In February some of the breeding species start to display, as Spectacled Warbler and Atlantic Canary. As for passing birds, we already had a few records of Common House Martin and Barn Swallow in January, so we guess Spring is trying to get announced... Also, this month Wind Birds, as a birdwatching company, turns 19! So let's celebrate it with some interesting bird sightings!
Happy New Year! Rain and wind can divert some birds out of their migratory route into these little pieces of land named Madeira islands. Let's see what 2023 has reserved for us in terms of vagrant bird species:
26th of January 2023 off Lido, Funchal - seawatched by Roger (UK)
Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus
5 Mediterranean Gull Ichthyaetus melanocephalus - four 2nd cycle and one 3rd cycle
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
25th of January 2023 at Madeira Archipelago - during the last week at least 57 Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica were found, most of them dead. According to Diário de Notícias da Madeira, 25th January 2023, 27 birds were found in Madeira (mostly on the North coast) from which only 2 were still breathing and 30 birds were collected in Porto Santo island, from which 4 were still alive. In mainland Portugal several birds have also been collected and were tested for avian flue but were negative, so the general though is that these birds were most probably caught on a storm associated to the movement of a glacier front into western Europe and now have difficulty finding food...
December is usually a good time of year for some visiting ducks as the rains fill up some water reservoirs... Let's see if this is the case this year... The rain is falling well so we now just need the wildfowl!
Deep in Autumn, November tends to be a good month for some migratory birds to stop by Madeira, normally waders and ducks... Let's see which bird species will pass by Madeira this year!
October is normally a good month for vagrant birds and with the 'delayed' hurricane season in the Atlantic we might get some special vagrants being blown off their course and stopping by...
19th of October 2022 at Machico
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Spotted sandpiper Actitis macularius
9 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
2 Black-headed gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus
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!