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Madeira in august

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Old Tuesday 16th April 2019, 12:53   #1
Larry Sweetland
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Madeira in august

Considering Madeira in August (having decided east USA too expensive and not a good time of year).

Any recommendations/advice, especially on pelagic trip options (Desertas vs cheaper next best thing etc), and advice re zino's colony at night.

My targets are the pigeon and the crest, Zino's, Desertas, Bulwer's, and Madeiran Storm Petrels, and Barolo Shearwater

Thanks,

Larry

Last edited by Larry Sweetland : Tuesday 16th April 2019 at 12:55.
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Old Tuesday 16th April 2019, 18:52   #2
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Hugo & Catarina at Madeira Windbirds https://www.madeirawindbirds.com/ are highly recommended for the pelagic (& night visits to Zino's colony - although I didn't do the latter).

Trocaz at Ribeira Frio / Balcoes along with crest (& Chaffinch sub-sp.); the crest also at Quinta Gardens, Funchal.

Also worth a visit: Ponta de Sao Lourenco at the east end of the island for scenery plus Berthelot's Pipit, Plain Swift, Rock Sparrow (& numerous lizards).
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Old Tuesday 16th April 2019, 19:25   #3
Larry Sweetland
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Originally Posted by foresttwitcher View Post
Hugo & Catarina at Madeira Windbirds https://www.madeirawindbirds.com/ are highly recommended for the pelagic (& night visits to Zino's colony - although I didn't do the latter).

Trocaz at Ribeira Frio / Balcoes along with crest (& Chaffinch sub-sp.); the crest also at Quinta Gardens, Funchal.

Also worth a visit: Ponta de Sao Lourenco at the east end of the island for scenery plus Berthelot's Pipit, Plain Swift, Rock Sparrow (& numerous lizards).
Thanks Pete. Can I ask did you do just a day trip to Desertas? How did you get on birdwise, and do they chum?
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Old Tuesday 16th April 2019, 20:43   #4
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Hi Larry, I did a desertas day trip on the bonito-de- Madeira in mid June last year. It's a tourist boat so no chumming. I had 3 desertas petrels but no storm petrels of any kind. Plenty of bulwers but don't know if they will be as common in August. Our windbirds short pelagic was cancelled as too windy earlier in the week so this was a cheap, and extremely pleasant alternative. I think that the 3 days of windbirds pelagics are the only option if you want to clean up on seabirds. Even then it can be tricky.
It is illegal to search for zinos at night except on an authorised trip. The wardens were considering offering such trips at a fraction of the usual 80 euros but due to stretched resources they probably won't be doing so yet. Mountain rescue were out with a stretcher collecting a tourist at midday when I was up at the observatory so it's clearly a tricky area at any time of day.
Hope you enjoy your trip anyway
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Old Tuesday 16th April 2019, 21:54   #5
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Thanks Pete. Can I ask did you do just a day trip to Desertas? How did you get on birdwise, and do they chum?
No, I did the three day pelagic:
- numerous Cory's Shearwater & Bulwer's Petrel, a couple of Desertas Petrel, plus one each of Manx Shearwater, Maderian Storm-Petrel, Wilson's Storm-Petrel & Macaronesian (Barolo's) Shearwater on first day - in the direction of Desertas;
- similar plus a number of Great Shearwater & a Sooty Shearwater (plus a Long-tailed Skua) on the second day. Also Bottle-nosed, Spotted & Striped Dolphins & a Beaked Whale sp.;
- similar to above on third day (in a similar direction). Also a Bryde's / Sei Whale;
- a bonus short additional fourth trip to try for Zino's (with 'the' Dr. Zino aboard!) was unsuccessful in that respect and a bit quiet in general but had the common species plus Desertas & another Wilson's & a Pomarine Skua.

This was late August.
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Old Tuesday 16th April 2019, 23:23   #6
Stephen Dunstan
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I recommend getting a ferry to Porto Santo. It's a different kind of island so worth a visit just for that, and you can visit Tanque Pond which is a hotspot for Madeiran scarcities.
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Old Wednesday 17th April 2019, 05:59   #7
Larry Sweetland
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Thanks guys. Anyone here seen Zino's on the night trip, I gather some do?

Last edited by Larry Sweetland : Wednesday 17th April 2019 at 06:03.
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Old Wednesday 17th April 2019, 15:17   #8
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Thanks guys. Anyone here seen Zino's on the night trip, I gather some do?
If you do see them it will be only by moonlight as you are not allowed to use torches.
I think most people just hear them, and even that is not guaranteed.
The mountain path is a bit scary in daylight and to be honest I have not fancied doing it in the dark.
Not sure how good August will be for seeing Zino's from the evening pelagics but earlier in the season the Windbirds team have a good record.
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Old Wednesday 17th April 2019, 16:41   #9
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Originally Posted by cafe birder View Post
Hi Larry, I did a desertas day trip on the bonito-de- Madeira in mid June last year. It's a tourist boat so no chumming. I had 3 desertas petrels but no storm petrels of any kind. Plenty of bulwers but don't know if they will be as common in August. Our windbirds short pelagic was cancelled as too windy earlier in the week so this was a cheap, and extremely pleasant alternative. I think that the 3 days of windbirds pelagics are the only option if you want to clean up on seabirds. Even then it can be tricky.
It is illegal to search for zinos at night except on an authorised trip. The wardens were considering offering such trips at a fraction of the usual 80 euros but due to stretched resources they probably won't be doing so yet. Mountain rescue were out with a stretcher collecting a tourist at midday when I was up at the observatory so it's clearly a tricky area at any time of day.
Hope you enjoy your trip anyway
Regards Howard
We sailed out of Madeira on a cruise in August and there were a huge number of Bulwers[ which I could see from the ship in dock, out at sea, before we left port].
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Old Friday 19th April 2019, 12:39   #10
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Originally Posted by Larry Sweetland View Post
Thanks guys. Anyone here seen Zino's on the night trip, I gather some do?
I did this a few years back, in April, heard several birds and saw a couple in poor moonlight/minimal torchlight - was bloody cold and drizzly rain later! (it is best part of 6,000ft up I suppose)

This was with Hugo and the torchlight was just to help see the path etc. rather than the birds. Other guides tuned up after we were there and tried to spotlight the birds but Hugo said this was a big non-no - I guess they may have clamped down since.

The path was fine in the dark (much of it kind of paved with railings - though I wouldn't want to test them out!), the birds we saw were flying very close more or less over our heads. Also heard Manx shearwaters.

cheers, Andrew
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Old Sunday 21st April 2019, 17:58   #11
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This is an interesting topic, can I piggy back on it? :) We have had Madeira in the crosshairs for quite a while. I am however a little bit confused as to which birds to aim for exactly: as I already have Bulwer's, I guess the really clear targets are Desertas and Zino's. Is either Barolo's or Fea's actually resident around Madeira, or are those sightings random dispersed birds? What about other Storm-petrels besides Madeiran? There is also a slew of records of Great and Sooty Shearwaters, but maybe loitering around the UK coast at an appropriate moment is actually a better bet for those? I am just utterly lost in various information sources here!

And then, the ultimate question is, how much from that list is realistically doable without the 525 EUR pp 3-day thing? There is a mention of at least Desertas higher up in the thread from the Desertas islands cruise (this goes for some 80 EUR pp aparently?), is that about it?
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Old Monday 22nd April 2019, 16:20   #12
Larry Sweetland
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Originally Posted by opisska View Post
This is an interesting topic, can I piggy back on it? :) We have had Madeira in the crosshairs for quite a while. I am however a little bit confused as to which birds to aim for exactly: as I already have Bulwer's, I guess the really clear targets are Desertas and Zino's. Is either Barolo's or Fea's actually resident around Madeira, or are those sightings random dispersed birds? What about other Storm-petrels besides Madeiran? There is also a slew of records of Great and Sooty Shearwaters, but maybe loitering around the UK coast at an appropriate moment is actually a better bet for those? I am just utterly lost in various information sources here!

And then, the ultimate question is, how much from that list is realistically doable without the 525 EUR pp 3-day thing? There is a mention of at least Desertas higher up in the thread from the Desertas islands cruise (this goes for some 80 EUR pp aparently?), is that about it?
Well there's the two endemic land birds. I'm assuming the Fea's sightings refer to Desertas pre split. I've decided to go for the expensive option, which looks to still be a gamble in later half of aug for Zino's, but gives maybe a chance for Barolo. If you don't need Bulwer's, your prob realistically only got a chance of a not so good view of Desertas on the whale watch trip, maybe with a very slim chance of the storm Petrel and Barolo shearwater.

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Old Monday 22nd April 2019, 18:02   #13
Steve Lister
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The first time I went to madeira, a long time ago, mid 80s, it was still two races of Soft-plumaged Petrel. I saw a lot of what I assumed were Fea's (now Desertas of course) both seawatching from the south coast at a headland near the end of the airport runway and also from taking a tourist boat out towards the Desertas: we never got there due to rough seas which actually were quite good for seeing the petrels.

White-faced Petrel is a reasonable target from the Windbirds pelagics in at least June. They do jam in on some real rarities too now and again eg Black-bellied Storm-petrel.

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Old Monday 22nd April 2019, 20:03   #14
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Well there's the two endemic land birds. I'm assuming the Fea's sightings refer to Desertas pre split. I've decided to go for the expensive option, which looks to still be a gamble in later half of aug for Zino's, but gives maybe a chance for Barolo. If you don't need Bulwer's, your prob realistically only got a chance of a not so good view of Desertas on the whale watch trip, maybe with a very slim chance of the storm Petrel and Barolo shearwater.
Oh, interesting The changing taxonomy is a great source of confusion when comparing informaiton from different moments in time!

Where do the Zino's go to feed then? Why are they so hard to see at the sea?
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Old Monday 22nd April 2019, 21:43   #15
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Oh, interesting The changing taxonomy is a great source of confusion when comparing informaiton from different moments in time!

Where do the Zino's go to feed then? Why are they so hard to see at the sea?
This may be of interest:-

https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=364928

The Zino's most reliable area at sea (as I understand it) is to the north of the island whereas the best areas for Desertas are as expected to the east.

I did the path for the colony with a dodgy leg in the dark guided and I am horribly unfit currently. One silhouette.

All the best
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Old Tuesday 23rd April 2019, 10:04   #16
Larry Sweetland
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Originally Posted by Paul Chapman View Post
This may be of interest:-

https://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=364928

The Zino's most reliable area at sea (as I understand it) is to the north of the island whereas the best areas for Desertas are as expected to the east.

I did the path for the colony with a dodgy leg in the dark guided and I am horribly unfit currently. One silhouette.

All the best
Plus there aren't as many Zino's as Desertas (about half?). I'm considering doing the Zino's night trip, but again, in later half of aug I gather chances are lower too, and it's an expensive walk to potentially not even hear them!

Paul, your report with it's mouthwatering pics are what's pushed me over the edge to go for the pelagic trip deal
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Old Tuesday 23rd April 2019, 12:41   #17
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Everyone's experiences at the Zino's colony are different. I was there in June last year and it was a utterly magical night. We picked a night with a nearly full moon and there were no problems with fog/cloud. The result was that you could easily see birds with the naked eye, even followed a few with bins in the best lit parts of the crags. We heard different songs/calls from multiple birds, and spent a couple of hours at the colony. We went with Luis Dias (Ventura do Mar), and his trips run April to August. Best is contact him or Madeira Wind Birds just before planning to go to find out the current situation/hit rate.

For Bulwer's and Madeiran Petrels, a boat trip to the Desertas with an overnight stay is hard to beat. A few close Desertas Petrels en-route, then sleeping in the petrel colony was amazing. Priced at EU 145 with Ventura do Mar. I'm not sure on colony activity in August, might vary if the trip is the start or the end of August.

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Old Tuesday 23rd April 2019, 20:02   #18
Larry Sweetland
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A night at the Zino's site like Mark's would be very special indeed!
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Old Tuesday 23rd April 2019, 20:18   #19
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U could be lucky like us a and visit when they are ringing!!
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Old Friday 26th April 2019, 21:18   #20
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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.

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Old Sunday 28th April 2019, 20:07   #21
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Note, that identification of Zinos vs Desertas Petrel is dodgy night or day, unless you have a portable DNA sequencer.
I think that most would identify the first image as Zino's and the second and third images as Desertas. (You could have more of a debate whether it is possible to exclude Cape Verde from the second and third images.)

All the best

Paul
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Old Saturday 4th May 2019, 19:04   #22
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For Madeira Porto Moniz is very good.
From terrace of Salgueiro you can watch seabirds.

https://salgueiroportomoniz.com/
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Old Friday 17th May 2019, 13:53   #23
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I recommend getting a ferry to Porto Santo. It's a different kind of island so worth a visit just for that
, and you can visit Tanque Pond which is a hotspot for Madeiran scarcities.
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