November has started but the temperatures are still around 25ºC intercalated with some rainy days... As it is still migration season anything can stop by Madeira archipelago, so let's see which species will visit us during the Thanksgiving month:
Very high temperatures for the beginning of the autumn, reaching 30ºC... It is migration time, but it seems the weather seasons are disappearing. Let's see which species will be blown off their migratory course into Madeira!
August was a calm month regarding migrating birds passing by or stopping by Madeira. Ruddy turnstone was the only species recorded by Wind Birds, so there were no news for August 2023 other than the pelagic expedition. Now we sure hope September will bring some interesting species to the archipelago!
22nd of September 2023 at Machico river - photographed by Andreas (GER)
Ringed Teal Callonetta leucophrys - Most probably an escaped bird and maybe the same individual recorded on the 9th of July at Santa Cruz
In the 2nd half of August usually starts the migration season for seabirds and we already saw a few species passing by Madeira. As for breeding birds we got all we were expecting at this time of year! As usual, Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii and Cory's shearwater Calonectris borealis were present everyday although we missed Yellow-legged gull on the chum.
22nd August 2023 - NNE wind up to 12 knots and waves up to 1 meter from same direction
6 Desertas / Fea's Petrel Pterodroma feae/deserta - 2 on the way up and 1 on the way back
6 Common tern Sterna hirundo - 1 on the way up
Wilson's Storm-petrel Oceanites oceanicus
Madeiran storm petrel Oceanodroma castro
22nd August 2023 - 7 knots of Northern wind and 0.5 meter waves from NNE
2 Desertas / Fea's Petrel Pterodroma feae/deserta - on the way up
4 Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus puffinus - 3 on the way up
4 Parasitic Jaeger Stercorarius parasiticus - flew high up above us
2 Common tern Sterna hirundo
15 Arctic tern Sterna paradisaea - 6 on the way back
Long-tailed Jaeger Stercorarius longicaudus
2 Zino's Petrel Pterodroma madeira - 1 on the way back
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!