Sunday, August 7, 2022

Madeira...finally! Early June 2022

After three years of trying, Dave Provencher and I finally made it to Madeira in search of Zino's Petrel. The pandemic had postponed our 2020 and 2021 bookings, but we were not denied this time around. We spent about 5 days on the island, three afternoons of which were at sea. The rest of the time was spent casually exploring from sea level to 6,000+ ft peaks. We connected reasonably easily with the island's few endemic species and subspecies, plus a few other target birds.

Madeira is a small island whose jagged peaks jut out of the ocean like the tip of an iceberg. Information about the island is readily available online, so I will spare the repetition here. Though I will add one thing that surprised me...Madeira is very affordable. Cheap, even. At least once you get there. Flights seemed to run $650-800 return from the northeast US, but once on-island, our stay did not set us back much. The rental car cost $215 for the duration, our downtown Machico hotel room was $55/night, and dining ran cheaper than back home. Our getaway was brief, and there was more island to explore for sure, but I do recommend Madeira as a destination if you like yourself some rare Pterodromas.

*Click on thumbnails below for high resolution.

The stars of the show...ZINO'S PETREL. We encountered at least 7 individuals over our three afternoons at sea.






The closely related "Desertas" FEA'S PETREL breeds on adjacent Bugio of the Desertas chain. We definitively saw only one of these:


Outside of the Pterodromas, the BULWER'S PETRELS were the most entertaining seabird out there. Very common, there always seemed to be several of these in view:






Another specialty of these waters is the "Madeiran" form of BAND-RUMPED STORM-PETREL. They are scarce, but we did have prolonged views of one feeding in our chum slick:




Unexpected for this time of year was a single GREAT SHEARWATER:


The most abundant seabird out there was CORY'S SHEARWATER, all of which seen well enough to scrutinize were clearly of the Atlantic-breeding population borealis, as told by the essential lack of white bleeding into the under-primaries.



While commuting to sea one afternoon we came across a group of 4 SPERM WHALES that seemed to be spy-hopping when we first came across them:



The stark beauty of the island cannot be overstated, and we enjoyed the scenery both from land and sea. Several landbird species were also worth seeing.

Bugio

Madeira

Madeira

Berthelot's Pipit

Spectacled Warbler

Trocaz Pigeon (endemic)

"Madeiran" Common Chaffinch

Madeira Firecrest (endemic)

Plain Swift

Pico do Arieiro

Madeira



Our vessel, captained by Catarina and Hugo

Madeira

looking back west from Ponta de Sao Lourenco

breaking above the clouds at 5500 feet

Pico do Arieiro

The Milky Way from 6000 feet


 - Nick

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