Thursday, June 18, 2015

Birding with Gerby Michielsen

June 18: today Becky and I spent the day with a guide who literally wrote the book on Azorean Birds. We explored the eastern portion of Sao Miguel by van and by foot, climbing high into the cloud forest (over 3,000 feet) to find all the endemic birds.

Azorean bullfinch, blackbird, chaffinch, blackcap, wood pigeon, canary, European robin, goldcrest, grey wagtail, and buzzard. Most of these are subspecies of their European cousins. Becky will have some awesome photos, so hopefully I can add a link.

Leaving for our birding adventure

Driving through the eastern portion of Sao Miguel

Giant tree ferns native to Macaronesia

Carolyn finding an orchid

I'm pointing to our hotel, Terra Nostra

Nerdy Birders

Gradually restoring habitat so Formula One cars can race through in the sping
Most of the trek was through steep forests of Japanese cedar, planted for the wood, but utterly devoid of any biodiversity or native birds. Some portions of the Laurissilva forest are gradually being restored to habitat suitable for the rare bullfinch, but each spring the winding dirt roads are used as a Formula One course during breeding season! Crazy!

For dinner tonight we went to a local place recommended by our cab driver - Tony's Restaurant. We ordered one "Caldiera meal for two" which was more food than four of us could finish. It's a huge pot of meat - chicken, sausage, pork ribs, beef, potatoes, taro, and cabbage cootked in a volcanic steam vent for seven hours. They are served all over town and at the hot springs, different restaurants have their own "hole".

How they cook dinner

Thermal features at the edge of Lagoa das Furnas