Although Madeira was not severely hit by Covid-19 as we only had 90 cases and fortunately no deaths, the rules of confinement were quite strict, so with no tourists around we just stayed at home which did not provide any interesting bird record... But things are now opening and as we can go out a bit more it already started producing some bird news. We sure hope that July will produce more bird records as Madeira is re-opening and we will get back to our land tours and pelagic trips!
Due to the Coronavirus situation which messed up the whole world and made us stay home for a few weeks, we were unable to go around the island or to the ocean to watch for birds or other wildlife. So April and May 2020 have no birding news for Madeira archipelago.
By end of February some easterly winds blew strongly, bringing sand and warm temperatures from the Sahara Desert. Some birds may also have been blown off their course and were lucky enough to land on Madeira. Temperatures are still higher than normal winters and rain has been scarce.
14th of March 2020 at Ponta do Pargo - observed by Michel (NED)
2 Sand Martin Riparia riparia
Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens
Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator
5 Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe oenanthe
Eurasian Skylark Alauda arvensis
February started with warmer temperatures than previous years and that, despite delighting the tourists that visit the island, is quite worrying in a nature conservation perspective... Forest fires have already started and threatened not only the flora and fauna of the island but also humans and their goods. But, let's see which birds are also enjoying this Spring weather in Madeira:
28th of February 2020 at Ponta do Pargo
2 Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti - there are less than 5 records for Madeira, on the last 50 years!
2 Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe oenanthe
2 Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator
3 Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Happy 2020 and successful birdwatching is what we wish you all, birdwatchers out there in the field! This January started with Spring temperatures and that might attract or at least hold some of the visitant birds 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!