Zino’s Petrel Pelagic Expedition or a trip to Selvagens?

Zino’s Petrel Pelagic Expeditions are dedicated birdwatching sea trips which were studied and designed by birdwatchers with Hadoram Shirihai as mentor, to birdwatchers. On the other hand, the trips to Selvagens are more like a cruise to visit those remote islands where big colonies of Cory’s shearwaters and White-faced storm-petrels breed and where you watch more seabirds in land than at sea - it is a more romantic approach to birdwatching.

Below is a table comparing the Madeira archipelago’s breeding species that are most probably watched in each sea trip, off course, it depends on the month of travel, so the last column is the breeding season for each seabird:

Zino’s Petrel Pelagic ExpeditionSelvagens Birding ExpeditionBreeding season
Zino’s PetrelApril to August
Desertas’ PetrelDesertas’ Petrelend of May to October
Bulwer’s PetrelBulwer’s Petrelend of April to September
Barolo’s shearwaterBarolo’s shearwaterDecember to May
Cory’s shearwaterCory’s shearwaterMarch to mid-November
Manx shearwaterManx shearwaterFebruary to July
Madeiran Storm PetrelMadeiran Storm Petrelall year round (2 colonies)
White-faced Storm PetrelWhite-faced Storm PetrelJanuary to early-August

Of course in any of these birding expeditions you will get the chance to watch other seabird species, specially during migration months (May to early June and then mid-August to September) though the type of vessel used for these seawatching expeditions has a big influence on the quality of observation as on a vessel with a mast (used for the Selvagens expeditions) the birds fly much further away from the ship than on a boat without a mast, as the rigid-hulled inflatable boat used for the Zino’s Petrel Pelagic Expeditions, where the birds fly very close. Another big difference between the two ocean birding experiences is the use of chum to attract the seabirds. Chum is used on the 3 consecutive afternoons pelagics by Wind Birds and this allows customers to get the birds very close to them and therefore, very good photo opportunities while on the Selvagens expeditions the seabirds observations are during sailing or in land, walking around the seabirds nests. The main aim of Zino’s Petrel Pelagic Expeditions is to watch and for customers to be able to ID/distinguish between Zino’s Petrel and Desertas’ Petrel which can only be done with very close views. As for the Selvagens expeditions it is a more touristy and romantic cruise that takes you from Funchal to Selvagem Grande and Selvagem Pequena to observe the seabirds’ breeding colonies and hear their calls when coming into land. A lot more can be said about these two different birdwatching expeditions in Madeira archipelago, like price, time, safety, etc, but that will be up to you to study. We recommend you to start by reading a few trip reports from each expedition and ask for more information to the companies that run them.