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A Report from

Birdwatching in Menorca,

Mike Millar

A family holiday was spent at the resort of Son Parc in the north of the island during the first 2 weeks in August. I had done some preliminary reading about good birdwatching sites in Menorca and the general opinion was that the Son Parc area was not in the top league. However I had a fine holiday there and the resort turned out to be a good place for a summer holiday by the sea and a reasonable place to spot birds.

Son Parc is only 40 minutes from the airport but in that time it was obvious that there were many birds in Menorca. From the bus I saw 6 large birds circling on a thermal. Nearer to the road I spotted many birds sitting on walls and telephone lines.

Son Parc has been built within the original conifer forest and is right on the sea. It is also next to an area of marsh surrounded by scrub and forest and this was where I walked every morning.

The directions are as follows :

·        As you arrive at Son Parc (past the golf course) you will see a sign marked 'playa' for the beach

·        Take this road and till you come to a large well maintained Car Park where you should leave your car

·        Retrace your steps past a water treatment plant and walk down a dirt track following an artificial water course

·        When the track ends continue on the road you have just driven down till you come to the supermarket at the road junction

·        On your right should be another dirt track going diagonally towards the reed beds

·        Walk along this track till you come to a large pool

·        It is difficult to go any further through the marsh or the adjoining golf course so retrace your steps.

This walk gave me the following birds :

Grey Heron  Mallard Water Rail Purple Gallinule
Moorhen Coot Stock Dove Wood Pigeon
Turtle Dove Hoopoe Sand Martin Swallow
Woodchat Shrike Great Grey Shrike Wren   Cetti's Warbler
Sedge Warbler Fan-Tailed Warbler     Reed Warbler Blackcap
Sardinian Warbler  Marmora's Warbler Spotted Flycatcher Wheatear
Whinchat Stonechat    Blackbird   Nuthatch
House Sparrow   Chaffinch   Greenfinch Goldfinch
Linnet       Corn Bunting.    

I definitely missed some birds particularly among the LBJs. Sometimes the numbers were so large it was difficult to concentrate on identifying individuals. There were also a lot of songs and warning calls I have never heard before. A better man than me would add to the above list. The area was occasionally visited by raptors. I am not too good at identifying the silhouettes but I am claiming Buzzard, Honey Buzzard and Booted Eagle. At night we also heard owls.

We hired a car and did some touring. Two places allowed me to add some birds to my list.

The first was Mahon, the capital, and we decided to take the glass-bottomed boat trip around the harbour. This was quite interesting and added Yellow-legged Gull, Cormorant, Mediterranean Shag and Cory's Shearwater. No Audouin's Gull though.The second trip was to Cala Galdana. We arrived later than expected and after the family was settled on the beach I headed for the famous gorge. You can drive right up to the entrance and park. There is a wall and locked gate with a Private notice. There were also steps to get over the wall! Immediately I saw Red Kite, Rock Dove and Crag Martin. I followed the good and easy track and I got sight of circling raptors. I walked quickly for perhaps 40 minutes when the track began to show signs of deterioration. I got good views of the birds and I judged them to be Egyptian Vulture and Booted Eagle. Unfortunately I had to get back quickly and largely ignored all the songs and rustlings. I definitely heard nightingale and spotted Kestrel and Woodchat Shrike. It was quite hard going because of the pace I walked at. In 75 minutes I drank a litre of water. Be warned that walking in Menorca can be tough because of the heat.

Towards the end of my holiday I began to explore the rocky side of Son Parc. The first 2 visits produced little but then I spotted a Blue Rock Thrush. On the very last afternoon I noticed a group of gulls at the far end of a slope down to the sea and I walked towards them. I noticed one looked slightly different and despite being fairly obvious on the barren rocks they allowed me near enough to let me claim my first Audouin's Gull. I walked back to the apartment greatly cheered only to spot another sitting on a rock near the beach.

I missed out on lots of other birds that can be seen on Menorca and I shall go back one day and spend more time birdwatching and visiting the hot sites.   

Mike Millar                           


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