Madeira and Porto Santo 16th to 29th September 2003

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Georges and Mireille Olioso, Le Mail, 26230 Grignan (France)


Very few birds ; like other small islands, few species, but also few individuals. No sparrows on Madeira, no Collared Doves ! Widespread species are rare: Canaries, Grey Wagtail, Plain Swift, Blackbird, Yellow-legged Gull, Buzzard, Kestrel and Feral Pigeon. Other, like Chaffinch, Berthelot's Pipit and Firecrest are common in right habitat. At sea, there are always some Cory's Shearwater.


We stay in Royal Orchid, at Caniço di Baixo, just in front the sea

September 16: From the Royal Orchid I can see Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea (± 50), but the first birds seen are 2 Plain Swifts Apus unicolor. Some Yellow legged Gulls Larus michahellis atlantis, 1 young Common Tern Sterna hirundo and 1 Little Egret Egretta garzetta. In the gardens, only some Canaries Serinus canaria, and a female Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus.

September 17: Start 7:30 a.m. to Ribeiro Frio by the road 103. First stop near the house of the Parque Ecologico di Funchal (8:20 to 9 a.m): Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs madeirensis, Madeiran Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus madeirensis.

Second stop at the Balcoes levada, Just 5 min after starting, I saw 3 Trocaz Pigeons Columba trocaz. Madeiran Firecrest and Chaffinch are common.

Third stop (10h40 à 11h) at Pic d'Arieiro (1818 m): 4 Berthelot's Pipits Anthus bertheloti (2 in song), 1 Pallid Swift Apus pallidus.

In the evening, walk in the residential area (17h à 18h15), numerous Canaries, ± 20 Plain Swifts, 3 Kestrels. At coast, some Yellow legged Gulls, 1 first year Sandwich Tern and 3 Grey Wagtails. And, everywhere, the same lizard.

September 18: walk near Santo Antonio da Serra: Chaffinchs and Madeiran Firecrest abundant. I saw also, Blackbird, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Robin, Blackcap, Grey Wagtail, Pied Flycatcher, Canaries. Two young Buzzards beg for food. Surprise ! 5 Trocaz Pigeons are feeding on the ground.

Driving to Machico, ± 15 Plain Swifts.

Stop at the Machico beach and the Rio de Machico mouth. There are Turnstones Arenaria interpres, Dunlins, Sanderlings and Curlew Sandpiper Calidris alpina, alba and ferruginea. There are also a first year American Harring Gull Larus smithsonianus, 1 Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis, Common Terns, Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus (2 first year), Grey Wagtails, Goldfinches and Little Egret.

September 19: Funchal harbour (7:30 to 8:45 a.m.): 13 Turnstones, 4 Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos, 5 Grey Wagtails, 7 Little Egrets, 1 Common Tern, 1 Sanderling, 1 Black-backed Gull graellsii and hundreds (400 ?) Yellow legged Gulls and Feral Pigeons. In the trees, ± 15 Canaries, and, in the sky, 4 Plain Swifts.

In the evening, from the room, numerous Cory's Shearwater, and also 1 Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus.

September 20: I drive to Paul da Serra and Porto Moniz. Some Wheatears Oenanthe oenanthe and also a first year Dotterel Charadrius morinellus, a rare species in Madeira ! Berthelot's Pipits are abundant!

Stop at Fanal (between Paul da Serra and Ribeira da Janela): 1 Woodcock Scolopax rusticola, always some Plain Swifts, Grey Wagtails, Madeiran Firecrests and Robins.

In Porto Moniz, Blackcap are very numerous in the gardens.

September 21: Machico harbour (7:30/9a.m.): there is a Common Terns roost on the small boats (22 birds) and 2 Sandwich Terns. In the river, I saw 8 Red Avadavats Amandava amandava.

September 22: back to Pico do Arieiro (8 a.m.), the fog is here and no birds are visible but some tame Berthelot's Pipits

Walk to Faja da Nogueira (10:15/11:30 a.m.). Very good for Trocaz Pigeon (14 birds seen).

Between Faja Grande de Baixo and Faial, numerous Plain Swifts.

Late evening from the room, numerous Cory's Shearwaters, 1 Mediterranean Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus (not common here) and 9 Manx Shearwaters.

September 23: entire day at room ! ± 15 Plain Swifts and 1 Common Swift Apus apus.

September 24: Entire day on Porto Santo island. Crossing with the Lobo Marinho (8:10/10:20 a.m.). Three Shearwater species seen. 184 Cory's, 11 Manx and 3 Little Puffinus assimilis. Some tens of Yellow legged Gulls. On Porto Santo, the Tanque dam (near the airport) is very good: 1 Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos, some Sanderlings and Dunlins, 1 Ruff Philomachus pugnax, 1 Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, Coots Fulica atra, Moorhens Gallinula chloropus, 1 Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus, Black-headed and at least 50 Yellow legged Gulls. Very good sighting of 1 Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides attempting to catch Feral Pigeons.

At other places, numerous Berthelot's Pipits, 1 Wheatear leucorrhoa, 2 Rock Sparrows Petronia petronia, 2 Spectacled Warblers Sylvia conspicillata and some Hoopoes Upupa epops.

September 25: back to the Rio Machico mouth: 1 Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, 1 Little Stint Calidris minuta, 1 Coot and 1 Ruff. In the big trees near the beach, 3 Little Egrets, 1 Grey Heron and 5 Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis.

September 26: back to Paul da Serra (9/11:30 a.m.) Only the usual species.

September 27: (3:30 a.m.), sounds in the salon - I am a little frightened ! We usualy sleep with open windows. Perhaps a robber ? I get up and find a Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria buwerii !!

Back to Machico: in the river, there 2 ou 3 Red Avadavats and also at least 15 Common Waxbills Estrilda astrild.

September 28: short walk along the Levada do Norte, above Campanàrio (6), 8:40/10:20 a.m. Nothing interesting but very numerous Blackbirds, Robins and Blackcaps.

Species Lists


1. Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea borealis. Some tens every day in front of Caniço di Baixo. Also Porto Moniz. Between Funchal and Porto Santo, 24 Sept., 184 birds seen.

2. Manx Sheawater Puffinus puffinus. 1, Sept 19, and 9, Sept 22, at sea in front of Caniço di Baixo. Perhaps other with the Cory's. Between Funchal and Porto Santo, 24 Sept., 11 birds seen.

3. Mediterranean Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus. 1, Sept. 22, in front Caniço di Baixo.

4. Little Shearwater Puffinus assimilis. Between Funchal and Porto Santo, 24 Sept., 3 birds seen.

5. Bulwer's Petrel Bulweria bulwerii. 1 in the room, Sept. 27 (3:30 a.m !)

6. Little Egret Egretta garzetta. Seen every day in small number. Maximum 7, Sept. 19, Funchal harbour. Porto Santo, 4 Tanque dam.

7. Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis. Sept. 25, Machico, 5 leaving the roost, 7:45 a.m..

8. Grey Heron Ardea cinerea. 3, Sept. 21 and 27, Rio Machico mouth. 1, Sept. 22, Faja de Nogueira. Porto Santo, 6 first year birds at Tanque dam, Sept. 24.

9. Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus granti. Female, Sept. 16, Caniço di Baixo.

10. Buzzard Buteo buteo. 1, Sept 19, Pico di Arieiro ; 2 (first year), Sept 18, S. Antonio da Serra ; 1, Sept. 20, Rio Brava. 1, Sept. 22, Faja de Nogueira. Common at Porto Santo. Sept. 26, 1 Paul da Serra and 1 near Encumeada.

11. Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides. 1, Porto Santo, Sept. 24.

12. Kestrel Falco tinnunculus canariensis. Common and widespread on Madeira and Porto Santo

13. Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa. 8 together, Porto Santo.

14. Coot Fulica atra. 6, Tanque dam, Porto Santo. 1, Sept 25 and 27 Rio Machico mouth.

15. Moorhen Gallinula chloropus. 13, Tanque dam, Porto Santo.

16. Dotterel Charadrius morinellus. 1 first year, Sept 20, Paul da Serra.

17. Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula. 1 adult, Tanque dam, Porto Santo.

18. Woodcock Scolopax rusticola. 1, Sept. 20, Fanal, between Paul da Serra and Ribeira da Janela.

19. Little Stint Calidris minuta. 1, Sept 25 and 27, Rio Machico mouth.

20. Sanderling Calidris alba. Funchal (1, Sept 19) and Machico (4, Sept. 18 and 21 ; 5, Sept. 25 and 27). Tanque dam, Porto Santo (3, Sept. 24.)

21. Dunlin Calidris alpina. Machico, 3, Sept 18 ; 5, Sept. 21 and 2, Sept. 25 and 27. Tanque dam, Porto Santo, 2, Sept. 24.

22. Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea. 1, Sept. 18, Rio Machico mouth.

23. Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos. 1, Sept. 24, Tanque dam, Porto Santo.

24. Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus. 1, Sept. 24, Tanque dam, Porto Santo.

25. Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos. Funchal, 4, Sept. 19. One, Sept 25 and 29, Rio Machico mouth.

26. Ruff Philomachus pugnax. 1, Sept. 24, Tanque dam, Porto Santo.and another, Sept. 25 and 27, Rio Machico mouth.

27. Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa. 1, Sept. 25, Rio Machico mouth.

28. Turnstone Arenaria interpres. Common. Maxima 26 (Sept. 18) and 28 (Sept. 21), Machico.

29. Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis atlantis. Very common (about 400, Sept. 19, Funchal harbour, 80 % first year). Abundant Porto Santo.

30. Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus. One adult intermedius, Sept. 18, in front of the Royal Orchid ; 1 (3rd summer) graellsii, Sept 19 Funchal.

31. American Herring Gull Larus smithsonianus. Un (first year), Sept 18, Rio Machico mouth.

32. Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus. 2 (first year), Sept. 18, Rio Machico mouth. 3, Sept. 24, Tanque dam, Porto Santo.

33. Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis. 1/2, Machico, Sept. 18, 21 and 27. One, Porto Santo, Sept. 24.

34. Common Tern Sterna hirundo. Seen daily in small number. 22 at roost, Sept. 21, Machico.

35. Feral Pigeon Columba livia domestica. Common and widespread. About 300, Sept. 19 Funchal harbour) ; 5, Sept. 17, Pico di Arieiro (1818 m). Abundant Porto Santo.

36. Trocaz Pigeon Columba trocaz. 3, Sept. 17, levada de Balcoes ; 5, Sept. 18, S. Antonio da Serra. 14, Sept. 22, Faja de Nogueira.

37. Common Swift Apus apus. One, Sept. 23, Madeira Shopping above Funchal. One, Sept. 26, Royal Orchid.

38. Plain Swift Apus unicolor. Seen daily everywhere.

39. Pallid Swift Apus pallidus. One, Sept 17, Pico di Arieiro.

40. Hoopoe Upupa epops. Porto Santo, Sept. 24, 5 (2 + 2 + 1).

41. Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea schmitzi. Common and widespread. Not seen on Porto Santo.

42. Berthelot's Pipit Anthus berthelotii madeirensis. Common (abundant), Paul da Serra (at least 150, Sept 20) and Pico do Arieiro. Very common Porto Santo.

43. Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis. One, Sept. 17, above the house of the Parque Ecologico de Funchal.

44. Robin Erithacus rubecula. Widespread.

45. Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe leucorrhoa. Two, Sept. 20, Paul da Serra. Another, Sept. 24, Porto Santo.

46. Whinchat Saxicola rubetra. Male, Sept. 26, Paul da Serra.

47. Blackbird Turdus merula cabrerae. Common and widespread. Abundant Machico. Not seen on Porto Santo. F

48. Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata. Two(together), Sept. 24, Porto Santo.

49. Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla heineken. Common (Abundant Porto Moniz).

50. Firecrest Regulus ignicapillus madeirensis. Common in the laurisylva and pines. Abundant, levada de Balcoes. Not on Porto Santo.

51. Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca. 4, Sept. 17, house of the Parque Ecologico and 1, same day, on the road to Ribeiro Frio. One, Sept. 18, S. Antonio da Serra. Two, Sept. 24, Porto Santo.

52. Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata. One, Sept. 24, Porto Santo.

53. Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis. Abundant, Porto Santo.

54. Rock Sparrow Petronia petronia. Two, Sept. 24, near the airport, Porto Santo.

55. Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs madeirensis. Common in the laurisylva. Tame. Not seen on Porto Santo.

56. Canary Serinus canaria. Widespread and sometimes abundant. Seen daily.

57. Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis parva. Common near villages. Some on Porto Santo.

58. Greenfinch Carduelis chloris. Only 2, Sept. 18, near S. Antonio da Serra, and 1, Sept. 28, Levada do Norte.

59. Red Avadavat Amandava amandava. At least 8 (2 males), Sept. 21, Rio Machico, upstream the first bridge and 2/3, Sept. 27, same place.

60. Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild. At least 15, Sept. 27, Rio Machico mouth, with some Avadavats.


1. African Collared Dove Streptopelia roseogrisea risoria. Numerous, Quinta da Palmeiras, Porto Santo, where bred.

2. Budgerigar Melopsittacus undulatus. Some birds, Quinta da Palmeiras, Porto Santo.


1. Brown Rat Rattus norvegicus. One, Sept. 25, Machico.

2. Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus. Two, Sept. 18, near S. Antonio da Serra. Numerous tracks, Sept. 20 and 26, Paul da Serra.

3. Common Dolphin ± 15 together, Sept. 24, Between Funchal and Porto Santo. Indeterminate Dolphin - one, big, Sept. 18, in front Royal Orchid


1. Madeira Lizard Common everywhere (But Paul da Serra ?). Very abundant Porto Santo.


1. "Green" Frog One, heard, Sept. 22, Faja da Nogueira. Four, seen and heard, Sept. 24, Porto Santo.