Madeira May 2010


Madeira 2010 Photo Gallery

Participants:-
Gary Crowder, UK gazcrowder@googlemail.com

Mike Bailey, UK mikebailey34@gmail.com

Logistics:-
Flights were arranged with easy Jet leaving Stanstead for Funchal at about 7 am on the 22nd May, returning at 11 am on 29th May – these flight were approximately £60 each return. Cheap hire cars had been arranged back in the UK with a local firm near to the airport and the company were there prompt to pick us up from the Airport. We had arranged to hire the first car for the first two days of the holiday and for it to be collected from our hotel in Manchico on the morning of the 24th, another to be delivered back at the hotel on the morning of the 27th for the last two days – both the pick up and delivery went without a hitch. In both cases we had a Renault Modus at a rate of about £20 a day, although a bit battered and small it was ideal (except for the lack of power going up the steep hills/mountains of Madeira) for our purposes – although I think a larger car would be required if there’s more than two people on the trip.

Catarina at Madeira Wind Birds arranged the two hotels. We decided on five nights in the White Waters Hotel in Machico as this is one of the closest hotels to the port from which we were departing on the Zino’s Pelagics. At only 40 euros between us for Bed and Breakfast each night this was a lovely clean hotel near to the sea-front of Machico, although tricky to find (due to the one-way system around Machico and the locals never having heard of the place) this hotel was ideally located for the beach, harbour and local restaurants and bars. We then moved to the Dom Pedro in Garajau for the last two nights to be nearer towards Funchal and also Ponta do Garajau. Although this was slightly cheaper at 38 euros between us per night (Bed and Breakfast) in hindsight I don’t think we really needed to move hotels as it was only about 10 kilometres down the coast and I personally preferred White Waters and Machico itself.

The chance of some outstanding Western Palearctic seawatching on the Madeira Wind Birds Zino’s Petrel Pelagics was the reason for organising this short trip to Madeira and even at the cost of 525 euros each – it was well worth it. This three day trip is again organised by Madeira Wind Birds and consisted of three single day trips out on an large inflatable zodiac starting at about 3pm and returning usually around 11pm but a little later on the final day (in our case anyway). The first two days (of our trip anyway*) were spent to the east of the Madeira in an area where Zino’s Petrels have been found to regularly occur and our final day was spent to the south of the Desertas islands looking for any species we’d missed – in our case Storm-petrels – ending up close to the Desertas to listen to the breeding seabirds returning to there colonies.

Another trip organised by Madeira Wind Birds was the Zino’s Petrel Night walk which consisted of walking to the only know breeding colony of the Zino’s Petrels in the mountains in Madeira’s interior along a small patch in almost total darkness (luckily it was dark or else I wouldn’t have been able to walk along the edges of the sheer drops if I’d have seen them in daylight – although I am soft like that!!). This really is a special and eerie experience with a number of Zino’s Petrels call around you and the occasional flash of there pale bodies in the moonlight.

*Obviously due to weather conditions etc the actual locations can change. In fact in our case one of the trips was put back a day from the 26th to the 27th due to the forecast of NO wind on the 26th!!!! This sadly meant that two of the original seven booked on the Pelagics missed out on the last day (and White-faced Storm-petrel – sorry Chris and Helen!!)

Sites Visited:-
Funchal harbour
Obviously this is in the middle of the capital and can be easily birded if your Hotel is in Funchal but we visited on a Friday and found that it was quite difficult to park anywhere and so opted for a shopping centre multi-storey car park. We did see two Roseate Terns amongst the Common Terns as well as a Little Egret here but we didn’t see the very much hoped for Monk Seal which had been seen by a British Birder a few days before.

Ponta do Garajau
Located only a few kilometres north-east of Funchal, this Headland was just down from our second Hotel in Garajau. Along the path to the headland we saw a lot of Plain Swifts and Madeiran Wall Lizards, as well as a singing male Spectacled Warbler. A two hour sea watch on the 28th produced about 200 Cory’s Shearwater, 3 Bulwers Petrels and about 20 presumabed Spotted Dolphins. The town of Garajau also produced our only Sparrowhawk (Madeiran subspecies).

Machico
Located north-east of the airport, this small Harbour town was the location of our first hotel due to its proximity to Canical Harbour. Along the beach here and in particular at the mouth of the Ribeiro Machico we did see two Dunlin and a Little Egret as well as Plain Swift, two Swallows and two House Martins overhead. The vegetation along the riverbed is meant to be a very good place for Common Waxbill but we never saw any. Just off the Plaza, the Moat of the Old Fort contained lots of the introduced Perez’s Frog as well as a single Emperor Dragonfly.

Caniçal
Located between Machico and Ponta de São Lourenço on the eastern part of the island, this is the harbour used for the Zino’s Petrel Pelagics. In the town itself we had about 20 Spanish Sparrows and a Spectacled Warbler. The time spent in the harbour during the preparation for the pelagics produced at least four Rock Sparrows and a fly over Buzzard as well as the usual Common Terns and Atlantic Yellow-legged Gulls.

Ponta de São Lourenço
We only paid a brief visit to this eastern headland and nothing much was seen other than the dramatic scenery. The road between here and Caniçal was more productive and produced good numbers of Berthelot’s Pipit and Spanish Sparrows as well as four Rock Sparrows and Monarch and Clouded Yellow Butterflies.

Ribeiro Frio

This inland site, north of Funchal, seems to be the regular place for Trocaz Pigeon and two flyover birds didn’t disappoint – one seen to land in distant trees. We parked up on the roadside and just scanned the wooded valley. This general area was good for Chaffinch, Blackcap and Robins. Madeiran Firecrest was also seen en-route to here from Pico do Areeiro.

Pico do Areeiro
This central Mountain is the only known site for breeding Zino’s Petrel. We visited the site during the day before our organised night walk and saw our only Red-legged Partridge as well as Berthelots Pipits and a few Clouded Yellows. The organised night walk took us along a quite hairy path – sometimes steep and narrow, with large drops either side – for about twenty minutes, until we arrived at the Zino’s Petrels nesting site . From here we were entertained by the spooky calls and brief glimpses of approximately a dozen Petrels continually returning to their nests. Although the walk was a little uncomfortable it was definitely worth it!!!

Lugar de Baixo
Located near Ponta do Sol, this productive pool has turned up quite a few rarities for Madeira especially Waders and Wildfowl, and did contain a drake Green-winged Teal on our visits. When you reach the area of Lugar de Baixo driving from Ribeira Brava (entering the area from a tunnel) you pass under a footbridge, with a café and the sea to your left. The lagoon is just passed the café on the coast side of the road. We also had a Roseate Tern along the coast here while enjoying the ‘delights’ of the Café NB. If the waiter suggests your choice is more for the locals and you won’t like it, believe him!!

BIRDS

Fea’s Petrel Pterodroma feae
TBA

Zino’s / Fea’s Petrel Pterodroma madeira/feae
TBA

Zino’s Petrel Pterodroma madeira Madeiran Endemic
TBA

Bulwer’s Petrel Bulweria bulwerii

Good numbers were seen on all three days of the Zino’s Pelagics with at least 62 being seen on the first day (24th). A small number were seen in the moonlight and more heard on the third day of the Pelagics (27th) as the birds returned to there breeding colony on the Desertas.

One was seen (two more by MB) in a two hour seawatch off Ponta do Garajau on the 28th.

Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea borealis


Easily the commonest bird seen on the Zino’s Pelagics, with about 300 seen on the first day (24th) and about 250 on the third day (27th). A number were also heard and seen in the moonlight returning to there colony on the Desertas on the third day (27th).

Two were seen off Laguna de Beixa on the 23rd, with about 200 (including a raft of 65) seen in a two hour seawatch off Ponta do Garajau on the 28th.

Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus

Small numbers seen on all three days of the Zino’s Pelagics, with a maximum of about 14 on day one (24th).

Madeiran Storm-petrel Oceanodroma castro

One flew straight passed (ignoring the chum) on the second day of the Zino’s Pelagics (25th). Two more again flew straight through on the third day of the Zino’s Pelagics (27th) with another three or so heard (and seen in moonlight) flying back to the colony on the Desertas.

White-faced Storm-petrel Pelagodroma marina


One stunning individual was attracted to the chum oil slick on the third day of the Zino’s Pelagics (27th), south of the Desertas. It stayed around for over an hour with the accompanying Wilson’s Storm-petrel.

Wilson‘s Storm-petrel Oceanites oceanicus

Two Singles were seen visiting the chum blocks on the first day of the Zino’s Pelagics (24th). Two were attracted to the chum oil slick on the third day of the Zino’s Pelagics (27th) with one staying for most of the duration.

European Storm-petrel Hydrobates pelagicus

Two came to the chum oil slick on the third day of the Zino’s Pelagics (27th) south of the Desertas.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta

One flew towards the beach at Machico on the 22nd, and again on the river on the 26th. One along the harbour wall at Funchal on the 28th.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

One flew over the road between Caniçal and Ponta de São Lourenço on the 23rd.

Green-winged Teal Anas carolinensis


Adult male seen at Laguna de Beixa on the 23rd and 28th.

Muscovy Duck Cairina moschata Introduced Species

About 20 (including ducklings) seen at Laguna de Beixa on the 23rd and 28th.

Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus granti Macaronesian Subspecies

A raptor, probably this species, flew passed our hotel in Garajau on the 27th. A female flew over the road in Garajau on the 28th.

Buzzard Buteo buteo harterti Madeiran Subspecies

One flew across cliff face as we left Caniçal on the first day of the Zino’s Pelagics (24th). One flew passed our hotel in Garajau on the 27th.

Kestrel Falco tinnunculus canariensis Macaronesian Subspecies

Quite Common and regularly seen along the south coast of the island.

Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa Introduced Species

One seen singing from rocks at Pico do Areeiro on the 22nd.

Moorhen Gallinula chloropus

Two seen at Laguna de Beixa on the 23rd, with four there on the 28th.

Coot Fulica atra

Two seen at Laguna de Beixa on the 23rd and the 28th.

Dunlin Calidris alpina

One seen roosting on the pond at Laguna de Beixa on the 23rd. Two at the mouth of the river in Machico on the 26th.

Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus

One dark phased adult flew passed distantly on the third day of the Zino’s Pelagics, south of the desertas.

Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus

One adult within the Atlantic Yellow-legged Gulls at the chum block on the third day of the Zino’s Pelagics (27th) south of the Desertas.

 

Atlantic Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis atlantis Macaronesian Subspecies


Very common along the coast and especially in the Harbours. Maximum count of 56 in Caniçal Harbour on the 23rd. Seen at sea on all three days of the Zino’s Pelagics.

Sabine’s Gull Larus sabini

One summer plumaged adult seen on the third day of the Zino’s Pelagics (27th) south of the Desertas. It stayed around the chummed block with the Atlantic Yellow-legged Gulls for about an hour.

Roseate Tern Sterna dougalii

One (plus another by MB) adult seen in Funchal Harbour on the 28th. Another seen along the sea-front at Laguna de Beixa on the 28th.

Common Tern Sterna hirundo

Quite common and seen in the harbours of Machico, Caniçal and Funchal, with six being the maximum at the latter location on the 28th. Also two off Ponta do Garajau on the 28th.

Trocaz Pigeon Columba trocaz Madeiran Endemic

One flew along the roadside en-route to Pico do Areeiro on the 22nd, two more flew overhead at Ribeiro Frio also on the 22nd. And probably this species flew along the coast at Ponta do Garajau on the 28th.

Plain Swift Apus unicolor Madeiran Endemic

Common and seen at most locations, including about 400 in the mountains en-route to Pico do Areeiro on the 22nd.

Berthelots Pipit Anthus berthelotii madeirensis Macaronesian Endemic and Madeiran Subspecies

Two seen on the mountainside at Pico do Areeiro on the 22nd. Five along the road between Caniçal and Ponta de São Lourenço on the 23rd, with another two here on the 24th.

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea schmitzi Madeiran Subspecies

Very Common and seen at most places with freshwater like Laguna de Beixa and the streams and rivers of Ribeiro Frio, Funchal and Machico, with four at the latter location on the 26th.

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica

Two seen flying around the sea-front of Machico on the 22nd and another two along the road between Caniçal and Ponta de São Lourenço on the 23rd.

House Martin Delichon urbicum

Two seen flying around the sea-front of Machico on the 22nd.

Robin Erithacus rubecula

Relatively common on trips inland including Ribeiro Frio on the 22nd and Terreiro da Luta on the 23rd.

Blackbird Turdus merula cabrerae Macaronesian Subspecies

Quite common and seen at a number of locations especially Garajau.

Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata bella Madeiran Subspecies

Single singing males seen en-route to Pico do Areeiro on the 22nd, in a garden in Caniçal on the 23rd and at Ponta do Garajau on the 28th.

Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla heineken

Commonly heard, with a few seen, at a number of location.

Madeiran Firecrest Regulus madeirensis Madeiran Endemic


One heard en-route to Pico do Areeiro and en-route to Ribeiro Frio on the 22nd. Five seen including three showing very well at Terreiro da Luta on the 23rd.

Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis

About 20 seen in Caniçal and about another 25 along the road between Caniçal and Ponta de São Lourenço on the 23rd.

Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia madeirensis Macaronesian Subspecies

At least four seen along the road between Caniçal and Ponta de São Lourenço on the 23rd. A couple of pairs breed on the cliff face next to the furthest harbour in Caniçal, with one seen and two more heard on the 24th, upto four heard on the 25th and a single heard on the 27th.

Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs madeirensis Madeiran Subspecies

Quite common inland with five seen en-route to Pico do Areeiro and three at Ribeiro Frio on the 22nd and four at Terreiro da Luta on the 23rd.

Canary Serinus canaria Macaronesian Endemic

Quite common with small numbers seen at a number of location, and larger flocks seen along the road between Caniçal and Ponta de São Lourenço (12 on the 23rd) and between the Airport and Machico (15 on the 23rd).

Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis parva

Common and seen at a number of locations including Machico (flock of about 15 on the 26th) and Garajau.

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris

Two seen (by GC only) flying over the Car Rental Office near to Funchal Airport.

MAMMALS


Common Dolphin Delphinus delphis

At least four seen breaking the surface within a raft of Cory’s Shearwaters on the second day of the Zino’s Pelagics (25th).

Atlantic Spotted Dolphin Stenella frontalis

About 20 were seen bow-riding and leaping out of the water (including at least one well spotted adult) between Madeira and the Desertas on day three of the Zino’s Pelagics, another pod of about 10 were seen off Bugio, Desertas on the same day.

About 20 dolphin sp’s, presumably of this species, were seen following tourist boats from Ponta do Garajau on the 28th.

Bottle-nosed Dolphin Tursiops truncatus

A pod of about 15 were seen to the east of Madeira on the first day of the Zino’s Pelagics (24th).

REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS


Madeiran Wall Lizard Teira dugesii

Quite Common and seen a few locations, with about 30 along the river at Machico on the 26th and about 20 at Ponta do Garajau on the 28th.

Perez’s Frog Pelophylax perezi Introduced Species

At least 20 of this species seen and heard within the moat around the old fort in Machico on the 22nd, 23rd and 26th. Also three seen on the bank of the river in Machico on the 26th.

INSECTS

Monarch Butterfly Danaus plexippus

Two seen along the road between Caniçal and Ponta de São Lourenço on the 23rd, with another two in Machico on the 26th and singles in Garajau on the 27th and 28th.

Clouded Yellow Colias croceus

Four seen at Pico do Areeiro on the 22nd, with another four along the road between Caniçal and Ponta de São Lourenço on the 23rd and two more at Ponta do Garajau on the 28th.

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta

Two seen at Pico do Areeiro on the 22nd.

Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator

One seen in a fountain in Machico on the 23rd, 24th and 26th.

OTHER INTERESTING ANIMALS

Flying Fish Exocoetidae sp

One seen gliding about 30 metres over the surface of the sea on the first day of the Zino’s Pelagics (24th).

Portugese Man o’war Physalia physalis

Two Jellyfish presumably of this species seen on the second day of the Zino’s Pelagics (25th).