Pelagic birding on the Azores

The isle group of the Azores is particularly important for seabirds, which sometimes breed in large numbers or are found here during off-shore migration. Best in summer, but also in September and October, boat trips can give an impression of the importance of the sea area around the Azores with its unique marine ecosystem.

From the island of Graciosa boat trips start, each lasting a half to a whole day. The most dominant bird species in the waters around the Azores is the Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris borealis), which is by far the largest of its breed species. But to expect more bird species that follow the ship. They are attracted by the smell-intensive mixture of sardines, fish oil and other delicious ingredients, the so-called chum. This is to lure some of the pelagic bird species. In September, for example, Great Shearwater (Puffinus gravis), a Cape Verde Petrel (Pterodroma feae), and a few Monteiro’s Storm Petrel (Oceanodroma monteiroi) near the boat could be observed in the waters around Graciosa. Particularly great is the pleasure when the sighting of Sooty Tern (Sterna fuscata), a Band-rumped Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma castro), a Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster) or of a Swinhoe’s Storm-Petrel (Oceanodroma monorhis) succeeds. In addition, several dolphin groups or even a blue shark can be expected. One should plan several days. Very different weather conditions can be expected. From sunny and calm to strong rain showers and very fresh winds the range is enough.

Further excursions are among other things. of Santa Maria, the easternmost island of the Azores group. Sometimes you are lucky and enjoy a special like a White-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus) or a Bulwer’s Petrel (Bulweria bulwerii). A special pelagic bird is the Bulwer’s Petrel called Alma-negra, the Black soul, in Portuguese.

The body length of this species is slightly larger than a Blackbird but samller than that of a Tern. In flight, notice the dark brown uniform color, except for the lighter wings of the upper wings, as well as the large wingspan proportional to the body. The wings and tail are narrow and pointed. Like many Shearwater, the Bulwer’s Petrel beats the wings in alternate sliding phases near the surface of the sea.

The adult birds arrive at the end of April on the breeding ground. Breeding starts during the first week of June and the youngs leave the nests in late September-early October. The only known reproductive population in the Azores is on the islet of Vila (Santa Maria), with only about 50 couples. Although several catches had taken place in the islets of Praia or de Baixo (Graciosa), there is no evidence of the nesting of other islets.

At sea you might observe Bulwer’s Petrel between May and September, off Santa Maria and, most unexpectedly, between the island of Pico and the Bank of the Azores. However, very few individuals are observed.

The Azores are well-known among ornithologists mainly for the fact that many American bird species occur, mainly in fall. Although this group of islands is part of the Western Palearctic (even Europe) on some islands, more Nearctic than Palearctic species have been found. In addition, several endemic taxa breed on the archipelago.

In order to satisfy the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of Western Palearctic, has undertaken dedicated trips to nearby and distant bird areas. This is to be able to do anything to provide excellent images of the birds of the Western Palearctic. Sometimes the yield of images is enriched by bird species, which are very unlikely to show-up in the Western Palearctic. The results in images even of rare Western Palearctic birds are very good.

The beautiful images of the blog are only a first impression of what you will find in behind “Picture  Shop” very soon. Simply contact if you need an image of a bird before the newest images are online.

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