A Zino's Petrel Pelagic Expedition with very light winds which is not the best conditions to watch seabirds... So in order to get the most of it we had to postpone one of the days to get some stronger winds. It ended up as a very good pelagic for petrels though not so good for storm-petrels.
19th of June 2019 - no more than 4 knots of wind from NW for most of the afternoon and northwest waves up to 0.5 meters
Temperatures already feel like August though we are still in June... Global warming is what is called! Let's see which bird species are blown to Madeira and out of their migratory route:
Another very successful pelagic with all the aimed bird species observed and even some surprises! The weather forecasts were for the wind to drop a bit for the 2nd and 3rd days but it didn't really happened. So we got some rough seas though the size of the boat (11 meters) and the shock-mitigation seats made them very bearable and the species observed compensate the tiring (not hurt!) muscles! Again, Cory's shearwater Calonectris borealis and Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii were species present everyday though in some areas more than others!
Another successful pelagic expedition with all the aimed species observed! Some sightings were better than other but, hey that's birdwatching! The sea conditions started relatively calm but got rougher each day. Cory's shearwater Calonectris borealis and Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii were species present everyday in big numbers.
22nd of May 2019 - 13 knots of northeast wind and waves up to 0.5 meters when the trip started but increased to 1 meter for the end of the day
1 Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus puffinus - flying far within a group of Cory’s
White-faced Storm Petrel Pelagodroma marina hypoleuca - the bird kept a distance which did not allow for everyone to have a good view
6 Madeiran Storm Petrel Oceanodroma castro
Sabine's Gull Xema sabini
3 Barolo’s shearwater Puffinus baroli - 1 flew quite close to the boat
5 Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
The first pelagic of the year started with 4 well observed Zino's Petrels though the second day we were surprised by an electronic failure on both the brand new engines which made us return to land just after dropping the first bucket of chum and on a very low speed. Fixed the problem and the 3rd day of pelagic was the best/record day for Barolo's shearwaters! Cory's shearwater Calonectris borealis and Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii were a constant in all three days!
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!