Madeira’s Natural History publications on the web

by Catarina Fagundes on 06/16/2014

On the 13th of June 2014 Funchal City Hall presented the new electronic versions of the scientific magazines of the Funchal’s Natural History Museum: Boletim do Museu de Historia Natural do Funchal and Bocagiana.

Now it is possible to access the papers of both publications since their first publication in 1945 (the Boletim) and 1959 (Bocagiana). The system also allows to search by keywords or by author’s names.

A great step towards biodiversity knowledge share and accessibility for the Macaronesia Region (Madeira, Azores, Canary Islands and Cape Verde)!


Wind Birds, through Catarina Correia-Fagundes and Hugo Romano have contributed with some papers about ornithology and some other important sightings as “The observation of a birth of a Sperm whale at Madeira“, which are now available for consultation or download at:

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BTL Lisbon 2014 – International Tourism Exhibition

by Catarina Fagundes on 03/31/2014

On the 13th of March 2014 Catarina & Hugo visited the BTL – International Tourism Exhibition – in Lisbon to get to know what is new in the market, to keep an eye on potencial competition and to make some business contacts…

The Madeira Tourism Board had a stand there to promote Madeira’s Nature though one of the walls was filled with a huge photo of a Monk Seal, one of the most difficult wildlife species to be seen in Madeira… This can only mean more trouble to whale watching companies that have to explain to customers that there are only about 40 Monk Seals whose colony is at the South side of Deserta Grande, a full nature reserve, where it is forbidden to sail closer than the 100 meters bathymetric.

An interesting stand was the Azores one which had a wall of natural endemic plants all with identification tags.

After 2 hours wondering around the fair through the crowd, they were both bored and with no more business leads to follow, Catarina & Hugo decided to seize the day after going to Setúbal peninsula for birdwatching! And as this turned out to be much more profitable than another day at the BTL, we here share with you the best birdwatching moments we had.

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Ringing and measuring Madeiran storm petrels

by Catarina Fagundes on 12/12/2013

From the 13th to the 15th of November 2013 Catarina & Hugo joined a research team formed by Vicent Bretagnolle, Frank Zino and their life companions, respectively Sabrina and Elizabeth. The aim was to study the winter colony of Madeiran storm-petrels by catching them on mist nets and take as much information as possible, such as biometric data, blood samples and photos.


The three couples sailed to Deserta Grande onboard Oceanodroma RHIB, on the afternoon of Wednesday 13th. The sea was choppy but the skipper (Catarina) managed to get us all safely to Doca at Deserta Grande. On the way we saw 2 Fea’s/Desertas’ Petrels and a few Cory’s shearwaters. After disembarking and settle at the Madeira’s Natural Park house, the mist nets were put up as the sun was already setting down.

On Wednesday night, from 21:00 to 2:00 with a short stop for dinner in between, we managed to catch, weight, measure, take blood and photograph 20 Oceanodroma castro.


On Thursday late morning we all went up to Deserta Grande with Ricardo Rodrigues as a guide, one of the Natural Park of Madeira wardens. At the top of Deserta Grande we watch a Pacific/American Plover (by the call and underwing it was not an European), a Hobby and a Short-eared Owl.

By the evening the nets were again put up and just between 19:00 and 12:00 there were 30 non-ringed O. castro caught on the net. Interesting that the nets were put on the same spot as the night before and none of the previous 20 ringed birds were caught again. t was 2 very profitable nights!

From some of the photos we took to the tail of some Oceanodroma castro we can see that some have slightly forked tail while other have it plain. This observation goes against that theory that the shape of the fork may distinguish between a winter or summer breeder.

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Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) in Madeira

by Hugo Romano on 10/28/2013


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Hunting in Madeira: Tours Re-Scheduling 2013

by Hugo Romano on 10/24/2013

This year European Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus population in Madeira was highly affect by Myxomatosis. This outbreak has shown a strange pattern, at sometimes due to the locations of the infected rabbits one believes that humans introduced such outbreak. We will continue to monitor the infected rabbits, as such eradication could diminish the Common Buzzard Buteo buteo buteo population in Madeira. This was noted between 2000-2010 with rat eradication programmes where the Common Buzzard population declined.

We will not reschedule our birdwatching tours this year as the limitations introduced to hunting will not affect out outdoor activities.

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Summer 2013 excellent whale watching season!

by Catarina Fagundes on 09/5/2013

Since July that on Wind Birdsbird, dolphin and whale watching trips have been very successful observing cetaceans!

This has been a bit of an abnormal summer as from middle July until now we have taken less than half an hour to find dolphins and/or whales. Only in 1 trip during this time we missed them.

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We decided to base ‘Oceanodroma’ on the East part of Madeira as there is an upwelling at Ponta de São Lourenço which usually attracts fish and consequently sea mammals. More, that part of the island did not have any dolphin & whale watching company then and so we could appreciate the marine wildlife almost exclusively.

The only not so positive thing about this success observing whales is that several times it was not possible to swim with the dolphins as the whales were around them. Most customers understand this and they have enjoyed seeing the whales and dolphins so close!

Wind Birds, as a business, would like to have these experiences every trip but as one of our customers said, on the only trip this summer we did not see any sea mammals: “Dolphins are wild and the sea is not a zoo!”

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Gervais’ Beaked Whale Madeira Mesoplodon europaeus

by Hugo Romano on 09/2/2013

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Losing Nemo [Video] by The Black Fish

by Hugo Romano on 08/26/2013

A Video by The Black Fish, a team we have met personally in Brightonm, UK in 2012

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Again…Fires in Madeira!

by Catarina Fagundes on 08/20/2013

Another August with fires on the mountains, threatening people’s houses, goods and animals, burning forest, destroying landscapes and endangering all habitats… It is sad to watch the mountain burning above Funchal and to think that it could have been avoid if man did not destroy the native forest and if he did not introduced exotic species of plants that rely on fire to reproduce or to make room for new growth. But, as some say, there are no IFs in life…

The South of Madeira is covered by Eucalyptus Pines and Acacias, all introduced species that take over the native forest, the Laurel Forest, and work like a fuse when fire is around.

This weeks fires, which started mainly at dawn on the 16th of August, have burnt a big extension of this exotic forest just above Funchal city and although this kind of habitat does not attract many bird species, it certainly affected some.

The problem now is that the soil on these mountains is unstable without any vegetation to retain it and, still with the 2010 floods in our memory, it is scary to think that something even worst can happen if it rains like it did on the 20th of February that year…

Unfortunately Madeira’s forestry board keeps the theory that pines should be planted first to prepare the soil for the native plants… The problem is that the native species of the Lauraceae family never get the chance to be planted as the fires always come first…

A big part of the forest that burnt this year is privately owned and now that the regional government announced that it will give financial support to the owners of these lands with subsidies up to 100% of the investment we believe Eucalyptus will again be planted as these still have commercial value as the native forest (Laurel forest) does not.

All this should be rethought and studied very well in order to avoid so much loss.

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Blackfish – Official Trailer

by Hugo Romano on 07/28/2013

“Many of us have experienced the excitement and awe of watching 8,000 pound orcas, or “killer whales,” soar out of the water and fly through the air at sea parks, as if in perfect harmony with their trainers. Yet, in our contemporary lore this mighty black and white mammal is like a two-faced Janus—beloved as a majestic, friendly giant yet infamous for its capacity to kill viciously. Blackfish unravels the complexities of this dichotomy, employing the story of notorious performing whale Tilikum, who—unlike any orca in the wild—has taken the lives of several people while in captivity. So what exactly went wrong?”

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