Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Laurisilva and Teixeira

We started off this morning at Ribeiro Frio in the heart of the ancient Laurisilva forest of Madeira. It's classed as rainforest and true to form, just like the tropical rainforest of Queensland Australia, it was colourless (ok it was completely green) and almost birdless.

What it did have was a lot of ferns  and bryophytes and a particular abundance of liverworts, and this was enough to keep me entertained. I'll be doing a separate blog post on the ferns and bryophytes I saw in Madeira in due course.

I probably only saw about five species of birds, and the most abundant was the beautiful Madeiran Firecrest.  We completely failed to see the endemic Trocaz pigeon, though to be fair I was looking at the bryophytes most of the time and whole flocks of the pigeon could have passed by and I wouldn't have noticed.

Eventually we moved on to Santana and then up into the mountains, above the annoying clouds and mist, and up into the sunshine. We were close to the summit of Pico Ruivo and only a few miles walk to Pic do Arieiro.  It was beautiful up here, lots of butterflies flitting around as well as plain swifts and Berthelot's pipits. Oh and a Trocaz pigeon flew across the road in front of the car on the way up. A great end to the day.

Erica arborea endemic to Madeira.

Small copper subsp. phlaeoides.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

A day out to Porto Santos.

It was a beautiful day on the island of Porto Santos, just to the north of Madeira and conveniently a 2.5 hour boat journey each way over seas which hold some of the rarest seabirds in the World. Highlights of the journey included at least 30 Bulwers petrels and 400 Cory's shearwaters.

The island itself is very arid and this is reflected in the fact that several of the plant species we saw at Porto Laurenco yesterday are here also, including ice plant Mesembryanthemum crystallinum, but also Berthelot's pipit.  The main town on the island, Vila Baleira, has a good population of Spanish sparrow.

Berthelot's pipit.

Bulwers petrel.

Cory's shearwaters.

Bulwers petrel.

Spanish sparrow.

Ice plant Mesembryanthemum crystallinum. 

Friday, 20 May 2016

Not watching endemic seabirds

Today we went on the Whale and dolphin watching trip run by Madeira sea birds. It was almost bird less, but the spotted dolphins were fun and we did see a handful of Cory's shearwater.