July is not the best month for vagrant birds though there is always a chance to find some lost bird in Madeira...
This pelagic expedition was not as breezy as we would like and although we got good observations and numbers of Zino's Petrels and Desertas Petrels we missed a few storm petrels which were expected to be seen at this time of year, such as White-faced Storm Petrel and Wilson's Storm-petrel... Oh well, that is Birdwatching!
This pelagic expedition started with a very light wind which normally is not so good to watch seabirds though we did manage to observe them all very close! Cory’s shearwater Calonectris borealis and Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii were a constant in all 3 afternoons though very low numbers on the 28th June.
Amazing pelagic expedition with the aimed species observed very well and the four seasons felt! Although the wind kept calming down through the days we got very close views of the Petrels and Storm-petrels! Cory’s shearwater Calonectris borealis, Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii and in much fewer numbers Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus were seen everyday.
In terms of vagrant birds, birdwatching in June is normally less interesting than in May but when talking about birds we never know... Let's see what which bird species are blown out of their migration course into Madeira:
At Porto Moniz - observed by Hugo Wieleman and Michel de Lange (NED)
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis - The observers recognise that due to the short observation time a hybrid can not be excluded. The bird was flying west. If confirmed this would be a first record for 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!