Europe's rarest breeding seabird and once thought to be extinct, the Zino's Petrel or freira, Pterodroma madeira, is endemic to Madeira. The Freira Conservation Project (FCP), founded in 1986, is a group of people and institutions working on the conservation of Zino's petrels, especially by controlling its main predator, the rat. The FCP has overseen a steady increase in numbers nesting in the central massif of Madeira. We will not see them as they can only be seen between April and August. Dr Frank Zino, the son of Alec Zino who rediscovered the bird and named it as a separate species, is the FCP's president and will meet us for a brief talk about Zino's petrels.
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The Freira Conservation Project blog here includes regular reports from Frank Zino and his team on their somewhat perilous visits to the Zino’s petrel breeding ledges, high in the mountains on Madeira.
This monitoring work has been especially important after a massive forest fire on the island of Madeira killed several breeding adults and 65% of that year’s petrel chicks in August 2010. Read more about that here from BirdLife International, which launched an appeal.
After that damaging season, additional donations came in from Honeyguiders for the FCP, via the Honeyguide Wildlife Charitable Trust. Topped up with Gift Aid, we raised an additional £288 for Dr Zino and his team in this way, working at the sharp end for Zino's petrel conservation in Madeira. This, plus money raised from conservation contributions from our regular holidays on Madeira, is mostly spent on dataloggers to be attached to Zino's petrels and other seabirds. These gather vital information on the movements of seabirds at sea.