As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday 27 March 2019

Lesser Moorhen in Cape Verde, March 2019

On the morning of Tuesday 5 March resident Cape Verde birder Uwe Thom found a moorhen species frequenting a productive area of marsh north of Santa Maria, Sal. This area has also played host to a long-staying African Crakeand a Hudsonian Whimbrel this winter, both of which were also found by Uwe. Managing only a single photo of the bird's rear end as it scarpered for cover, several birders including Pierre-André Crochet and BirdGuides' Josh Jones were intrigued by features it showed, such as the unusual leg colour, and encouraged Uwe to return and try to obtain better views. Uwe managed to see the bird better that evening, with images confirming the bird to be an immature Lesser Moorhen – the first record for Cape Verde and an extreme rarity in the Western Palearctic.
Although very elusive among the vegetation, the bird would occasionally pose long enough for a full suite of key ID features to be noted, most significantly the broad and deep yellow bill, which is more triangular shaped than in Common Moorhen, with a reddish wash to the culmen. Furthermore, the head and body were an overall paler slaty grey colour, particularly around the face, with a hint of darker mask, vaguely reminiscent of Sora. The legs were largely a pale pinkish-yellow, rather than the yellow-green of Common Moorhen. Lesser Moorhen is also, as its name suggests, smaller than its Common counterpart, although without that species alongside it to compare (Common Moorhen is a vagrant on Sal), judging size proved difficult.

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