Our skipper Marco set us ashore in the little fishing village of Calhau on Sao Vicente where we arranged a car to Mindelo, the city on the island. Virtually the only birding spot (waders) on Sao Vicente is the sewage ponds just outside the city. Taxi distance, no rental car needed. We took a taxi there just before the sun rose. Once there we immediately understood that the rarity potential was great in the sewage ponds. Lot’s of waders everywhere, Whimbrels, Grey Plovers, Kentish Plovers, Common Ringed Plovers, Greenshanks, Spotted Redshanks, Wood Sandpipers etc.
After a short while we found our first rarity, an Intermediate Egret. A bird we looked for like crazy on Santiago.
Shortly thereafter, we saw a Snipe flying, and none of us saw any white in the trailing edge on the wing of the bird. Could this be that Wilson’s Snipe we had been searching so hard for during the past months. We worked hard on the bird to get good photographs. We then saw two additional Snipes, and all three flew together and one of the birds stood out as slightly darker. Once we got pictures we felt pretty confident that we had found a Wilson’s Snipe.
This is a very difficult bird to safely identify, it can be confusingly like a Common Snipe. All dark underwing and very thin white trailing edge on the wing are the two most important id characters in the field.
The ponds also held a pair of Lesser Scaup. This also is bird that is non trivial to safely identify. One diagnostic character though, is the wing band if you can see the bird in flight. Greater Scaup wing band is all white, Lesser Scaup is half white, half grey.
[update: This was non trivial, there were two ducks here, one was a Lesser Scaup and the other a Tufted Duck. See the pics below:
We had high hopes also to find a rare American wader, apart from the Wilson’s, the sole yank in the ponds were a Lesser Yellowlegs.