Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Cream-coloured Courser - Socotra and the Isles of Scilly

Having a collection of around 30,000 photographs I find myself spending my occasional spare moment editing, sorting and cataloging my ever expanding library. This is not simply an arduous task it brings back happy memories of trips and great birds. Every so often, when the mood takes me/time allows I am going to post photographs that are either of a great bird or are of those that bring back happy memories.  So to start, one of the best birds out there and highly sought after, the Cream-coloured Courser.

Cream-coloured Courser - Socotra - Simon Colenutt
Cream-coloured Courser - Socotra January 2007 - Simon Colenutt

I visited Socotra as part of a trip to Yemen from 19th-22nd January 2012 with Jon Hornbuckle, Neil Bostock, Janos Olah, Phil Rostron and Zoli Ecsedi. Jon's write-up of the trip can be found here. We found a pair of Cream-coloured Courser nesting on a rocky cliff-top. The birds had eggs and were fairly approachable. Jon and I lay close to the nest covered by a ground sheet to await the return of an incubating bird and after a short while one of the birds returned and settled back on the eggs.

There are five subspecies of Cream-coloured Courser distributed from the Canary Islands and the Cape Verde Islands in the west, through north and central Africa (south of the Sahara in the Sahel region), to Ethiopia and Somalia, the Arabian Peninsula and east to Iran, Afghanistan and North-west India. A distribution map can be viewed here. The nominate race (cursor) makes the most extensive migratory movements with much of the population from North Africa moving south to the Sahel region. It is this race that occasionally occurs in the British Isles with a total of 45 records up to the end of 2012 although only eight of these have occurred since 1950. One of the most famous and well watched of these, a first winter, occurred on the Isles of Scilly from 28th September until 26th October 2004 before it sadly died in a bird hospital on 27th October. I had the pleasure of being on the islands for a week during the latter part of its stay.

Cream-coloured Courser - Isles of Scilly - Simon Colenutt
First Winter Cream-coloured Courser - Isles of Scilly October 2004 - Simon Colenutt