MADEIRA, THE AZORES &
THE CANARY ISLANDS
13 – 23 JUNE 2011
LEADER: TONY CLARKE
This was another very successful tour to the Macaronesian region with a total of 72 species recorded
of which fourteen were endemics, add to this the numerous endemic subspecies and two of the rarest
Pterodromas on the planet. The emphasis on this tour is undoubtedly the special birds rather than a
large species list and certainly the quality outweighed the quantity on this trip.
The first morning saw us leaving our hotel in conditions of low cloud in search of our first endemic of
the tour and the only one on the Azores, the Azores Bullfinch. We headed east through Vila Franca
do Campo, passed the eastern side of the Lagoa das Furnas where we could hardly see the water,
things were not looking good. Continuing eastwards we reached Povoação and then a few kilometres
further east we turned north onto the track leading to Nordeste which passes through the Serra da
Tronqueira to the east of the Pico da Vara, which at 1105m is the highest point on the island of São
Miguel. After just a couple of hundred metres a group of four birds flew up from the side of the track
and were instantly recognisable as Azores Bullfinches. Although they superficially resembled their
north European cousins in shape and general plumage pattern these birds were sexually similar with
the male lacking the pink breast colour of its European counterpart therefore looking more like a
female. The rump was also grey-brown and not white like the European birds. We continued our
drive in the direction of Nordeste stopping briefly at various points where we encountered two more
pairs of Azores Bullfinch although the birds were not as obliging as the ones we saw originally. Also
along this track we observed the endemic subspecies of Woodpigeon which is darker than the
common European race plus the other endemic races of Grey Wagtail, Common Blackbird and
Common Starling all of which are similar to the more familiar races in mainland Europe. One bird
which is quite different is the morletti race of the Common Chaffinch which was quite numerous on
the drive and compared to the European birds is green on the mantle, paler and more peach coloured
face and breast, bluer crown and nape and less prominent wing bars. Also at one of our stops we
tracked down the very furtive and mobile Goldcrest which here on the Azores is represented by three
endemic subspecies the one we saw being R. r. azoricus which is darker on both the upperparts and
underparts in comparison to the nominate form. Further along the track we added a new species to
1 Birdquest: Madeira, The Azores & The Canary Islands 2011
the Birdquest tour list when we flushed a Eurasian Woodcock from the side of the road. The views
weren’t great but it was quite clear what it was as we saw it well in flight. Once we reached Nordeste
we turned along the north coast of the island to Algarvia where we headed inland again and after
negotiating some major roadworks we got onto another track through some native vegetation. This
was another area for the Azores Bullfinch but they were a lot harder to find here than in previous
years although eventually we saw another pair very briefly. Our lunch stop today was in the centre of
the north coast at Ribeira Grande where we saw a few Cory’s Shearwaters offshore, our first Little
Egret of the trip, rather a lot of Yellow-legged Gulls of various ages and just along the shore a couple
of Common Terns. The most frustrating thing was a distant Roseate Tern which soon disappeared and
despite a major effort could not be relocated and was only seen by a couple of fortunate observers.
Continuing the circumnavigation of the island we headed to the western end and birded for a short
while around the small coastal town of Mosteiros. Here we saw about twenty Cory’s Shearwaters
offshore and on the coastal rocks we saw four Whimbrel which turned out to be the only ones of the
trip. The final destination for the day were the famous volcanic lakes at Sete Cidades but the views
across the lakes were the highlight of our visit as there were very few avian delights for us to observe.
Day two of the tour and we were already on our way to another archipelago. We departed from our
hotel early but not before we had added Common Waxbill both to our trip list and to the Birdquest
tour list. Once on Madeira we were soon aware of a different avifauna as we encountered two Plain
Swifts at the airport whilst sorting out the rental vehicle. In the afternoon we took a walk down to the
harbour in Funchal where we saw the biggest surprise of the trip in the form of a juvenile Yellow-
crowned Night Heron which even though we knew it was there it was still hard to locate. Having
checked all the usual haunts we were just about to give up when all of a sudden the bird appeared on
the bow of one of the yachts in the marina. We got some great views and the photographers among
us were allowed onto the boat to get some nice close ups of this extreme vagrant to the Western
Palearctic. This was an addition to the Birdquest tour list and dare one say it, never likely to be seen
again on this tour. Also during our excursion we saw our only Ruddy Turnstones of the tour and some
excellent close views of Common Terns sitting around the marina. After dinner we went on our
nocturnal excursion to Pico de Areeiro and the breeding area for the rare and critically endangered
Zino’s Petrel. Our visit coincided with a clear sky, a full moon and the additional highlight of an extra
astronomical event- a full lunar eclipse. The petrels were a little difficult to see in the darkness but
after adjusting to the lack of light we all managed to get some glimpses as the birds flew around the
rocky peaks. Some of the views were more extended than others and we even saw a couple of pairs
flying in unison around the breeding ledges. This was one of those excursions that will never be
The following morning we headed inland from Funchal to the forested region of the island around
Ribeiro Frio. Here we encountered many of the forest species including the two island endemics,
Madeiran Kinglet and Trocaz Pigeon. The first of these we found easily as we walked along the
footpath from Ribeiro Frio and Balcões, it is a new species recently promoted from its previous
subspecific status. It superficially resembles a Firecrest but has more black on the base of the
primaries and a shorter white supercilium also the male has less orange on the crown. The Trocaz
Pigeon was a bit harder to locate as initially we only got some brief flight views before finally seeing
one perched although it was rather distant. Another bird seen easily was the maderensis race of
Common Chaffinch, which differs from the Azorean race in having less extensive green on the
upperparts, more vinous belly and more white in the outer tail feathers. Also in this area we were
distracted by an unusual piece of flora, the endemic orchid Dactylorhiza foliosa, this attractive purple
flowered orchid was not uncommon along the track to Balcões. We then drove to Pico de Areeiro for
our lunch and with a bit of effort we got some decent views of the local race of Berthelot’s Pipit,
Anthus berthelotii madeirensis. In the afternoon a repeat visit to the Funchal harbour failed to locate
the Yellow-crowned Night Heron.
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The fourth full day of the tour and we were destined for a day at sea on board the Ventura do Mar.
Our voyage took us from Funchal harbour to the Desertas, a small island group just over 20 km
south-east of Madeira. These islands are home to possibly the largest breeding population of Bulwer’s
Petrels and the only known colony of Deserta’s Petrels with a small population of some 150-200
pairs, this form is now split by some authors from Fea’s Petrel on the Cape Verde Islands. On the four
hour crossing to Deserta Grande our time was spent searching the surrounding ocean for seabirds and
cetaceans. The only common seabirds were the ubiquitous Yellow-legged Gulls, numerous Cory’s
Shearwaters and a few Common Terns but also about ten Bulwer’s Petrels and three Deserta’s Petrels,
although only one of these was seen close enough to see the majority of this species salient features.
Once on the island the highlight of the day was being able to see Bulwer’s Petrels in their nest
crevices and to see the single eggs that they were incubating. Also on the island we got some good
views of Berthelot’s Pipit and a few Atlantic Canaries but the birds on this island were a bit few and
far between and in a way most people were pleased to board the Ventura do Mar for our return trip to
Madeira. The return trip was very similar to the morning crossing but there was an increase in the
number of Bulwer’s Petrels, about four Deserta’s Petrels which were all very distant and a single
Manx Shearwater which was a species new to the Birdquest tour list. The only cetaceans for the day
were a group of Atlantic Spotted Dolphins that came close and did some brief bow riding before
disappearing back into the surrounding ocean and being lost from view.
This morning we were on the move again as we changed to the last of the three archipelagos of the
tour. We departed from Madeira and after a fairly lengthy stop on Gran Canaria we reached our
destination, the desert like Fuerteventura which is one of the eastern islands within the Canary
Islands. Our afternoon arrival left little time for birding but we did see a few things between the
airport and our hotel in the south of the island. These included Common Buzzard of the race
insularum, Common Kestrel of the race dacotiae, Barbary Partridge of the race koenigi and a couple
of Southern Grey Shrikes but our birding on Fuerteventura starts in earnest in the morning.
Day six and we started before breakfast on the desert plains behind the coastal urbanisation of Costa
Calma. Here we were treated to some excellent views of three Houbara Bustards, one of which was a
displaying male. They do look strange when they puff up their neck feathers, throw their head on to
their back and run around the desert like a large headless turkey. We also did very well with Cream-
coloured Coursers getting some very good, close views of a few individuals and recording a total of
seventeen birds which was a really good total. This plain was also a very good area for the polatzeki
race of the Lesser Short-toed Lark and although hearing this bird was easy getting decent views was
another matter. However, with perseverance we did get some good looks at a few birds on the
ground quite close to our vehicle. Then a brief stop in the Casuarina plantation on the way back to
the hotel gave us some good looks at the harterti race of the Common Linnet. After breakfast we
headed north but only a short way to La Lajita where we failed to locate any Laughing Doves, a
recent colonizer from mainland Africa. Moving on our next location was just by the side of the road a
couple of kilometres inland from La Lajita where we found four rather obliging Barbary Partridges,
also here were our first Trumpeter Finches of the tour and the first family group of the endemic
Canary Islands Stonechat. All three species gave us excellent views but the location was a little
dangerous for parking so we moved on fairly quickly from here. The next port of call was the inland
section of the Barranco de La Torre where on the small pond we saw about twenty Ruddy Shelduck
whilst on the approach we were lucky to see one of the few remaining Egyptian Vultures which has
recently been given its own subspecific status N. p. majorensis. Other species in the area included
about twenty Black-winged Stilts including juveniles, another Canary Island Stonechat, our first
Spectacled Warblers of the trip and a few Trumpeter Finches. Lunch today was taken at Salinas del
Carmen which is also a nice coastal birding location although there wasn’t much to be seen today.
Off shore a few Cory’s Shearwaters drifted over the waves and in the bay a small gathering of about
twenty Yellow-legged Gulls loafed around the exposed rocks, whilst around the buildings Eurasian
Collared Dove and Spanish Sparrow were the two prominent species. In the afternoon we drove
westwards from the coast calling in on the inland locations of Castillo de Lara, Betancuria, Vega de
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Rio Palmas and the Mirador Las Peñitas all of which are in fairly close proximity to each other. No
great surprises here but the area is well known as the best area on Fuerteventura to look for the
endemic degener race of African Blue Tit. We found five of these birds with their characteristic white
tertial fringes and double wing bars along the barranco at Vega de Rio Palmas, but prior to this a brief
stop at the recreational area of Castillo de Lara we were able to watch a covey of about twenty
Barbary Partridges initially at quite close range. It was also along the Rio Palmas barranco that we got
our first views for the tour of Sardinian Warbler but little did we know that this would be our only
visual encounter with this species during the tour. We completed our day long tour of Fuerteventura
with a repeat visit to the Costa Calma plain before returning to the hotel for a well earned dinner.
This morning was a repeat of yesterday with an early visit to the desert plain behind Costa Calma. We
were successful again we Houbara Bustard and Cream-coloured Courser although the numbers were
down on yesterday for both. However this morning we did see about a dozen Stone-curlew with their
camouflaged plumage and large piercing yellow eyes and we heard the only Black-bellied
Sandgrouse of the trip. The call was rather distant and we could not see the bird at all. Also in this
area we saw a couple of Hoopoes, a few Southern Grey Shrikes and about thirty Lesser Short-toed
Larks so all in all a good start to the day. After breakfast we returned to La Lajita where unfortunately
we failed again to see Laughing Dove after another good search. The next location this morning was
the Embalse de Los Molinos but the water level was very low and seemingly unattractive to
waterbirds as the number of species recorded was rather low. The highlight here was a count of about
seventy Ruddy Shelducks which is a good number for the island and with the groups seen yesterday
represents a very high count for Fuerteventura in the vicinity of one hundred and twenty birds in
total. The only shorebirds present were a pair of Little Ringed Plovers and other than these there were
a couple of Southern Grey Shrikes and a couple of Trumpeter Finches. The final stop for the morning
was along the inland section of the Barranco de Rio Cabras just east of Casillas del Angel where we
saw three Little Ringed Plovers, two genuine looking Rock Doves, three European Turtle Doves, a
Eurasian Hoopoe, a solitary Canary Islands Stonechat and a couple of Southern Grey Shrikes. We
took lunch today in the bar Los Caracolitos set just back from the beach at Salinas del Carmen, the
setting is idyllic and the food excellent. Also you can be birding whilst eating but today produced
little of note except for a solitary Little Egret. Having taken an internal flight across to Tenerife we still
had some time left in the day and made a quick stop in the laurel forest near to Monte Las Mercedes
where we stopped in a rather well used picnic area. The number of people in the area meant that the
bird activity was not as good as it could have been and so an additional visit to Pico del Ingles was
squeezed into the end of our day. Between these two locations we managed some brief and distant
views of both species of endemic pigeon, the Bolle’s and the Laurel, but not everyone managed to
see them both so more work needs to be done in the next couple of days. Among some of the other
species recorded we saw about a hundred Plain Swifts and among those at Pico del Ingles we were
very fortunate to find a single Alpine Swift. Initially we just got some brief glimpses but we did get
one good fly by when everyone was able to see this bird. The views of Plain Swift from here were
also good as we were able to get good views of both the upperside and underside of birds as they
flew both above and below us. Some other species of interest were the local races of Grey Wagtail
canariensis, African Blue Tit teneriffae, Common Blackbird cabrerae and Common Chaffinch
canariensis. Also we found at least three Canary Islands Chiffchaffs and just a single Canary Islands
Kinglet both of which, as their common names suggest, are endemic to the Canary Islands and more
specifically the western and central islands. From here we drove to Vilaflor which was our mountain
retreat for the remaining nights of the tour.
Our next day started with a visit to the Zona Recreativa Las Lajas but the stars of the show were a
little difficult to find which is unusual at what is probably the most well known site for this species in
the world. The species concerned was the endemic Blue Chaffinch but after a while we did manage
to see two birds and one of these was an adult male. Also in this area we saw our first Great Spotted
Woodpeckers of the trip and surprise, surprise they are an endemic subspecies D. m. canariensis that
differs from the north European birds in having dirty grey-brown underparts. Another bird seen well in
4 Birdquest: Madeira, The Azores & The Canary Islands 2011
this picnic area was Atlantic Canary as a pair came down to water put in the drinking pool. From
here we continued higher and passed through the Parque Nacional de Las Cañadas where the
volcanic scenery was breathtaking and a couple of brief stops produced a fine Barbary Falcon at the
Mirador de Las Cañadas and at one of the bars on the far side of the caldeira a few Atlantic Canaries
coming to the food left out. At Cruce El Portillo we took the road to the north towards La Orotava and
stopped at the Zona Recreativa de Ramon Caminero. This is another good area for Blue Chaffinch
and the moment we pulled up we saw a couple of these with ease. It soon became obvious that the
birds wanted to come down to some water that had been left outside the toilet block so we gave them
space which gave us the opportunity to photograph these birds at close range. We also had some
great looks at a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and our best views so far of Canary Islands
Kinglet at eye level in the large conifer in front of the toilet block. Carrying on to the north coast the
next stop was at the Mirador La Grimona after a short wait our quarry came drifting across in front of
us - a beautiful Laurel Pigeon. This was one of at least ten birds during our time at this location where
the views were excellent and after a while we got some great views through the scope at a perched
bird when the distinctive white bill tip could be seen clearly. Moving on to the laurel forests in the
northwest of Tenerife near to Monte del Agua but in the time we had available we failed to see any of
the endemic pigeons. We were really hopeful for some views of Bolle’s Pigeon which was beginning
to cause concern as the views so far had been brief, to say the least. The final stop for the day was at
the opposite end of the island in the forest around Monte de Las Mercedes which we visited yesterday
but this time we were more successful with the Bolle’s Pigeon. We got some reasonable views in
flight but eventually we had some good perched views of one bird feeding on the slope at the back of
the picnic area. This was an excellent finish to the day with the birds coming good in the end.
The penultimate day and we were in Los Cristianos early to catch the ferry across to the neighbouring
island of La Gomera. We started well with a Common Tern in the harbour but the return crossings
were rather disappointing. Apart from the numerous Cory’s Shearwaters we only managed a couple
of Bulwer’s Petrels and Macaronesian Shearwater eluded us yet again. Still it is always nice to watch
the Cory’s as they effortlessly cruise the sea occasionally dipping the wing tip in the water when
crossing a wave. This sea crossing also gave us some reasonable views of Short-finned Pilot Whale
which here off the coast of southern Tenerife is one of the few resident populations of this species in
the world. Combine this with regular ferries and a variety of tourist boats and it means that this is
probably one, if not thee best place to observe this species on a regular basis. Once we were back on
Tenerife we headed back up the mountain and stopped in the Zona Recreativo de Chio where we
soon located about six Blue Chaffinches and a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers. One of the
male Blue Chaffinches was in full song and allowed quite close approach but still not close enough
for the photographers. All too soon it was time to return to our hotel for our final dinner together and
to reflect on what we had seen during the tour.
The final morning gave us little time for birding as this was a day for travelling back from whence we
came. All in all a great trip and great company so thanks to everyone for such an enjoyable tour.
5 Birdquest: Madeira, The Azores & The Canary Islands 2011
Species which were not personally recorded by the leader are indicated by the symbol (NL).
Fea’s Petrel Pterodroma feae desertae: As a breeding bird this species is confined to the island of
Bugio in the Desertas group of the Madeiran archipelago. Some authorities even
consider that this may be sufficiently distinct to warrant full species status as P. deserta
Desertas Petrel. We saw seven examples of this species during our boat trip to the
Desertas but it was only the first bird that gave us some nice close views the rest being
Zino’s Petrel Pterodroma madeira: This is one of the rarest seabirds in the world and certainly the
most endangered in Europe. We can only hope that the birds can survive the destruction
of breeding habitat caused by the fires last year. We saw at least five birds during our
nocturnal sojourn to the breeding ledges in the high mountains of Madeira. This
coincided with a complete lunar eclipse and a full moon providing us with excellent
viewing conditions but as always the views were only glimpses as artificial illumination
is not permitted whilst viewing the birds.
Bulwer’s Petrel Bulweria bulwerii: Our best views of this uniformly dark, long winged petrel were on
the return journey from the Desertas back to Madeira although the experience of seeing
nesting birds in their burrows and on eggs was a feature of the day. Two birds were also
seen in the Canary Islands on the return crossing to La Gomera on the 22nd.
Cory’s Shearwater Calonectris borealis: This was the most numerous seabird of the region and was
recorded from all three archipelagos visited during the tour.
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus: The only record for the tour was a single bird seen on the journey
back from the Desertas on the 17th.
Little Egret Egretta garzetta: This familiar species was nowhere numerous but it was recorded from all
three island groups in low numbers.
Yellow-crowned Night Heron Nyctanassa violacea: A single immature in the harbour at Funchal on
the 15th was our only record of this very rare North American vagrant. This is only the
third record from the Western Palearctic with the other two birds being seen on the
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea: Rather surprisingly this species was only seen once on the tour, on
Fuerteventura on the 20th.
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea: This fairly recent coloniser to the Canary Islands was well
represented on Fuerteventura with a possible total of more than a hundred birds seen
over two days on the island.
Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus majorensis: This recently described subspecies is now
critically endangered but we saw two different birds during our stay on Fuerteventura.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus granti: This endemic subspecies was recorded on both Madeira
and the Canary Islands but was nowhere common and only seen in flight.
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo rothschildi (Azores): This was a common species on São Miguel
where we recorded a dozen individuals.
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo (buteo) harterti (Madeira): We only saw one Buzzard during our time
on Madeira. Some authors regard this form as insufficiently distinct to warrant
subspecific status and therefore place it with the nominate B. b. buteo.
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Common Buzzard Buteo buteo insularum (Canary Islands): We saw this bird on all the islands we
visited within the Canary Islands archipelago.
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus canariensis: A common resident on Madeira, Tenerife and La
Gomera. This form differs from the following in being more heavily spotted and
generally darker in colour.
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus dacotiae: Only found on Fuerteventura where it was seen
regularly during our time on the island.
Barbary Falcon Falco pelegrinoides: Some authors still regard this as just a subspecies of the Peregrine
Falcon but it is treated separately here. The only one recorded on the trip was an adult
along the north coast of Tenerife on the 21st.
Barbary Partridge Alectoris barbara koenigi: Only present on the Canary Islands and our records were
restricted to Fuerteventura. We saw a solitary bird on the 18th and then the following
day a covey of some twenty or more at Castillo de Lara near Betancuria.
Common Quail Coturnix coturnix: One of only two species on the tour that unfortunately were
recorded as heard only. This one was heard on a couple of occasions during our first full
day in the field on São Miguel in the Azores.
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus: The only record for the tour were six birds seen on the 19th at
Rosa de Catalina Garcia on Fuerteventura.
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra: This was another species seen only on Fuerteventura with more than thirty
on the 19th and then about twenty the following day.
Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulate fuertaventurae: This endemic subspecies is found only on
Fuerteventura and the neighbouring island of Lanzarote. It differs from the nominate
race in being smaller with darker upperparts and the dark areas on the upperwing are
more black. We saw this species on both our early morning visits to the desert plain
behind the resort of Costa Calma. This included watching a male in full display which
was quite a spectacle and undoubtedly one of the highlights of the trip.
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus: Only recorded on Fuerteventura on the 19th with birds
seen in the Barranco de la Torre and at Rosa de Catalina Garcia. Looking at the ages of
some of the birds there was clear indication that breeding had taken place on the island.
Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus insularum: This race which is confined to the eastern Canary
Islands and differs from the nominate in being smaller with a more sandy-pink ground
colour to the plumage. They do seem to be harder to find from year to year because of
the disturbance to the area caused by domestic dogs being let off their leads but we saw
about a dozen behind Costa Calma on the morning of the 20th.
Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius cursor: This very appealing wader was seen on both our
excursions into the desert behind Costa Calma with a total of seventeen on the first
morning and then just four on the 20th.
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Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius: Yet another species of wader only recorded from
Fuerteventura with daily counts of fifteen on the 19th but just five the following day.
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus: Although a resident species on all of the archipelagos visited
we only saw three of these dainty plovers at Rosa de Catalina Garcia on Fuerteventura
on the 19th.
Eurasian Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus: Four birds were seen in the Mosteiros area of São Miguel on
our first full day excursion on the Azores.
Woodcock Scolopax rusticola: This species was a new addition to the Birdquest list for the tour and
was flushed from the roadside as we drove the track through the Sierra da Tronqueira on
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia: The only two were at Rosa de Catalina Garcia on
Fuerteventura on the 19th.
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres: The only record for the trip was a small group of about eight
birds seen in the harbour area of Funchal, Madeira.
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis atlantis: This subspecies was common throughout the region
and may even warrant full specific status.
Common Tern Sterna hirundo: A fairly common bird in the Azores and Madeira but only one was
seen in the Canary Islands, at Los Cristianos on Tenerife on the 22nd.
Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii: A little hard to find this time with just a single record of a solitary bird
seen offshore at Ribeira Grande on São Miguel.
Black-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles orientalis: Rather surprisingly this species was hard to find on
Fuerteventura in fact we only heard this bird on one occasion on the 20th.
Rock Dove Columba livia: The domestic form was seen daily but birds resembling the true wild
species were only seen in very small numbers on the Canary Islands.
Common Wood Pigeon Columba palumbus azorica: This endemic subspecies was fairly numerous
along the Sierra da Tronqueira track on São Miguel.
Trocaz Pigeon Columba trocaz: This endemic pigeon only found on Madeira was not as obliging as it
could have been, but eventually we got some distant views through the scope of this
scarce and local species.
Bolle’s Pigeon Columba bollii: One of two endemic pigeons on the Canary Islands. This is a close
relative to the previous species but this bird gave us the run around before eventually
giving us some good views at Monte Las Mercedes on the 21st.
Laurel Pigeon Columba junoniae: The last in the trio of columbid endemics giving us our best views
on the north coast of Tenerife at the Mirador La Grimona. Eventually we got some
superb views of a couple of perched birds but at this site the flight views are also good
as the distinctive pale band on the end of the tail is prominent feature.
Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto: This fairly recent colonizer is now a common bird in
the Canary Islands where we recorded it on a daily basis.
European Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur: This species is one of the few breeding migrant land birds
in the region and we recorded it on three dates in the Canary Islands.
8 Birdquest: Madeira, The Azores & The Canary Islands 2011
Ring-necked Parakeet Psittacula krameri: Occasional sightings of this exotic introduction were had
around Funchal on Madeira.
Plain Swift Apus unicolor: This near endemic was seen daily on Madeira and the Canary Islands.
Alpine Swift Apus melba: To see one of these large swifts at Pico de Ingles was a bit of a surprise as it
is an accidental visitor to the Canary Islands particularly in June.
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops: This easily recognised species was fairly common on Fuerteventura
but not recorded elsewhere on the tour.
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopus major canariensis: An endemic subspecies found only on
Tenerife and differing from those in English gardens by its’ dirty grey-brown underparts
and more orange vent. We saw this bird on two consecutive dates whilst visiting its’
preferred habitat, the native pine forest.
Lesser Short-toed Lark Calandrella rufescens polatzeki: This endemic subspecies was quite a common
bird in the deserts of Fuerteventura.
Berthelot’s Pipit Anthus berthelotii berthelotii: A common and widespread subspecies seen on all of
the Canary Islands we visited.
Berthelot’s Pipit Anthus berthelotii maderensis: We only saw this subspecies at Pico de Areeiro on
Madeira and on Deserta Grande in the Desertas. It differs from the nominate in having a
longer bill and longer middle toe but neither of these are easily discernable in the field.
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea patriciae: This was a common bird on São Miguel. This subspecies is
similar to schmitzi but with a longer bill.
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea schmitzi: Two birds were seen at the hotel on the 15th and then one
was at Ribeiro Frio the following day. This bird is darker above and with reduced white
in the tail when compared to canariensis.
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea canariensis: This bird was seen daily on Tenerife but only in small
numbers. The Canary Island form differs from the nominate by being darker yellow on
the underparts with more contrasting facial markings.
European Robin Erithacus rubecula: A common species on both São Miguel in the Azores and on
Madeira, but not recorded from the Canary Islands.
Canary Islands Robin Erithacus superbus: As the name suggests this bird is endemic to the Canary
Islands but restricted to Tenerife and Gran Canaria. It differs from the European Robin in
being darker above with a redder bib, whiter underparts and a more prominent white
eye-ring. We only saw this bird in the forests around Monte Las Mercedes on Tenerife.
Canary Islands Stonechat Saxicola dacotiae: Resembles a cross between a Stonechat and a Whinchat
with a longer bill. Confined to Fuerteventura as a breeding species we saw this bird at a
few locations on the 19th but only once the following day.
Common Blackbird Turdus merula azorensis: Common on the Azores. It differs from cabrerae by the
female having a more extensive pale throat patch.
9 Birdquest: Madeira, The Azores & The Canary Islands 2011
Common Blackbird Turdus merula cabrerae: Common on the Canary Islands but absent from
Fuerteventura. The male is smaller than the nominate with a more rounded wing.
Spectacled Warbler Sylvia conspicillata orbitalis: This subspecies is confined to Macaronesia but we
only saw it on Fuerteventura.
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephalus leucogastra: We saw two birds along the barranco at Vega
de Rio Palmas on Fuerteventura but only heard it on Tenerife.
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla gularis: A common bird on São Miguel, this subspecies is very similar to
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla heineken: Seen daily in small numbers on Madeira and around the hotel
garden on Tenerife, this subspecies is smaller and darker than the nominate.
Canary Islands Chiffchaff Phylloscopus canariensis: This Canary Island endemic was a common
species on Tenerife and La Gomera. The song is completely different from the Common
Chiffchaff and it is structurally different as well.
Goldcrest Regulus regulus azoricus: Only present on São Miguel in the Azores where this subspecies
Canary Island Kinglet Regulus teneriffae: All our records came from Monte Las Mercedes on Tenerife
where this species was far more numerous than our sightings indicated as many were
heard calling. The distinctive feature of the black crown stripes meeting over the bill
was seen clearly on a couple of individuals.
Madeiran Kinglet Regulus madeirensis: We only saw this bird, recently promoted to specific status, in
the Ribeiro Frio/Balcões area where it was fairly common. This bird looks more like a
Firecrest R. ignicapilla but the white supercilium is not as well defined.
Canary Islands Blue Tit Parus teneriffae teneriffae: A fairly common species on both Tenerife and La
Gomera. It differs from Blue Tit in having blacker head markings, more uniform slaty
upperparts and in this subspecies there are no wing-bars.
Canary Islands Blue Tit Parus teneriffae degener: More scarce than its’ western counterpart and easily
separated because of the prominent white wingbar and white tertial fringes. We only
encountered this species along the barranco at Vega de Rio Palmas on Fuerteventura
where we saw five birds on the 19th.
Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis koenigi: A common and widespread species on
Fuerteventura. This subspecies is endemic to the Canary Islands.
Common Raven Corvus corax tingitanus: Fairly numerous on Fuerteventura and we saw one of the
few remaining birds on Tenerife.
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris granti: The subspecies granti is endemic to the Azores and is a
common and widespread species but treated by some as insufficiently distinct to
warrant subspecific status.
10 Birdquest: Madeira, The Azores & The Canary Islands 2011
House Sparrow Passer domesticus: A common species on the Azores, one reported on Madeira was
almost certainly the following species.
Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis: Only recorded from Fuerteventura during the tour but that
comes as no surprise when the hotel name Los Gorriones translates to English as The
Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs morletti: A common and widespread bird on São Miguel, this
subspecies shows the greenest upperparts of the island races.
Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs maderensis: Not as numerous as morletti but still quite common.
This subspecies is confined to Madeira and is intermediate in colouration between
morletti and canariensis.
Common Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs canariensis: Seen very well in and around the picnic area near
Monte Las Mercedes on Tenerife. Mainly slate-blue above with just a dull yellowish
Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea teydea: This famous Canary Island endemic was seen very well at the
recreation areas known as Las Lajas, Ramon Caminero and Chio all in the conifer belt
on the slopes of Mount Teide on Tenerife. The slaty-blue male is very distinctive but the
drab female looks more like a large, heavy billed female Common Chaffinch.
Atlantic Canary Serinus canaria: A fairly common species recorded on all the archipelagos we visited
during the tour.
European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris: We only heard this species on the first day in the field in the
wooded area of Serra da Tronqueira at the eastern end of São Miguel in the Azores.
European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis: Recorded on all the archipelagos visited.
Common Linnet Carduelis cannabina harterti: Quite common on Fuerteventura this race is paler
above than the central island race.
Common Linnet Carduelis cannabina meadewaldoi: The only two seen on the trip were at the
Mirador La Grimona on Tenerife on the 21st.
Trumpeter Finch Bucanetes githagineus amantum: Seen on two consecutive dates at various locations
on Fuerteventura on the 19th and 20th.
Azores Bullfinch Pyrrhula murina: Confined to the island of São Miguel in the Azores where it is
restricted to the few remaining areas where natural vegetation can still be found.
European Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus
Barbary Ground Squirrel Atlantoxerus getulus
Azores Noctule Nyctalus azoreum
Atlantic Spotted Dolphin Stenella frontalis
Short-finned Pilot Whale Globicephala macrorhynchus
11 Birdquest: Madeira, The Azores & The Canary Islands 2011