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’ (www.menorcawalkingbirds.com). 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.
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