December started with strong easterly winds and very warm temperatures, beating the records of the last 50 years. Lets see if these inviting temperatures and the winds pushed some any interesting birds into the Madeira archipelago.
It's November and air and sea temperatures are still above 20ºC... Perfect conditions for the migrating birds to stop by and rest for a few days before continuing their journey! So let's see which bird species will visit Madeira during this month:
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.
18th of October 2018 at Machico
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
3 Little Egret Egretta garzetta
12 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
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.
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!