Friday 28 May 2010


Saturday 29th May
Now, I have returned from Madeira, I thought I would try and sum up the pelagic experience as well as try and identify the various photos.1. Madeira Wind Birds have definitely got a great thing going out in Madeira and they certainly know what they are doing when it comes to where to find those sought after seabirds. With Catarina’s sailing expertise, Hugo’s beloved and unique frozen chum blocks and both their knowledge of petrels at sea, together they can produce some of the best pelagics in the Western Palearctic.2. The boat, the Oceanodroma is fast, stable and manoeverable and and as a result, allows you to get extremely close to the birds allowing fantastic photographic opportunities. Within just 2 hrs from leaving port, you are at “the best chumming spots” rather than 6 hours as it previously took, with more traditional motorised yachts.
An impressive array of food was always served on board to keep you going and both Hugo and Catarina were always enthusiastic to find the best birds.
3. The overall experienceAn amazing experience with incredible views of often difficult seabirds as well as cetaceans. Maybe, not everybody’s cup of tea and more a trip for the “hard core” birder prepared to pee in a bucket, (a portable toilet is available for the ladies!) However, this is a small discomfort for the great reward of petrels up close and personal! My advice would be, add a few days onto your trip, as trips may need to be re-scheduled due to bad weather or even lack of wind and you may miss a pelagic if you are not flexible, as we did!

4. White-faced Storm Petrel - A very sought after bird! We were unlucky not to see this oceanic mega, as the previous trip had recorded them on 2 out of 3 trips! I am still waiting to hear if we were gripped on the 3rd pelagic that we missed!

Fea’s Petrel (Desertas Petrel) vs Zino’s PetrelFollowing our trip, I have now managed to go through my rather grainy photos (need to buy an SLR!) and despite being far from experienced in this area, using the basic criteria below, from Shirihai's paper and other sources am fairly confident that I have photos of a “classic” Fea’s/Desertas Petrel and at least one Zino’s Petrel. I also believe I managed to be lucky to get a photo (albeit pretty poor) of both species together!Comments welcome, as I am no expert!!Firstly, it is worth mentioning that both Killian Mullarney and Magnus Robb, consider the Pterodromas of the island of Bugio (part of the Desertas) as a distinct species - Desertas Petrel and therefore separate from the Fea's Petrel of the Cape Verde Islands, based mostly on vocalisations and breeding phenology, as stated in the brilliant book, Petrels Night & Day
Desertas Petrel Basic ID CriteriaBull-necked appearance
Plump bulky body
Thick/broad bill
Broad and often pointed wings
Often dark-headed appearance
Usually obvious dark "M" on upperwing

Zino’s Petrel Basic ID CriteriaThin necked appearance
Slim and light bodied
Fine thin bill - but much variation?
Slim wings often appearing rounded
Cuter expression to face? Due to paler grey crown and clean white forehead
Often has large areas of white in dark underwing? (other than axillaries that are always white in both species).
Often lack of obvious "M" on upperwing and fairly uniform.
NOTE - All the above points vary in light and posture and are therefore just indicators!
A bird showing most or all, features is the nearest I have got to try and ID the photos

Zino's Petrel? - Day 1   Photos 1 & 2


Two Zino's Petrels Together?
Day 1

Photo 3 shows the bird from
photos 1&2 (left bird) and a Zino's Petrel (right bird)
photo 4
below. Note bills and head patterns in


Zino's Petrels - Day 1
Vastly different in structure and bill compared
to Photos 1&2 above. Same bird as in Photo 3
(right bird) above. Also much white in


Believed to be a different bird to Photo 4 above 
Again, slight structure, bill and lack of "M"
on upperwing would
suggest Zino's?

Zino's/Desertas Petrel Day 2 
Appears fairly thin billed?

Desertas/Zino's Day 1

PHOTO 7 - Specific id unknown

1 comment:

  1. Excellent analysis Jaffa and I hope I can join you out there in July.