February 2018 bird visitors to Madeira

February is a transition month, while some passerines start displaying, like Spectacled warbler, other birds are still in their winter schedule. In Madeira February started cooler than normal, with snow up on the highest peaks and also windy and wet. Not the best conditions to go out birding though...

21st of February 2017 off Porto Moniz
Northern Gannet Morus bassanus - adult

At São Vicente
2 White wagtail Motacilla alba alba

At Ponta do Pargo
2 Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
10 Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis

At Ribeira Brava
Eurasian Teal Anas crecca - female
4 Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
2 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres

15th of February 2017 at São Vicente
2 White wagtail Motacilla alba alba
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

At Ponta do Pargo
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris

6th of February 2017 at Funchal harbour - recorded by Roef Mulder (NED)
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus

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January 2018 birding observations

Happy New Year for all birders around the world!!! It seems clear that climate is changing and although in some parts of the globe temperatures are really low, in others, like Madeira, January started feeling like a spring month with temperatures as high as 24ºC in the first week. So lets see which bird species will fly away from the cold and land accidentally in this warm archipelago:

31st of January 2017 at Ponta do Pargo
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
>30 Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris

At São Vicente
3 Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus phaeopus
White wagtail Motacilla alba alba

At Ribeira Brava
Eurasian Teal Anas crecca - female

30th of January 2017 at Caniço
Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus

At Machico
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Northern Pintail Anas acuta - drake
15 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres

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Madeira Birdwatching in December 2017

December started very wet in Madeira which is not so good (and in some places not safe!) to go out birdwatching... Anyway, let's see what Santa will bring us in terms of vagrant bird species:

29th of December 2017 at São Vicente
Eurasian Teal Anas crecca - male
2 White wagtail Motacilla alba alba

28th of December 2017 at Machico
Northern Pintail Anas acuta - male
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
9 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres

At Funchal Botanical Garden - photographed by Richard Winters (NED)
Yellow-browed warbler Phylloscopus inornatus

At Ribeira Brava - observed by Manuel Ribeiro (POR)
Eurasian Teal Anas crecca
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus
White wagtail Motacilla alba alba

At Ponta do Pargo - by Manuel Ribeiro (POR)
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus
14 Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis
Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita

27th of December 2017 over Neves, Funchal - reported by Ole Steinset (NOR)
Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus

At Porto Santo Golf Course - observations by Manuel Ribeiro (POR)
3 Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope
7 Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
2 Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
8 Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
4 Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
3 Yellow-browed warbler Phylloscopus inornatus
11 White wagtail Motacilla alba alba

At Tanque pond, Porto Santo - by Manuel Ribeiro (POR)
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
3 Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
2 Red Knot Calidris canutus
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus

At Pico do Castelo, Porto Santo - by Manuel Ribeiro (POR)
2 Yellow-browed warbler Phylloscopus inornatus
7 Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita

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Birding in Madeira, November 2017

End of October was very warm and with light winds which was almost better than summer! But in November, the month before Christmas, temperatures already dropped a little bit and rain is finally showing itself. Despite the weather events on the Atlantic on the last couple of months, so far no real rarities have shown up in Madeira archipelago, so lets keep birding around in search for some interesting vagrant birds.

Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus by Peter Hellenthal

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Birdwatching in Madeira

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!

Madeiran Storm Petrel Oceanodroma castro

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