Tour At A Glance





Single Room Supplement:


Tour Code:

Fairly relaxed with several boat trips [weather dependent] but with long and irregular hours in the field.

Group Size:

Nine plus Leader

Bulwer's Petrel Trocaz Pigeon Desertas Petrel

Madeira - Searching for Europe's Rarest Seabirds

Date: 1st - 5th July 2019 [ONE SPACE - Guaranteed departure]
Leaders: Dr Robert Flood



White-faced Storm-Petrel


The subtropical island of Madeira is one of Europe’s farthest outposts, in the Atlantic Ocean one thousand kilometres south-west of Portugal, situated between the Azores to the north and the Canary Islands to the south. Thankfully, it has escaped many of the worst excesses of the tourist industry that afflict other Atlantic islands and has retained a relaxed atmosphere. The Madeiran landscape is often spectacular and its vegetation is lush. The island rises sharply from the sea along most of the coast. Terraced hillsides of banana plantations quickly give way to steep forested hillsides. Madeira boasts the largest surviving area of laurel cloud forest on the planet. The forest zone often mists up in the afternoons but is typically clear in the mornings, giving breathtaking views of the high volcanic peaks. The precipitous central mountains rise to around nineteen hundred metres and invariably poke well above the cloud base. Besides the main island, the Madeira archipelago includes Porto Santo and the Desertas Islands. Madeira supports fewer than fifty species of breeding birds, but the small number of species is compensated for easily by their fascinating nature and often-extreme rarity. Birding the land habitats on Madeira is a wonderful experience, but the island’s open-ocean position means that the greatest prizes are awarded to those who look seawards. Put simply, Madeira’s collection of seabirds is unique. The principle aim of our tour is to search for the much wanted selection of seabirds that are present in the region and to achieve this; we will take a selection of offshore pelagic trips and chum in known areas for the optimum results. This should afford us the opportunity to get up close and personal with these enigmatic species. The almost mythical Zino’s Petrel and its enigmatic sister-species Fea’s Petrel both grace the area and following recent studies using our vessel are now identifiable at sea using up to date criteria that your tour leader helped to pioneer. It would take more than a lifetime of pelagic trips elsewhere in Europe to encounter such seabird riches, but all are possible in just one week in Madeira. By taking to the sea by day and visiting colonies at night, we aim to gain the best encounters a birder could possibly have with all these species.  But that’s not all; the land birding also offers us the chance to catch up with some very special birds. The endemic Trocaz Pigeon is confined to Madeira’s laurel forest, where Madeiran Firecrest and the island’s distinctive endemic form of Chaffinch can also be found. These are stunning birds in their own right. Plain Swift, Canary and Berthelot’s Pipit are all common in the right places. Many other birds, including Grey Wagtail and European Robin, are represented by distinctive subspecies. Rock Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow and Spectacled Warbler all breed on Madeira. For the gull-fans, the atlantis form of Yellow-legged Gull is common. Although Madeira is mountainous, none of the excursions are taxing physically [other than the visit to the Zino’s Petrel colony, which involves a steep climb at altitude in darkness]. We will spend a lot of time on boats and therefore anyone with a history of seasickness should think carefully before booking. Your tour leader will be Dr Robert Flood, who has vast experience of leading pelagic tours all over the world and is an internationally recognized expert in his field. The itinerary is subject to changes depending upon local conditions and flight times. You can expect to see approximately forty species, plus cetaceans. 



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