MENORCA, 8th-15th October 2007 – A Trip Report – By Chris Buckland

As most of us look forwards to our October week on the magical islands that are the Scillies, more and more birders are heading for alternative (and probably cheaper!) October destinations. Regular contributor to Cornwall Birding, Chris Buckland, spent a week last October on the mediteranean island of Menorca………

We arrived in Menorca at 10am in a heavy thunder storm. This soon cleared up and as we arrived at our hotel the sun had come out. We were staying at Cala Galdana on the North Coast which is a short (15 min) walk from the Algendar Gorge. Our apartment overlooked a scrub area with a small water treatment works and from the balcony I could see Black Redstarts,Yellow Wagtails and Hoopoes.

DAY ONE

In the late afternoon i had a walk around the scrub area around the small treatment works where Black redstart and Yellow wagtail were feeding on the filtration beds with Wheatears, Sardinan Warblers, Hoopoe, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Kestrel, Goldfinch ,Greenfinch, Pied Flycatcher, Wood Pigeon, Grey Heron, Robin, Sparrow, House Martin, Starling, Collard Dove, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail and Swallows.

DAY TWO

Went out early morning to the scrub behind the hotel and through a woodland that bordered farm land. On the farm fields were Chukar, Grey Partridge, Woodpigeon, starlings and good numbers of common Thrushes. The birds in this wood were mostly sardinan Warblers and Robins with the odd Wren and Black bird.The scrub around the water treatment held good numbers of Sardinan Warblers, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Whinchat and Hoopoes also lots of Goldfinch and Greenfinch with hoards of Sparrows and Chaffinch.
After lunch went for a walk in the Algender Gorge. This is a great place to spend a whole day. The gate at the entrance is there specifically to stop cars from going in and is locked but you can walk down the side if it. Walk from here to the end of the gorge on the lower path. I had the whole place to myself and did not see another person. Just plenty of birds all to myself! Corncrake were calling from every area and Egyptian Vultures called overhead. We had a very close encounter with one, sat on the gorge side giving us the eye. Other birds seen in the gorge were Black Redstart, Cettis Warbler, Robins,Sardinian Warblers, chiffchaff, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Red-footed Falcon, Peregrine, Blackbird, Wren, Swallow and Sand martin.

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DAY THREE

Car hire was cheap as this was the end of the tourist season so we hired one for the rest of the week. We headed for Punta Nati which is a very rocky and bleak headland, but the birds made up for the lack of views. The weather was hot and overcast with the odd thunder claps out to sea. The first birds were two Blue Rock thrush then Black Redstarts and wheatears. Stone Curlew were numerous in the rock filled fields and at least nine Egyptian Vultures, Red Kites and Booted Eagles were in the air over this barren landscape. On the rocks down by the sea there were several Yellow-legged gulls and two Audouins gulls, this is a very rugged place and windy. On the drive back to Calla Gallander we saw more Red Kites, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Great white Egret and Corn Bunting.

DAY FOUR

Spent some time at  S’Albufere on a fine hot Sunny day. This is a large lake near the coast and we headed to a small resort called Es Grau, where you can park for free and get refreshments. From here you can walk into the S’ Albufera along the beach and over the sand dunes along a path that takes you to the lake. As prevoiusly mentioned, this is a large lake and you could spend a lot of time here. The first birds we encountered were a Black necked Grebes, nine in total  with good numbers of Little Grebe too. I would advise that you take a scope for this place as the waders can be distant if you are not walking round the whole of the lake. Other birs seen were Common,Green and Wood Sandpiper ,Ruff, Little Stint, Ringed Plover, Greater Flamingo, Cormorant, Mallard, Coot, Shelduck,Wigeon, Serin, Goldfinch, Booted Eagle, Red kite, Little Ringed Plover, Great White and Little Egret.
Ses Salines is also on this coast but we found it hard to find and not knowing the area could not get a good view of the saltings from the main road, but with a little persiverance with the scope we still managed to see Greater Flamingo, Ringed Plover, Little Egret and Great White Egrets. After lunch we headed to Cala Tirant where, en-route, we came across some flooded fields where birds present were Ruff, Ringed Plover, Cattle Egret, Lapwing, Stone Curlew, Common Sandpiper, Snipe, Little Egret, Purple Gallinule, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Booted Egale and Redkite. We didn’t stay long at Cala Tirant as there was a very strong wind blowing so we headed back along the rutted road past the flooded fields and on to a small lake on a farm. We spent over an hour here and in that time did not see anothere human being! Bliss! On this wet area there was Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Ruff, Lapwing, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Coot, Snipe, Cattle Egret (in surrounding fields), Corn Bunting, Stonechat, Grey wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Raven and more Red Kite. Also in the area of Cala Tirant there were Booted Eagle, Red Kite, Black Kite, Kestrel, Hobby, Collared Dove, Starlings, Corn Bunting, Corncrake, Sardinian Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Raven, Stone curlew, Wheatear, Siskin, Cirl Bunting, Grey and Red-legged Partridge.

DAY FIVE

Spent the day back at S’Albufera. Most of the same birds seen as last time with one or two exceptions including two Egyptian Vultures, an Ortolan Bunting, three Crested Lark and an Audouins gull. On the way back we called in at a place called Naveta Des Tudoons which is a stone burial chamber that missus wanted to see. It turned out to be a good move as we went in and there sat on the stone wall was a Thekla lark. Also seen here were Sardinian Warbler, Blackbird, Robin, Goldfinch, Skylark, Raven, Stone Curlew and Cetti’s Warbler. The area warranted a better inspection but as it was getting dark, our watching was cut short. 

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DAY SIX

With the hire car returned it was back to being on foot. The weather was a lot better, with rain early morning but sunny later on. I had a look around the resort of Cala Galdana and found a nice bar with a view to observe the birdlife. The resort is very pretty with a good sandy bay, ideal for entertaining the family. The small stream leading fro the gorge to the sea attracts Yellow-legged Gulls and the surrounding vegetation holds birds such as Hoopoe, Serin and Sardinian Warbler. It is also a good spot to have a beer and watch the raptors entering and exiting the Gorge. We had at least four Egyptian Vultures soaring overhead while we enjoyed our afternoon refreshments! The final evening was spent walking along the Gorge. There wasn’t another soul in site to enjoy the sound of numerous Corncrakes. I never did actually see one but did see the Cetti’s Warbler, which I can never see at home in Devon. The walk produced 4 Cetti’s Warblers, 2 Booted Eagle, 2 Egyptian Vulture, 1 Great tit,3  Blackbird, 30+ Robin and 3 sardinian Warbler.

In the trees outside of the Hotel were 2 Scops Owls that we could hear most nights and got to see them both fly across the road one night on the way back to the hotel. This wasn’t an all out birding trip and we got to spend plenty of time relaxing, eating and drinking and hanging around the resort to keep the wife happy. I found Menorca a real treat, nothing like Majorca, very quiet and a pleasure to drive around. I would like to spend two weeks there next time and travel around to some of the places we did not go to and the places that have yet to be discovered!

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List of Birds Seen
Blackbird
Mistle Thrush
Song Thrush
Blue Rock Thrush
Robin
Black Redstart
Stonechat
Wheatear
Corn Bunting
Greenfinch
Goldfinch
Linnet
Skylark
Thekla Lark
House Sparrow
Willow Warbler
Sardinan Warbler
Chiffchaff
Blackcap
Hoopoe
Pied Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail (Spanish)
Starling                                                                                                                                                                                             Alpine Accentor
Purple Gallinule
Greater Flamingo
Great White Egret
Little Egret
Black Stork
Whinechat                                                                                                                                                                                                         Siskin
Serin
Little Owl
Scops Owl
Goldcrest
Firecrest
Grey Partridge
Red legged Partridge
Egyptian Vulture
Booted Eagle
Red Kite

Marsh Harrier
Peregrine
Kestrel
Red footed Falcon
Raven
Cormorant
Shag
Grey Heron
L Egret
Grt W Egret
Cattle Egret
Grt Crested Grebe
Bn Grebe
Little Grebe
Shoveler
Wigeon
Mallard
Wood Pigeon
Collard Dove
BH gull
Audouins gull
Yellow legged Gull
Stone curlew
Green Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Ruff
Snipe
Lapwing
Ringed Plover
Little R Plover
Swallow
House Martin
Sand Martin
Ortolan bunting
Cirl Bunting

Black Kite

Trip Report and photos by Chris Buckland.

2 thoughts on “MENORCA, 8th-15th October 2007 – A Trip Report – By Chris Buckland

  1. Nick Moss

    Great menorca report – I went in early Oct 03 had the same birds. Alpine Accentor is mentioned in your list but not on the report. Would have thought they were a highlight worthy of special mention!

  2. Chris Harris

    I have just come back from 5 days holiday and birding in Cornwall and go to Menorca Sat 4th till 11th Oct ,this list and places is excellent, Been to CALA GARDENA before and your list is extremely helpful,On a different track how good to see Choughs back on Lands End had 5 on Wednesday.

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