Visit your favourite destinations
|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Mallorca, 27th April to 4th May 2001,
Morten Bentzon Hansen - Denmark MZH@ramboll.dk
Where to stay
As most of the best birding sites are located in the north of the Island, it makes sense to be based in either Pt. Pollenca or Alcudia in the north. This allows all of the sites to be easily visited with minimal driving. When staying in one of the above mentioned towns, the Boquer Valley, Albufereta and S'Albufera can all be visited either on foot, by bike or public transport, if you do not wish to hire a car for the full duration of the trip.
Pt. Pollenca and Alcudia are both served by the major tour companies and are about 45 minutes to an hour from the airport.
Pt. Pollenca should be chosen if passerines and raptors are your favorites, since you are located very close to Boquer Valley and Formentor. The Guardia Civil building in Pt. Pollenca and the playground it front of it is famous for its Scops Owl.
Alcudia should be choosen if you are into wetland birds, since you here are located closest to S'Albufera and Albufereta.
There is probably 25 km from Ses Salinetes (S'Albufera) in the south of the area in question to Boquer Valley in the north. Cuber Reservoir and Arta Mountains are located within an hours drive from Alcudia and Pt. Pollenca.
Car hire is relatively cheap in Mallorca (£45 for 3 days and £95 for 10 days are some of the prices quoted), and driving is fairly stress-free with the exception of some of the more windy mountain roads. If staying in Pt. Pollenca or Alcudia you can use the local bus service to get to and from the S'Albufera and Albufereta. Buses run about every 20 minutes, throughout the day with the exception of the siesta period. Bicycles can also be hired and I found it ideal for getting around between the locations. All of my birding was done from the bike. This meant that places like the Arta Mountains and other distant locations were not visited. Mallorca is famous for all the bike riders visiting the inland, meaning that the locals know that the can meet a cyclist around the corner and therefore most people drive with that in mind. Prices for renting a bike varies a lot, so it might be worth shopping around for the best price. Our price were app. 45 £ for two Mountain Bikes in a week including everything. I had a flat tyre once, and the owner replaced it without any additional payment.
The map used were: Guide to Northeastern Mallorca, Alcudia Pollenca, Walking or bicycle tours, Coves and beaches, Archaeleology. Scale 1:50.000.
S'Albufera National Park
A fantastic location for bird watching. Early morning and early evening to dusk were the most productive times of the day. S'Albufera is perhaps the best known birding site on Mallorca. This vast area of water bodies and reed beds can be viewed from various footpaths and five hides. The various hides are to be found centred around the Grand Canal adjacent to the main access road from English Bridge. These are the CIM Hide on the left (south) of the entrance road, Bishop I and Bishop II to the right (north), the Watkinson Hide and the Xisco Lillo Hide at the northern end of the reserve overlooking the warmer pools by the power station. In addition Tower Hide is located along the Grand Canal.
To the south of the S'Albufera are the Ses Salinas, long disused salt pans which attract various waders, egrets and terns. It was the only place I saw Sanderling, Ruff and Waterrail.
The Depuradora S'illot (Water Treatment Works) is also at the southern end of the Reserve. There is a road to the southwest, just south of the waterworks, that leads to a hide that overlooks some of the ponds there (there is a private sign and a 20 km/hour restriction for cars on that road). During my stay this area produced Marsh Sandpiper, Stone Curlew and Whiskered Tern. The old Motorcross track further south is brilliant for Short-toed Lark and a few Tawny Pipits was seen there as well. This area contains breeding Bee-eaters as well. For access by car see some of the publicised literature.
To the north of the reserve is an area referred to as
the Orange Bridge (although in recent years it has been painted green).
If you come from the north turn right after Hotel Alcudia Suite. A platform
can be seen 200 meters down the road. The Orange Bridge is situated 100 meter
to the south of that platform. I did not see many birds from these two places
all though it produced my first Greenshank and Great White Egret.
You can overlook the eastern parts of Es Cibollar from there, and the hotels
there have splendid views of S'Albufera. It might be worth staying there.
S'Albufera attracts many rarities each year and, like the Bocquer Valley, several visits are recommended even during a one-week stay. I met several bird watchers who in their attempt to visit all the locations on the island only spent one day in S'Albufera. Usually they thought that they had seen most of the birds in S'Albufera during that visit and therefore done a pretty good job there. None of these birdwatchers saw Marbled Teal and White-headed Duck! I added new birds to the tour list on every morning visit to the site.
The S'Albufera is always open to pedestrians and cyclists, but car access is now prohibited. There is a small car park at the English Bridge entrance.
Do not forget to visit the reception building, where it is possible to get a detailed folder over the area and a notice board contains details of recent sightings.
Situated just on the edge of Pt. Pollenca, this is another migrant hot spot, which currently is open to the public. The path through the Finca (farm) leads to the sea and it can take all morning to stroll along when migration is in full swing. Resident species in the valley include Cirl Bunting, Blue Rock Thrush, Crag Martin, Marmora's Warbler (at the far end of the Valley), Wryneck, Stone Curlew and Red-legged Partridge. The valley also offers excellent opportunities for watching raptor migration, with Marsh and Montague's Harriers, Black Kite, Honey Buzzard, Common Buzzard, Booted Eagle and various falcons all possible in a single day. Egyptian and Black Vultures can both be seen in the valley. Several visits should be made to the Boquer Valley as there is a big turnover of birds. This place is one of the hot spots for Eleonora Falcon. I did not see it there, but 4 birds were seen 20 minutes after I had left the valley.
Please note that this is not a public footpath and access could be restricted at any time. It is advisable to respect the privacy of the occupants of the Finca and not to stay on the terrace area in front of the farm-house, but walk on through to the Bocquer Valley. You have to force 3-4 gates, each with an "entrance prohibited" sign, but it is at the moment allowed!
The area at the base of the Bocquer Valley is worth checking for pipits and wheatears, whilst Postage Stamp Wood is well worth a look in the early morning or late afternoon.
The Albufereta is between Pt. Pollenca and Alcudia and can be reached by the regular bus service that operates between the two towns. Well worth a visit but can be quite difficult. Mornings would probably be the best time as the heat haze can make birding difficult at other times. The usual assortment of herons and waders are ever present and it can be good for migrant terns and gulls. Check the back roads described in Graham Hearls guide for migrants particularly Chats and Wagtails.
I stayed there for only 10 minutes and saw a Tawny Pipit. The location is a must if you want to see Rock Thrush, Spectacled Warbler and Subalpine Warbler. Usually it produces a good number of raptors, but check other reports for that.
The very northern tip of the island often provides shelter for passage migrants. It is also a good site for Eleonora's Falcon. The lighthouse is a tourist magnet, so is best avoided in the middle of the day when the road gets busy with coaches. I had Wren and Crag Martin on the way to the Lighthouse. Due to the lack of wind no Shearwaters where seen there, but a Dolphin gave good views for a minute.
Systematic list of records:
1 Little Grebe
Common at S'Albufera. Seen a few other places.
2 Cory's Shearwater
10+ off Sa Calobra on 30th April.
3 Balearic Shearwater
10+ off Sa Calobra on 30th April.
1 at the Albufereta on 3st May.
Common off Pt. Pollenca (max 12). All were of the race Desmarestii. Also seen in Pt. Alcudia and on suitable rocky cliffs.
6 Little Bittern
A ad male on 29th of April and a 2nd year male on the 1st of May, both seen from Sa Roca Bridge, Gran Canal, S'Albufera. Can be hard to see.
7 Night Heron
Common. Breeds at the English Bridge, S'Albufera. Good views from the mouth of the river in Albufereta (mornings). A second year was often seen hunting less than one meter from Bishop I Hide in S'Albufera. Brilliant.
8 Cattle Egret
Common at S'Albufera.
9 Squacco Heron
2-3 were recorded at Sa Roca Bridge, S'Albufera on 29th April. One was recorded daily (flushed) from 30th of April - 3rd of May from the viewing platform at Es Ras, S'Albufera.
10 Little Egret
Common at every suitable habit. Often seen less than a meter from the Bishop I Hide, S'Albufera.
11 Grey Heron
Small numbers recorded at S'Albufera throughout the week (1-3). Also recorded from smelly stream Pt. Pollenca.
12 Purple Heron
Common in S'Albufera and Albufereta. Also seen from the hotel balcony.
13 Great White Egret
Two were present during the week in Es Cibollar, S'Albufera. Seen from the Orange Bridge and the Bishop I Hide.
14 White Stork
One was recorded in the southern part of Es Ras, S'Albufera on 29th of April and two were seen near Inca on the 2nd of May.
15 Sacred Ibis
One was seen in Es Ras on the 30th of April. It was seen from the observation point near the CIM Hide. The bird has been present in S'Albufera for more than a year. Later that day I saw it flying south over the Night Heron colony, indicating that it came from Es Cibollar.
And adult was seen on several occasions. It had been present at S'Albufera since 12th of Marts. Seen from Bishop I, CIM Hide and Es Ras (favourite place).
Seen on two occasions. One bird was seen in northern part of Ses Puntes on the 28th of April and two birds were seen together in the southern part on the 1st of May.
A female was seen from the CIM Hide on several occasions
Single males were seen several times from either the Bishop I Hide or the CIM Hide.
1 drake seen at Es Ras, S'Albufera on 29th-30th of April.
23 Marbled Duck
An adult was seen on the 30th of April in Es Ras, S'Albufera. There is one breeding pair in S'Albufera. Often hard to see, and a lot of people didn't see it. Recorded 200 meters south of the viewing platform. Also seen by others on other dates.
2-5 birds were noted at the Gran Canal, S'Albufera throughout the week. Some were wing clipped!
25 Red-crested Pochard
26 White-headed Duck
An adult male was seen from the Sa Roca Bridge on the 29th of April. It was seen two days later from the Tower Hide. According to resident birders a pair and an extra male is present at S'Albufera, and they are mostly seen from the Tower Hide (very elusive). The pair raised 4 chicks in 2000.
27 Black Vulture
3 recorded in the surroundings of Sa Calobra on the 30th of April.
28 Egyptian Vulture
1 adult was observed over the Bocquer area the 3rd of May.
29 Black Kite
A single recorded flying north south of Pollenca on the 28th of April.
30 Marsh Harrier
Resident birds were noted at S'Albufera and Albufereta.
Common. 2-4 seen every day. Seen from the hotel balcony.
32 Eleonora's Falcon
A bike ride in the surroundings produced 4 birds just south of Puig de Maria, Pollensa. Since Puig de Marie was visible from the hotel balcony, these could (in theory) have been seen from the balcony.
One bird roosted in a dead tree at the gate between Depuradora Síllot and S'Albufera on the 1st of May.
A bird seen at the Bocquer on the 3rd of May.
35 Red-legged Partridge
A few bird seen and heard in Bocquer on the 3rd of May.
A single heard at the mouth of Boquer on 3rd of May.
37 Water Rail
Seen twice at the Ses Salinetes just south of S'Albufera. Heard once or twice at S'Albufera.
38 Spotted Crake
One seen from the Bishop I Hide on the 29th of April.
41 Purple Gallinule
Common at S'Albufera. 5-10 birds seen on every visit.
42 Black-winged Stilt
43 Stone Curlew
A pair was seen on the field below the Finca in the Bocquer Valley on the 3rd of May. Their chicks were just two days old! Two birds seen on a harvested field on our way to the airport on the 4th of May were suspected to be of this species.
44 Little Ringed Plover
45 Ringed Plover
46 Kentish Plover
One seen at the Ses Salinetes on the 28th of April.
One seen from the CIM Hide 2nd and 3rd of May.
49 Curlew Sandpiper
Seen daily at either Ses Salinetes (up to 5 birds) or at Bishop I or the CIM Hide in S'Albufera. Up to 20 different birds seen.
50 Temminck's Stint
4 were present at S'Albufera on the 1st of May and one seen on the 2nd of May. All seen from the CIM Hide.
51 Little Stint
Common. Up to 15 seen daily. Primarily seen from the CIM Hide.
52 Wood Sandpiper
Common. Largest flock were 15 birds. CIM Hide seems to be best.
53 Common Sandpiper
6 birds seen. 2 at the Ses Salinetes. 3 at Es Cibolar and 1 from the Waterworks at the Depuradora S'illot.
55 Spotted Redshank
Up to 3 seen from the Bishop I Hide in the beginning of the stay.
2-3 seen. Either from the Orange Bridge or from the Bishop I Hide.
One female seen at the Ses Salinetes on the 28th of April.
58 Black-headed Gull
3 seen throughout the week from Bishop I.
59 Yellow-legged Gull
60 Audouin's Gull
Several were seen. Most at the Harbour of Palma and on the beach from Alcudia to Pt. Pollenca.
61 Whiskered Tern
A single at the Depuradora S'illot on the 3rd was the last new species to the list. Spring 2001 was poor for terns in S'Albufera.
62 Wood Pigeon
3 Collared Dove
Common in Palma. Also seen in Pt. Pollenca.
64 Turtle Dove
Up to 3 were recorded on 1st of May at Prat De Son Serra, S'Albufera.
65 Common Swift
66 Pallid Swift
Recorded in small numbers throughout the week. Seen from the hotel balcony as well.
Common. 2-10 seen everyday.
25 seen at Ses Tancotes, Llenaire on the 29th of April. 4 seen from Sa Roca Bridge, S'Albufera on the 1st of May. This species breeds at Depuradora S'illot.
One single noted in a hole from a dead fig tree at the entrance to the Bocquer Valley on 3rd May.
70 Short-toed Lark
A maximum of 15 was noted on the motorcross track at the Depuradora S'illot on 3rd of May.
71 Sand Martin
72 Crag Martin
Common at the Bocquer Valley and on the way to Formentor.
74 House Martin
75 Tawny Pipit
A single seen at the Depuradora S'illot on 3rd May. Also seen there on the 1st of May. One was seen on my 10 minutes stay at Cuber on the 30th of April.
76 Yellow Wagtail
Common at S'Albufera.
Common. Heard form the hotel balcony. It could really disturb the sleep.
One recorded at the Bocquer Valley on the 3rd of May.
79 Northern Wheatear
Singles seen at the Bocquer (3rd ) and at S'Albufera.
ommon. Seen from the hotel balcony.
81 Blue Rock Thrush
Recorded at the Bocquer Valley (3rd of May) and from the Roma Bridge. Pollenca on the 28th of April.
Seen at the Bocquer on the 3rd of May. Heard on several occasions.
84 Sardinian Warbler
85 Marmora's Warbler
Seen at Bocquer Valley on 3rd of May. The best place is at the end of the valley from there where the area starts to drop towards the sea. Hard work, but patience rewarded me with excellent views of a singing male.
86 Moustached Warbler
Common at S'Albufera. Can be hard to see, but check the harsh sounds from the reeds, it is often a feeding Moustached Warbler.
87 Fan-tailed Warbler
Common in suitable areas. Seen from the hotel balcony.
88 Great Reed Warbler
4-5 singing males noted at S'Albufera. Mainly from Canal des sol/ Tower Hide. A male at the lagoon and observation point west from the CIM Hide gave stunning views. One day it was seen singing on a 10 feet distance with the female sitting a meter below it in the same straw collecting nest material! Also heard from the waterworks at the Depuradora S'illot and one morning one was heard from the hotel balcony.
89 Willow Warbler
One seen from the hotel balcony and one recorded in Boquer Valley on the 3rd of May.
2 recorded at the entrance in Bocquer on the 3rd of May.
Singing males noted many places. Always in Pines.
92 Spotted Flycatcher
A total of 5 seen. (S'Albufera, Boquer and Alcudia-Pt. Pollensa (3))
93 Pied Flycatcher
One record of a male from Bocquer on the 3rd of May.
94 Great Tit
Common (2-5 seen everyday).
95 Blue Tit
2-3 recorded at Sa Calobra on 30th of April.
96 Woodchat Shrike
Usually one or two seen daily. Often seen at the Ses Salinetes. Also noted at the Boquer Valley and in the area of Inca.
2 noted at the Bocquer, 2 noted at Sa Calobra and 1 near Inca.
98 House Sparrow
Common. Especially in the mountains.
Up to 5 seen daily.
104 Cirl Bunting
Recorded at the Bocquer Valley on the 3rd of May.
105 Corn Bunting
One heard near the gate between Depudore S'illot and S'Albufera.
107 Ring-necked Parakeet
One seen at the information center in S'Albufera on the 28th og April.
Species recorded during my stay, which I did not see.
Great Crested Grebe
Monk Parakeet (There is a population in Cavia near Palma)