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A Report from

Madeira, 26-31 August 2012,

E.J. Alblas


This trip to Madeira was the last one in a row of several birding trips in 2012 in an attempt to clean up my list of European birds as much as possible. My target birds on this trip were Great Shearwater, Madeiran Barn Owl as a potential split and the already split Desertas Petrel. Because I had visited Madeira more then 17 years ago, I also tried to see a number of endemics again, especially Trocaz Pigeon, Madeira Firecrest, Zino’s Petrel and maderensis Chaffinch.

I order to see Great Shearwater and Desertas Petrel I booked a 3-day pelagic with Madeira Wind Birds ( because I knew August is a good time to see (migrating) seabirds. The pelagics were really awesome and Hugo and Catarina did a great job and supplied me with a lot of useful information which made the trip both successful and enjoyable.


I used the following itinerary:



night Hotel Ibis: breakfast and transfer Schiphol
Flight TP663 from Schiphol (11.45) to Lisbon (13.45)
Flight TP1627 from Lisbon (14.55) to Funchal (16.40)
pick-up car from airport (3 days)
birding Lugar de Baixo
Hotel Jardim Atlantico, Prazeres
Evening try for Barn Owl Prazeres and/or Ponta do Pargo



morning birding surrounding Porto Moniz for Trocaz Pigeon and Madeira Firecrest
afternoon seawatch Porto Moniz for Great Shearwater
evening try for Barn Owl Ponta do Pargo and/or Prazeres
Hotel Jardim Atlantico, Prazeres

Tuesday  28

morning birding Lugar de Baixo / Ribeiro Frio, driving back Machico
Hotel Dom Pedro Baia, Machico
afternoon pelagic for Zino’s- and Desertas Petrel and Great Shearwater
evening try for Barn Owl, surrouning Canical / Machico

Wednesday 29

morning birding Ribeiro Frio / surrounding Machico, return car airport
taxi or bus to Machico
afternoon pelagic for Zino’s- and Desertas Petrel and Great Shearwater
Hotel Dom Pedro Baia, Machico
evening try for Barn Owl, , surrouning Canical / Machico

Thursday 30

morning birding surrounding Machico (without car)
afternoon pelagic for Zino’s- and Desertas Petrel and Great Shearwater
transfer to Hotel Madeira, Funchal
evening try for Barn Owl, centre Funchal



morning birding surrounding Funchal (without car)
Hotel Madeira, Funchal
evening try for Barn Owl, centre Funchal


1 Sept.

taxi to airport
Flight TP1610 from Funchal (10.40) to Lisbon (12.15)
Flight TP662 from Lisbon (13.10) to Schiphol (17.05)
afternoon train home

Sunday 26 August

This afternoon I arrived with an hour delay at Funchal airport. I picked up a hired car, a Fiat Panda, which was fairly basic but performed well. Because it was already quite late I drove quickly towards Ponta da Sol, picking up some drinks at a gas station. In comparison wit the situation 15 years ago, when I was last in Madeira, the roads had greatly improved and because of the many new tunnels are now also quite fast. I had a stop at Lugar de Baixo, which has hosted quite a few rarities in the past. This time however only Coot, Turnstone, Waxbill, Grey Wagtail, Yellow-legged Gull and two Dunlin were present. One of the Dunlins was a strange dark bird but the bill shape and size still made it a Dunlin in my opinion. After this stop I continued along the south coast and finally arrived at my hotel Jardim Atlantico near Prazeres just before it got dark. This hotel was definitely the best during my stay in Madeira and had fine spacious rooms and a great view over the ocean. After a quick shower I started my search for Barn Owl, which would prove one the most difficult birds to find on this trip. I walked around in the dusk in the grounds of the hotel, listening carefully for Barn Owl, but to no avail.

Monday 27 August

After a great breakfast in the hotel I drove along the west coast to Porto Moniz. After Prazeres a few new tunnels are being build, but these were not ready yet so I had to take the regular road towards Ponta do Pargo. The effects of the recent fires were clearly visible and sometimes the road went to largely burned areas with trees black and losing all there leaves. The forest between Ponta do Pargo and Porto Moniz were however mostly unaffected and there I often heard Madeira Firecrests call and saw two Trocaz Pigeons flying over the road and diving down into the valleys.

I first went to the Ribeira de Janela, where you can park the car at the beginning of the levada walk, and hiked up this very beautiful area. I walked along the levada about an hour and then back, birding on the way. Some birds were very common like Madeira Firecrest, Plain Swift, Canary, Grey Wagtail, Blackcap, Robin, Blackbird and Chaffinch and I also saw singles of Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Buzzard. The best bird  here was a Trocaz Pigeon, seen perched and giving its advertising call and another two flying by.

Before I went to Porto Moniz I went to the river mouth of Ribeira de Janela where I saw the only Pallid Swifts of the trip in a mixed group with Plain Swift (from which they clearly differed by their size, white throat and browner wings).

At Porto Moniz I did eight hours of seawatching from the boulevard, from 12.00 tot 20.00, having lunch in the meantime. Although sometimes quite boring I saw about 10 Bulwer's Petrels flying up and down the coast most of the time and the inevitable Cory's Shearwaters. Until the evening some other birds were seen like 3 Little/Manx Shearwaters, over 10 obvious Manx Shearwaters and a Whimbrel.

At around 5 pm I saw a large shearwater with a lot of white on the side of the head and a powerful straight flight (very different from Cory's Shearwater) that could be nothing else but a Great Shear­water, a lifer for me. Because of the distance I could however not see any other details. In the next hours this changed with at least 9 more Great Shearwater flying west, some close to the coast, leaving no doubt about there identity. I enjoyed these birds in the company of some Swedish bird­watchers.

In the last hours of daylight I went back to Ponta do Pargo where Barn Owl should be possible according to some trip reports I found on the internet. This area however has changed a lot over the last years, but not for good. A new road is build to the lighthouse and the old road has been removed and a lot of land seemed to be bulldozered with no vegetation left. I only saw Berthelot's Pipits, Kestrels and Red-legged Partridges and waited till around 10 pm when it was all dark and searched the area by slowly driving around, checking all poles and wires, listening carefully and sometimes playing the sound of Barn Owl. In the end no Barn Owl was seen and I was back at the hotel around 11.30 pm for a well deserved sleep.

Tuesday 28 August

In the hotel I slept with the door to the terrace open and around 6 am I suddenly heard a Barn Owl hissing very close by. I jumped out of my bed and on the terrace I heard it scream 3 more times but never saw it. At least I could tick it, but I would have been much nicer to actually see it.

This afternoon the first pelagic trip was planned and I had to change hotels. The next hotel was the Dom Pedro Baio in Machico (booked through Madeira Wind Birds) and on the way I again checked Lugar de Baixo for any new birds. Besides the birds I had seen before there now was both a Cattle Egret and a Little Egret present. The 'dark' Dunlin was also still present but I could not find the other one.

I had some time to spare so drove to the Punta de Sao Lourenco (the easternmost point of the island) where I saw Canary, Berthelot's Pipit, Plain Swift, Yellow-legged Gull and Common Tern and fuelled the car up.

Around noon I checked into my new hotel and was picked up around 2 pm by Hugo and Catarina for the pelagic that took place from the marina at Canical. There were 6 birdwatchers on the pelagic: one from Belgium, one from Germany, two from the UK and the two 'Dutchmen' (Paul Knolle and me).

Because there was hardly any wind when we left the harbour the decision was made to sail in an easterly direction, in a spot north-east of the Desertas islands. Although the expectations were low because of the lack of wind we had a pretty good pelagic with some really nice birds. The best bird and second lifer for me was Desertas Petrel of which we saw 4 including two that came very close to the chum. The thick bill was very obvious on these birds, making the identification straightforward. Other birds seen were numerous Cory's Shearwaters and Bulwer's Petrels, Manx Shearwaters, a well-seen Barolo Shearwater (according to Hugo very rare in Madeira in late summer/autumn), 1 Madeiran Storm Petrel (typically shy) and 2 Wilson's Storm Petrels on the slick for a long time.

We returned after dark and because I still had a car available I went to Punta da Garajau around 11 pm to give Barn Owl another try. Although quite late the place was still busy with people and during the hour I stayed there I didn’t see or hear a Barn Owl. Perhaps the place is not as good for Barn Owl as it used to be (or was I just unlucky)?

Wednesday 29 August

The day started by returning the car to the airport and taking a public bus form the airport back to Machico, which is only a few kilometres. I had breakfast in the hotel and then checked the river mouth at Machico which only held Waxbill, Blackcap, Canary, Grey Wagtail, Yellow-legged Gull and Turnstone.

In the afternoon the second pelagic took place, this time north off Madeira. Our aim was to seen Zino's Petrel, which we however never saw during any of the this pelagics (probably May and June is a better time to see them at sea). The pelagic started well with a mixed flock of shearwaters sitting on the water: one very close Great Shearwater, a Manx Shearwater, a Sooty Shearwater and lots of Cory's Shearwaters. The rest of the pelagic was a bit slow but we still saw 1 Great Shearwater, numerous Bulwer's Petrels, a distant Gannet and a possible Long-tailed Skua.

When I was back at the hotel I tried for Barn Owl around the rock face on the old road to the airport (just west of the hotel), but again without any sign of the bird.

Thursday 30 August

After breakfast I first visited a site in Machico that Catarina gave me for Spectacled Warbler and after a short search a bird was found easily. Red-legged Partridges were heard in the distance. After that I checked the river mouth in Machico again and saw a Sanderling, a Little Egret and a Greenshank and the usual Turnstone, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Tern, Blackcap, Waxbill, Plain Swift, Canary and Grey Wagtail.

Today there was more wind compared to the previous days and the pelagic this afternoon off the north-coast of Madeira was dominated by a large number of Great Shearwaters (perhaps 50+). It was a real treat to see Great Shearwaters more of less all the time during the duration of the pelagic, some passing very close or even eating from the chum block. Other birds seen were Cory's Shearwaters and Bulwer's Petrels, Manx Shearwaters, 2 close Desertas Petrels, 1 Sooty Shearwater and another Arctic/Long-tailed Skua.

The return-trip to the harbour was quite tough and Paul hurt his back because of a wave that catapulted the boat, coming back on the water with a big blow.

It was time for a new hotel again and Hugo and Catarina dropped me off at Hotel Madeira in the centre of Funchal close to the harbour. After checking in I went for a walk in the middle of the night along the old harbour walls in another abortive attempt to see a Barn Owl.

Friday 31 August

Today I had a slow start with a rather basic breakfast at the hotel and then a visit to the centre of Funchal to buy some souvenirs. At the harbour the only Lesser Black-backed Gull of the trip was seen (differing from the Yellow-legged Gulls by an obvious darker mantle in direct comparison) and the usual Turnstones and Common Terns. City parks held Blackcap, Canary, Plain Swift, Blackbird and Grey Wagtail.

In a last attempt to see Zino's Petrel an extra pelagic was scheduled today to the north off Madeira and we departed from the marina in Canical around 18.30. Although we had the name giver on board, we didn’t see a Zino’s Petrel. Also not a single Great Shearwater was seen, although they were common the day before. The only birds seen were Cory's Shearwater and Bulwers Petrels, a few Manx Shear­wa­ters, a Pomarine Skua (not seen by myself) and 1 or 2 Wilsons's Storm Petrels.

We again returned to Funchal late in the evening and after saying my goodbyes to Hugo and Catarina and the rest of the participants on the pelagics, I made a final attempt to see a Barn Owl at the old harbour walls together with Filip. Although we managed to get into the usually (during the night) closed-off park on top of the harbour walls, Barn Owl eluded me again. So I had to return home with another heard-only on Madeira, the other one being Zino's Petrel that I clearly heard but never saw on top of the Pico do Areiro on the 23th of May 1997.

After arranging a taxi to take me to the airport the next morning I went to bed for a few hours of sleep.

Saturday 1 September

Not a birding day. After a quick uninspiring breakfast a taxi took me to the airport. Like the journey to Madeira, both flights from Madeira to Amsterdam via Lisbon by TAP were delayed. So TAP must have either a sophisticated system to get all flight delayed (which give you just enough time to transfer to another flight) or something else is happening that I don’t fully understand.

Systematic list of birds recorded

The following birds were recorded during this trip. The taxonomy is according to the Dutch committee for avian systematics (CSNA) (Dutch Birding magazine volume 28, 1-2006).

Red-legged Partridge           Alectoris rufa hispanica
A flock of about 11 birds was seen at Ponta do Pargo and several were heard east of Machico.

Desertas Petrel                      Pterodroma deserta
28-083-4 on the pelagic of which 2 very close
30-08  2 on the pelagic of which one close
Madeira endemic. This taxon is recently split from Fea’s Petrel Pterodroma feae (breeding in the Cape Verde Islands). There are now two endemic Pterodroma’s breeding in the Madeira archipelago: Zino’s Petrel Pterodroma madeira on high peaks on Madeira itself and Desertas Petrel breeding on Bugio in the Desertas Islands south of the island of Madeira. Desertas and Zino’s Petrel differ not only morphologically but also differ in sound, time of breeding, breeding habitat and migration. Read ‘Petrels – day and night’ by the Sound Approach for all the interesting details about these two closely related but very different seabirds!

Bulwer’s Petrel                     Bulweria bulwerii
After seeing about 10 birds from the seafront at Porto Moniz, many more were seen during the pelagics where it was the second most common seabird.
Macaronesian endemic (Canary Islands, Madeira, Selvagens, Cape Verde Islands).  Is generally present from May to September in Madeiran waters. Monotypic.

Cory’s Shearwater               Calonectris borealis
Commonly seen along the coast and the most common seabird on the pelagics.
Macaronesian endemic (Canary Islands, Madeira, Selvagens, Azores). This taxon is monotypic after the splitting of diomedea as Scopoli’s Shearwater and edwardsii as Cape Verde Shearwater.

Great Shearwater                Puffinus gravis
27-08    about 10 flying west, Porto Moniz, between 12.00 and 20.00 pm
29-08    2 during the pelagic, including one sitting close on the water
30-08  about 50 during the pelagic, mostly flying west, but also on the chum
Late August and September is certainly a good time to see Great Shearwaters in Madeira and I was not disappointed. Their occurrence can be quite unpredictable and erratic with 30th August clearly a good day with dozens of birds seen, but not a single one the next day.

Sooty Shearwater                 Puffinus griseus
29-081 on the pelagic, sitting close on the water
30-08  1 on the pelagic

Manx Shearwater                Puffinus puffinus
About a dozen birds were seen from the seafront at Porto Moniz, including 3 unidentified Barolo/Manx Shearwaters. About 20 birds were seen during the pelagics.
Both breeding and migrant Manx Shearwaters visit Madeira, all birds seen on this trip probably belong to the latter.

Barolo Shearwater               Puffinus baroli
28-081 on the pelagic, fishing with shallow dives in the water with a short flight in between
Macaronesian endemic (Canary Islands, Madeira, Selvagens, Azores). Apparantly this bird is a winter breeder in Madeira and only observed occasional in autumn in Madeiran waters. This taxon is considered monotypic after the splitting of boydi as Cape Verde Little Shearwater, persicus as Persian Shearwater (vagrant in the WP), bailloni as Tropical Shearwater (va­grant in the WP) and iherminieri as Audubon’s Shearwater (not recorded in the WP).

Wilson’s Storm Petrel          Oceanites oceanicus ssp.
28-082 on the pelagic, feeding on the chum
31-081-2 during the pelagic
Wilson’s Storm Petrels move into the northern oceans in the southern hemisphere's winter and is a rare migrant in summer in Madeiran waters. The subspecies oceanicus  and exasperates are both migrants in the WP.

‘Band-rumped Storm Petrel’          Oceanodroma castro
27-08   one seen on the pelagic, likely a winter-breeding bird (‘Grant’s Storm Petrel’)
In the Western Palearctic the ‘Band-rumped Storm Petrel’ is a breeding bird in the Canary Islands, Madeira, Selvagens, Azores, Berlengas Islands (off Portugal) and the Cape Verde Islands.
Scientific research has shown there are often two populations: one breeding in the cool season (‘winter breeding’) and one in the hot season (‘summer breeding’), both time-sharing the same breeding areas. As a result, the hot season population breeding in the Azores has been separated as a monotypic species called Monteiro’s Petrel Oceanodroma monteiroi and the population from the Cape Verde Islands as the montypic Cape Verde Storm Petel Oceanodroma jabejabe.
In Madeira, the Selvagens and the Canary Islands there is both a hot season and a cool season breeding popula­tion. The cool season breeding birds could also be a separate species called Grant’s Storm Petrel but so far this species has not yet been formally described although it has the widest distribution in the Western Palearctic (Madeira, Selvagens, Canary Islands, Azores, Berlengas Islands). The hot season breeding birds in Madeira, Selvagens and the Canary Islands are called by their original name: Madeiran Petrel.
Madeira has therefore two breeding populations: the hot season breeders (Madeiran Storm Petrel) and the cool season breeders (‘Grant’s Storm Petrel’). It is possible to separate both population by sound, time of breeding, moult, dna and some physical characters but is it also possible to separate the two at sea?
In August/September adult Madeiran Storm Petrels have almost completed breeding and adult breeding birds have old and often abraded primaries. Primary moult in Grant’s Storm Petrels takes place in late spring/early summer so by the end of August adult birds should have completely fresh primaries. Besides differences in moult-pattern there are also differences in size and appearance: Madeiran Storm Petrel is small, slim build and small-headed bird (like a British Storm Petrel) while Grant’s Storm Petrel is descriped as a heavier and more bulky, large-headed bird with a less obvious wing panel.
The bird we saw on 27-08 on the pelagic looked bulky and (for a storm petrel) quite big. I did not see any size-difference or difference in the general structure (except the tail) compared to the numerous Monteiro’s Storm Petrels I have seen in the Azores. This bird also had freshly moulted primaries. This all points towards a cool season bird, although it will be very difficult to prove this with certainty.

Gannet                                  Morus bassanus
A single bird seen on one of the pelagics.  

Cattle Egret                          Bubulcus ibis ibis
The only one seen was a bird at Lugar de Baixo.

Little Egret                            Egretta garzetta garzetta
Singles seen in several coastal sites.

Sparrowhawk                       Accipiter nisus granti
One seen in the Ribeira de Janela on 27-08.
Macaronesian endemic subspecies (Canary Islands and Madeira).

Buzzard                                 Buteo buteo buteo
Only one seen in the Ribeira de Janela on 27-08. 
The birds from Madeira are some­times separated as harterti but this is now generally considered an invalid subspecies and therefore included here in the nomi­nate buteo.

Kestrel                                   Falco tinnunculus canariensis
Common roadside bird and seen at most places visited. 
Macaronesian  endemic  subspecies (western Canary Islands and Madeira).

Coot                                       Fulica atra atra         
Only seen at Lugar de Baixo, about 15 birds present.

Sanderling                            Calidris alba
Singles seen in Cancal and Machico.

Dunlin                                               Calidris alpina ssp.
Only seen at Lugar de Baixo, with 2 birds on 26-08 and 1 on 28-08.

Whimbrel                              Numenius phaeopus phaeopus
Only one bird seen at Porto Moniz.

Common Sandpiper             Actitis hypoleucos
One bird seen at the river mouth Machico.

Greenshank                          Tringa nebularia
1 at the river mouth Machico on 31th August, not present the day before.

Turnstone                              Arenaria interpres interpres
Small numbers were found all along the coast especially at river mouths.

Lesser Black-backed Gull   Larus fuscus ssp.
Only one seen in the harbour of Funchal, easy to pick out because of the darker colour of the mantle.

Yellow-legged Gull               Larus michahellis ssp.
Common along the coast.
Birds from the Canary Islands, Madeira and the Selvagens are usually separated as atlantis, but perhaps they should be included in the nominate michahellis, with only the birds from the Azores separated as true atlantis. Adult Yellow-legged Gulls in Madeira for instance don’s show a dark ‘hood’ in autumn, while this is a common sight on similar aged atlantis Yelow-legged Gulls in the Azores.

Common Tern                      Sterna hirundo hirundo
Small numbers were found all along the coast.

Trocaz Pigeon                       Columba trocaz
27-082 between Ponta do Pargo and Porto Moniz,
27-08  3+, Ribeira de Janela
Madeira endemic. Not scarce in the right habitat but a little secretive. See the excellent website for a lot of useful information where to find this and other birds.

Rock Dove                            Columba livia livia / Columba ’domesticus’
I did  not differentiate between ‘wild’ and ‘feral’ birds. Especially at higher altitudes birds were seen that looked genuine wild, but even these can sometimes be very diffi­cult to separate from feral birds who can closely resemble the real thing. If there are any pure ‘wild’ birds left, they belong to the nominate livia.

Barn Owl                              Tyto (alba) schmitzi
Despite a lot of effort the only one on this trip was a ‘heard only’ on 28-08 from the terrace of my hotel room in Prazeres.
Madeira endemic subspecies and a potential split. This is apparently a rather scarce breeding bird in Madeira, especially at areas with a mix of  agricultural or waste land, steep cliffs (ribeiras) and settlements along the coast but also in more urban areas along the coast. Difficult to see due to its nocturnal behaviour.

Plain Swift                            Apus unicolor
Common at all altitudes, especially near steep cliffs.
Macaronesian endemic (Canary Islands and Madeira). Monotypic.

Pallid Swift                           Apus pallidus brehmorum
About 8 birds seen at the river mouth at Ribeira de Janela in direct comparison with Plain Swift.

Madeira Firecrest                 Regulus madeirensis
Once you know their characteristic call you will find it is common in forested areas. With a little patience usually not difficult to see.
Madeira endemic. This taxon is split from Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus and now monotypic.

Spectacled Warbler              Sylvia conspicillata orbitalis
The only one seen was an alarming male seen well on the outskirts on the east side of Machico.
Macaronesian endemic subspecies (Canary Islands, Madeira, Cape Verde Islands). Birds from Madeira are sometimes separated as bella but are included here in orbitalis following ‘Sylvia Warblers’ by Shirihai, Gargallo and Helbig.

Blackcap                               Sylvia atricapilla heineken
Common in vegetated areas.
This subspecies also occurs in the Canary Islands and in Portugal and south-west Spain. I only once saw the melanistic morph of heineken: a male on May 30th 1997 in the Jardim Bôtanica in Funchal. 

Blackbird                              Turdus merula cabrerae
Common in parks, gardens and other areas with enough suitable vegetation.      
Macaronesian endemic subspecies (Canary Islands and Madeira). 

Robin                                                Erithacus rubecula rubecula
Quite common in vegetated areas like the Ribeira de Janela.

Grey Wagtail                        Motacilla cinerea schmitzi
Common in all kinds of habitat and even seen in the centre of Funchal.
Madeira endemic subspecies. This subspecies is considered valid in ‘Pipits & Wagtails’ by Alström and Zetterström.

Berthelot’s Pipit                    Anthus berthelotii
Rather common on Madeira in areas like Ponta do Pargo and Punta de Sao Lourenco.
Macaronesian endemic (Canary Islands, Madeira, Selvagens). Birds from Madeira are usually separated as madeirensis (and those from the Canary Islands and Selvagens as berthelotii) but is considered monotypic here following ‘Pipits & Wagtails’ by Alström and Zetterström.

Chaffinch                              Fringilla (coelebs) maderensis
Common in forested area like Ribeira de Janela (but not seen in city parks in Funchal).
Madeira endemic subspecies and a potential split. This sub­species is part of the Canariensis-group, which consist of the subspecies maderensis (Madeira), moreletti (Azores) and the three subspecies occurring in the Canary Islands. The Canariensis-group is sometimes considered a separate species (Atlantic Chaffinch) or even 5 different species.

Atlantic Canary                    Serinus canaria
Common in a variety of habitats all over the island.
Macaronesian endemic (Canary Islands, Madeira, Azores). Monotypic.

Goldfinch                              Carduelis carduelis parva
A small flock of about 5 birds seen in Machico were the only ones during this trip.

Waxbill                                  Estrilda astrild iagoensis
Common at the river mouth and ribeira in Machico but also seen at Lugar de Baixo. I did not record any in 1997 so has certainly increased since.

Other interesting Madeiran birds (I did not see on this trip)

Zino’s Petrel                          Pterodroma madeira
Madeira endemic. The other Madeiran Pterodroma. I clearly heard 6-8 birds near the top of the Pico do Areiro on the 23th of May 1997 from 22.15 hour onwards. This site can now only be visited with a licensed guide.

British Storm Petrel             Hydrobates pelagicus
During migration small numbers of British Storm Petrels are seen in Madeiran waters. It is unclear to what extent the recently split Mediterranean Storm Petrel (Hydrobates melitensis) can occur in the Atlantic and Madeiran waters (most are expected to stay in the Mediterranean during winter).

White-faced Storm Petrel    Pelagodroma marina hypoleuca
This is a common breeding bird on the Selvagens but only occasional seen on pelagics off Madeira in summer. Birds from the Cape Verde Islands are usually separated as eadesi but following ‘The Birds of the Cape Verde Islands’ by Hazevoet all breeding birds from Macaronesia are attributed to the subspecies hypoleuca.

Quail                                      Coturnix coturnix coturnix
Rare and localised breeder on Madeira. Birds from the Canary Islands,  Madeira, the Cape Verde Islands and the Azores are sometimes separated as confisa, but  this is now generally considered an invalid subspecies and therefore included here in the nominate coturnix with only the birds from the Azores separated as the subspecies conturbans.

Roseate Tern                        Sterna dougallii dougallii
A scarce breeding bird in Madeira and low numbers are seen along coastal areas.

Spanish Sparrow                  Passer hispaniolensis hispaniolensis
Introduced on Madeira but not common at all. During an earlier trip to Madeira in May 1997 I saw birds at Machico, Canical, Camara de Lobos and Funchal. Not a single bird seen on this trip.

Rock Sparrow                      Petronia petronia petronia
The birds from the Canary Islands and Madeira are some­times separated as madeirensis but this is now generally considered an invalid subspecies and therefore included here in the nomi­nate petronia. Not seen on this trip but I saw 8 birds in May 1997 on the Punta de Sao Lourenco.

Linnet                                    Carduelis cannabina guentheri
Madeira endemic subspecies. I saw 8+ birds near the high plateau of Paul de Serra in May 1997. The subspecies harterti and meadewaldoi of the Canary Islands are now considered invalid by some authorities and because of a lack of genetic research the same could be true for the Madeiran subspecies guentheri.

Greenfinch                            Carduelis chloris ssp. 
Greenfinch is a rare breeding bird in Madeira but it is not entirely clear to what subspecies they belong. If Greenfinch occurs in Madeira as a result of natural colonization they can either belong to the subspecies vanmarli or the subspecies aurantiiventris. On geographical grounds the former is the most likely. If Green­finch is introduced in Madeira (as happened on the Azores) it will be even more difficult to establish there true taxonomic status.

For any questions, remarks, etc please contact:

E.J. Alblas, The Netherlands


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