Published on 13 March 2014 in Letters

It was interesting to see the account by Jens Hering and Elmar Fuchs (Brit. Birds 102: 17­24) on the discovery of the Cape Verde Warbler Acrocephalus brevipennis on the island of Fogo. In the past, its absence from the island was very surprising but no-one, including a number of good ornithologists, had managed to find it. I did not visit the island myself when I was in the archipelago in 1951, but passed almost close enough to hear any singing birds there. I suggest that the birds currently missing from the adjacent island of Brava, which lies within sight of Fogo, may have moved there. The observation that the birds now on Fogo prefer cultivated areas, as they did on Brava, where they avoided the ravines (in which the species occurs on Santiago), supports this. The Cape Verde Islands are prone to intermittent droughts, and seem likely to have been affected by the African ones of the 1970s. The Cape Verde Warbler does not at first sight Dr W. R. P. Bourne Ardgath, Station Road, Dufftown AB55 4AX appear likely to move around, but it is related to long-distance migrants. It seems likely that an essential strategy for the species, in common with other birds of wetland habitats, is to disperse either when its habitat dries up or when the population is high, under more favourable conditions. There are past records of its presence, and then absence, and then reappearance on the island of São Nicolau. Perhaps its former absence

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