Jan Eske, Per Hirslund, Lars Jensen, Andreas Bruun Kristensen, Palle Nygaard, and Klaus Malling Olsen.
Thanks to all the EBN'ters who send me information about Madeira. Especially I would like to thank Antero Topp who provided a lot of useful information about the seabirds and how to find them.
We booked a flight including accommodation and transfer from Copenhagen via the Danish travel agency Spies. We stayed at Hotel Mimosa in the western part of Funchal, 200 meters from the sea. We rented two cars (Seat Ibiza) from Hertz. The sailing trip to the Desertas cost 11000 Escudos per person and was booked through Albatroz Organization, telephone and fax is (091) 22 03 27. Their office is found easily at Funchal Harbor. The price included a one-and-a-half hour stop at Deserta Grande, a delicious lunch and a glass of Madeira on the way back.
Hot, mostly between 25 and 30°C. We experienced one day with rather dense fog in the mountains but fortunately not in the Long-toed Pigeon valley
5/8 Airport-Funchal-Ponto da Cruz pm
6/8 Balcoes am - Santo de Serra pm - Ponto de Sau Laurenco pm
7/8 Funchal am - Ponto da Cruz pm
8/8 Funchal-the Desertas-Funchal (all-day sailing trip)
9/8 Balcoes am - Ponto de Sau Laurenco pm
10/8 Ponto do Pargo am - Porto Moniz pm
11/8 Ponto Moniz pm
12/8 Funchal-Airport am
We arrived at 3pm, and the first Plain Swifts were seen from the bus taking us to our hotel in Funchal. The harbour hosted: adult Sanderling 1, Ruddy Turnstone 3, Common Tern 15, Little Egret 1, and 'Atlantic' Herring Gull 80.
Four hours seawatching in the evening from Ponto da Cruz: Bulwer's Petrel 500, Cory's Shearwater 400, Little Shearwater 3, Great Skua 1 east.
Arriving at Balcoes at 10am, staying in the area for two hours, we saw our first Long-toed Pigeon from the parking lot at the trout hatchery. Three Long-toed Pigeons were seen from the viewing point. The trail to the viewing point produced Madeira Firecrest 8, Blackbird 3, Blackcap 3 and Chaffinch 10.
We stopped at the highest point on the road between Poiso and Santo da Serra. On the right side of the road (to the south) we found two Spectacled Warblers and a Berthelot's Pipit. One Linnet flew over.
Ponto de Sau Lourenco 4-7pm: 10 Berthelot's Pipits and two Rock Sparrows at the parking lot. Also a flock of 30 Canaries. Seawatching from the northern part (Ponta do Rosto) of Ponto de Sau Lourenco included Cory's Shearwater 100, Manx Shearwater 1 east, and Pomarine Skua 2 east.
Funchal harbour was checked before noon. Birds seen included a banded Herring Gull ('S 902' on a yellow band on the left leg). Also Little Egret 1, Lesser Black-backed Gull 1, and Curlew Sandpiper 1 adult flying west.
Seawatching 5-7pm at Ponto da Cruz: Bulwer's Petrel 15, and Cory's Shearwater 100.
We left Funchal harbour heading for the Desertas at 10am. We boarded Deserta Grande for one-and-a-half hour and were back at Funchal at 7pm.
Birds on the trip: Fea's Petrel 3 (near Bugio), Fea's/Zino's Petrel 5, Bulwer's Petrel 200, Cory's Shearwater 150, Little Shearwater 10, Common Tern 10, Berthelot's Pipit 1 (Deserta Grande), Canary 10 (Deserta Grande). This trip provided excellent views of the seabirds.
We visited the Balcoes area 10-12am. This time we drove north past the village Achada do Cedro Gordo and turned left on the narrow road towards Faja da Nogueira. This narrow road goes through a steep valley with laurel trees on both sides. We saw at least 8 Long-toed Pigeons. Some of them perched in trees for long periods.
Ponto de Sau Lourenco 3-6pm: Bulwer's Petrel 50, Cory's Shearwater 20, Little Egret 2, Berthelot's Pipit 10, Ruddy Turnstone 3, Whimbrel 1, Rock Sparrow 20.
We drove all the way to Ponto do Pargo where the famous lighthouse Farois is situated. Here we spent an hour birdwatching around noon and turned up Buzzard 6, Hoopoe 4, Berthelot's Pipit 2, Rock Sparrow 2, Linnet 5, and two very nice Pallid Swifts.
Between 4:30 and 7pm we went seawatching at Porto Moniz which turned out to be an excellent spot. We recorded: Fea's/Zino's Petrel 5, Bulwer's Petrel 400, Cory's Shearwater 600, Little Shearwater 12, Great Shearwater 1 west, Lesser Black-backed Gull 1 3rd cal. year, Arctic Tern 80 west, Long-tailed Skua 1 adult west, and Whimbrel 1.
We spent the afternoon seawaching at Porto Moniz and recorded almost the same species as the day before although the number of Bulwer's Petrel was down: Fea's/Zino's Petrel 7, Bulwer's Petrel 15, Cory's Shearwater 200, Little Shearwater 15, Great Shearwater 2 west, the Lesser Black-backed Gull still present, Arctic Tern 30 west, and Pomarine Skua 1 adult west.
On the way back to the airport at 9am we spotted a Grey Heron flying west near the airport
day1 day2 day3 day4 day5 day6 day7 day8 Fea's petrel 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 Fea's/Zino's Petrel 0 0 0 5 0 5 7 0 Bulwer's Petrel 500 0 15 200 50 500 15 0 Cory's Shearwater 400 100 100 150 20 600 200 0 Great Shearwater 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 Manx Shearwater 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 Little Shearwater 1 0 0 7 0 12 15 0 Little Egret 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 Grey Heron 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 Buzzard 1 4 5 0 1 6 2 0 Kestrel 2 3 3 0 2 3 3 0 Ruddy Turnstone 3 0 0 0 3 0 4 0 Sanderling 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Curlew Sandpiper 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 Whimbrel 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 Great Skua 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Pomarine Skua 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 Long-tailed Skua 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 'Atlantic' Herring Gull 80 80 80 50 50 20 30 0 Lesser Black-backed Gull 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 Common Tern 20 8 10 10 30 10 10 0 Arctic Tern 0 0 0 0 0 80 30 0 Long-toed Pigeon 0 1 0 0 8 0 0 0 Pallid Swift 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 Plain Swift 10 100 60 10 100 50 50 0 Hoopoe 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 Berthelot's Pipit 0 10 0 1 10 2 0 0 Grey Wagtail 2 0 1 0 2 2 2 0 Robin 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 Blackbird 1 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 Blackcap 0 3 2 0 2 0 2 0 Spectacled Warbler 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 Madeira Firecrest 0 8 0 0 1 0 0 0 Rock Sparrow 0 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 Chaffinch 0 10 1 0 0 0 10 0 Canary 0 30 0 5 10 5 0 0 Greenfinch 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 Goldfinch 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 Linnet 0 1 2 0 0 5 0 0
Breeds on Bugio (Desertas) and is present June-January at least. Fairly easy to see near the nesting island. Try to go out on a boat which will give you a chance of close up views of these magnificent birds.
Breeds on mainland Madeira and is probably present between April and October. Since there are less than 20 breeding pairs back (perhaps only 8) no attempt should be made to try to find their nesting caves in the mountains which anyway is probably impossible. Whether or not it is possible to identify Zino's Petrel away from their nesting caves is an open question. Especially since there are probably no confirmed pictures of flying Zino's Petrels. Optimistic birders may try Porto Moniz since we saw several Fea's/Zino's flying 'the wrong way' away from the Desertas in the evening. There have also been several claimed Zino's Petrels from the Porto Santo ferry.
Ponta da Cruz and especially Porto Moniz are probably to good spots to view Fea's/Zino's from land. A trip with the Porto Santo ferry during August is almost guaranteed Fea's/Zino's Petrels.
Porto Moniz and Ponta da Cruz are good spots for this species (May-October). Any boat trips near the Desertas should produce good numbers. Compared to other trip reports we had very large number of Bulwer's especially from the shore.
A surprise on the trip. Birds may be spotted in August and September when they are migrating south. Also recorded from the Porto Santo ferry in August.
Porto Moniz and Ponta da Cruz are good spots for this species (all year although late summer might be the best period). Any boat trips near the Desertas and the Porto Santo Ferry should also produce a few Little Shearwaters. Compared to other trip reports we observed high numbers of Little Shearwaters.
Rarely seen from land. The end of August and beginning of September may be better to observe migrating birds. The Porto Santo ferry may be the best way to observe the species since the ferry is returning to Funchal late in the evening at the time that Madeira Storm-Petrel is flying towards the Desertas where it breeds (all year). Madeira Storm-Petrel is arriving at the nesting caves during dark - later than the other local breeding seabirds and therefore more difficult to see. The tiny size also makes it hard to spot. Anyway if you miss it go on a pelagic off North Carolina, USA, in August. There you will also most probably see more than ten birds accompanying Leach's and Wilson's Storm-Petrels.
Go somewhere else.
Apparently a scarce irregularly breeder on islets off Ponto do Sau Lourenco. Roseate Tern has been recorded by several visiting birders especially at Funchal harbour. We carefully checked all the Common Terns but failed to find any Roseates.
The Long-toed Pigeon is easiest find near Balcoes. From Funchal take the road via Poiso towards Santana. 1.5 km after Achada do Cedro Gordo take a dirt road on the left hand towards Faja da Nogueira. Stop along the road where there is laurel forest on both sides of the road and you should see some doves flying over the tree-tops occasionally perching.
Common everywhere. Look out for the odd Pallid Swift.
Common at Ponto do Sau Lourenco. First birds seen on the parking lot feeding on bread.
Apparently uncommon on Madeira. Try the spot we found on the road between Poiso and Santo da Serra. Listen for its song since the only other Sylvia warbler on Madeira is Blackcap although other species probably occur in migration. Spectacled Warbler should be much more common on Porto Santo in low scrub.
This species is found in good numbers on the trail towards the Balcoes viewing point. Park the car at the parking lot at the trout hatchery just before entering Ribeiro Frio. The trail to Balcoes is sign-posted from the left side of the road. 100 meter after the trout hatchery the trail begins. Madeira Firecrest looks and sounds fairly different from Firecrest notably a very prominent white spot below the eye and pale white 'mirror' on the secondaries. The call is also different. Sometimes two-toned like a Yellow-browed Warbler.
Probably a declining species on Madeira since it seems that it was reported in larger numbers in earlier trip reports than recent reports. Ponto do Sau Lourenco seems like a reliable spot. The fields around Farois lighthouse on Ponto do Pargo is probably also a good shot for the species.
Common on Madeira. Seen in flocks on Ponto Sau Lourenco.
Any comments or questions are welcome.
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