August is when we start to get some vagrant birds to Madeira, not only in land but also at sea.
During the second week of August wildfires hit Funchal and burnt a lot of people's homes and part of the Ecological Park of Funchal where Manx shearwaters have one of their nesting colonies. Fortunately Manx shearwater Puffinus puffinus puffinus have already fledged in July so only next January they will visit their breeding area again. This time Zino's Petrel Pterodroma madeira were safe as the fires did not get close to their nests and they are still visiting their breeding colony.
Another successful Zino's Petrel Pelagic Expedition run by Wind Birds! We've watched close all the aimed seabirds with the bonus that Great shearwaters are already passing through Madeira.
26th of July 2016 - A northerly light wind up to 8 knots and waves up to 0.5 meters from the same direction
Several Cory's shearwater Calonectris borealis
Dozens of Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii
2 Fea's Petrel Pterodroma feae/deserta - on the way up
2 Madeiran Storm Petrel Oceanodroma castro
1 Red Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius
2 Zino's Petrel Pterodroma madeira - 1 on the way back
1 White-faced Storm Petrel Pelagodroma marina hypoleuca
1 Pterodroma sp.
1 Common Tern Sterna hirundo
July is usually a quiet month for vagrant birds though some years some of the wintering birds extend their stay into summer...
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!