We were taken for more than a ride. We actually took two rides in one beautiful day, from the city of Funchal on the south side of the island, to more remote areas north and east.
When we signed up for a birding tour of Madeira, we knew full well there just aren’t that many species to see on the island. So, we had low expectations as we climbed into the Madeira Wind Birds van. Caterina and Hugo knew where to look for the hard-to-see birds, and, after we drove halfway around the island, within minutes, we saw the Trocaz pigeon flitting around on trees. We were pretty excited as the bird is only found on Madeira. More bird sightings followed until we had circled back to the eastern end of the island.
Standing at the eastern end of the island with views of both the southern coast (left) and northern coast (right).
We were looking for the Berthelot’s pipit, a bird only found on Madeira and the Canary Islands. The bird is easiest to spot perched on rocks.
Our guides laughed in frustration at the cairns all around. How to find the pipit, which perches on the rocks, when people pile rocks on rocks? It makes for challenging bird spotting!
Found! Hugo spotted some pipits flying over to these very rocks and then hopping down onto the ground. This photo captures two Berthelot’s pipits, really. With binoculars we got a wonderful view.
Later that same day, João and Angela, our AirBnB hosts, took us for another ride. Our destination: a walk to the lookout point, Balcoes.
But, not wanting to rush the outing, we stopped at a popular spot to try the local speciality, poncha, and moist orange cake. Yum!
Another stop along the way was to visit a trout farm, a pretty little place high up in the mountains.
At Balcoes, the clouds broke through for a view to the ocean.
We expected to head for home after seeing Balcoes, but João and Angela had one more destination in mind. João parked the car on the northern shore of Madeira, and we all walked between cliffs and sea.
This was our view as we turned a corner.
We walked into the little town of Porta da Cruz and João treated us to another speciality – bolo do caco, a Madeira sweet potato bread topped with butter and garlic spread. Yum, again!
We got taken for two rides in one day and we’re “pleased as Poncha,” to coin a phrase. The rides offered us the chance to see uncommon birds, try Madeiran foods, visit places we’d never been, and enjoy the company of some of Madeira’s most congenial people.