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A Report from

Mallorca September 2003,

Gonçalo Elias

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.

Trip dates:

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 Hire
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.

Guides used
Laurence Rose's "Where to watch birds in Spain and Portugal", as well as various trip reports obtained from the Internet.

Sites visited
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.

5 September:

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.

Sant Elm

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.

6 September:


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.

Formentor area

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.

Bocquer Valley

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.

a view of the Bocquer valley; several Marmora's Warblers were seen feeding on the open area immediately to the right of the pines

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.

7 September:

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.

8 September:

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
  1. Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) - several at S'Albufera, 6th
  2. Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) - 1 at S'Albufera, 6th
  3. Mediterranean Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis desmarestii) - 2 at Cap des Freu, 7th
  4. Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus) - 1 at S'Albufera, 6th
  5. Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) - 2 at S'Albufera, 6th
  6. Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) - 1 flew near S'Albufereta on the 7th
  7. Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) - several at S'Albufera, 6th and also at S'Albufereta, 7th
  8. Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) - seen at several places, more numerous at S'Albufera
  9. Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) - several at S'Albufera, 6th and also at S'Albufereta, 7th
  10.  Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) - 1 at S'Albufereta, 7th
  11. Gadwall (Anas strepera) - many at S'Albufera, 6th
  12. Teal (Anas crecca) - at least 2 at S'Albufera, 6th
  13. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) - many at S'Albufera, 6th and a few at S'Albufereta, 7th
  14. Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) - many at S'Albufera, 6th
  15. Pochard (Aythya ferina) - a single female at S'Albufera, 6th
  16. Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) - 1 at S'Albufera, 6th and 1 male at S'Albufereta, 7th
  17. Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus) - 2 at the Escorca viewpoint and 2 at the Cuber Reservoir, all on the 7th
  18. Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus) - a pale-phase bird near Inca and another one in the hills at the Escorca viewpoint, all 7th
  19. Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) - one at the entrance of the Bocquer Valley, 6th; another one along the Arta-Inca road, 7th; a third one at the Cuber Reservoir, 7th
  20. Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) - single flew over Cuber Reservoir, 7th
  21. Eleonora's Falcon (Falco eleonorae) - at least 11 near Sant Elm on 5th; at least 6 near Formentor and one in the Bocquer valley on 6th; 3 at the Cuber Reservoir on 7th
  22. Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa) - A small flock near the Depuradora along the Arta - Inca road
  23. Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) - one heard at S'Albufera, 6th and several calling at dusk at S'Albufereta, 7th
  24. Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) - common at S'Albufera and S'Albufereta
  25. Purple Swamp-Hen (Porphyrio porphyrio) - common at S'Albufera and at least 5 at S'Albufereta, 7th
  26. Coot (Fulica atra) - common at S'Albufera and S'Albufereta
  27. Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) - a few at S'Albufera, 6th
  28. Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus) - flock of about 12 birds at S'Albufera, 6th
  29. Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) - singles at S'Albufera, 6th and at Salinas, 7th
  30. Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius) - seen at S'Albufera on both days and at the Salinas on the 7th
  31. Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) - seen at the beach south of Puerto Pollensa, 6th and also at the Salinas, 7th
  32. Little Stint (Calidris minuta) - 1 at the Salinas, 7th
  33. Dunlin (Calidris alpina) - 1 at the Salinas, 7th
  34. Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus) - 1 at S'Albufera, 6th
  35. Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) - several at S'Albufera, 6th
  36. Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) - 1 heard at S'Albufera, 7th
  37. Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) - 1 at Salinas and 1 near Cap des Freu, both 7th
  38. Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus) - many at S'Albufera and two at beach between Alcudia and Puerto Pollensa, all 6th
  39. Audouin's Gull (Larus audouinii) - 1 adult at Sant Elm, 5th; 1 adult at beach between Alcudia and Puerto Pollensa, 6th; 1 juvenile and 2 adults near Cap des Freu, 7th
  40. Yellow-legged Gull (Larus cachinnans) - numerous at S'Albufera and small numbers elsewhere
  41. Feral Pigeon (Columba livia) - widespread
  42. Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus) - seen in small numbers throughout the island
  43. Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) - 2 at Sant Elm, 5th
  44. Barn Owl (Tyto alba) - singles on the road from Inca to Alcudia on the 5th after dark and again on the 8th before dawn
  45. Common Swift (Apus apus) - seen at Sant Elm, 5th and Bocquer valley, 6th
  46. Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus) - 1 near Lluc, 7th
  47. Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) - seen at S'Albufera on both days
  48. Hoopoe (Upupa epops) - singles at S'Albufera on both days
  49. Wryneck (Jynx torquilla) - singles at the Bocquer valley, 6th and near the Escorca viewpoint, 7th
  50. Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae) - 1 on rocks near Cala Mesquida and another one near Depuradora along Arta-Inca road, 7th
  51. Crag Martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris) - seen in small numbers in the Bocquer valley, 6th and at the Escorca viewpoint and the Cuber Reservoir, both 7th
  52. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) - one near Salinas, 7th
  53. House Martin (Delichon urbica) - seen in good numbers at several places
  54. Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris) - 1 on rocks near Cala Mesquida, 7th
  55. Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) - flock of 20 birds at dusk on S'Albufereta, probably goingo to the roost
  56. Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) - 1 singing at Alcudia, 6th
  57. Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) - widespread in small numbers
  58. Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) - 1 on the rocks near Cala Mesquida, 7th
  59. Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius) - 1 on pines near Sant Elm, 5th and 1 on rocks in the Bocquer valley, 7th
  60. Blackbird (Turdus merula) - small numbers at various places
  61. Cetti's Warbler (Cettia cetti) - very common at S'Albufera
  62. Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis) - seen at S'Albufera, 6th and also at S'Albufereta, 7th
  63. Moustached Warbler (Acrocephalus melanopogon) - One of the toughest birds to find on this trip; after 2 at S'Albufera on early morning on the 7th
  64. Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus) - several at S'Albufera on 6th and 7th
  65. Marmora's Warbler (Sylvia sarda) - 3 in Bocquer valley, 6th (see above for details)
  66. Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala) - common and widespread
  67. Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus) - 1 near parking at Lluc monastery and a few in trees near Escorca viewpoint, 6th
  68. Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata) - widespread
  69. Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus) - seen only in the hills on roadside trees between Lluc and Escorca viewpoint
  70. Great Tit (Parus major) - several seen at S'Albufera on both days and singles elsewhere
  71. Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator badius) - 1 adult at Salinas near S'Albufera
  72. Raven (Corvus corax) - pair flying over Bocquer valley, 6th
  73. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) - common and widespread
  74. Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) - seen only near the Escorca viewpoint area
  75. Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) - a few near Lluc monastery
  76. Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) - small numbers in many areas; the largest flock, numbering about  40 to 50, was seen in the Bocquer valley on the 6th (the Marmora's warblers seemed to appreciate their presence, as they were found twice feeding among flocks of Goldfinches)
  77. Linnet (Carduelis cannabina) - 2 near Cala Mesquida, 7th
  78. Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) - 1 male near Sant Elm on 5th and at least 2 near Lluc monastery on 7th

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.

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