27 Dec Purple Heron
27 December 2014
After all the guests were on board for the third trip around the islands, we lifted the anchor and immediately hoisted the sails and set course towards Santiago. A wonderful trip sailing downwind with a beautiful clear sky full of stars. And of course not to forget Christmas dinner! But it was while sailing, so not too extensive. We were ‘only’ served fois gras, salmon, octopus and more goodies.
Just before breakfast we arrive in the bay of Tarrafal at Santiago and we arrange cars for a tour around the island. Of course, the big question amongst the birders is: will we see the purple heron?
The tour turned out to be very interested again, lunch was great and we can’t believe that the kapok tree is so big! But no sign of the purple heron.
Back on board we –at anchor- enjoyed a wonderful Christmas dinner with all that comes with it. Again amazing and we ate our bellies around, as you should with Christmas.
It was decided there and then to not immediately leave the next morning, but stay the morning to take time for swimming, beach, Tarrafal itself and for birdwatchers a second chance…
I joined to find the birds. We looked for a driver and explained what direction we wanted to go. That was not a problem, though the driver did not seem to understand it very well. He kept taking other people and the pace was very low. But eventually all the others were dropped off again and we arrived in the area where the Purple Heron was spotted lately. We again try to explain our driver that we are looking for the Garca vermelha, as it is called in Portuguese. Not even 5 minutes later he stops in the middle of the road. We were a bit surprised and asked what’s wrong. “Garca,” he says, pointing. And yes, on the side of the road there it was: the purple heron! Less than 5 feet away. So everyone got out of the car to shoot pictures. Immediately our strange driver was a hero.
After that we drove to a water dam for more birds. And we saw a lot! Egrets, blue herons, another purple heron, Eurasian spoonbills, common greenshanks, black-winged stilts, rock doves, house sparrows, Spanish sparrows, lago sparrows, gray headed kingfisher, Cape Verde swifts, Eurasian blackcaps, common waxbill and I probably forget a few. And think we also heard the Cape Verde warbler, which did not spot, so we are not sure about that. Anyway, even for someone who is not into birding, like me, this was really cool!
After lunch on board the anchor was lifted and set sail. A trip of 130 NM ahead, so we hoisted all the sails for a 24 hours voyage to São Vicente.