In June this year we ran our fourth trip to Madeira, staying one night on Deserta Grande again. We had superb weather and enjoyed some memorable boat trips. We saw Desertas Petrel, Madeiran Storm-petrel, Bulwer's Petrel, Borolo Shearwater, Bryde's Whale, Loggerhead Turtle, Mediterranean Monk Seal, Hammerhead Shark and much more. The visit to the Zino's Petrel colony was simply superb. Here are a few of Paul's photographs, along with some from Filipe, our naturalist guide on the Ventura do Mar.




Watching a seabird feeding frenzy in the evening off Bugio. There were eight or nine species attracted to a sardine baitball, including Desertas Petrel, Cory's Shearwater, Bulwer's Petrel, Manx Shearwater, Atlantic Spotted Dolphin and Bottle-nosed Dolphin.


A flock of Cory's Shearwaters off Bugio.


We saw six or seven Desertas Petrels (top right) with the Cory's off Bugio.


One of dozens of Bulwer's Petrels that came ashore on Deserta Grande after dark.


Beautiful conditions at sea allowed us to enjoy the rich marine life at point blank range.


We saw four Loggerhead Turtles.


Huge numbers of Atlantic Spotted Dolphins were present this year.


Back on dry land, we saw all the species expected, including Trocaz Pigeon, here at Risco Waterfall.


This Hummingbird Hawk-moth was feeding on flowers of the Pride of Madeira at Paul da Serra.


A male Spectacled Warbler in Spanish Broom at Paul da Serra.


Sunset at Pico de Arieiro, the breeding site of the last remaining Zino's Petrels. We enjoyed the most amazing evening, with light winds and a full moon.

Up to three birds were watched at the same time, hurtling across the sky at break neck speeds, just inches from the rocky peaks.


Canarys are common on Madeira.



Glossy Ibis is a rare visitor to the island, but sightings have increased as their population has exploded in Spain.


This Little Egret was watched shaking its feet to flush prey.




We were lucky to see this mother and calf Bryde's Whale during a catamaran trip off Funchal. Fellow passenger David Graham very kindly sent us his photographs.





The calf can just be made out on the right hand side of the female (below).





Tour members Bill & Madge Curtis kindly sent us these shots from the trip...more to come.


Hungary Lizard                                                                               Basking Butterfly


Intrepid Leader                                                                             Cheeky Chaffinch






The following shots were taken by tour member Chrys Mellor:


Cory's Shearwater and Yellow-legged Gull


Hundreds of handsome Cory's were around most days


Bulwer's Petrels were seen at their nests, and several flew close by our ship



           Madeiran Chaffinches are often very tame                                  Loggerhead Turtles are around the island at the time of our visit


Short-finned Pilot Whales are common offshore


Roseate Tern breeds on Madeira


The rarely seen Madeiran Storm-petrel breeds on the Desertas and we visit the breeding site


the following excellent photographs were taken by another tour member, Paul Kingsnorth



Leatherback Turtle seen from our boat off Deserta Grande. A first for Bird Holidays!


The critically endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal, seen from the Sao Lourenco Peninsular.


This delightful Barolo (Little) Shearwater was found disorientated in Funchal town. We were lucky to see it before it was taken out to sea and released.

It was a juvenile bird, and it is not too unusual for such birds to be disorientated by the lights of a town on their first flight.



We have just completed our first trip to Madeira. This lovely island gave up its treasures for our group, and we saw all the target species. Zino's Petrels, Fea's Petrels, Madeiran Storm-petrels, Bulwer's Petrels and Barolo Shearwaters were the seabird highlights. A Barbary Falcon was only the 4th record for Madeira, and a long staying Yellow-crowned Night Heron was a 3rd for the Old World. Luis Diaz, skipper of the Ventura do Mar, kindly sent us the following photographs taken on our tour.

Short-finned Pilot Whale - we saw a pod of about 30

Manx Shearwater was seen in small numbers


Desertas Petrel nests only on Bugio

A beautiful portrait of a Cory's Shearwater


Bulwer's Petrel


Barolo Shearwater is one of the hardest seabirds to get a good look at. We were particularly fortunate to see this one close to the boat.


Paul also took a few photographs. Here are his better efforts.


Madeira Firecrest


The Sao Lourenco Peninsula




Berthelot's Pipit


Risco Waterfall


The Pride of Madeira





Trocaz Pigeon


Flowers lining a levada




Deserta Grande


Common Waxbill

Madeiran race of Chaffinch. Male (above) and a female



We were really lucky to spot this Mediterranean Monk Seal during a catamaran trip off Funchal. This species is one of the rarest sea mammals in the world, with just 32 in Madeira, and a few hundred in the Mediterranean and off Mauretania. Thanks to Nicolau Abreu for the photographs.


Pico de Arieiro, the breeding site of the last remaining Zino's Petrels



Here are the photographs from our recce in June 2010



These endemic Trocaz Pigeons were at Risca waterfall too.


Here a Plain Swift flies over a steep valley.

Madeira Geraniums carpet the sides of the levadas in June.

Madeiran Chaffinches are rather tame! They look very different to our Chaffinches, as you can see below.

The Sao Lourenco Peninsula is very different to the lush laurel forests. Its spectacular geology provides great photo opportunities.

Several birds occur here such as Berthelot's Pipit and Rock Sparrow


Our overnight visit to the Desertas Islands was the highlight of the trip. Here's our yacht, the Ventura do Mar, moored in a small bay on Deserta Grande.

We have a wet landing on the beach, so bring your sandals or wetshoes!

The Ventura do Mar

Barbeque on the beach...

Bulwer's Petrels nest in crevices in piles of boulders and stone walls.


Just after dusk Bulwer's Petrels, Cory's Shearwaters and Madeiran Storm-petrels come ashore, their calls filling the night air. The Bulwer's in particular are very clumsy, crashing into boulders before shuffling to their nests.


The evening visit to the only Zino's Petrel colony in the world is an experience not to be missed. Pico de Arieiro is a beautiful location and a visit would be worthwhile for the sunset alone.


The path to the Zino's colony....


Here are Phil's pictures from his visit to Madeira. He also went to sea on the Ventura do Mar.


Cory's Shearwater is the most numerous seabird in the seas around Madeira, and they come ashore to breed on Deserta Grande.


Bulwer's Petrels come ashore on Deserta Grande to breed. They are one of the highlights of our overnight visit.



Madeiran Storm-petrel can occasionally be seen from the boat, but failing that, they arrive on Deserta Grande after dark and can be seen in torch light.


More Bulwer's at sea...


and more Cory's...



Desertas Petrel used to be regarded as a race of Fea's Petrel. Before that, both were lumped with the Soft-plumaged Petrel of the Southern Ocean. They only nest on the island of Bugio in the Desertas archipelago, and just 200 pairs exist.




Please note: The above photographs were taken on previous trips. Itineraries change from time to time and therefore you cannot rely on these photographs as being an exact representation of what can be expected on a future tour. For details of the each tour, you should refer to the brochure write-up.




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