We’re here in The Azores having a ‘cheeky week’ birding – well it would have been rude not to accept Mr Ryanair’s kind offer of flights for under £50 a pop! We’re with our long-time birding friends Bob & Sue, staying at the incredible Casa do Jardin on Sao Miguel, a former palace, set in the Botanical Gardens in Ponta Delgarda. Being here means that the top priority was to see Azores Bullfinch, or Priolo as it’s know locally. Probably one of the rarest species on the plant – now confined to the Laurel forests of eastern Sao Miguel, on this remote archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic. With the expansion of forestry and the threat of invasive species putting pressure on it’s habitat, the Priolo was down to an estimated 30 – 40 pairs by the 1970’s. Following successful International conservation measures the population is now thought to be around ten times that number. But don’t get me wrong, they are still pretty tricky to find! Most keen birders hire a guide but, based on some excellent information from several recent sources, we were able to locate them at a couple of sites. However the cloud never lifted off the mountain top and, as a consequence, it was pretty gloomy the whole time we were there – limiting photography to a few record shots.
Priolo look like a chunky version of our own female Bullfinch (the sexes are similar)