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  • Photograph of Zino's Petrel

    Probable Zino's Petrel by Chris Townend.

    MADEIRA

    Photograph of Madeiran Storm Petrel


    Photograph of White-faced Storm Petrel

    Madeiran (above) and White-faced Storm Petrels by Simon Colenutt.

    Best Wildlife in Madeira

    Mammals
    Short-finned Pilot Whale (mostly Nov-Apr) and (Common) Bottlenose Dolphin (mostly Mar-Oct). Also a chance of Sperm (mostly Mar-Sep) and Bryde’s (Apr-Oct) Whales, and (Short-beaked) Common (mostly Dec-May), Risso’s (mostly Jun-Oct), (Atlantic) Spotted (mostly Mar-Nov) and Striped (mostly Feb-May and Jul-Sep) Dolphins, and an outside chance of Monk Seal, which is occasionally seen in Funchal Harbour and around the Desertas Islands (where there is a tiny population).

    Birds

    Endemics
    Zino’s Petrel (mainly Apr-Aug, mostly May-June), Trocaz Pigeon and Madeiran Firecrest.

    Photograph of Fea's (Desertas) Petrel

    Fea's (Desertas) Petrel by Chris Townend.

    Macaronesian Endemics
    Macaronesian (Barolo’s) Shearwater (mainly Apr-May), Plain Swift, Berthelot’s Pipit and (Atlantic/Island) Canary.

    Other Specialities
    Fea’s (Desertas) Petrel (mainly Jul-Oct), Bulwer’s Petrel (May-Sep), and Madeiran (Band-rumped) and White-faced (Feb-Aug) Storm Petrels.

    Some taxonomists believe the Pterodroma petrel which breeds on the island of Bugio in the Desertas Islands is a distinct species - Desertas Petrel – from Fea's Petrel which breeds in the Cape Verde Islands, based mostly on vocalizations and breeding phenology, as described in the book Petrels Night & Day which is available from The Sound Approach.

    Others
    Red-legged Partridge, (Common) Quail, Cory’s and Manx Shearwaters, Wilson’s Storm Petrel, (Common) Buzzard (endemic harterti subspecies), Yellow-legged Gull (atlantis), Common and Roseate Terns, Barn Owl (endemic schmitzi subspecies), Pallid Swift, (Eurasian) Hoopoe, Spectacled Warbler, Blackcap (including some of the ‘melanistic’ form), Grey Wagtail (endemic schmitzi subspecies), Rock (endemic madeirensis subspecies) and Spanish Sparrows, Chaffinch (endemic maderensis subspecies) and (Eurasian) Linnet (endemic guentheri subspecies).

    Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
    The only native land reptile is the Madeiran Wall Lizard. At sea there is a chance of Loggerhead Turtle, Hammerhead Shark and Atlantic Flying Fish.

    Plants
    The incredible 1163 plant species includes 113 endemics. The fine Laurel forests are full of Madeiran Geraniums and Pride of Madeiras, while many other spectacular flowers have been introduced from all over the world.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Madeira

    Best Times for Wildlife in Madeira

    June, July and August are the best months to look for seabirds, and as good a time as any to find the landbird specialities. It is wise to include a few extra days in any itinerary which is aimed at seeing seabirds in case poor weather prevents going to sea. May-June is the best time for flowers, especially late May, and late May to early June is the best time for cetaceans.

    Recommended Books etc. for Madeira

    Field Guide to the Birds of Macaronesia by E Garcia-Del-Rey. Lynx Edicions, 2011.

    Collins Bird Guide by L Svensson et al. Collins, 2010 (Second Edition).

    Birds of Europe by L Jonsson. Helm, 1999.

    Birds of the Atlantic Islands by T Clarke. Helm, 2006.

    A Birdwatchers' Guide to Portugal, the Azores and Madeira Archipelagos by C Moore et al. Prion, 2014 (Second Edition).

    Mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East by S Aulagnier et al. Helm, 2009.

    Mammals of Britain and Europe by D McDonald and P Barrett. Collins, 2005.

    Collins Butterfly Guide by T Tolman and R Lewington. Collins, 2009 (Third Edition).

    Butterflies of Britain and Europe: A Photographic Guide by H Aarnio et al. A & C Black Publishers, 2009.


    Apps etc.

    Collins Bird Guide.

    Trip Reports for Madeira

    Many trip reports, some for Madeira, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Madeira. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Madeira' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Madeira

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Madeira

    Some Organized Tours to Madeira

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and they are popular with people with partners with different interests. Individuals, partners and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more for a custom tour than an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours to Madeira include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.