September is a good month for migration and so in Madeira archipelago we sometimes get some interesting vagrant species... More, with all these storms on the other side of the Atlantic we may well get some blown away birds, so let's see what surprises September will bring to birdwatchers in Madeira.
Northern Wheather Oenanthe oenanthe oenanthe
What a Zino's Petrel Pelagic Expedition!!!! There was no better way to end 2017 Wind Birds' pelagic expeditions! We had them all, the expected and the non expected seabird species! Great views of the very rare Barolo's shearwater and White-faced storm petrels which did not migrate yet and fed from the chum slick! The team that are doing the Western Palearctic Big Year got at least 7 new species to add to their list!
23rd August 2017 - Northeast wind up to 12 knots and waves up to 1.5 meters from the same direction
> 40 Great shearwater Puffinus gravis
3 Fea's Petrel Pterodroma feae/deserta - 2 on the way and 1 on the chum
5 Pterodroma sp. on the way up, too far to ID
5 Long-tailed Jaeger Stercorarius longicaudus
Zino's Petrel Pterodroma madeira
3 Wilson's Storm-petrel Oceanites oceanicus
>25 Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea
In August starts the migration, specially for seabirds! And we already watched Great shearwater and some Skuas around, so lets see what else this summer month blows to Madeira archipelago:
It seems that seabirds migration already started though White-faced storm petrel was not an early migrant this year as we watched it dancing on the chum slick! On the eve of the 1st day of pelagic the forecasts were for very light wind for the 3 days but fortunately weather conditions changed and we got really nice windy conditions and great seabirds' sightings each day! As usual, Cory's shearwater Calonectris borealis and Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii were seen everyday in big numbers.
1st August 2017 - left Machico under rain but then it was very sunny on the chumming area. It started with light wind up to 4 knots from North but then shifted to Eastern wind up to 6 knots. Swell up to 1.5 meters NW
2 Zino's Petrel Pterodroma madeira
Probable Fea's Petrel Pterodroma feae/deserta - did not come close enough for a definite ID
Fino's Petrel Pterodroma madeira/feae - flew relatively close though too fast and both were limital birds to distinguished between Zino's and Fea's
2 Fea's Petrel Pterodroma feae/deserta
Long-tailed Jaeger Stercorarius longicaudus
Sooty shearwater Puffinus griseus
Pterodroma sp. on the way back
Great shearwater Puffinus gravis - 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!