I travelled to Majorca in February 2013 with my girlfriend for a week’s holiday, during which time I hoped to pick up one new species – Balearic Warbler. It should be noted that this was not a birding holiday, and I didn’t take my scope with me. Nevertheless, I did go armed with bins and camera, and managed a good amount of birding. I don’t feel like I missed much – although a scope would’ve been useful at couple of sites.
We flew with Easyjet from Stansted to Palma, hiring a car from Europcar (through EasyJet), and stayed for seven nights in an apartment in Port de Pollenҫa (found on www.holidaylettings.co.uk) in the north-east of the island - conveniently located for many of the best birding sites (as luck would have it). The weather during the week was generally pretty good, often starting a bit grey but becoming sunny in the afternoon, with temperatures around 14-16˚C. Our penultimate full day started wet before drying out, whilst our last day full day was largely wet, and a bit chilly.
I took limited literature with me, but did have Wi-Fi access on my laptop in the apartment which proved useful. The only trip report I could find for the time of year we were travelling was Mike Cram’s from February 2010 (http://www.surfbirds.com/trip_report.php?id=2037), whilst Ian Merrill’s report from April 2012 (http://www.surfbirds.com/trip_report.php?id=2175) provided some useful notes on finding Balearic Warbler in the Boquer Valley. I also took “A Birding Tourists Guide to Mallorca”, which is an up-to-date and very nice looking book, and which was useful at a couple of site.
Balearic Warbler: This was my only potential tick of the trip, and I found it relatively easily (once in the right spot) in the Boquer Valley. Having scored with this species on our first day, I didn’t subsequently seek it out anywhere else.
Black Vulture: A species which I’d only seen once before, I was pleased to see several birds over Puig Major from the Cuber Reservoir, in the Tramuntana Mountains. Other birds were seen nearby, over the mountains next to the Gorg Blau Reservoir.
Audouin’s Gull: Always a great bird to see, several were at Es Trenc beach in the south-west of the island, near Colonia de Saint Jordi. A small party frequented the rocks south of the marina in Port de Pollenҫa, with another seen at Cala Sant Vicenҫ.
Moustached Warbler: Several were singing in the reedbeds at S’Albufera and with patience a few were seen, including one next to the visitor centre at Sa Roca.
ITINERARY AND SIGHTINGS
We arrived at Palma airport at just after 3pm local time. An uneventful drive to Port de Pollenҫa produced the first birds of the trip, including several Booted Eagles and a Cattle Egret, and the first of many Black Redstarts.
Arriving at our accommodation, we had a wonder around town, happening upon the Zona Humida de La Gola. This is a small tidal area, with saltmarsh and scrub/woodland vegetation, and can be entered by following the wooden signs off the coastal road (with entrances on the north and south side of the reserve). It produced a range of common species which were to become regular sights over the next week, including Sardinian Warbler, Stonechat, Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Meadow Pipit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Siskin, Little Egret and a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls.
The day began with 4 Siskin feeding in some trees outside our apartment, as we headed out on foot for the Boquer Valley. Black Redstarts were very frequent around the edge of town and in the small agricultural areas at the start of the valley, where I had my only Willow Warbler of the trip as well as the first Blackcap. The first of several Blue Rock Thrushes was encountered in the rocky area just past the finca, with three Booted Eagles overhead. Continuing on for a while, the path crests and is bisected by a wall; there is a change in habitat at this point, with the taller bushy scrub (which hosted many Sardinian Warblers) being replaced by a shorter scrub habitat, and it was here that I scored with Balearic Warbler, enjoying close views of one bird in a rosemary bush, and other birds more distantly (including one song-flighting).
Pleased to have got this bird under my belt so quickly, we carried on down the path to the Cala. A pair of Peregrines was seen here, along with a Crag Martin, a flock of Serins, and in the bay a Shag. Having enjoyed our picnic, I had another look at the Balearic Warblers, before starting the walk back, which produced 30 or so wild-type Rock Doves and a Hoopoe back at the finca near the start of the path.
In the afternoon, I had another look at La Gola, adding Sandwich Tern, several Goldcrests and my first Chiffchaff of the trip, with c.10 Crag Martins and a Booted Eagle overhead.
We undertook the relatively long drive down to Es Trenc beach, in the south-west of the island, just north of Colonia de Saint Jordi. Looking rather good even in February, it also produced a few good birds, including several (very photogenic) Audouin’s Gulls. In the dunes behind the beach, I found one Thekla Lark, with lots of Greenfinches and Song Thrushes in the juniper scrub. Back at the carpark, there were two Crossbills and a Black-necked Grebe was on the adjacent pool.
Before leaving the area, we had a stroll back up the access road to look over the salt pans at Salobrar de Campos (there is no stopping of cars allowed on the road). Without my scope, I didn’t really do this site justice, but still got a good selection of wetland birds in a short space of time. These included 26 Greater Flamingos, c.5 Black-winged Stilts, several Avocets, 3 Grey Plovers, lots of Kentish Plovers, 3 Little Stints, and single Dunlin, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Curlew, Ruff and Ringed Plover, as well as several Shelduck, 4 Mallard, and a displaying Marsh Harrier.
Today we headed west, through Pollenҫa into the Tramuntana Mountains. We stopped very briefly at Lluc Monastery where I had a single Hawfinch, and then continued on the Cuber Reservoir where we walked up to the Coll de L’Orfe. Around the reservoir there were a couple of Firecrests in the holm oaks, a pair of Cirl Buntings, and plenty of Crossbills in the pines up towards the Coll, as well as several Crag Martins and c.50+ Yellow-legged Gulls loafing on the reservoir itself.
However, it was the raptors which were the highlights of the day, with Booted Eagle, Red Kite, Peregrine, and both Griffon and Black Vultures all seen. The vultures were absent to begin with, but then appeared to the north over the Puig Major and adjacent peak – a handful of each - although with just bins they were a bit distant. Fortunately we saw some a bit closer above Gorg Blau later in the afternoon (the reservoir just to the north-east), where there were around 10-15 vultures of both species over the cliffs. The day was rounded off with another Hawfinch which flew across the road a few kilometers west of Pollenҫa.
No trip to Majorca would be complete without a visit to S’Albufera Marshes, and that was where we spent most of today, taking a leisurely walk around the paths in the vicinity of the visitor centre at Sa Roca.
The birding was pretty good, and started with at least 35 Night-herons roosting in the trees along the Gran Canal, viewed from the access track. Upon reaching Sa Roca, the scrapes held decent numbers of duck, including plenty of Teal and smaller numbers of Wigeon, Shoveler, Gadwall, and a pair of Pintail, as well as several Purple Gallinules. Waders included Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover, Golden Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Lapwing, Green Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank and Snipe. As well as lots of Common Coots, there were also several Crested Coots in evidence, a number with white neck collars; this included two incredibly confiding (tame?!) birds on the bridge over the Gran Canal. Moustached Warblers were singing from a number of locations, but seeing them proved more difficult – I did manage brief views of several birds including one on the loop path round Sa Roca (on the western side). Easier were the Cetti’s Warblers, which seemed to be everywhere. Other birds included several Marsh Harriers, small numbers of Zitting Cisticolas and Reed Buntings, a pair of Red-crested Pochard, at least 2 Great White Egrets, and single Bluethroat, Great Crested Grebe and Hoopoe. As we left the site, a lost-looking Cockatiel flew over.
After spending the afternoon in old Alcudia, I had a couple of hours at S’Albufereta, just south of Port de Pollenҫa. I first tried the southern end, walking west from the coastal road at Sa Gola/Es Grau (the second route in the Albufereta section of the the Birding Tourists Guide to Majorca), but couldn’t get that far along the access track as it was blocked by a gate, which I didn’t attempt to go through. I made do with distant views of Sa Barcassa, which held plenty of Coot but little else, although there were a few Reed Buntings around, and an Osprey flew over. Returning to the car, I enjoyed closer views of the Osprey as it flew around over the beach. I then tried a spot a bit further north, parking just south of Club del Sol on a track next to some houses, then walking south through an area called Can Cullerassa (the third route in the Albufereta section of the Birding Tourists Guide to Majorca, in which the area is called Can Cuarassa). This proved much more fruitful, with an area of pools, saltmarsh and tamarisk scrub. Birds included at least 1 Great White Egret, lots of Stonechats, one House Martin, frequent Crag Martins, a Common Sandpiper, 2 Reed Buntings, a Zitting Cisticola and 2 Red-legged Partridges, as well as frequent Robin, Song Thrush, Linnet and Greenfinch. Returning to Port de Pollenҫa, there were 6 Audouin’s Gulls and 2 Sandwich Terns on the rocks south of the marina.
A wet and rather windy day saw us drive out along the Formentor Peninsular as far as the lighthouse, before backtracking to Formentor Beach. Given the weather (and the amount of birding I’d managed so far) I took it easy on the bird front, but did note 3 Peregrines, Goldcrest, Firecrest, Crossbill, Raven, Mistle Thrush and Booted Eagle, the latter causing consternation in the large Yellow-legged Gull colony on the island just north-east of Formentor Beach.
In the afternoon the weather brightened up so I had another quick trip to the Can Cullerassa area at S’Albufereta, noting Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, several Snipe, Little Grebe, Skylark, Osprey, small numbers of Teal and Mallard, and a single fly-over Brambling with a few Chaffinches.
It was wet all day today; we occupied the morning with a visit to the caves at Campanet – definitely worth a visit (whether it’s raining or not) as they are quite spectacular. At the visitor centre, there was a singing Firecrest, with a Hoopoe seen very closely on the back roads towards Pollenҫa. Afterwards we visited Cala Sant Vicenҫ for lunch, noting an Audouin’s Gull, before calling it a day.
A final quick visit to La Gola produced a standard selection, including Firecrest, Goldcrest, Sardinian Warbler, Serin, Siskin, Black Redstart and Little Egret, with 3 Audouin’s Gulls nearby on the rocks south of the marina.
One Cattle Egret was the best bird seen on the drive back to the airport. We killed a couple of hours in Palma, seeing two Peregrines overhead, before catching our flight home.
1. Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
2. Black-necked Grebe - Podiceps nigricollis
3. Great Crested Grebe - Podiceps cristatus
4. Shag - Phalacrocorax aristotelis
5. Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo
6. Black-crowned Night Heron - Nycticorax nycticorax
7. Cattle Egret - - Bubulcus ibis
8. Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
9. Great White Egret - Casmerodius albus
10. Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea
11. Greater Flamingo - Phoenicopterus roseus
12. Shelduck - Tadorna tadorna
13. Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
14. Gadwall - Anas strepera
15. Pintail - Anas acuta
16. Shoveler - Anas clypeata
17. Wigeon - Anas penelope
18. Teal - Anas crecca
19. Red-crested Pochard - Netta rufina
20. Griffon Vulture - Gyps fulvus
21. Black Vulture - Aegypius monachus
22. Osprey - Pandion haliaetus
23. Marsh Harrier - Circus aeruginosus
24. Booted Eagle - Aquila pennata
25. Red Kite - Milvus milvus
26. Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
27. Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus
28. Red-legged Partridge - Alectoris rufa
29. Water Rail - Rallus aquaticus
30. Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
31. Coot - Fulica atra
32. Crested Coot - Fulica cristata
33. Purple Gallinule - Porphyrio porphyrio
34. Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
35. Avocet - Recurvirostra avosetta
36. Ringed Plover - Charadrius hiaticula
37. Little Ringed Plover - Charadrius dubius
38. Kentish Plover - Charadrius alexandrines
39. Grey Plover - Pluvialis squatarola
40. Golden Plover - Pluvialis apricaria
41. Lapwing - Vanellus vanellus
42. Dunlin - Calidris alpina
43. Little Stint - Calidris minuta
44. Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus
45. Common Sandpiper - Actitis hypoleucos
46. Redshank - Tringa totanus
47. Spotted Redshank - Tringa erythropus
48. Greenshank - Tringa nebularia
49. Curlew - Numenius arquata
50. Snipe - Gallinago gallinago
51. Ruff - Philomachus pugnax
52. Black-headed Gull - Chroicocephalus ridibundus
53. Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
54. Audouin’s Gull - Larus audouinii
55. Sandwich Tern - Sterna sandvicensis
56. Wood Pigeon - Columba palumbus
57. Feral/Rock Pigeon - Columba livia
58. Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
59. Hoopoe - Upupa epops
60. Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis
61. Skylark - Alauda arvensis
62. Thekla Lark - Galerida theklae
63. Crag Martin - Hirundo rupestris
64. House Martin - Delichon urbica
65. Meadow Pipit - Anthus pratensis
66. White Wagtail - Motacilla alba
67. Grey Wagtail - Motacilla cinerea
68. Robin - Erithacus rubecula
69. Bluethroat - Luscinia svecica
70. Black Redstart - Pheonicurus ochruros
71. Stonechat - Saxicola torquatus
72. Blue Rock Thrush - - Monticola solitarius
73. Blackbird - Turdus merula
74. Song Thrush - Turdus philomelos
75. Mistle Thrush - Turdus viscivorus
76. Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
77. Balearic Warbler - Sylvia balearica
78. Blackcap - Sylvia atricapilla
79. Moustached Warbler - Acrocephalus melanopogon
80. Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti
81. Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
82. Willow Warbler - Phylloscopus trochilus
83. Chiffchaff - Phylloscopus collybita
84. Goldcrest - Regulus regulus
85. Firecrest - Regulus ignicapilla
86. Wren - Troglodytes troglodytes
87. Great Tit - Parus major
88. Blue Tit - Cyanistes caeruleus
89. Raven - Corvus corax
90. Starling - Sturnus vulgaris
91. House Sparrow - Passer domesticus
92. Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs
93. Brambling - Fringilla montifringilla
94. Linnet - Carduelis cannabina
95. Serin - Serinus serinus
96. Greenfinch - Carduelis chloris
97. Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
98. Siskin - Carduelis spinus
99. Hawfinch - Coccothraustes coccothraustes
100. Crossbill - Loxia curvirostra
101. Reed Bunting - Emberiza schoeniclus
102. Cirl Bunting - Emberiza cirlus