are well known as islands on the very edge of the Western Palearctic which attract sometimes astonishingly large numbers of American vagrants. It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that the archipelago is the subject of two bird reports, one for the islands themselves, and another covering all the North Atlantic island groups, or Macaronesia as the region is known.

The Azores Rare and Scarce Bird Report is a cleanly designed, well written and expertly photographed volume (with input from ex- and current employees and contributors of Birdwatch and BirdGuides). It is very well produced, beginning with an annual review of 2014’s most significant birds followed by the expected systematic list.

This is followed by accounts of the rarest of the rare regional birds: the first-ever Northern Shrike for the Western Palearctic, on Corvo from 18-30 October 2014; the first Barred Warbler for the Azores, on Flores on 21 September; and a South Polar Skua at the Bank of Fortune on 27 August. The report concludes with a list of rare species for the islands which haven’t met the criteria for inclusion in the main systematic list but which are deemed likely to have been the species in question.

Azores records are also included in Macaronesian Birds, which again covers 2014, but with the addition of Madeira, the Canary Islands and Cape Verde. This makes for a denser text and image lay-out to cram in all the information, but this is interesting all the same as it adds rarities from sub-Saharan Africa as well as North America, including African Crake and Abyssinian Roller.

Reports from all four major regions are followed by a 10-year review of New World vagrants on Corvo, co-written by BirdGuides News Manager Josh Jones (who also contributes to the Azores report). Then come accounts of the aforementioned roller, a winter 2013-14 Yellow-browed Warbler influx on Lanzarote, a useful ID piece on the Band-rumped Storm-petrel complex and information of the conservation of the recently described Gran Canarian Blue Chaffinch.

The latter report gives the impression of being overcrowded, largely because of the inclusion of an unnecessary number of images of many similar Yellow-browed Warblers, but otherwise both reports are informative and intriguing additions to the references of any birder interested in the biogeographical zone’s most endemic- and rarity-rich region.
  • Azores Rare and Scarce Bird Report 2014 by the Azores Bird Club (2016).
  • 75 pages, 50 colour photographs, 11 tables.
  • Available from littleoakgroup@btinternet.com for £8 plus p&p.
  • Macaronesian Birds volume 1 by the Sociedad Ornitologica Canaria (2015).
  • 98 pages, 156 colour photographs, 4 maps, 21 figures and tables.
  • Available from editorial@macaronesianbirds.com; price on request.