Madeira Wind Birds – taking a guided bird tour. Is it worth it?

I’ve had a day on my own in Madeira taking photographs and exploring the island. It’s time I tried an organised tour. Madeira Wind Birds came highly recommended – but only after I’d booked with them – which was a relief. What was my experience like?

Catarina and Hugo run Madeira Wind Birds and they’re an amusing and charming couple. They had just returned from a busman’s holiday – birdwatching in the Middle East. Their communication has been exemplary, they arrive bang on time to pick me up in a beautifully clean van and we’re soon underway with two English couples picked up from local hotels.

They have a clear plan of the species they’re determined to show us. Catarina has a powerful scope and we’re soon seeing the target endemic species and others:

São Vicente

  • Trocaz Pigeon
  • Sparrowhawk
  • Kestrel
  • Grey Wagtail
  • Whimbrel
  • Oystercatcher 
  • Buzzard
Trocaz Pigeon - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)
A silhouette of the Trocaz Pigeon at São Vicente showing the distinctive white tail band.

São Vicente

  • Grey wagtail
  • Glossy Ibis
  • White Wagtail
  • Muscovy Ducks
  • Common Sandpiper 
Glossy Ibis - Madeira - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)
Glossy Ibis

Chão da Ribeira, Seixal

  • Atlantic Canary
  • Chaffinch (subspecies madeirensis)
  • Madeira Firecrest
Madeira Firecrest - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)
Since the Firecrest reached Madeira about 4 million years ago, they have evolved longer bills and legs and more black on their wings.

Lunch at Porto Moniz

Ponta do Pargo

  • Common Kestrel
  • Atlantic Canary
  • Berthelot’s Pipit
  • Buzzard
  • Spectacled Warbler
  • Linnet
  • Red-Legged Partridge

How about this for a photograph of a Red-Legged Partridge on the edge? What must go through a bird’s brain when it’s faced with such amazing sights?

Red-Legged Partridge - Madeira - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Ribeira Brava

  • Yellow-legged Gull
  • Coot
  • Turnstone
  • Lesser Black-Backed Gull
  • Muscovy Duck
  • Grey Wagtail
Madeira Wind Birds - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)
Catarina and the Swarovski scope at Ribeira Brava.
My preliminary title for this is “It’s behind you!”

A full day with Madeira Wind Birds cost me €80. We got the undivided attention of two local experts, a stunning three course sit-down lunch with wine, and luxury transport. Catarina and Hugo set such a high standard that I can’t imagine anyone doing it better. A beautiful day and a bargain in any currency.

As usual with my blog, I paid in full for my experience and have no reason to tell you anything other than my honest opinion.

I don’t need much dinner after having a three course lunch with wine, but I have it anyway, accompanied by The The and Uncertain Smile blaring from my laptop. It’s the version with the amazing piano solo by Jools Holland. It’s so audacious, it’s liberating. Speaking of Jools, Julian’s mum bought me my first pint in a Blackheath pub as a teenager. Happy times. Cheers!

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