Portugal (2014-15)


Região Autónoma da Madeira (PT-14)

We travelled to the island of Madeira, Portugal for our Christmas/New Year’s Vacation 2014-15.  Although not known as a hot birding spot for adding a great number of species to your list, there are several “lifer” opportunities in terms of endemics (full and subspecies).  If visiting the Island, it is well worth the effort to go out and try to find them!

We thoroughly enjoyed our leisurely birding and added some very nice full species endemics to our list (Trocaz Pigeon, Madeira Firecrest) and several subspecies endemics with the assistance of our guides, Catarina & Hugo from Madeira Wind Birds.    We went out birding twice with Catarina & Hugo that included a full day trip and a half day trip.  We were very pleased with both trips and recommend Wind Birds for those new to the Island.   During our tours with Wind Birds, we noted a couple of locations that we wished to return to and with the knowledge shared from our guides, we were able to bird Madeira later on our own.

We saw a total of 33 species during our stay on Madeira (and a brief (day trip) visit to Porto Santo Island, part of the archipelago).  We also thought we heard a Barn Owl one evening (dusk) at Cabo Girao, but did not count it.

Madeiran Firecrest
Madeiran Firecrest
Berthelot’s Pipit
Berthelot’s Pipit









Endemics (full and subspecies):

  • Trocaz Pigeon (Columba trocaz) – endemic
  • Madeira Firecrest (Regulus madeirensis).  Previously considered a subspecies, it became a full endemic species to Madeira in 2003.
  • Berthelot’s Pipit (Anthus berthelotii madeirensis) – A Macaronesian endemic, but this subspecies is confined to the Madeiran archipelago (except Salvages islands).  Observed at Ponta do Pargo and Ponta de São Lourenço.
  • Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs maderensis) – This subspecies is confined to the Madeiran archipelago and most closely resembles the North African races.
  • Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata bella) – This subspecies is confined to the Madeiran archipelago.  Seen at Ponta do Pargo.
Spectacled Warblers - Ponta do Pargo - Madeira, Portugal
Spectacled Warblers – Ponta do Pargo – Madeira, Portugal

Rare Vagrants (per e-Bird):  Ruddy Shelduck (Machico–Porto de Recreio), Common Shelduck and Tufted Duck (Ponta do Sol–Lugar de Baixo)

Porto Santo Island:   Red-legged Partridge, Spanish Sparrow, Eurasian Collared-Dove (possible to see on Madeira, but only seen on Porto Santo)

Remainder of birds seen:
Gray Heron (Multiple locations), Little Egret, Common Buzzard, Eurasian Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Common Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Ruddy Turnstone, Black-headed Gull (winter plumage), Yellow-legged Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Pigeon, Plain Swift, Eurasian Kestrel, Blackcap, European Robin, Eurasian Blackbird, Gray Wagtail, European Goldfinch, Island Canary (everywhere!!!), Common Waxbill, Dunlin.


Location:  RN Estuário do Tejo–área geral (PT-14)
Date:  10 January 2015

From Madeira, we flew to Lisbon for a 3-day layover before returning to Toronto.  Our goal was to visit the Tagus Estuary, which is the most important Portuguese wetland area and one of the most important ones in Europe.  It was with great pleasure that we ventured out to the Tagus Estuary with our fantastic guide, Bernardo Berrato of Bird & Nature Tours.   It truly was a brilliant day and we managed to see 80 species, plus 2 Egyptian Mongoose and a Fox!   A fantastic day of Birding!

Tagus Estuary, Portugal
Tagus Estuary, Portugal

Species List (80):

Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis

Graylag Goose, Common Shelduck, Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, Mallard, Norther Shoveler, Eurasian Green-winged Teal, Little Grebe

Greater Flamingo, White Stork, Great Cormorant, Gray Heron, Great Egret, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill

Osprey, Black-shouldered Kite, Bonelli’s Eagle, Eurasian Marsh-Harrier, Hen (Northern) Harrier, Common Buzzard, Eurasian Kestrel, Little Owl

Eurasian Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Black-bellied (Grey) Plover, Northern Lapwing, Kentish Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Common Redshank, Eurasian Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling, Dunlin, Little Stint, Common Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sandwich Tern

Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Eurasian Hoopoe, Eurasian Jay, Iberian Magpie, Carrion Crow, Crested Lark, Eurasian Blue Tit, Short-toed Treecreeper, Eurasian Wren, Cetti’s Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Zitting Cisticola, Blackcap, European Robin, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, European Stonechat, Eurasian Blackbird, Spotless Starling, Gray Wagtail, White Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Corn Bunting, Common Chaffinch, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Linnet, House Sparrow, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Common Waxbill.

Zitting cisticola
White Wagtail
White Wagtail
Spotless Starling and Little Owl







Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
Black Redstart
Eurasian Marsh Harrier
Common Buzzard
European Stonechat
European Stonechat

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