Mallorca, April 2006

For a list of birds seen on this trip click here

I was the leader for this Naturetrek trip to the wonderful island of Mallorca in April 2006.

Saturday 22nd April, 2006

The majority of the party met at Heathrow and on arrival at Palma we met up with the other clients and we were soon on our way north across the island to our base between Puerto Pollensa and Alcudia. After settling into the Pollensa Park Hotel, we had a walk to acclimatise ourselves with some Mediterranean birds. Good views were had of Yellow Wagtail (Spanish blue-headed race), Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers. The Kentish already had several chicks. We also had our first encounter with one of Europe’s rarest breeding birds, Audouins Gull.

Nightingales were very much in evidence, singing from several bushes, and an Osprey flew close past us with a fish in its talons, being hotly pursued by a pair of Black-winged Stilts. During this brief excursion we also looked at the flowers growing on a patch of scrubby ground and saw

beautiful Serapias as well as Bumblebee Orchid. This was a nice relaxing start to our trip, and we looked forward in anticipation of more good birds to come.

Sunday 23rd April, 2006

A full day in the Albufera National Park. After overnight rain, the day started grey and overcast but by lunchtime, the sun had made an appearance and the afternoon was clear blue sky with a lovely cooling onshore breeze which made walking and birdwatching very pleasant.

We made our way slowly up the canal near English Bridge, to the reserve centre enjoying encounters with Purple Heron, Cattle Egret, Night Heron and Moustached Warbler on the way. Extra spice came in the form of a

superb male Montagu's Harrier. After a brief stop at the reserve centre we proceeded to visit several of the many hides, strategically placed around the reserve and we enjoyed breathtaking views of Black-winged Stilt, several pairs of which were, it seemed, on nests right in front of the hides.

In addition we saw a delightful group of Spotted Redshank in summer plumage - surely one of the most handsome of waders. After a picnic lunch enjoyed in the sunshine, we continued our exploration of the park, and had excellent views of Stone Curlew, Hoopoe, Redstart, Pied Flycatcher and Serin. From one hide a beautiful male Garganey appeared and fed unconcerned less than 10 yards away. A Great Reed Warbler entertained us by singing in full view at the top of some Phragmites.

All agreed that the Albufera is indeed a special place for birds, and

birdwatchers. Other wildlife highlights of the day included Swallowtail and Clouded Yellow butterflies, Emperor Dragonfly, and the beautiful flowers of White Asphodel and a single Bee Orchid. By the end of the first full day, we had seen 68 species between us.

Monday 24th April, 2006

Today we went up to the northern mountains for a walk around the Cuber reservoir. We stopped briefly at a viewpoint before the reservoir and upon getting out of our mini buses, had wonderful views overhead of a pale

phase Eleonora's Falcon.

We soon found ourselves at the entrance gate to the reservoir and began our walk around. The wind was blowing fiercely from the north east, and this made birdwatching, not to mention standing, difficult, to say the least.

However, we were determined to make the best of it and during our walk we saw two Booted Eagles, Redstart, Cirl Bunting, three Ravens and no less than three Tawny Pipits. Because of the wind, we were not able to hear the songs of the many birds which can normally be found around the edge of the lake. The telescope was, however, usefully brought into operation when we looked at some Loose-flowered Orchids about 50 feet up the sheer rock face of the disused quarry.

After a welcome picnic in the shade of some pines, we returned to Pollensa, but not before stopping at Lluc monastery and a wander through the beautiful gardens. We were rewarded with Firecrest, Blackcap and Sedge Warbler, but the most hoped for birds of the day came at the end, when three magnificent Black Vultures appeared over a nearby ridge. We had spent a lot of time watching the skies over the ridges in the walk around the lake with no success. It was therefore fitting to end the day this way.

Tuesday 25th April, 2006

Today we made the journey south across the island to the working salt pans at Salinas de Levante. En route we stopped at roadside fields to admire some Corn Buntings and Thekla Larks, which not only gave lovely views but were also in full song.

At the Salinas we had a delightful walk in the beautiful weather which defied the weather forecast. Among the many species of birds seen were several Spotted Redshanks in full breeding plumage, three Curlew Sandpipers, 11 Greater Flamingoes and over 20 Little Stints. Star bird, though, must go to a superb summer plumaged Temminck’s Stint, which performed side by side with a Little Stint less than 20 yards away. This gave us all the opportunity to put our ID skills to the test in the telescope.

After returning to the entrance we had our picnic lunch and moved on to the Cabo de Salinas headland where we enjoyed views albeit distantly) of Corys and Balearic Shearwater as well as very close views of Audouins Gulls. We made our way back north across the island later in the afternoon.

Wednesday 26th April, 2006

Today we walked up the Bocquer Valley to the sea. This ever popular walk was very enjoyable, and this time we were able to enjoy perfect morning’s weather in getting to the sea. Unfortunately, shortly after our arrival at the end of the valley, the cloud arrived, brought by a strong northerly wind, and the hoped for Balearic Warblers were not seen, though we did get two birds in brief songs.

Other interesting sightings were of Booted Eagle, Buzzard, very confiding Cirl Buntings and a singing Firecrest. A couple of Pheasants calling in the scrub reminded one of home. We made our way back in the deteriorating weather and had an impromptu picnic at our hotel before continuing our day at the Albufereta marsh. By now the weather had improved again, and having lost the late morning wind we ended the day with warm sunshine and clear skies.

We enjoyed sightings of Slender-billed Gull and two Ospreys as well as a single Great White Egret. Botanical interest included several Mirror Orchids.

After dinner we went in search of the Scops Owl. Unfortunately the previously reliable site outside the Guardia Civil HQ in Puerto Pollensa was degraded, but we were able to find three birds by imitating their calls in the avenue of pines near the entrance to the Bocquer Valley. A lovely end to a marvellous day.

Thursday 27th April, 2006

Today we visited parts of the Albufera which we hadn't previously visited, specifically the Depuradora, or water works; the scrubby area opposite the entrance to the sewage works; and the path to the 'lone pine'. After such a lovely afternoon yesterday, it came as somewhat of a surprise to find drizzle this morning.

Prospects were not hopeful, but luckily the rain did not last long and soon we were enjoying warm, still conditions, perfect for birdwatching. Some good birds were seen in the morning, including several Short-toed Larks and a very obliging Wryneck as well as several Hoopoes. At the waterworks viewing platform, we saw four Marbled Teal and the second Temminck's Stint of the trip.

Two Wood Sandpipers and many hundreds of Sand Martins and Swallows were added company. We saw a fine displaying Tawny Pipit, and as we were taking lunch at the viewing platform, no less than 12 Bee Eaters arrived on cue, resting on pines near the reservoir for all to enjoy. We were also constantly being serenaded by Nightingales – a truly magical experience.

After lunch we had a walk to the lone pine and were lucky to see two Glossy Ibis come in to land. In addition we had excellent views of Stone Curlews and saw two Squacco Herons. The most interesting birds of the day, though, were a single male Blue-winged Teal on the waterworks pool, and two Rose-ringed Parakeets. The day had been marvellous, with over fifty species of birds seen.

Friday 28th April, 2006

We awoke this morning to heavy rain which then became a thunderstorm with hail. This curtailed our planned early start, but the rain soon stopped and we headed for our first destination, the Postage Stamp Wood. Here we had excellent views of Wood Warbler and Willow Warbler. We also caught sight of a single male Pied Flycatcher. Later in the morning we headed up to the mirador of the Formentor peninsula. Upon our arrival, however, it was immediately apparent that there were far too many tourists to have an enjoyable time birdwatching here.

Therefore a swift decision was made to make for our planned third destination of the day, namely the Albufereta marsh. It came as a significant relief to have the view over the marsh to ourselves. We were soon enjoying the sight of Marsh Harriers and Black-winged Stilts, which were soon joined by two Purple Gallinules, no less than four Slender-billed Gulls (all in second summer plumage), and four Purple Herons. However the best was yet to come in the form of a superb adult pale phase Booted Eagle, which passed over all the party at a height of no more than 50 feet. We were able to enjoy this superb raptor at very close quarters.

After a last look at the marsh we returned to our hotel to prepare for our return journey the next day.

Saturday 29th April, 2006

We left for the Airport straight after breakfast, but not before some clients had a lucky encounter with a Honey Buzzard which passed over the hotel.

All had been delighted with the week’s trip, and by the end, the group had seen 122 species of birds.

Thank you for a lovely week, Kevin