Walking a steep trail in search of North-American vagrants under the high cliffs near the little village of Ponta da Fajã on the west coast of Flores eventually I came to a waterfall right beside the hiking trail. I took a rest and was surprised to notice some movement close to the constant shower of water. I looked through the binoculars and saw a Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) feeding in the wet mosses on one side of the waterfall which falls down for 30 meters in a little pond. Quite a strange – and open – habitat for a Goldcrest. Obviously the main task was to search for food, but several times the bird raised the wings and it looked as if it was bathing under the waterfall.
Although quite a common bird on mainland Europe, this small, chubby and restless passerine bird (the smallest bird in Europe) is undoubtedly one of the favorite companions during hiking walks inside dense forests and natural scrub of the island of Flores. Its constant hissing, combined with its innate curiosity, make this bird an easy species to observe, as long as you are patience and listen to its high-pitched calls. Its nesting in Portugal is restricted to the Azores. It is also the species with the highest adaptive radiation in the archipelago, and three subspecies are currently recognized. This is Regulus regulus azoricus (for São Miguel), Regulus regulus sanctae-mariae (for Santa Maria), and Regulus regulus inermis (for the central Islands and Flores). Thus the image of the blog shows a Regulus regulus inermis – Goldcrest.
The most obvious feature of its plumage is the golden crown, which is more yellow for females and more orange for the males. Agitated the golden crown is raised and presents a wonderful color. The back is of a greenish brown, with the black wings and white margins a dominant feature. The throat is something dirty white as well as the eye zone, contrasting with its large black eye. The chest and abdomen are white-brown; its legs are black, as well as the short, thin beak. Remarkable is a small black mustache.
The Goldcrest occurs throughout the archipelago, with the exception of Corvo. It appears from the level of the sea until the mountain zones, sometimes the only bird on the bracken plateaus of Flores. As long as there is vegetation present its presence is possible; however, its greatest abundance is associated with formations of woods and natural forests dominated by the endemic species of broom or heather (Erica azorica) and the endemic Azores juniper (Juniperus brevifolia).
In order to satisfy the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of Western Palearctic, Bird-lens.com has undertaken dedicated trips to nearby and distant bird areas. This is to be able to do anything to provide excellent images of the birds of the Western Palearctic. Sometimes the yield of images is enriched by bird species, which are very unlikely to show-up in the Western Palearctic. The results in images even of rare Western Palearctic birds are very good.
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