Santo Antão is the largest, greenest and most mountainous of the Cape Verde Islands. Since the demise of the last Cape Verde Kites Milvus fasciicauda there has been no species that you can find only on Santo Antão, but it has the strongest populations of several. It was for Fea’s Petrel Pterodroma feae that Magnus made his first visit to the island in 2007. During that trip he also came across a couple of nests of Cape Verde Barn Owl Tyto detorta, and in late 2012 he returned with René to study their sounds in more detail. Another of the island’s specialities is Cape Verde Buzzard Buteo battermani. One individual on the island is white. René was delighted to photograph what may have been the last two Egyptian Vultures Neophron; both were silent. Conversely, the Cape Verde Swifts Apus alexandri at Tarrafal gave a great concert at dusk, but the light was already too poor to photograph them, so René’s photo is one from another place called Tarrafal, on the island of São Nicolau. On the Cape Verde Islands, the chances of finding a vagrant are always fairly high, so it was no great surprise when Magnus heard an American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica flying over the airfield at Ponta do Sol on Santo Antão in November 2012. On São Vicente, a smaller island just south-east of Santo Antão, the water treatment facility for the town of Mindelo is probably the best place in the archipelago to find rarities. There were two Semipalmated Plovers Charadrius semipalmatus and three Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes in December 2012. A White Stork Ciconia ciconia here was probably much rarer!

Santo Antão & São Vicente, Cape Verde Islands

Cape Verde Buzzard Buteo bannermani, Ribeira Grande, Santo Antão, Cape Verde Islands, 30 November 2012 (René Pop). Aberrant ‘ino’ plumage, causing the bird to appear virtually white.

Cape Verde Buzzard Buteo bannermani, Serra de Malagueta, Santiago, Cape Verde Islands, 26 February 2004 (Magnus Robb). Alarm calls of a pair.

Santo Antão & São Vicente, Cape Verde Islands

Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus, near Tarrafal de Monte Trigo, Santo Antão, Cape Verde Islands, 1 December 2012 (René Pop). One of at least two still surviving then on the island, where it was once common. As usual with this species, they were silent.

 

 

Santo Antão & São Vicente, Cape Verde Islands

Cape Verde Swift Apus alexandri, Tarrafal de São Nicolau, São Nicolau, Cape Verde Islands, 25 March 2007 (René Pop)

Cape Verde Swift Apus alexandri, Tarrafal de Monte Trigo, Santo Antão, Cape Verde Islands, 19:04, 1 December 2012 (Magnus Robb). Evening display flights at a colony on coastal cliffs. Background: Iago Sparrow Passer iagoensis.

Santo Antão & São Vicente, Cape Verde Islands

American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica, Ponta do Sol, Santo Antão, Cape Verde Islands, 30 November 2012 (René Pop)

American Golden Plover Pluvialis dominica, Ponta do Sol, Santo Antão, Cape Verde Islands, 29 November 2012 (Magnus Robb). Flight calls.

Santo Antão & São Vicente, Cape Verde Islands

Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus, Mindelo water treatment facility, São Vicente, Cape Verde Islands, 3 December 2012 (René Pop)

Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus, Mindelo water treatment facility, São Vicente, Cape Verde Islands, 3 December 2012 (Magnus Robb). Flight calls. Background: Sanderling Calidris alba.

Santo Antão & São Vicente, Cape Verde Islands

Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes, Mindelo water treatment facility, São Vicente, Cape Verde Islands, 3 December 2012 (René Pop)

Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes, Mindelo water treatment facility, São Vicente, Cape Verde Islands, 13:57, 3 December 2012 (Magnus Robb). Calls in flight.

Santo Antão & São Vicente, Cape Verde Islands

Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata, Ribeira Grande, Santo Antão, Cape Verde Islands, 30 November 2012 (René Pop)

Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata, Norte, Santo Antão, Cape Verde Islands, 15:08, 18 February 2007 (Magnus Robb). Rattle calls of an adult male. Background: Iago Sparrow Passer iagoensis.

Santo Antão & São Vicente, Cape Verde Islands

Fontainhas, Santo Antão, Cape Verde Islands, 28 November 2012 (René Pop). Moonlight over the valley where we heard Cape Verde Storm Petrels Oceanodroma jabejabe, while recording Cape Verde Barn Owls Tyto detorta.

Cape Verde Storm Petrel Oceanodroma jabejabe, Fontainhas, Santo Antão, Cape Verde Islands, 00:53, 28 November 2012 (Magnus Robb). Chatter calls of a female in flight. The species is rarely reported from Santo Antão.