September tends to be a good month for migratory birds passing by Madeira. Starting with seabird's migration where Porto Moniz is the best seawatching spot to observe them, there should also be some vagrant birds stoping by.
14th September 2014 at São Vicente
Eurasian Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
At Porto Moniz
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
The wind was between 6 and 15 knots, during the 3 days, which allowed us to observe the different behaviour of the birds according to the sea and wind conditions. 1 Zino's Petrels was clearly observed and a few migrating seabirds were seen. Of course Cory's shearwater Calonectris borealis and Bulwer's petrel Bulweria bulwerii were the constant species everyday. So, in total we saw 11 species of seabirds (Madeiran storm-petrel does not count), 4 species of cetaceans and 1 shark:
In August starts the migration and so Madeira always get a few vagrants passing by on their way to the South. Though we are out of most of the birds' migration routes, we do get a few interesting species:
30th August 2014 at Lugar de Baixo
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
3 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
At Ponta do Pargo
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
The wind did blow for this Zino's Petrel Pelagic Expedition! In some places a bit too much as we could not go to one of the positions where we get more Storm petrels... Anyway, the show of 2 Zino's petrel on the chum slick on the last day was amazing! Bulwer's petrel Bulweria bulwerii and Cory's shearwater Calonectris borealis were, again, the most observed seabirds everyday.
14th August 2014
Madeira Archipelago offers good conditions to birdwatchers, not only in terms of breeding birds but also vagrant bird species. Though there are only 47 breeding species to these islands, about half of them are endemic species or subspecies to Madeira or to Macaronesia region (Madeira, Azores and Canary Islands).
Madeira has three endemic species: Trocaz Pigeon Columba trocaz which is associated with the native forest of Madeira: the Laurel Forest; Madeira Firecrest Regulus madeirensis, normally observed on forested areas and the rare Zino's Petrel Pterodroma madeira, a threatened seabird that nests on the highest mountains of Madeira. Regarding the Macaronesia bird species, one may observe Fea's/Desertas Petrel Pterodroma feae/deserta, Madeiran Storm-petrel Oceanodroma castro, Atlantic Canary Serinus canaria, Berthelot's Pipit Anthus berthelotti and the Plain Swift Apus unicolor.
One interesting feature of birding in Madeira is the high number of endemic subspecies from which the ornithological highlights go to the bluish Madeiran Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs maderensis and the darker colours of Barn Owl Tyto alba schmitzi and Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea schmitzi.
However, seabirds are the major attraction for birdwatchers because there are several colonies of world importance. In Madeira archipelago one may find 8 breeding seabirds species namely the rare Pterodromas (P. feae and P. madeira), Barolo's Shearwater Puffinus baroli, Madeiran Storm-petrel Oceanodroma castro and White-faced Storm Petrel Pelagodroma marina hypoleuca. This last species being confined to breed in Selvagens Islands but observed offshore on Wind Birds' Pelagic Expeditions.
A pelagic trip on Madeira or seawatching from the coast gives you also the chance to observe some vagrant birds like Great Shearwater Puffinus gravis, Great Skua Stercorarius skua, Wilson's Storm-petrel Oceanites oceanicus or European Storm-petrel Hydrobates pelagicus, between others;
Join one of Wind Birds tours and you will see not only Madeira birds but also amazing landscapes which are out of the common tourist routes!