Saturday, 3 December 2011

AMUR FALCON on the Azores!!!

Just looking through Netfugl this afternoon when I noticed Amur Falcon reported on the Azores on Wednesday!! What a record!!! The pictures, one reproduced below are labelled Red-footed Falcon but the bird is definitely Amur and on looking into the record represents the first for the Azores and is a phenomenal record too!

© Justin Hart, UK from Birding Azores

Amur Falcon, Falco amurensis, also known as Eastern Red-footed Falcon breeds in East Asia, eastern Siberia from Transbaikalia eastwards through Amurland to Ussuriland, south to Mongolia and Manchuria (it is also known as Manchurian 'Red-footed' Falcon) to North Korea and eastern China.

Amur Falcon is a long-distance migrant, the entire population migrates 11,000 km southwest to winter in sub-Saharan Africa taking a route from their breeding grounds, south through India, across the Indian Ocean making landfall in East Africa - I remember seeing these migrants in Kenya back in 1997/98 at Nakuru National Park. The majority head down to between Malawi and South Africa.

There has been a few records in Europe in recent years, the most memorable one (or worst memorable one depending on your point of view) was the first for the UK that spent several weeks at Tophill Low Nature Reserve in East Yorkshire a few years back, unfortunately I'd seen 5+ Red-footed Falcons that year so didn't bother going to look for another one, only when the bird had departed did review of the photos show that the bird was indeed an Amur! Evidently the bird had moulted some key ID features in during the time of its stay! Never mind...

For a bird to hit the Azores it raises some real questions. Did it come (undetected) westwards through Europe and the across to the Azores, did it hit Africa and get caught in some storms that sent it across the continent, or did it do a total flip and go across north America? All of the above seem fairly impossible to get your head around!!! Take a look at a flat map of the world and look at its breeding grounds, its wintering grounds, its passage route and then look at the Azores!!!

Amur Falcon on the Azores, a really remarkable record!!!

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