September 2018 bird observations in Madeira archipelago

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:

19th of September 2018 at São Vicente
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus phaeopus

At Ribeira Brava
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus

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Migrating seabirds pelagic, 23-25 August 2018

Great shearwater Puffinus gravis

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.

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Birdwatching in Madeira, August 2018

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.

29th of August 2018 at Ribeira Brava
5 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres

22nd of August 2018 at Ribeira Brava
2 Sanderling Calidris alba
Lesser Black-backed gull Larus fuscus
4 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres

21st of August 2018 at Caniçal
Sanderling Calidris alba
3 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus phaeopus
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula

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Madeira deep sea pelagic -1st to 3rd of August 2018

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 :(

Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii

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

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Petrels and Cetaceans pelagic 25-27th July 2018

Another pelagic with light winds which is great for cetaceans but not so good for storm petrels... 5 species of Odontoceti (toothed whales) were observed and great sightings of Zino's Petrel and Desertas'/Fea's Petrel as well.

Desertas' Petrel and Cory's Shearwater

25th July 2018 - West wind up to 5 knots and westerly waves up to 0.3 meters
Some Cory's shearwater Calonectris borealis
Dozens Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii
2 Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
Pterodroma sp.

Short-beaked common dolphin Delphinus delphis
Striped dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba
Common Bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus

Loggerhead turtle Caretta caretta

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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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