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A Report from

Menorca Bird Notes 6-13th May 2001,

Nick Pomiankowski

I went on a family holiday to Cala'n Bosch, Menorca, but nevertheless, with just a pair of binoculars, I did manage to get some really interesting birdwatching done. We landed at Mahon airport on the 6th May and transferred to a coach which took us to our resort in the southwest of the island. Since we had no hire car and were about as far away as possible from S'Albufera (the major nature reserve on the island), I never visited this site, and instead tried to find my own birding spots.

6th May

The coach ride across the island was pretty good to begin with. The main road goes east-west across the middle of the island, and as we went along, I saw a couple of woodchat shrikes on telegraph wires. In the foothills around Monte Toro, at least 4 booted eagles were visible, soaring effortlessly on the thermals. Stonechats were plentiful, and a kingfisher flying near Sa Caleta Santandria was a bonus.

7th May

We were staying in the Menorca Star hotel at Cala'n Bosch, and the kids were playing in the hotel park when all of a sudden, a blue rock thrush landed on some stage scaffolding a few yards away. Wow, who needs to go birding!

8th May

I got up early for a short walk to a headland called Son Xoriguer. On the way, there were plenty of house sparrows everywhere - probably like England 30 years ago. Other really common birds were Sardinian warblers, inhabiting just about every available piece of scrubland, spotted flycatchers and stonechats. I was surprised to catch a grasshopper warbler reeling in a reedy area just by the hotel. The headland sticks out to one side of the small sandy beach, and is of volcanic rock typical for most of the southern shoreline. I found several tawny pipits, a chiffchaff, a ringed plover, 3 turtle doves, and a few wheatear. Out at sea, there were plenty of shearwaters on the move. With just binoculars, I couldn't be 100% certain, but most appeared large and therefore probably Cory's, and a couple of smaller ones were probably Mediterranean. Early morning seemed to be the best time to see these birds on the move, it was much quieter later on in the day.

Mid morning back at the hotel produced another good bird in the form of a hoopoe briefly paying a visit. After this, I had a couple of hours walk to the lighthouse nearby at Cap d'Artrutx. On the way, I saw another hoopoe, and in the lighthouse area itself, there were plenty of wheatears and a couple of tawny pipits displaying. I sat and seawatched for a short while, but other than a shag, I spent most of the time getting more familiar with the ever present yellow-legged gulls. At about 11.30 what I thought was another flyby yellow-legged gull came into view - but this one had a bright red bill - an adult Audouin's gull which flew straight past but gave excellent views nevertheless.

9th May

We had a coach trip round the island today, which turned out to be a great bird watching trip too! Our first visit was to the hightest point on the island, Monte Toro. On the drive up the hill, I saw a bee-eater and a male red-backed shrike, both nicely in view on telegraph wires. At the top, there were the usual house sparrows, stonechats and Sardinian warblers, with a single raven flying overhead. On the road to Fornells, a couple of booted eagles were visible - they certainly appear quite common in the hilly areas of the island. At the Caves of Xoroi, another tourist magnet this time on the south coast, there are a large number of steps leading down a sheer cliff face. I was pleased to see some pallid swifts here with the naked eye and this is also a good spot for rock doves. Our final stop was a factory outlet shop just to the east of Ferreries. Leaving the rest of the family to do what they enjoy best, I wandered off to find some small local houses, mostly single storey whitewashed buildings with large allotment gardens. It was here that I had some great birds too - a red kite flew over, shortly followed by another booted eagle, which gave me great views soaring down to look at something before soaring back off high into the sky. There were also plenty of whinchats and a singing nightingale despite it being 16.00.

10th May

It rained today - no birding.

11th May

We took a bus from Cala'n Bosch to Ciutadella today, and between the two towns is a large area of scrub. Plenty of small unidentified birds in the area, but those I did manage to identify were 2 bee-eaters and a roller - brilliant! This looks like a great area to explore further.

12th May

Managed another early morning walk today and headed east along the coast from Cala'n Bosch. Where the town ends, there is a massive area of scrub heading off east as for as you can see, and it's marked as a protected area. On the way, in the garden of one of the private villas which overlook the easternmost of the 2 beaches, I heard something a bit different from the usual Sardinian warbler scratching, and managed to find a fine male subalpine warbler flitting around the hedges. Heading away from the beach onto the rocky volcanic shoreline of the protected area, a male blue rock thrush was conspicuous as it sung from an exposed tall rock. More tawny pipits here plus a common sandpiper, then another nice find - a Thekla lark singing and giving great views. I followed it up the coast for a while until it was time to head back, and just as I was doing so, both a quail and a nightingale burst into song. I wish I had more time to explore this area!

13th May

Time to go home. The bus trip back to the airport gave me another booted eagle, 2 male hobbies and a corn bunting.

Full List (51 Species)

Bunting, Corn
Dove, Collared
Dove, Rock
Dove, Turtle
Eagle, Booted
Flycatcher, Spotted
Gull, Audouin's
Gull, Yellow-legged
Kite, Red
Lark, Thekla
Martin, House
Pigeon, Feral
Pigeon, Wood
Pipit, Tawny
Plover, Ringed
Sandpiper, Common
Shearwater, Cory's
Shearwater, Mediterranean
Shrike, Red-backed
Shrike, Woodchat
Sparrow, House
Swift, Common
Swift, Pallid
Thrush, Blue Rock
Warbler, Grasshopper
Warbler, Reed
Warbler, Sardinian
Warbler, Subalpine
Warbler, Willow
Wheatear, Black (possible)
Wheatear, Northern

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