October started as a summer month in Madeira with high temperatures. Migration is on the go though on the continent strong easterly winds were felt and these can push some birds into the Atlantic so let's see which species will be lucky enough to find Madeira archipelago as a landing spot.
September is normally a good month to start watching some vagrant birds - birds who got lost on their migration route and were lucky enough to find a piece of land (Madeira!). So let's see what the winds will blow this way during this month:
26th of September 2018 at Baía d'Abra fish farm
4 Grey Heron Ardea cinerea - 1 dead between the fish farm nets
2 Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo - dead between the fish farm nets
A nice pelagic expedition which started with a Madeiran Storm Petrel as soon as we dropped the first block of chum - a good sign as on the last pelagic we missed this species! We had very good views of at least 14 seabird species but unfortunately missed the one that named these pelagic expeditions. Cory's shearwater Calonectris borealis and Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii, again were the commonest species observed everyday.
August started with very hot temperatures in mainland Portugal but Madeira is been keeping its mild temperatures and even some rain, so lets see if which birds prefer this temperate climate of Madeira archipelago to spend a few days or weeks.
A great pelagic expedition to observe Petrels but poor for Storm-petrels! The wind and sea conditions were actually quite good for Storm-petrels though it seems these birds have gone away from their usual hotspots during July and early August... This was the first ever Wind Birds' pelagic without any storm-petrel species observed :(
1st August 2018 - Northeast wind up to 14 knots and NE waves up to 1.5 meters
Zino's Petrel Pterodroma madeira - 1 on the way up
2 Great skua Stercorarius skua- coming, going away and returning to the chum for almost the whole afternoon
Many Cory's shearwater Calonectris borealis
Many Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii
Common tern Sterna hirundo
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!