Maderia may not be an idea place to visit if you want to see large numbers of birds, as only 40 or so species breed on the island. But those that do are rather special and many can't be found anywhere else. Knowing this a local guide is essencial if you want to find all the birds on offer, so we booked a trip with Wind Birds before we left, we also booked a Dolphin watching trip, while browsing their website.
For our full days bird watching trip we were promptly picked up from out hotel by Hugo, and although upto 8 people can be on the trip it was only me and my wife. Hugo was constantly chatting to us as we traveled around the island about birdwatching and life in general in Madeira, while also showing a great deal of interest in our lives back at home. It felt like we were with a friend rather than a guide. Although the weather was not the best for seeing some birds, we still managed to connect with most of the targeted birds, many at sites we would never have found without local knowledge. When Hugo dropped us off at the hotel, before leaving he gave me a map of the island and annotated it with all the sites to find the birds we had missed. Later in the week with our hire car i am pleased to say, visisting these sites we managed to find the birds we had miss.
Although our dolphin trip was slightly more expensive that some operators the experience was more intimate. After again being promply collected from the hotel we join only 6 other customers on Wind Birds high speed boat. During our trip we found a rare Monk seal, and numerous dolphin and had the opertunity to swim with them. Other cheaper dolphin trips i have been on have been on larger crowded boats and failed to offer the intimate expeience offed by Hugo and Catarina.
While on holiday Hugo conviced me to join another of his trips (it didn't take much). This was a night time hike to visit the rare Zino's Petrels. Again the group was small just 1 other person join me and Hugo. I can't recommend this trip highly enough, walking to the site as the last of the sun set over the mountain tops, a clear sky full of stars, one of the rarest sea birds calling above your head and casting ghoastly sillouettes, and all to a sound track that is Hugo great knowledge. Its is and experience impossible to find else where. Hot tea and cookies also helped!
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