Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Real Birder

Mallorca October 2005

     

    MALLORCA UPDATE

    8th – 22nd October 2005

    Another book worth considering is Dave Gosney's Finding Birds in Mallorca - buy from AmazonHaving spent many spring and autumns in Mallorca, this is the first year that I know I won't bump into 3 of the main birding characters who made our trips so much more pleasurable.

    Arthur Stagg, David Wellings and Graham Hearl have all passed away over the lasted couple of years. All had properties on the island and knew the best birding spots intimately. All 3 were great birders in their own right, and all were happy to pass on that little bit of info that would produce that special bird.

    If Arthur was on the island he could often be found at the Depuradora hide, usually around late afternoon, where he would greet you with courtesy and impart the local birding gossip.

    Graham was the only one who was resident, and was the official RSPB rep for the island; he spent many years taking the legendary bird meetings at the Pollensa hotel. Many birders travelling to the Balearics would have bought Graham's excellent bird watching guides. He also produced the annual Bird Report for Mallorca to which I was happy, like many, to contribute.

    David was a firm favourite of ours. He would always greet you with a beaming smile that said he was genuinely pleased to see you. David took on the mantle of running the meetings, once Graham stopped doing them, ably assisted by his wife. We watched him turn his first nervous meetings, where he would physically shake during his deliberations, to meetings where he was full of confidence and enthusiasm for the island he loved.

    All 3 will be greatly missed, God bless‘em.

    GETTING THERE

    Being creatures of habit, we have again used Villa Select for our holiday package, which includes a superb villa, air travel from Birmingham/Palma and a small air-conditioned car.

    Base CampFor superb self catering accommodation and late availability list I strongly recommend you check out Villa Select's web site. Villa Select can be contacted on 01789 764909 or email.

    As I have previously said in my trip reports for Mallorca, if birding is your game then you really need to base yourself in the north of the island. With the exception of the salt pans and the area around the lighthouse, most of Mallorca's best birding spots are in the north. If you like hustle and bustle with all the fun of the fair, or you're bringing a family that doesn't share the same interest in birds as you, then Alcudia could be your best option. With the Albufera Marsh on your doorstep and the Bocquer Valley and Albufereta just a short bus ride away, Alcudia is also ideal for the birder who doesn't want to hire a car.

    Judy and I prefer the more sedate atmosphere that is Pollensa old town & Puerto Pollensa. Like most of Mallorca the north of the island is still being developed at a pace, with much valuable habitat being lost, to the detriment of its birds.

    Although Mallorca is a shadow of what it used to be, it's still a great island to begin your birding abroad. Most of the birding sites are well documented and many have been developed to cater for the British birder with bird hides positioned at strategic points allowing long sessions out of the sun, where it is possible to spend time really getting to know those less familiar species.Buy A Birdwatching Guide to Mallorca from Amazon It also gives the less confident birder the opportunity to mix with more adept birders in a less formal setting.

    I would strongly recommend Graham Hearl and Jon King's A Birdwatching Guide to Mallorca.

    BIRDING SITES (North)

    I have tried to give just a flavour of the main birding sites on Mallorca and just a small number of the notable birds that I have seen at the various sites. Many of the birding guides that can be purchased will give much more detailed information including location, site maps and species. This list of sites is also not all inclusive with some of the lesser sites omitted because I did not visit them this year.

     

    Albufera Marsh from Bishop 1 HideAlbufera Marsh             

    The premiere birding spot in the north of the island, S'Albufera is a Parc Natural. It's open 7 days a week and free to enter. Vehicles are not allowed on the reserve. Although the reserve gates don't officially open until 08-30am, pedestrian access can be gained adjacent to the main gate. The area covers many hundreds of acres, where species like Purple Gallinule, Little Bittern, Black-winged Stilt, Marsh Harrier, Cetti's Warbler, Cattle, Little, & Great White Egret are commonplace. Many waders and ducks help keep interest levels up during passage and winter.

     

    Bocquer Valley

    Bocquer Valley

    The Bocquer has probably suffered from the march of the developer more than any other site in the north.

    Many of the small orchards and fields that held so many passerines have been turned into a dual-carriageway with apartments and villas adorning both sides. With no development within the valley itself Marmora's Warbler, Redstart, flycatchers, Wryneck, Blue Rock Thrush, Cirl Bunting, Crag Martin, Woodchat Shrike, Bee-eater, Peregrine, Eleonora's Falcon and Black Vulture can all be seen during summer months.     

     

    DepuradoraDepuradora (water treatment works)

    Due to poor maintenance of both the water works and the bird hide this area does not hold the same attraction to birders it once did. It is, however, worth popping in as it still can throw up the odd rarity. The area to the rear of the car park is still an excellent area, especially during autumn and winter. Stone Curlew, Bluethroat, wagtails and pipits find this area attractive and, if the area lies wet, many waders including Snipe, Wood Sandpiper, Kentish Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Redshank and Greenshank are all possible. An added bonus, as we discovered this year, the area has also proved popular with a small colony of Waxbills which have been detected over the last couple of years.       

     

    Formentor Lighthouse

    Formentor Lighthouse

    This site is situated at the very northern tip of Mallorca and is a traditional breeding site for Eleonora's Falcon. It is also a great spot for sea watching, especially for both Balearic and Cory's Shearwaters. Other pelagic species can also be seen at the right time of year. Other birding interests are limited.

    Be advised that Formentor is 19k from Puerto Pollensa, of which at least half is on a narrow twisting road, OK until you meet one of the many day tripper coaches. My advice is go early, do the lighthouse, and be gone by 09-30am.

     

    Casas Veyas

    Casas Veyas

    En route to Formentor you will pass through the site of Casas Veyas, a very important fall area for migrating birds. This was fenced during the G8 summit in the mid 90's and subsequently closed off to public access. Viewing is still possible from the main road but closure has greatly reduced its value as a birding site. Crossbill and Firecrest can be found in the adjacent pines with Redstart, flycatchers, Cirl Bunting, Woodchat Shrike etc in attendance in the summer.  

     

     

    Albufereta

    Albufereta

    I have never found this site prolific from a birding point of view, which I attribute to the fact that water levels are not controlled. I have often found that the levels are too high for waders and not high enough for ducks. However, over the years, I have had Purple Heron, Osprey, and Great White Egret, plus most of the ducks and waders that occur on the island. I know that Graham Hearl regularly had Richard's Pipit here during autumn. Pipits and wheatears and Fan-tailed Warbler also occur during the season.

     

     

    Cuber ReservoirCuber Reservoir

    This really is High Sierras country, with Puig Mayor, the mountain featured in the picture, some 300ft higher than Ben Nevis . This area is classic raptor habitat with Black Vulture taking pride of place. Booted Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, Golden Eagle, Osprey plus buzzards and falcons can all be seen here.   Around the lake itself, Tawny Pipit and Short-toed Lark can be found together with Moustached Warbler and Redstart. Being an upland reservoir it offers little interest to ducks, although the odd wader can be found foraging the margins. It is also used by several thousand gulls as a “wash & brush up” stop. The quarry is one of the most reliable sites on the island for Rock Thrush.

     

    Son Serra de Marina

    Son Serra de Marina

    This was a new site to us on our previous visit in 2003. David Wellings had told us of the site and that it contained a pair of Slavonian Grebe still showing breeding plumage. It was also thought that as it was just 50 yards from the beach it could capture almost anything. This year's visit produced Osprey, 8 Little Grebe, 2 Little Egret, 2 Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and Grey Heron.

     

     

    BIRDING SITES (South)

    Salinas de Levante

    Salinas de Levante             

    This is the premier birding site in the south of the island. A vast salt works which is still being worked, so most of the pans are at differing water levels, making them attractive to waders from Little Stint to Curlew. The amount of waders can be staggering, especially in the spring. I have yet to visit the site and not find Greater Flamingo, sometimes numbering several hundred. A word of caution; ensure there have been at least 3 dry days before attempting Eddie's track, as it becomes a black, slimy morass.

     

    Cabo de Salinas

    Cabo de Salinas

    This is the very southerly tip of Mallorca and, similar to the lighthouse in the north, it is a very good place for sea watching.

    The area surrounding the lighthouse holds large numbers of breeding Stone Curlew and Thekla Lark. The lighthouse grounds are especially good in spring for small migrants, and also a spot to sit in the autumn and watch the Hirundines leaving the island, sometimes in their thousands. There is something very poignant in seeing this, knowing that their next landfall is on another continent.

     

    Bocquer ValleySUMMARY

    Birding on this trip was more laid back than previous trips; this was due to several reasons. Firstly I was carrying a very sore back caused by an office move a couple of days prior to the trip. Also, we had the family over and Judy insisted we spent some quality time with our young grandson; something I was happy to do. Thirdly, we had several heavy storms which didn't last too long but did have an effect on ground conditions, again giving the excuse to spend more time with the family. Consequently trip numbers were down to 97. Other birders on the island had trip lists well in excess of 100 species.

     

    BIRD LIST AND STATUS    

    Little Grebe   Tachybaptus ruficollis    Small numbers of birds, with 8 at Son Serra de Marina.

    Great-crested Grebe   Podiceps cristatus     2 birds on the Grand Canal during all visits to the Albufera.

    Cory's Shearwater   Calonectris diomedea    Odd birds seen moving off the shore at Cabo de Salinas.

    Cormorant   Phalacrocorax carbo    Birds seen on the old pylons at the entrance to the Albufera at each visit.

    Shag   Phalacrocorax aristotelis    10> birds seen on the 2 breakwaters at Puerto Pollensa most days.

    Little Bittern   Ixobrychus minutus     Only 2 birds seen; both were seen in the Albufera, 1 at Es Ras and 1 at the Grand Canal.

    Night Heron   Nycticorax nycticorax    Due to storm damage to the old roost, Night Herons can be observed in the bushes on the far bank of the Grand Canal at the entrance to the Albufera. 20> birds observed on all visits.

    Cattle Egret   Bubulcus ibis    Now the most common of the egrets on the island with several hundred seen in the roost near the entrance to the Albufera.  

    Little Egret     Egretta garzetta    Although now not as common as the former, still good numbers were seen most days.

    Great White Egret   Egretta alba     More birds seen on this trip than any previous one. 2 birds were present at the Albufera and Albufereta with a singleton seen in “ Smelly River ” on 2 occasions and 3 birds were on the same salt pan at Salinas de Levante.

    Grey Heron   Ardea cinerea    Birds were common at all suitable habitats with 10> birds seen from Bishop 1 hide Albufera at each visit.

    Greater Flamingo   Phoenicopterus ruber     1 juvenile seen from Orange Bridge (Albufera) with 50> at the Salinas de Levante. 

    Shelduck   Tadorna tadorna    Only two sightings, probably the same female bird at the Albufera.

    Gadwall   Anas strepera    A common duck with small numbers seen at suitable locations.

    Teal   Anas crecca     Same status as Gadwall with numbers building during the 2nd week.

    Mallard   Anas platyrhynchos     Common at all suitable habitats.

    Pintail   Anas acuta    3 females at the Albufera 16th & 17th.

    Shoveler   Anas clypeata    Good numbers of birds at all suitable locations.

    Pochard   Aythya ferina    Odd male birds seen at the Albufera.

    Tufted Duck   Aythya fuligula    4 female birds seen on the last trip to the Albufera from the newly named Arthur Stagg hide.

    Marsh Harrier   Circus aeruginosus     A very common raptor especially at the Albufera where 5 females & 3 males were seen hunting over the marsh at the same time.

    Spanish Imperial Eagle   Aquila adalberti    A single adult bird was seen at the Albufera 17th. The sighting was reported to the centre, who confirmed that it had been seen and authenticated a couple of days previously.

    Booted Eagle   Hieraaetus pennatus    Both light & dark phased birds regularly seen at suitable sites.

    Osprey   Pandion haliaetus    Two birds resident at Albufera with singletons at the Albufereta & Salinas de Levante.

    Kestrel   Falco tinnunculus    Common over the whole island.

    Eleonora's Falcon   Falco eleonorae     3 birds at the Bocquer on the 8th and 4 at Formentor on the 10th.

    Peregrine   Falco peregrinus    1 bird seen hunting along the cliffs at Formentor was the only sighting for the trip.

    Red-legged Partridge   Alectoris rufa     A singleton seen on the wall at the rear of Depuradora 10th & 18th with 12> in a field by “ Smelly River ”.  

    Water Rail   Rallus aquaticus     A single bird seen regularly under Bishop 1 hide with a pair of birds & a singleton at the Salinas de Levante.

    Moorhen   Gallinula chloropus    Birds in small numbers at all suitable locations.

    Purple Gallinule   Porphyrio porphyrio     Very common at the Albufera with a small enclave at the Albufereta.

    Coot   Fulica atra     Birds abundant at all suitable locations with 100> at Albufera.

    Black-winged Stilt   Himantopus himantopus     Common at all suitable sites.

    Ringed Plover   Charadrius hiaticula    3 birds with Kentish at Salinas de Levante.

    Kentish Plover   Charadrius alexandrinus     Common at both the S'Illot (small disused salt pans), rear of the Albufera and the Salinas de Levante.

    Grey Plover   Pluvialis squatarola     Only sighting was 8 birds at the Salinas de Levante on the 16th.

    Lapwing   Vanellus vanellus    9 birds loafing with Ruff at the Albufera, with several more at the Salinas de Levante.

    Little Stint   Calidris minuta    A few seen at the Albufera, with 200> seen at the Salinas de Levante.

    Dunlin   Calidris alpina    Odd birds at suitable sites with 4 at the Salinas de Levante.

    Ruff   Philomachus pugnax     Small numbers encountered normally 3-5 birds and a flock of 10> was seen at Salinas de Levante.

    Snipe   Gallinago gallinago   Several birds feeding at Depuradora. 6 were the most seen at any one time.

    Curlew   Numenius arquata    5 birds seen at Salinas de Levante.

    Spotted Redshank   Tringa erythropus    3 birds seen at Bishop 1 hide at the Albufera at each visit.

    Redshank   Tringa totanus    Small numbers, not as many as seen previously.

    Greenshank   Tringa nebularia     Good numbers at suitable locations. First time I can remember them outnumbering Redshank.

    Green Sandpiper   Tringa ochropus     6 birds at Depuradora with small numbers at most suitable locations.

    Wood Sandpiper   Tringa glareola    A singleton feeding in the flooded field behind Depuradora.

    Common Sandpiper   Actitis hypoleucos    Not as common as on previous trips with odd birds encountered.

    Black-headed Gull   Larus ridibundus    Numbers building over the trip with wintering birds arriving daily.

    Audouin's Gull   Larus audouinii     A common bird around Pollensa Bay with birds on both breakwaters daily.

    Yellow-legged Gull   Larus cachinnans     Birds common all round the coast. 1000> birds loafing at Cuber Reservoir during late afternoon.

    Sandwich Tern   Sterna sandvicensis    Up to 8 birds seen roosting on the breakwaters at Puerto Pollensa.

    Rock Dove   Columba livia    A colony of 20> birds seen at the Bocquer Valley.

    Wood Pigeon   Columba palumbus    Common at all suitable locations.

    Collared Dove   Streptopelia decaocto    A bird success story. Very few birds were seen on the island 10 years ago. Today they can be encountered almost daily.

    Kingfisher   Alcedo atthis    Another winter visitor seen in good numbers especially at the Albufera.

    Hoopoe   Upupa epops     Birds seen in good numbers with a flock of 6 birds in residence at Depuradora.

    Crag Martin   Ptyonoprogne rupestris    Birds seen at their usual haunts, Bocquer Valley, Alcudia headland, and power station.

    Swallow   Hirundo rustica    Hugh numbers of passage birds were observed, especially after one of the 2 electrical storms we encountered.

    House Martin   Delichon urbica    The only time birds were seen was again after the worst of the storms when 50>birds were resting on the overhead wires with several thousand swallows.

    Thekla Lark   Galerida theklae    Again another bird that seems to be in decline. Only 2 birds, both feeding in cultivated fields by “ Smelly River ”.

    Meadow Pipit   Anthus pratensis     Only 2 sightings for the trip.

    Water Pipit   Anthus spinoletta    A single bird on overhead wires at the Salinas de Levante.

    Grey Wagtail   Motacilla cinerea     Smaller numbers than usual, with individuals seen mainly at the Albufera. Odd birds at the local water courses including Son Marc.  

    White Wagtail   Motacilla Alba    8 birds on the cultivated fields leading to Salinas de Levante was the only sighting.

    Wren   Troglodytes troglodytes    1 bird seen at Cuber Reservoir.

    Robin   Erithacus rubecula     Birds continued to flood into the island over the 2 weeks with birds at all suitable locations.

    Bluethroat   Luscinia svecica     3 birds on winter territory at the rear of Depuradora. 1 bird ringed (see bird photos).

    Black Redstart   Phoenicurus ochruros     Numbers appeared to be down on previous trips with odd birds at all historical sites. No males were seen.

    Stonechat   Saxicola torquata     Very common at all suitable locations.

    Northern Wheatear   Oenanthe oenanthe    1 bird seen at the rear of the Albufera.

    Blue Rock Thrush   Monticola solitarius      Birds at all usual haunts. The Bocquer Valley holds several pairs, especially around the rock pinnacles featured in the second location photo in the report summary.

    Blackbird   Turdus merula     Birds common at all suitable sites. Numbers appeared to build over the 2 weeks.

    Song Thrush   Turdus philomelos    Only a couple of sightings over the trip.

    Cetti's Warbler   Cettia cetti    Very common with what must be hundreds at the Albufera.

    Fan-tailed Warbler   Cisticola juncidis      Birds seen at most suitable locations.

    Reed Warbler   Acrocephalus scirpaceus    4 late birds still singing on territory at the Albufera.

    Sardinian Warbler   Sylvia melanocephala    The commonest of all the warblers with birds seen at all suitable sites.

    Blackcap   Sylvia atricapilla      Only sighting was a male & female feeding in the same bush in the Bocquer Valley.

    Chiffchaff   Phylloscopus collybita     Again small numbers seen at several suitable sites.

    Willow Warbler   Phylloscopus trochilus    Odd freshly moulted birds seen at Albufera.

    Spotted Flycatcher   Muscicapa striata     Odd birds at suitable locations.

    Pied Flycatcher   Ficedula hypoleuca    1 female bird seen at Casas Veyas.

    Blue Tit   Parus caeruleus     Just a couple of sightings for this trip.

    Great Tit   Parus major     Small numbers of birds seen at most suitable sites.

    Raven   Corvus corax     4 Birds at the Bocquer Valley and a fly-past by 4 over the villa.

    Starling   Sturnus vulgaris   A roost estimated to be in excess of 1 million birds at the Albufera. Small flocks encountered all over the island.

    House Sparrow   Passer domesticus      Birds common everywhere.

    Chaffinch   Fringilla coelebs     Common at all suitable habitats.

    Serin   Serinus serinus    Small flocks usually associated with mixed finch flocks.

    Greenfinch   Carduelis chloris     Common at all suitable habitats.

    Goldfinch   Carduelis carduelis    The commonest of all the finches with flocks in excess of 100 not uncommon.

    Siskin   Carduelis spinus     Just 1 bird in the pines at Casas Veyas.

    Linnet   Carduelis cannabina    Small flocks of 6-10 birds seen daily.

    Crossbill   Loxia curvirostra     1 female also in the pines at Casas Veyas.

    Corn Bunting   Miliaria calandra     From being a common bird some 10 years ago a steady decline has taken place with only 2 sightings throughout the trip.

    Waxbill   Estrilda astrild     Up to 4 birds seen at the rear of Depuradora. Possible escapees but now breeding with numbers believed to be in double figures.

     

    Birds which were seen during our trip by other birders included; Wryneck, Stone Curlew, Cirl Bunting, Firecrest, Goldcrest, Short-toed Lark, Mistle Thrush, Pallid Swift, Red Kite, Hobby and Golden Eagle.

     

    Bird Photos Spotted Redshank

     

    Pat and Judy Hayes

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