Menorca - Autumn Birding - October 2015

Published by Tony Benton (tonyjbenton AT


I returned to Menorca in October, hoping to catch some late summer sun and autumnal migration. In reality, the migration of summer visitors had pretty much ended, while the arrival of Juvenile Greater Flamingos and a Kingfisher heralded the beginning of winter visitors.
Menorca is always good for raptors, especially Red Kites and Booted Eagles which were seen on a daily basis.

Because the Island is relatively small, it was very easy to get to the best sites and at this time of the year, Es Grau was a major attraction for wildfowl. Cala Tirant was also good for daily Audouin’s Gull. The adjacent Tirant Marsh also proved productive, again for wildfowl, raptors, and waders.

I benefited as always from some guiding and excellent advice from Javier at ‘Walking with birds’ ( If you are planning a first time visit to Menorca then I would highly recommend at least a half day with Javier Mendez. His knowledge of Menorca’s birds, natural history in general, as well as the best walking routes and cultural attractions is unsurpassed.

October is a very pleasant time to visit the Island - even if the birding is quieter than in the spring. But the benefits are some warm sunny days, almost empty beaches, comfortable walking, and raptors galore.

Accommodation and car hire:

Our self-catering accommodation was in the north of the Island at Playas de Fornells, a frontline apartment overlooking the bay of Cala Tirant. The apartment was booked through Owners Direct (apartment reference number 8008777) and the car through the ever helpful Sol Cars. Sol cars are English owned and based on the Island.

The two key areas for autumn birding are:

Es Grau (and the S’Albufera – a large brackish lake) are to be found on the Eastern side of the Island and are easily accessed from Fornells or Mahon. Es Grau is a pretty seaside village with a sheltered bay and sandy beach.

Tirant Marshes are to be found in the North of the Island, just a few miles from Playa de Fornells (Platages de Fornells on some maps and sign posts). If you are heading from Mercadal towards Fornells, you will reach a large roundabout with a modern metal sculpture. Turn left here towards Cap de Cavalleria. The Tirant Marshes are seasonal, and the water levels vary considerably, depending on how much rain there has been. The Marsh starts behind the farm of Es Prat (on the right) and can be viewed from the road. But you do have to park with care and avoid blocking entrances to farms. Just beyond Es Prat is a turning to the right that takes you eventually to the sandy beach of Cala Tirant.

Species Lists

The following birds were recorded:

Gadwall Anas strepera Es Grau

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos Es Grau

Common Pochard Aythya farina Es Grau

Shoveler Es Grau

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis Es Grau

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus Es Grau

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea Es Grau

Little Egret Egretta garzetta Es Grau

Cattle Egret x 10 near Es Grau

Greater Flamingo Ses Salinas x3

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo Es Grau

Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis Es Grau and Playas de Fornells daily

Eurasian Kestrel Falco tinnunculus Seen daily

Red Kite Milvus milvus Seen daily

Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus Tirant marsh

Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus Seen daily

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Es Grau

Eurasian Coot Fulica atra Es Grau

Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula Beach, Tirant

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos Beach, Tirant

Greenshank x3 Es Grau

Green Sandpiper Tirant marsh

Audouin's Gull Larus audouinii Cala Tirant

Yellow-legged Gull Larus cachinnans Cala Tirant

Rock Dove/ Feral Pigeon Columba livia Cala Tirant

Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto Seen daily

Common Woodpigeon Columba palumbus Near the airport

European Scops Owl Otus Scop Heard calling in Playa de Fornells

Kingfisher Cala Tirant

Common Raven Corvus corax Playa de Fornells

Great Tit Parus major Playa de Fornells

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica x2 near the airport

Robin Playas de Fornells

Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti Heard at Tirant marsh

Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala Seen daily

Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula Seen daily

Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus x1 male at Playas de Fornells

Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata Tirant Marsh

Blue Rock-thrush Monticola solitarius Daily at Playas de Fornells

Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata x1 Playas de Fornells

Starlings Tirant marsh

House Sparrow Passer domesticus Daily at Playas de Fornells

European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis Daily at Playas de Fornells