• Where to Watch BIRDS and
    Other WILDLIFE in the World
  • Photograph of Common Dolphins

    Common Dolphins by Chris Townend.

    AZORES

    Best Wildlife in the Azores

    Mammals
    Sperm Whale, and Bottlenose, (Short-beaked) Common, Risso’s, (Atlantic) Spotted (mostly Jun-Sep) and Striped Dolphins. Also a chance of Blue, Fin, Sei (all three mostly in Mar-Apr), Cuvier’s Beaked, Sowerby’s Beaked, Northern Bottlenose, False Killer and (Short-finned) Pilot Whales. An impressive 26 species of cetacean have been recorded in recent times. Also Azores Noctule, the world's only diurnal insectivorous bat.

    Birds
    Bulwer's Petrel, Madeiran (Band-rumped ('Grant's'/cool season Oct-Mar breeding population and 'Monteiro's'/hot season Jun-Aug/Sep breeding population)) and Wilson's Storm Petrels, Little (Barolo) and Cory’s Shearwaters, Common and Roseate Terns, Azores Bullfinch (northeast Sao Miguel only), (Atlantic/Island) Canary and azorean forms of (Common) Buzzard, Yellow-legged Gull, Wood Pigeon, Grey Wagtail, Blackbird, Goldcrest and Chaffinch. Also a chance of Fea's/Desertas and Zino's Petrels, Great, Manx and Sooty Shearwaters, White-faced Storm Petrel, Sabine’s Gull (mostly Sep-Oct) and, especially in October, rare vagrant birds from North America, mainly on the western islands of Corvo and Flores.

    Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
    Loggerhead Turtle, Hammerhead Shark and flying fish. The Azores are also a popular game-fishing location since it is one of the best places in the world for Blue Marlin. Other large fish which are caught regularly or may be seen leaping out of the ocean include White Marlin, Sailfish, Spearfish, Swordfish, and Bluefin, Big-eye and Yellowfin Tunas (all mostly Jul-Sep). The islands are also popular with scuba-divers in search of Manta and especially Mobula Rays, schools of which gather here from July to October, especially around Prince Alice Bank, accessible out of Pico.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in the Azores

    Boat trips, mainly for whales and dolphins, run out of the islands of Faial, Graciosa and Pico. The Terceira-Graciosa ferry crossing is good for cetaceans and seabirds but the best place, especially for seabirds, is the Bank of Fortune off Gracisoa.

    The endemic Azores Bullfinch occurs on the island of Sao Miguel only.

    Best Times for Wildlife in the Azores

    Sperm Whale, and Bottlenose, Common, Risso’s and Striped Dolphins are resident in the deep waters of The Azores but the main season lasts from mid-April to mid-October and the best time to go is August-September when Sperm Whales have calves. Spotted Dolphin is also present at this time, being a summer visitor present from June to September. Large whales such as Blue, Fin and Sei usually pass through in March-April.

    Recommended Books etc. for the Azores

    Collins Bird Guide by L Svensson et al. Collins, 2010 (Second Edition).

    Birds of Europe by L Jonsson. Helm, 1999.

    Birds of the Atlantic Islands by T Clarke. Helm, 2006.

    Mammals of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East by S Aulagnier et al. Helm, 2009.

    Mammals of Britain and Europe by D McDonald and P Barrett. Collins, 2005.

    Butterflies of Britain and Europe: A Photographic Guide by T Haahtela et al. Helm, 2009.


    Collins Bird eGuide.

    Trip Reports for the Azores

    Many trip reports, some for the Azores, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to the Azores. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to the Azores' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in the Azores

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.


    Accommodation in the Azores

    Some Organized Tours to the Azores

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and they are popular with people with partners with different interests. Individuals, partners and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more for a custom tour than an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours to the Azores include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.