[John, Helen, Nick and Juan continue telling us about their work in Cape Verde]
Most “ordinary” visitors who come to Cape Verde are likely hit the beach, go hiking, and visit the local restaurants and bars. Well, we perhaps aren’t that “ordinary” for as soon as we’d checked into our hotel we headed straight for the sewage works! There is very little freshwater on Sao Vicente, and we’d read that the sewage works was THE place to be to see waders – migrants and perhaps some vagrants.
Lesser yellowlegs at Sao Vicente sewage works....miles better than a sandy beach
Walking through the town gave us our first views of an endemic bird – Iago sparrows in an acacia tree. Not dissimilar to a house sparrow, the male Iago sparrow has lovely chestnut sides to the head with a black crown and the females are very attractive, with a bright off-white supercilium. While we admired the sparrows a local man smiled and greeted us with “Boa noite” and watched us with a bemused expression, there aren´t many bird watchers in Cape Verde. We then spotted Kentish plovers, brown-necked ravens and a spectacled warbler in full song.
On reaching the sewage works we were rewarded with views of several familiar birds - turnstones, sanderlings, greenshanks - and some less familiar, like the many Kentish plovers and cattle egrets. It was fascinating to think that some of these birds, like whimbrel, may have passed through our own reserves back in the UK. Among the waders we saw a lesser yellowlegs, a small greenshank-like species from North America. Due to Cape Verde being 700km off western Africa it is ideally placed for lost birds and this was certainly one of them. Also present was a white stork, which we believe is a first record for Sao Vicente.
As we go into the field, it will be harder to keep in touch - so we'll report on progress as and when we can get a connection!
We're grateful we didn't take the ferry! But check out the aptly named Face Mountain in the background.