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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Mallorca September 2003,
The following report describes a short trip to Mallorca in September 2003 made by me and Pedro Sá Pessoa, a fellow birder, in September 2003.
Our main target were three species that would be new to both of us: Eleonora's Falcon, Marmora's Warbler and Moustached Warbler. We succeeded in finding all these birds. Furthermore, in just 2 and a half days, we managed to get 78 species, which was well above expectations.
5 September, Friday - departure Lisbon airport 07:30 a.m. to Madrid and then to Palma de Mallorca, where arrival 2:40 p.m.
8 September, Monday - departure Palma de Mallorca airport 07:30 to Madrid and then to Lisbon, where arrival 10:00 a.m.
Pedro Sá Pessoa:
5 September, Friday - departure Denia (Spain) harbour 05:00 p.m. to Palma de Mallorca, where arrival 10:00 p.m.
8 September, Monday - departure Palma de Mallorca harbour 08:00 to Denia, where arrival 1:00 p.m.
Car was rented at the airport. It was relatively cheap, costing 100 EUR for three days with petrol included. We found out that local, unknown car hire companies tend to be cheaper than international well-known ones.
We stayed in a hostal in Puerto Pollensa (northeast). This town was chosen because it is conveniently located for visiting the best boirding sites. Since we travelled in the high season, we booked two weeks in advance, in order to avoid lack of space.
Laurence Rose's "Where to watch birds in Spain and Portugal", as well as various trip reports obtained from the Internet.
Because our trip was so short, we planned our visit well in advance, so that we knew exactly where to go to find what. A description of the locations visited and the main birds found follows.
I arrived Palma de Mallorca at 3 p.m. Since PSP would only arrive in the evening, I decided to visit to bird in the western part of the island, not far from town. So I headed westwards towards Andrátx and Sant Elm, in order to check the nearby Isla Dragonera.
This area is seldom mentioned in trip reports but I chose it because it holds one of the largest colonies of Eleonora's Falcon in the Balearics (about 75 pairs), so I thought it would be the perfect site to look for this new species. As few minutes after I had arrived at Sant Elm, a pale phase bird flew over me, which was great. The species proved to be very common around here and within the three hours I had at least 11 sightings of different individuals. Other birds around here included Audouin's Gull at Sant Elm's beach and Crossbill and Blue Rock Thrush in the nearby pines.
Audouin's Gull in flight near Sant Elm; the species breeds at nearby Isla Dragonera
At sunset I returned to Palma de Mallorca to collect Pedro (who arrived by boat) and we then crossed the island towards Puerto Pollensa, where we arrived at 11:30 p.m.
We spent the morning at Mallorca's most famous birding site - S'Albufera - looking for Moustached Warbler. However, we failed to find this bird due to our late arrival (9.30 a.m.) and to moderate wind, which made it difficult to find birds in the reeds. We did however see some interesting birds, including Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Gadwall, Red-crested Pochard, Purple Swamp-Hen, a flock of Stone Curlews and a Spotted Redshank. Stayed here until noon.
This cape forms the northern top of Mallorca and is also an excellent area for Eleonora's Falcon. Although I had seen the species the day before, we decided to get there, as Pedro was still missing this species. We stopped that a viewpoint a few km before the road ends, where we had excellent views of several birds.
This is another famous birding area in norther Mallorca, lying just northeast of Puerto Pollensa. Our main target here was Marmora's Warbler. We parked at the entrance of the valley in mid-afternoon and proceeded on foot for about 1km, past the famous "finca" and then between two huge rocks.
We managed to find a small flock of 3-4 Marmora's Warblers that were feeding in open close to the track, just a few hundred metres beyond the two big rocks, just in front of a few pines that can be found on the left side of the track. They would quickly jump into cover when disturbed, but would soon come out again and we managed to get good vies at less than 20m.
Marmora's Warbler; although difficult to approach, a few birds were seen in the open for several minutes
Other interesting birds found here included Wryneck, Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush and a pair of Ravens.
At sunset we returned to the hotel. We had managed to get two new species each. But we still missed the most difficult one, which we failed to find in the morning.
S'Albufera including Salinas
We decided to have a very early start, in order to maximize our chances to find the elusive Moustached Warbler so we left the hotel at 7.30 a.m. and went straight to S'Albufera again. Since the reserve only opens at 9 a.m., we decided to try outside the main reserve area. So went around the reserve, following the minor road that leads from Alcudia to Sa Pobla. After about 5km we crossed a bridge at an area with many reed beds, so we decided to explore here. The sky had a few clouds but there was no wind, which was excellent. We just stood at the bridge and tried to look at all the birds moving around. After about 20m and many Reed Warblers, Pedro finally found a Moustached Warbler hopping very low in the vegetation, just 10m or so from the bridge. It was a nice view but the bird soon disappeared. We waited a few more minutes and were rewarded by the view of another individual, again very low above the water level. Great!
Having succeeded in getting our three target species, we decided to spend the rest of the day visiting other places, in order to increase our trip list. A brief stop at the salt pans (Salinas) near the main Alcudia - Artá road allowed us to see some Kentish Plovers and a nice adult Woodchat Shrike of the badius race« from the Mediterranean. We then proceeded eastwards.
Cala Mesquida / Cap des Freu
A rocky area in eastern Mallorca, which we visited in late morning on Sept 7th. We drove to Cala Mesquida, crossed the beach on foot, and walked over the rocks for about 500m. Interesting species here included Shag, Audouin's Gull, Tawny Pipit, Thekla Lark and Wheatear.
Lluc / Escorca / Embalse de Cuber
This is a mountainous area in northern Mallorca. We drove from Arta to Inca and then uphill towards the Lluc monastery. This area was crowded with visitors, making this area rather unsuitable for birding. However, a small tarred road leading to the left from the top of the parking area proved interesting, with good views of Firecrest and Crossbill.
At the Escorca viewpoint that lies a few km to the west we had 2 Black Vultures and a Booted Eagle, whereas in the wooded areas nearby we had another Wryneck and several Firecrests. A Pallid Swift flew over. Finally, at the Cuber Reservoir (the second on the left side along the road to Soller, we had another 2 Black Vultures, a Peregrine and superb views of 3 Eleonora's Falcons standing near the water (including a dark-phase bird).
We then returned to Puerto Pollensa, but we still had one hour of daylight, so decided to push our species list still a little further.
This small wetland near Puerto Pollensa proved very interesting. Although it was late in the day, we managed to see Purple and Night Herons, Marsh Harrier and several Purple Swamp-Hens, while Water Rails were calling all over the place.
Wake up at 5 a.m. and straight to Palma de Mallorca (a Barn Owl was perching on the wire after Alcudia). I dropped Pedro at the harbour at 6 a.m. and proceeded to the airport in order to catch the morning flight to Madrid.
Full Species List
|Eleonora's Falcon at Formentor|
We also found a dead bird along a road that was almost certainly a Scops Owl (Otus scops) but we couldn't be certain because of its bad condition.