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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Magical Majorca April 29th-May 6th 2008,
13 birders from Burbage Bird Club in Leicestershire stayed in Puerto Pollensa at the Pollensa Park Hotel for 7 nights. The weather was sunny and warm throughout. The roads were quiet the hotel superb and the birding excellent.
Other hotels to consider-
Hotel Romantic, Hotel Uyal, Hotel Pollentia and Hotel Daina in Puerto Pollensa and out of town one and a half miles, Hotel Club Pollentia. As you can see I prefer hotels mainly because it's cheaper to get good half board deals than to spend on self catering . Lunch time rolls are freshly made at Rosa's Supermarket ( just down the road from the Pollensa Park hotel), ordering them the night before is best.
Good public transport to Alcudia, Cala San Vicente and Albufera Marsh daily. Bike Hire locally for a day around the Albrufreta. There are a few car hire companies in Puerto Pollensa. A good reliable one is Hiper Rent . I've been with them for the last 10 years with no problem whatsoever.
For the last 20 years I've said this will be my last trip to this magnificent Island and every year I go again and ask myself why? Hopefully the following trip report answers the question for you.
14.30- Arrived at the Pollensa Park Hotel in glorious weather to the sounds of Zitting Cisticola and Nightingale heralding our arrival. "Outside in an hour for those who want a trip to the beach I called. Needless to say they all showed up eager to get there Majorca list's started.
Our first bird was an elegant Audouin's Gull standing proudly on a rocky outcrop with 4 Mediterranean Shags desmeresti and a sleeping Caspian Tern. A gentle stroll along the prom bought the throng to the infamous "Smelly River". To my surprise the area has now been turned into a wildlife walk with wooden bridges and information boards. But this, as the next seven days proved, a real bonus with regular sightings of Little Bittern, Black Crowned Night Heron, Yellow Wagtails ( Iberia, flava and feldegg), Common Sandpiper and Red Rumped Swallow. Back to the hotel for our first evening meal was a special affair with copious amounts of wine and eager anticipation for the week to come.
Our first full day dawned with a pre breakfast walk around the hotel . The waste ground further along the road seemed quiet but still gave up Stonechat, Serin, Goldfinch , Great Tit, Cetti's Warbler and a dark phase Booted Eagle flypast.
For the last five years the pines along the new by-pass have held populations of Crossbill and sure enough we were not disappointed with cracking views of a feeding juvenile plus an adult male taking the morning sun.
During breakfast I noticed one of our members was missing from the table. Was this the previous nights Vino I said, no, no said Chris, Val is suffering with a sore throat and heavy cold and says carry on without me. Believe that if you like!!
So with two members down , Chis thought it better to stay with his wife, we headed off on our stroll to the Boquer Valley stopping at the "Smelly" for views of feeding Little Egret and House Martins collecting the mud.
The entrance to the valley is best approached through the Pine Walk where Bern called our first Pied Flycatcher along with Linnet, Spotted Fly and Hoopoe .
These were quickly followed on the path to the valley with Woodchat Shrike, Cirl Bunting, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and two displaying Ravens .The valley itself produced some of its wonderful secrets, with super views of Blue Rock Thrush , Red Kite, singing Melodious Warbler, Peregrine, Crag Martins and a couple of Eleonora's Falcons.
Lunch loomed at the end of the valley where we were joined by a magnificent male Balearic Warbler that not only gave staggering views bit decided to give us a song. Not a bad lunchtime I reckon.
On our return to the hotel we all called at the obligatory cafe for a cool glass of "whatever He's having and were treated to a male Osprey crashing into the sea collecting a small Bass for his trouble.
For many years now I have called an evening log in the hotel for ourselves and any other birders in the area at that time. Once again this proved successful helping other birders and sharing sightings , location information and records.
This was the day our chariots arrived for the trip to Cuber but Val and Chris appeared at breakfast looking a little pale and from the conversation it became obvious that travelling in a 9 seater to a location without public amenities might become a disaster. For health and safety reasons I switched to the Depradura before visiting S'Albufera ,the largest marsh in Majorca
What a good decision that was with sightings of the old favourite Purple Gallinule, sorry, Swamp Hen not only that but Night, Grey and Purple Herons, Little and Cattle Egrets, Little Bittern, Little Stints, Little Ringed Plovers, Common Tern, Fan Tailed and Moustached warblers, Marsh Harrier ,White Wag, Black Winged Stilt and Stone Curlew.
The Red Knobbed Coot's introduced from the mainland are now well established. We saw chicks both on the Mound pool and the river.
For a couple of years now the Depradura's viewing has been from a platform rather than that "pongy" hide and is great for panoramic views over the marsh. We collected Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper Collared Pratincole (Arthur Scargill for those old enough to remember ), Kestrel, Red Legged Partridge, Alpine Swift; Whiskered Tern, and the crowd stopping European Bee-eater.
Bob ,Linda, David and Janet on their first birding holiday were now beginning to believe everything I had told them about this magnificent Island and somehow I knew they would.
The breakfast walk today was around the "Smelly" with the 6 stalwarts who remained loyal to the early mornings for the rest of the week. For their efforts they were rewarded with some of the best views of Little Bittern they are ever likely to get plus a calling Roller that flashed away between the trees never to be seen again. Spotted Flys, Firecrests and Sardinian Warblers were everywhere and remained like this for duration of our stay.
Today is our big day and with great anticipation we set off for the awesome Cubar Reservoir calling en route into the Monastery at Lluc for the Balearic Blue Tits ,crippling views of Nightingale and the many Firecrests around the car park.
The flying plank (Black Vulture) was our next target species, and to my surprise a couple of miles short of our destination we encountered our first sighting of this enormous avian King of the air at the Gorg Blau.
Two Rock Sparrows were along the banking behind us and a Black Kite gave brief views along the ridge.
Cubar is always busy with school parties, walkers, birders and a damn helicopter pilot practising his landing abilities six times in half an hour. This destroyed any chance we had finding birds in the first hour .However things started to pick up when he vanished to the east side of Mt Timor. The large flock of Yellow Legged Gull's returned closely followed by a male Osprey and four Black Vultures.
We were further rewarded for our patience with superb sightings of a male Subalpine Warbler, female Spectacled Warbler, calling Wood Warbler, Booted Eagle, and a small flock of Siskin.
A great day ended with a group requested trip to the picturesque port of Soller for coffee and cake on the harbour side. The prom here is just a wonderful place to sit and take in the sights, sounds, and smells of this magnificent island.
Looking around I'm starting to feel a return in 09 might just be on the cards.
The group have now gelled together so well they are a pleasure to be with and with this in mind I looked forward to our longest trip of the week to the Salina's De Levant ( Salt Pans) in the south of the island.
The day should have included a visit to the Alpine Swift breeding site at the Castillo De Santueri and the Thekla Lark / Pallid Swift site at Porto Colom. Unfortunately Porto Colom was hosting a t-riathlon restricting access to the lighthouse and beach and the Santueri road was being resurfaced.
I suggested the Small cultivated areas and orange groves along the Santueri road might be worth checking for migrants and give us a break for drinks. How inspired was that!
The stop produced Turtle dove on the wires, Cirl Bunting/Northern Wheatear on the fence and a stunning Western Orphean Warbler in the bushes. Just goes to show what 13 pairs of eyes concentrated in one place can find.
Because of this I have sent a request to the Govern de les Illes Balears for more road resurfacing when I'm there.
Viewing the pans from the Colonia San Jordi road we quickly collected Avocet , Marsh Harrier, Thekla Lark, Whinchat, Little and Temminck's Stints, Redshank, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Shelduck and a Short Toed Lark flyover.
Over the years loads of people have said to me why do you bother with of the Cap De Ses Salines and I always give the same reply. If you want superb views of Cory's and Balearic Shearwaters this is the only place to go. Sure enough this year was no exception with good numbers of both species plus a very confiding Audouin's Gull. Also the fields on the approach road hold good numbers of Thekla and Short Toed Lark and the scrub along the beach is great place for migrants.
An ice cold lager, Coffee, apple tart and cream at a nice little harbour side cafe at Porto Colom rounded off a fantastic day for the team. I say team because that's what they have become. Just a pity about the goalkeeper ( Joan Carman) at one end and the striker ( Linda, try looking through the small end of your bin's Lodge) at the other but the rest are definitely premiership class.
Hands up all those who want a day at Old Pollensa market I said, trampled in a stampede I didn't expect. So after dusting myself down I dropped the "Marketeers" off at Pollensa and returned to collect the famous five for a days birding at the far eastern end of S'Albufera.
Bee-eater's, Kestrel's and big numbers of Barn Swallow/ Common Swift flocks were feeding along the road to the little known entrance on the eastern end of the reserve.
Walking to the viewing platform a pair of Bullfinches ,Yellow Wag's feeding young, Hoopoe's, Blackcap's and Sardinian Warblers were a bonus but the platform won the money with a Squacco Heron posing for photo's, Little, Great White and Cattle Egrets, Swamp Hens, Red Crested Pochards and Little Stints with Temminck's .Giving us the chance to compare and check out the differences.
Our promise to be back at the hotel to meet up with the big spenders at 14.30 looked in doubt as the time of 14.20 with 30 mins travelling time to the hotel proved. However they didn't show on time so we decided to check out Cala San Vicente for a bird that is a regular in that area Western Bonelli's Warbler.
The trees and bushes along the banks of the torrent have been a favourite place for many migrants over the years This year most of area contained large numbers of Firecrest the odd Common Redstart ,Wood Warbler and a very mobile Wryneck.
It was a particularly quiet drive back to the hotel with all the men contemplating the possible financial losses suffered letting their better half's loose around the market for the day . It could not have been that bad as I saw nobody hanging from the sixth floor balcony and they all turned up in one piece for the evening meal.
I'm certainly glad they did or they would have missed Vicky's birthday celebrations with a cake the size of a 13" roadwheel and 5 bottles of wine supplied by the hotel. Thanks for the gesture Tolo and happy birthday Vicky.
Do we drive to the Cap De Formentor today; is it worth it , do we have to? Yes, why? because we still need Pallid Swift and that's the nearest point with a 90% chance of seeing one. I admit I never enjoy the drive to the point in a 9 seater mini bus but on this day it was definitely worth it .
From the lighthouse car park Bernard threw down the gauntlet with the first sighting of two Pallid Swifts methodically collecting insects along the cliff face. This was closely followed by the Formentor Peregrine display team giving us the full programme of high speed stoops and aerobatics.
What's that yellow bird in the bush over there shouted Mo ! And there it was a superb male Golden Oriole so exhausted after it's long migration flight it had crash landed into the first piece of greenery it could find, right in front of 13 delighted burbagebirders.
Only a couple of minutes later and over our heads 13 Eleonora's Falcons arrived from their wintering grounds in Madagascar. All this coupled with good views of Corys and Balearic Shearwaters might just have changed my mind about that drive.
But be warned get there before 09.00, park on the approach Rd not the main car park and leave at 10.30. This way you will miss most of the holiday hire car traffic and believe me that can be evil.
Lunch was taken at the Casa Veyas, a clearing of fig trees along the cap but now a shadow of it's former self. My experience over the last five years has been disappointing. Closing the paths around the fields and removing the water tanks has certainly reduced it's importance as a birding site . Our sightings were Black Redstart, Spot Fly's and a Red Kite along the ridge.
After calling back at the hotel for a pit stop we headed for the Arta mountains . A delightful little corner of unspoilt Majorca managed with traditional methods and a great place for close views of Booted Eagle, Thekla Lark, Pied Flycatchers, Tawny Pipit and Dartford Warbler .
As we approached the small town of Arta I pulled of the road . "Pull in the mirrors Vicky" what for she said just wait and see I said. The narrow streets have an healthy appetite for consuming your wing mirrors. I have lost one or two there over the years. Tell me why do people try to make themselves narrower when negotiating small gaps. Well I can tell you all 8 did!
We parked at the now well documented site next at the telegraph pylon to take in the breathtaking views across Alcudia and Pollensa bay's.
Once again It was Bern who drew my attention to a singing warbler low down in a small tree on the hillside. Give me the scope I said and right in the centre of the Swarovski's lens was a magnificent male Dartford Warbler.
Thekla Lark calling and displaying , Tawny Pipit calling, nesting Pied Flycatchers and a well deserved ice cream at a little bar in Arta ended our last full day
The last supper was a lively affair . Put it this way. I didn't have time to count the empty wine bottles. Not only that but my ability to focus was severely reduced!!
The last pre breakfast walk was as expected short on numbers with only three of us determined to beat a hangover. We walked around in circles for a while, waved a gentle farewell to the Audouin's Gull on the beach and headed for the restaurant. They always say a hearty breakfast helps and today it did.
Well this is it, our last chance to mop up the remaining birds we think we missed. I asked the question "who wants to come with me and who wants to shop and spend the last remaining hours dipping their toes in the med . Seven on the birds and six on the dip. I'll settle for that I said, meet back here at the hotel 14.30hrs and don't be late!!
With that they headed for the town and we decided to head for S'Albufera calling on route to the old track behind the C'an Gaurassa cafe. Keep an eye on the wires down here I said it's a good place for Red Footed Falcon.
Don't you just know what happened next. Yes you guessed it! a male Red Footed Falcon sat on the wires giving everybody the chance to admire this attractive little falcon.
Yellow Wagtails (ibereia ) accompanied by Linnet, Whinchat and Goldfinch were feeding on the seed heads around us when suddenly an eagle species crested the ridge in front . That's not Booted I said it's Bonelli's and a Collins classic at that showing us all it's main ID features. I think we're on a roll I said so let's move quickly onto S'Albrufera and keep it going.
The limited we had time left to fulfil our ambitions around the marsh seemed nowhere enough but as always when in a tight spot things can only get better. And they did with the lucky group collecting Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Cuckoo, Great White Egret and Great Reed Warbler.
With just an hour to spare before the coach is due to take us back to Palma we made a dash for the Pollensa Park. So with a "muck out" for the mini bus, a thank you note for Hiper Rent, many farewell handshakes and a few tears we departed on time for our journey back to reality and a cold UK.
I don't intend to bore you with a full list but the group collected 129 species over the eight days and I didn't think that a bad total with a mixed group of birders and beginners.
You were all great company and I'll gladly take you back anytime . Ken Reeves
Below is the points total awarded for the birders on this trip
Enjoying Yourself-------------------------10 points
Carrying my scope-------------------------8 "
Turning up on the early walks-----------6 "
Choosing low fat items off the buffet---0 "
Breaking wind in the lift (occupied)-----100 "