Recently spent a week in Mallorca staying at Caâ€™n Picafort on the Eastern side, unfortunately it wasnâ€™t a birding holiday this one was strictly for my wife, with her choice of places to visit etc. Iâ€™d had two weeks in Spain in May so couldnâ€™t really complain. The only proviso was I would have a day in Sâ€™ Albufera as Iâ€™d never been there and couldnâ€™t miss this opportunity. Iâ€™m certainly glad I did, itâ€™s an excellent place to spend a full day (at least), I spent 6hrs there, on foot, and didnâ€™t cover all of it then. I would recommend anyone visiting the reserve to hire a push-bike from the small shops on the main road just the Alcudia side of the reserve entrance.
So the first day was spent sight-seeing at Porto Pollensa, lovely area but very few birds seen, a couple of Audouinâ€™s Gulls on the beach, Woodchat just before you get there, Crossbill and Sardinian Warbler in the resort itself.
Next day was the Caves of Drach. The bus ride (1hr) through the interior of the island passed through good open countryside, mainly agricultural, with occasional rougher patches and a few trees. Birds were certainly thin on the ground though, seeing only Cattle Egrets, Woodchat Shrikes, Kestrels, Collared Doves, Wood Pigeons, House Sparrows and Barn Swallows migrating through.
The area around the caves was a bit better with Crossbill, Firecrest, Sardinian Warbler, Chaffinch and Greenfinch seen.
Today was Sâ€™Albufera day, I really was looking forward to it after all this sight-seeing business. Caught the bus for Alcudia from outside the hotel and was dropped off almost at the entrance to the reserve at 10am.
First birds seen were a couple of Red-crested Pochard and a Coot on the Gran Canal, which runs parallel to the entrance drive, soon followed by Cettiâ€™s, Sardinian and Fan-tailed Warblers, Stonechats, Goldfinches, 2 Audouinâ€™s Gulls overhead and a group of three waders â€“ 1 Ringed Plover and 2 Green Sandpipers. This was more like it.
A little further down the drive I started checking the low, overhanging trees on the opposite bank of the canal hoping for roosting Night Herons, sure enough they were there, several adult and immature birds being seen, some even sitting out in the open giving great views. Next up was a breeding colony of Little Egrets with a few Cattle Egrets in with them, the fully grown young were out of their nests sitting around waiting for adults to return with food, when they did all hell was let loose fighting for first place.
The information centre is about 1km down the drive, where it is necessary to pick up a free permit, with a map, showing the trails, hides etc. So armed with this I set off around the reserve.
First stop was the sa Roca bridge where a couple of Moorhens were swimming about, a Great Reed Warbler was giving a broken song and low and behold a Moustached Warbler was grubbing about in the mud below the reeds â€“ as easy as that, lady luck was certainly with me today.
Next up a short walk to Bishops 1 and Bishops 2 hides where several juv.Black-winged Stilts, Greenshanks, Spotted Redshanks and a Ruff were roosting and/or feeding at close range. This could be a brilliant place for photography when thereâ€™s more waders about and the water levels are right, probably a little later in the autumn. A Gecko scurried down the bamboo fence outside Bishops 2 hide.
Back at sa Roca bridge, a flyover Purple Heron. I decided to walk the long track North in front of me, I think itâ€™s es Cibollar and leads to a hide near the perimeter of the reserve. Stopping at the es Cibollar observation deck no birds were visible but a Turtle was tucked under the wall below me, from enquiries since I found this was a European Pond Turtle.
Several Purple Gallinules were calling from both sides of the track along its length, flyovers included another Purple Heron, Cattle Egret and Yellow Wagtail.
On reaching the short track to the hide and the wooden boardwalk leading to it I was greeted by a pair of Fan-tailed Warblers and another Great Reed Warbler. Settling into the cool of the hide was a relief from the hot walk to get here (temps above 30deg C outside).
The next 1/2hr or so produced Black-necked and Little Grebes, Coot, Moorhen, 2 Purple Gallinules, several Common Terns feeding fledged young, Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls, Pochard, Mallard, Teal, Water Rail, Cettiâ€™s Warbler and 2 Ospreys overhead.
On leaving the hide a quick scan of the sky revealed an Osprey coming my way, then another 2, I gather they breed here or nearby so presume this is a family party, further away in the opposite direction was another Osprey carrying a fish, 4 in view at the same time, Iâ€™m really enjoying Sâ€™Albufera.
Now it was the long, hot walk back the way Iâ€™d come, Purple Gallinules were still calling but remained unseen. At the bridge it was make your mind up time which direction to go, I chose the nearest hide, the CIM hide situated behind the Information Centre. This turned out to be an excellent choice with good numbers and variety of birds including some very good ones. I spent the rest of my day here and was well rewarded with several Red-crested Pochard, a pair of Marbled Duck, Shoveler, Teal, Mallard, Purple Gallinules right out in the open, Purple Heron, Little and Cattle Egrets, good numbers of waders including many Black-winged Stilts, Stone Curlew, Ringed, Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Dunlin, Little Stints, Curlew Sandpiper, Common and Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Whimbrel, Black-headed and 5 adult Audouinâ€™s Gulls, Common Terns feeding fledged young and 1 Black Tern. In the distance a female Marsh Harrier quartering the area.
Itâ€™s obviously to do with water levels at the various hides but the CIM hide gets my vote for the highlight of Sâ€™Albufera â€“ a place definitely not to be missed if visiting Mallorca.
I left about 4pm having had a brilliant day.
Oh! Be warned the mozzies are vicious little devils and thereâ€™s plenty of them!!
The rest of the week was back to the sight-seeing bit with very few birds seen around the countryside or resorts, I did manage Serin, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Blackbird and Hoopoe but out of a total of 65 species 56 were seen at Sâ€™Albufera.
Trip report and Photos by John H Johns (see HERE for more trip reports by John)