Birdwatching in Madeira, May 2018

May started with some cooler temperatures and light winds which is not so good to blow migrating birds off their migration route into Madeira. Breeding birds are already in Madeira and some of them already have chicks, like the Roseate Tern. By mid-May we had quite an invasion of Dunlin as numbers were high when compared to previous years. Maybe the strong north/northeast winds on the previous days push them away from their migrating course and into Madeira. Let's see what May brings us in terms of vagrant birds:

22nd of May 2018 at Ribeira Brava
Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima
Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla
8 Dunlin Calidris alpina alpina
4 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Little Egret Egretta garzetta

At São Vicente
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
Dunlin Calidris alpina alpina

At Ponta do Pargo
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus phaeopus
Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis
Dunlin Calidris alpina alpina

21st of May 2018 at Machico
Common Redshank Tringa totanus
36 Dunlin Calidris alpina alpina
At least 2 Baltic Dunlin Calidris alpina schinzii
5 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Little Egret Egretta garzetta

16th of May 2018 at São Vicente
Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solitaria
2 Dunlin Calidris alpina alpina

Black Tern Chlidonias niger

13th of May 2018 off Câmara de Lobos
6 Black Tern Chlidonias niger
15 Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea
> 7 Dunlin Calidris alpina alpina - flying eastwards
4 Great Skua Stercorarius skua

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Spring migration season - April 2018

It's April and bird migration is starting to move northwards! Let's see which species the winds will blow into Madeira, as we are out of migration routes...

26th of April 2018 at São Vicente
2 Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus phaeopus
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres

At Funchal - Observed by Sinclair Manson (UK)
Eurasian Scops Owl Otus scops

24th of April 2018 at Funchal
Alpine swift Tachymarptis melba - reported by Stephen Moores (UK)

21st of April 2018 at Ribeira Brava
> 15 Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
At least 5 Common House Martin Delichon urbicum
3 Little Egret Egretta garzetta
4 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
>10 Red-rumped Swallow Cecropis daurica - observed 30 min later by Goujon Gérard (FRA)

At Funchal - observation by Stephen Moores (UK)
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo

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Birdwatching in Madeira during March 2018

The first two weeks of March were very stormy with heavy rain, strong winds from western quadrant and rough sea. Not safe nor comfortable conditions to go out birding... But birds might be caught up on these storms and may be blown off their migration course and 'thrown' into this small piece of land called Madeira.

29th of March 2018 at Lugar de Baixo
2 Little Crake Porzana parva - a pair
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

At Lido area, Funchal - reported by Kerry Sutton-Spence (UK)
8 Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

28th of March 2018 at Ponta do Pargo
Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus

At Ribeira Brava
4 Little Egret Egretta garzetta

At Lugar de Baixo - observed & photographed by Mark Murray (UK)
Little Crake Porzana parva - male

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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...

24th of February 2018 at São Vicente
4 Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus phaeopus
2 White wagtail Motacilla alba alba

At Ribeira Brava
Eurasian Teal Anas crecca - female
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
9 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres

At Ponta do Pargo
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica

22nd of February 2018 at Machico
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
8 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres

At Caniçal
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica

21st of February 2018 off Porto Moniz
Northern Gannet Morus bassanus - adult

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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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