Storm-petrels are back! August 6-8 Pelagic Expedition

Finally things are getting back to normal with more species of Storm Petrels observed! Ok, White-faced Storm Petrel was literally taken out of a box, it was a rescued bird in land that Hugo and Catarina took to the sea to release. It went well as the bird fed for a while on the chum slick and then slowly flew away from us. Although Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii and Cory's shearwater Calonectris borealis are still in less numbers than previous years.

6th of August 2019 - North wind up to 6 knots and waves from same direction up to 0.5 meters
Pterodroma sp. - on the way up
3 Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
Wilson's Storm-petrel Oceanites oceanicus
Long-tailed Jaeger Stercorarius longicaudus

Blainville's beaked whale Mesoplodon densirostris

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Birdwatching in August 2019 in Madeira

In August migration starts and so there is always a good chance to get some interesting vagrant bird species stopping or passing by Madeira archipelago. Roseate Terns, for example, this year seem to have departed Madeira for their migration earlier, in July, as we can not find them around anymore... So let's see what August 2019 brings for the birdwatchers visiting Madeira this month:

21st of August 2019 at Caniçal -
Sanderling Calidris alba
7 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
2 Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus

20th of August 2019 off Porto Moniz - reported by Phil (UK)
Long-tailed Jaeger Stercorarius longicaudus - 4 adult flying together to the west
Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus

15th of August 2019 at Funchal harbour - watched by Markus (GER)
3 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
Sanderling Calidris alba

14th of August 2019 at Ribeira Brava
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus
3 European Herring Gull Larus argentatus
2 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres

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Birding Pelagic Expedition 31st July - 2nd August 2019

We had some good wind but the storm-petrel seem to be out on vacation... Anyway, we got good views of Zino's and Fea's/Desertas Petrels and, of course, the everyday seabirds Cory's shearwater Calonectris borealis and Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii

31st of July 2019 - Northern wind up to 12 knots with a swell up to 1.5 meters from the same direction
5 Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
Lesser black-backed gull Larus fuscus
2 Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Pterodroma sp. - flew right against the sun so we could not ID it!
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea
Zino's Petrel Pterodroma madeira
Probable Fea's Petrel Pterodroma feae/deserta on the way back

Atlantic spotted dolphin Stenella frontalis

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Petrels Pelagic Expedition - 23rd-25th July 2019

A pelagic with very light wind is always more difficult to watch the seabirds than when there is good wind to blow the smell of the chum in a distance. Also, seabirds are lazzy and when there is no wind to help them glide they just sit on the ocean surface. So, we had very challenging conditions on these 3 consecutive afternoons and only by the very end of the expedition (i.e. after 21:00) we got to watch Zino's Petrel and Madeiran Storm petrel!

23rd of July 2019 - North wind up to 8 knots and northeast waves up to 0.5 meters, not so bad conditions though...
Cory's shearwater Calonectris borealis
Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii
3 Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis

3 Loggerhead turtles Caretta caretta

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Zino's & Fea's Petrels Pelagic Expedition - July 2019

Despite the choppy conditions of the ocean the wind blew quite a few Pterodromas our way and we had great observations and photo opportunities of these rare species! Storm-petrels on the other hand were quite difficult... As usual, Cory's shearwater Calonectris borealis and Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii were watched everyday though numbers were reduced compared to previous years.

2nd of July 2019 - NE wind up to 14 knots and northern waves up to 1.5 meters
Pterodroma sp. - on the way to the chumming position
Fea's Petrel Pterodroma feae/deserta - on the way up
2 Zino's Petrel Pterodroma madeira
3 Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
Great shearwater Puffinus gravis

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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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