Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Real Birder

Mallorca Update - 18th April to 2nd May 2009

     

    GETTING THERE

    CasesnovasAgain, as in previous years, we chose Villa Select to provide both our accommodation and our flight. Our choice this year was the beautiful Villa Casesnovas. The villa is situated within the triangle of Pollensa, Puerto Pollensa and Alcudia. A little further out than any of our previous villas, but it did mean we were within a 10min drive of the premier birding site “Albufera”.

    Our carrier was Monarch Airlines. Both outward and inward flights were bang on time with both planes approximately 75% full. The flight out was 06:20 am, possibly a little early for some, but great when you are sipping your first cold drink at your destination by lunch time. Return flight was mid morning giving us the luxury of a leisurely breakfast.   

    For 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 0845 277 3370 or by email.

    Birding in style (the G & T is missing though)WEATHER

    In the main the weather was dry and warm with temperatures in the mid 20s for most of the holiday. Night time temperatures dropped to single figures making early morning birding a bit parky. Rain was restricted to a couple of nights and the Friday morning prior to our departure.

    COST OF LIVING

    With virtual parity between the Pound & Euro Mallorca ain’t cheap any more, with most food stuff costing at least the same as England. Eating out at night had risen, both in the cost of the meal and the poor exchange rate.

    CAR HIRE

    As with the cost of living, the price of car hire had also increased, with an equivalent car in England costing at least 25% less.
    Fuel however was slightly cheaper with diesel costing approximately 89p per litre.     

    Now where was it I was supposed to end up?These trips to Mallorca have turned into bi-annual events with Lesvos being visited in alternate years. It amazes us how much the island changes over such a short period. New roads, including dual carriageways, have materialised in the Pollensa Bay area. Many are roads to “nowhere”; this indicates that further large scale development of the bay area is on the cards. The main thoroughfare through Alcudia has also been upgraded, with all the traffic lights being replaced with roundabouts, all sporting their own piece of sculpture. Brightly coloured cycle lanes have also been installed. The spine road that runs from south to north has also been upgraded. With a “motorway” & dual carriageway terminating approximately 10k short of Alcudia, making transfer times from the airport to the north of the island comfortably less than 1hr.

    With all the development of the infrastructure and the continued building of holiday accommodation, many of the small scrubby areas that used to be so attractive to passing migrants have disappeared. Buy Birdwatching Guide to Mallorca by DAVE gosney from AMAZONThis has greatly reduced the wild flowers & weeds and in turn the insects on which the birds feed. We have noted a steady decline over the last 10 years in the numbers of birds that either nest on Mallorca or stay briefly to fuel up.

    Birding sites that once were a must to visit a few years ago are now a shadow of their former selves. It’s not surprising when you see that most of these are the ones that have suffered most from urbanisation. The Boquer Valley is a prime example; birding here has declined to such an extent that it’s best left to the walkers. I could not have imagined myself saying that a few years ago. Other northern sites that have also markedly declined, to such an extent that a cursory visit is all they warrant, are “Casas Veyas” (no access), “Albufereta” (no management), “Back Lanes”, “Smelly River” and “Lenair Road” (lack of areas to park).

    AlbuferaAs I have stated in previous reports, the bird species are still there, it’s the numbers that have declined, making the birding challenging at the very least.

    S’Albufera - On a more positive note, after many years of resources being channelled into the visitor centre, toilet blocks, pretty boardwalks, hides and viewing platforms, all great for the human visitor, it now looks like the park authority is getting to grips with improving the habitat for the birds….and how it shows! With improvements to water level management and the general habitat, bird numbers and species were up considerably.

    MOANS, GROANS AND MEMORABLE MOMENTS

    Moan
    Buy A Birdwatching Guide to Mallorca from Amazon Once again we had problems with Hertz car rentals. Although we had documentation which clearly stated that the price taken over the internet was guaranteed, we still had to spend 15 minutes arguing with the staff, who were quoting 40 € more. We were also charged 8 € a day for a second driver when the web site clearly stated the second driver was free. This added a further 112 € to the bill. We had a similar situation several years ago in Lesvos. On our first venture out in the vehicle we had a puncture. There was no spare tyre, so we had to wait several hours whilst they delivered a replacement. We were charged 120 € for the pleasure when we returned the vehicle. Total cost of the vehicle rose from the 344 € quoted, to 576 €. “Never again Mr Hertz”.

    Groan
    Those pillocks in Lycra who invade Mallorca in their thousands during the early spring. We believe in “live and let live” but when they decide to ride 3-4 abreast in their hundreds on the road, completely ignoring the lovely new cycle lanes provided, it’s difficult to look benevolently upon them. Meeting several dozen of them, spread right across a very narrow winding lane and gesticulating to me to get over, was the last straw. My outburst of “single file dicken ze headens” was greeted with hysterical laughter from my own passengers. Well you have to laugh!              

    Memorable moments
    Salinas de LevanteThe hospitality shown to us by a Geordie called Malcolm, whose help and hospitality, whilst we were waiting for our exchange vehicle, was very greatly appreciated.

    The dozen or so Bee-eaters that decided to hang around the villa for a couple of days giving great views.

    Local Stone Curlews being called up, to give great illuminated views as they flew over the villa at night.

    Not sticking to our own rule of not venturing down to the Salinas de Levante until we have had at least 3 dry days. Then, finding on our arrival, that “Eddie’s Track” was hock deep in mosquito infested water.

    Embarking on what we thought would be an hour’s walk through the Albufera. We finally reached the visitor centre 6hrs later. Incidentally this also occurred on the hottest day of the holiday at 28°c.

    SITES VISITED

    Albufera, Albufereta, Casas Veyas, Boquer Valley, Cuber Reservoir, Son Serra de Marina, Son Marc, Depuradora, Postage Stamp Wood, Cala de San Vicenç, S’Illot and Salinas de Levante.

     

    Bird Species List

    Bird Photos

     

    Pat and Judy Hayes  

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