Another amazing pelagic with almost all aimed species observed on the 1st day! Although the wind and sea conditions did not change much through these 3 pelagic days the species of seabirds observed and their behaviours varied a lot! A great number of cetacean species from the Odontoceti sub-order (toothed whales) was also a highlight of this expedition.
Summer starts in June so most of the bird species are already in their breeding areas which consequently makes it a quiet month for vagrant birds around Madeira. Anyhow sometimes we still get some visitant birds around Madeira archipelago.
Strange weather conditions during these 3 days and although it took a while we manage to see a few seabirds' species. Northwesterly winds are not so common in Madeira and it made this pelagic uncommon as well but at the end quite successful! Of course, Cory's shearwater Calonectris borealis and Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii were observed everyday in big numbers.
24th May 2017 - Northwesterly wind up to 10 knots with waves from the same quadrant up to 0.5 meters
4 European Storm petrel Hydrobates pelagicus
15 Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
1 Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus puffinus on the way up
There is no better way to start the pelagics' season than exchanging experiences and observations with a group of pelagic seabirds' specialists! The renowned Brian Patteson, Kate Sutherland and Peter Flood, who run pelagic trips in North Carolina, USA joined Wind Birds team for 3 amazing afternoons at sea! Regarding weather and sea conditions, we may say we had the four seasons but the aimed bird species were all very well observed!!!
9th May 2017 - Wind was light, up to 7 knots from SW and waves were coming from NW up to 1.5 meters. Some calm hours chumming...
Leach's Storm-petrel Oceanodroma leucorhoa
2 Zino's Petrel Pterodroma madeira
Presumable Fea's Petrel Pterodroma feae/deserta - did not fly close enough for a definite ID but seemed quite a bulky bird
>8 Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
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!