Hi Larry and others,
My experiences/knowhow from August the last year:
-Morning bird sightseeing sea tour from Madeira - several Desertas petrels, Corys, Bulwers, bottlenose dolphins,
- Overnight boat bird tour with chuming and overnighting Desertas: many close Desertas, Barolos (I missed it), Great, Corys, lots of Bulwers, 2 dolphin sp., Minke Whales. Desertas would be good for snorkelling. Take fresh water with you. At night many Bulwers seen and one handled, Madeira Storm-Petrels heard and seen close in darkness. Berthelots pipits habituated on the island.
Unfortunately the Desertas boat tour does not visit Desertas Petrel colony, nor south tip of the Desertas Grande for Monk Seals nor you can go inland where endemic large huntsman spider exists.
- 3 day tour with Windbirds - I could not take it (check times in advance)! Note that White-faced Storm Petrel is nomally seen only earlier in the season. It is expensive but popular. It may be actually the cheapest option to gather all the local tubenoses specialities in your basket, considering how tricky they are. At least others did.
Zinos Petrel colony. You legally visit at night only with Wind Birds. At daytime the same path is a popular hiking trail fully open to the public. It is a rather level footpath paved with flat stones along a mountain ridge. Walking it at night for a moderately fit person with a torch (or at least a mobile) should be easy not difficult. Zinos are heard, but seen only as shapes in the dark. Unfortunately, the breeding activity is low in August and we only heard it. The call is also cool, like a movie ghost. Apparently they are reliable earlier in the season, in April-May. Zinos can be seen with luck also from the boat tour, if one flies really close. Note, that identification of Zinos vs Desertas Petrel is dodgy night or day, unless you have a portable DNA sequencer. They breed on two hills within sight of each other in a clear day, and hunt on the same waters.
Trocaz Pigeon easily seen in flight at mount Frio. Several Firecrests seen along the way from the car park there. Local race of Chaffinch tame there. From near the Frio viewpoint, I walked along the mountainside to the left, along a concrete irrigation channel. Flushed more Trocaz and finally seen one perched close.
I also visited some river valley close by (I forgot the name, it is about the same place as the bird flies, but accessed at the bottom of the valley). Seen more Trocaz flying, flushed a Sparrowhawk eating one on the dirt track. Trocaz are easy but always very wary, because they are hunted.
North-west tip of Madeira. Apparently good seabirding watchpoint, but saw only very distant Greats, at the edge of the identification. Roseate Terns always present on nearshore rocks near the public walkway and the swimming pool. Nice aquarium. Met a British birder who pointed me a patch of cornfield a short walk uphill. There Waxbills were hiding, would be missed without a tape. Apparently it is quite a common species and otherwise could be found in random places on farmland.
Local race of the Barn Owl - no reliable spots. Notoriously many reports that people seen it at random places, but next day others at the same spot not seen it.
A lead to follow: Monk Seal is apparently now resting and breeding at some place(s) on Madeira mainland. Might be a good mammal tick.
Hope to be of some use.
Last edited by jurek : Friday 26th April 2019 at 21:20.