MALLORCA 1st-14th May 2007 (Paul Freestone)

The weather in Cornwall today finally prompted me to do this trip report, wishing i was still there in the sunshine! First and foremost this was not a birding holiday. It was a family holiday with the opportunity to do a bit of birding. The fact that i managed to get out nearly everyday almost made it a birding holiday though! I was based in Alcudia on the northern side of the island, i generally stay there due to it being central to both the Bocquer Valley and S’Albufera Nature reserve and there is plenty to do for the non-birding family members. Plus, you get great views of Audouin’s Gull whilst lazing on the beach there.

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DAY ONE – Weds 2nd May ’07.  (weather: overcast occ. rain)

Non-birding day but a walk along the sea front produced Audouin’s Gull (6), Yellow-legged Gull (numerous), Marsh Harrier (1 over sea), Squacco Heron (1 past hotel), Bee-eater (2), Osprey (1), Hoopoe (3), Sardinian Warbler (numerous), Spotted Flycatcher (numerous), Common Swift (1000’s).

Yellow-legged Gull, Sardinian Warbler, Hoopoe and Spotted Flycatcher were seen every day in most habitats so won’t be mentioned again!

DAY TWO -Thurs 3rd May ’07 (weather: overcast N/NE strong breeze with occ. heavy shower)

All morning doing the family thing then at S’Albufera for a couple of hours in the afternoon. There was a constant stream of Common Swift all day. The S’Albufera is probably the most well known birding location in Mallorca and deservedly so. I did notice a lot of changes since my last visit to the reserve in 2002. For a start it was very overgrown, causing viewing problems in some areas. It was also exceptionally wet as the island had just suffered its wettest April for many years. Also, the breeding birds were different. Common Tern and Shelduck, both once scarce migrants, now breed as do the re-introduced Red-knobbed Coot. The heron/egret colony has relocated from the pines on the left as you enter the reserve at English Bridge, to the main canal almost opposite the visitor centre and is best viewed from the gap in the vegetation on the first sharp left hand bend on the long road from the entrance. There are a lot more Night Herons breeding here now with the Cattle and Little Egrets. These three species were seen on every visit to the S’Albufera. Other resident species seen on every visit and therefore not mentioned again were: Fan-tailed Warbler (numerous), Moustached Warbler (fairly numerous but not easy to see), Great Reed Warbler (very conspicuous, at least 8 pairs holding territory with a very obliging, nesting pair at the back of the mound that overlooks CIM Lagoon), Purple Heron (numerous), Marsh Harrier (5+ on each visit), Cetti’s Warbler (like Dunnocks! Everywhere!), Little Ringed Plover (all suitable habitat), Red-crested Pochard (very successful re-introduction scheme!), Purple Gallinule (equally as successful), Nightingale (numerous), Serin (common) and Bee-eater (breeding colony). There are probably others, the likes of Mallard etc, that i have omitted due to space!

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Birds of note on Day One included: ALPINE SWIFT (2), Little Bittern (male), WHITE-WINGED BLACK TERN (adult sum plum), Gull-billed Tern (1), Whiskered Tern (2), Black Tern (1).

DAY THREE – Friday 4th May ’07 (weather: Hot and sunny)

S’Albufera again for the full morning arriving at 08.30hrs. The bus service doesn’t start getting regular until a little later in he morning so i always took a Taxi to the reserve and caught the bus back. Taxi’s aren’t cheap though, about 7 euros from Alcudia centre to the reserve. The buses are 1.10 euros no matter what the length of journey and are every 15 minutes. The first Eleanora’s Falcon was seen today over the reserve. Other birds of note were: Squacco Heron (4 in field at back of new viewing platform), COLLARED PRATINCOLE (2 from new viewing platform), Wood Sandpiper (2), Greenshank (flock of 24), ALPINE SWIFT (2 over Depuradora water works), Golden Oriole (male flew towards Depuadora), Osprey (1), Turtle Dove (1), Redstart (female). The new viewing platform that overlooks the Es Rotlos marsh and pools is excellent for panoramic view of the reserve and is probably now the best part of the reserve for waders. 24 Bee-eaters were seen over the Hotel in the afternoon.

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DAY FOUR – Saturday 5th May ’07 (weather: Hot and sunny for the remainder of the fortnight.)

Another morning at S’Albufera. You need a good few trips do do this place justice! Birding this morning was concentrated on the western end of the reserve around the visitor centre (which has recently been refurbished), CIM Lagoon and the stone bridges over the canal which are excellent for close views of Herons, egrets and Eleanora’s Falcons. There are lots of breeding pairs of Black-winged stilt all over the reserve and the CIM hide overlooking the lagoon gives excellent close views.

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Other birds of note were: Little Bittern (2), Osprey (1), Stone Curlew (1 in field left of CIM hide), Pied Flycatcher, Common Sandpiper (1). Eleanora’s Falcon numbers were starting to increase with 12-15 birds over the reserve.

DAY FIVE – Sunday 6th May ’07 (weather: very hot, light SE breeze)

Non-birding day with the family. The walk to the Old town of Alcudia produced: Eleanora’s Falcon (2), House Martin (10+), Serin (numerous), BLACK KITE and HONEY BUZZARD (circled high together, drifting west).

DAY SIX – Monday 7th May ’07 (weather: very hot again)

A somewhat wasted journey to the Albufereta Marsh which is situated between Alcudia and Port de Polenca. I found this area quite impenetrable and saw nothing that can’t be seen at closer range at S’Albufera apart from Shag which were seen on the breakwaters in Pollenca Bay. A sandwich tern was seen with two Audouin’s Gulls at the river mouth. Two hours was enough here so i headed for S’Albufera for the rest of the morning. Once there i headed for the Depuradora waterworks and motorcycle track at the eastern end of the reserve boundary. Birds of note were: BOOTED EAGLE (3), MARBLED TEAL (2 at Depuradora), Whiskered Tern (1), Black tern (5), Garganey (1 male), Short-toed Lark (5), Golden Oriole (female), Ruff (1), Wood Sandpiper (6), Bee-eater (8+).

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DAY SEVEN – Tuesday 8th May’07 (weather: V.hot and sunny)

Non-birding day. Audouin’s Gull (5) and Cormorant (1) on seafront at Alcudia.

DAY EIGHT – Wednesday 9th May ’07 (extremely hot and sunny, very little breeze)

One and only trip to the Bocquer Valley, via Postage Stamp wood. The wood was a waste of time with no birds seen at all there! The heat in the valley was at times un-bearable and i was glad to feel the sea breeze at the very end of the walk. I spoke to a number of birders who were leaving the valley on our arrival who all said “we haven’t seen much in there”. They obviously hadn’t been looking very hard as we managed to see all the species associated with the valley during the afternoon!

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Highlights in the Bocquer were: BLACK VULTURE (5 at entrance to valley), Booted Eagle (2 over south ridge), Blue Rock Thrush (2 at entrance and 2 at seaward end of valley), MARMORA’S WARBLER (6+ showed down to a couple of feet at the very end of the valley as the land slopes down to the sea), Crag Martin (8 at seaward end over south ridge), Scop’s Owl (one briefly on cliffs at seaward slope of valley), Eleanora’s Falcon (6), Peregrine (1), Garden Warbler (1), Willow Warbler (1), Woodchat Shrike (1), Cirl Bunting (2 males), Wren (3), Stone Curlew (heard only), Red-legged Partridge (heard only), Bee-eater (10), Raven (2).

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DAY NINE – Thursday 10th May ’07

Four hours around S’Albufera covering a large area of the reserve. Birds of note today were: Stone Curlew (2 in field near CIM Hide), Curlew Sandpiper (2 over Depuradora), Whiskered Tern (3 at Depuradora), Garganey (2 males and 1 female), Tawny Pipit (1 flew south past new viewing platform), Wood Sandpiper (4), Osprey (2), Squacco Heron (1), Short-toed Lark (3+), Eleanora’s Falcon (15+).

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DAY TEN – Friday 11th May ’07

Non-birding day but spent an hour at 06.00hrs on the beach photographing Audouin’s Gulls and Hoopoes.

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DAY ELEVEN – Saturday 12th May ’07 (weather: Still very hot and sunny)

07.00hrs – 09.00hrs, extensive search for Scop’s Owls at Port de Pollenca proved fruitless so we headed for some woodland at the rear of the Belle Vue Apartements complex in Alcudia. This area is reached from the aforementioned apartements along a track that starts near to the Go-cart track. A short distance down this track there is a sign post to ‘Cava de St Marti’. Follow that path past the archeological sight and up to the main road. Cross over the road and your into the woods. (Take care when crossing the road, its on a blind bend and the local lorry drivers are idiots!) The woodland edges and adjacent fields hold breeding Cirl Bunting, Hoopoe and Woodchat Shrike and did hold breeding Wryneck back in 2002 but not now. It is worthy of note here that i did not see a single wryneck during my stay, which was very strange. Any puddle along the woodland tracks is worth checking for Crossbill. We had 2 or 3 birds on the day. Other species seen included: Blackcap (2), Chaffinch (2), Eleanora’s Falcon (4 over), Serin (numerous) and Sardinian Warbler (numerous).

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DAY TWELVE – Sunday 13th May ’07

No birding at all today. Agreed to make this a full family day!

DAY THIRTEEN – Monday 14th May ’07 (Weather: Overcast at first then V.Hot and sunny)

Last full day in Mallorca, so spent the morning at S’Albufera with my Dad! We birded the southern end of the reserve, mainly to photograph birds flying up ad down the canal and it’s amazing what you see when you stand still for long enough. We did walk down to the Tower Hide, as we could see an Osprey sat in a tree right next to it, but it was a wasted journey as the hide is now rusted and totally unsafe. This is not made clear at the visitor centre and it is a long walk down to the hide! Highlights included: Squacco Heron (1), Common Tern (2 prs), Gull-billed Tern (3 along canal), Collared Pratincole (1 east over canal), Turtle Dove (1), Stone Curlew (3 in field next to CIM Hide), Kentish Plover (3), Great White Egret (2), ‘Spanish’ Wagtail (numerous).

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(Above) The view from the main canal bridge at S’Albufera.

I suppose this could be a trip report about the S’Albufera. I didn’t hire a car and do the other birding hotspots but as i said at the beginning of the report, it was not a birding holiday. I still managed to see 102 species but missed out on Thekla Lark again. We went self-catering at the Alcudia Beach Apartements, which were ideally situated in the centre of Alcudia and family friendly. Some of the locals were not happy about having a camera lense pointed at the Hoopoes in their Gardens though!

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Purple Gallinule – S’Albufera Parc Natural

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Osprey – S’Albufera Parc Natural

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Moustached Warbler – S’Albufera Parc Natural

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Red-crested Pochard – S’Albufera Parc Natural

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Fan-tailed Warbler – S’Albufera Parc Natural

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‘Spanish’ Wagtail – S’Albufera Parc Natural

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Black Vulture at the entrance to the Bocquer Valley.

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Squacco Heron – S’Albufera Parc Natural

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Eleanora’s Falcon – S’Albufera Parc Natural

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All three above -Audouin’s Gulls on Alcudia Beach

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Red-knobbed Coot – S’Albufera Parc Natural

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Marmora’s Warbler – Bocquer Valley (photo:S.Rogers)

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Sardinian Warbler – (photo:S.Rogers)

Trip report and all photographs(unless otherwise stated) by Paul Freestone (Cornwall Birding 2007)

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