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Illes Balears

Cap de Catalunya  Formentor Pines  Palma at Night

22-25 November 2002


F. Simpson & A. Simpson



This trip arose after a late decision to join the rest of the family on a short winter break to the island. Mallorca is an old favourite and familiar to many birders and there is plenty of published material out there. My main aim was to see the wintering wildfowl at the Parc Natural de S'Albufera and hopefully see Balearic Warbler in the garrigue on the coast






Day 1
Friday 22 November 2002
London > Palma

Great views over the snow-covered Pyrenees, Barcelona and the Mediterranean to Ibiza. Approaching Mallorca, the plane passed low over the Formentor Peninsula, Badia de Alcúdia, S'Albufera and the southern half of the island with great views to the Serra de Tramuntana. Flock of 100+ Feral Rock Doves observed from the plane just prior to landing, in flight over a flat landscape dotted with windmills and fruit groves. Clearly many loft or feral pigeons interbreeding with the wild types from the mountains judging by the amount of white-plumaged birds. A House Sparrow was present at the artificial town square inside the terminal building departure lounge. On the drive along the PM-19 from the airport to the Hotel Horizonte in Palma a Kestrel was noted and also many Yellow-legged Gulls. A group of eight Ring-necked (Rose-ringed) or Monk Parakeets flew through the many palms around the hotel on Calle Vista Alegre. House Sparrows (10+) in the hotel grounds. Yellow-legged Gulls visible in the Badia de Palma from the viewpoint of the room balcony.



Day 2
Saturday 23 November 2002
Parc Natural de S'Albufera de Mallorca > Depuradora de S'Illot (S'Albufera Waterworks)

Parked just outside the main entrance to the reserve at km27.0 on the Alcúdia-Artá road (C-712) on the south side of Pont Dels Anglesos (English Bridge over the  Gran Canal. The car park, surrounded by a few pines, lay adjacent the edge of Albufera reedbeds. Arrived at 0945h. Already warm with weak winter sunshine - however, considerably warmer and brighter than southern Britain. Sympetrum dragonflies numerous - one landing on the back of the car, perhaps absorbing the reflected warmth of the sunshine. Several butterfly species noted: Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) (single individual), Peacock (Inachis io), Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) (the most numerous species), distant Pierid butterfly. Firecrest watched flying across into a pine in the car park. Robin and Blue Tit calling. Mallard calling. Walked out to the beach at S'Oberta. Kentish Plover (3) on the sand, feeding along the tide line before being disturbed by a dog walker. A pair of Greenfinches feeding with (8) House Sparrows on maritime grass seeds on the foreshore. Walked through the marshes along the track to the reception centre noting Little Egret (4), Common Sandpiper (1), Coot, Moorhen, and Yellow-legged Gull.

Bishop Hide 1, 39°47' 54 N   003° 06' 26 E
Osprey (2) picked out straight away on entering the hide at a range of around 300 metres. Marsh Harrier (2ff). Spotted Redshank (min 37); the largest flock I have ever seen. The birds were disturbed several times by a passing Marsh Harrier and circled the lagoon several times in one tight group, revealing the characteristic oval-shaped rump. Little Egret (10), Teal (c20), Mallard (6), Chiffchaff (1), Kingfisher (1), Cormorant (1), Coot (12), Moorhen (2), Grey Heron (4), Cetti's Warbler, Meadow Pipits passing overhead.

Bishop Hide 2, 39° 47' 55 N   003° 06' 32 E
Osprey (1) perched a post to the far right. Coot (123) on one tight group. Stonechat (pr), Cormorant (2), Marsh Harrier (m), Chiffchaff (1), Little Grebe (1), Little Egrets, Kingfisher (1), Gadwall (2), Grey Heron (4) visible, Moorhen (1), House Sparrow (3), Cleopatra (m) flew across in front of the hide.

Walk from the Bishop Hides to Watkinson Hide:
Moustached Warblers calling, Cetti's Warbler (3). Kingfisher (1) watched through the 'scope, perched on the edge of a small channel surrounded by reeds. Little Egret (1) feeding in an even smaller pool encircled by tall vegetation. Little Grebe (3) - one bird in adult breeding plumage. Osprey (2) overhead. Wren calling, Robin, Blackbird.

Watkinson Hide, 39° 47' 49 N   003° 06' 09 E
Small hide overlooking the Gran Canal. Coots numerous, Gadwall (100+) further along the channel, Stonechat (pr), Grey Heron overhead, Little Egret (1), Moorhen (2), Mallards.

Walk to the CIM Hide:
Superb close views of Zitting Cisticola (Fan-tailed Warbler) - very approachable to within two metres. Watched several feeding in low vegetation and creeping mouse-like through ground vegetation.

CIM Hide & Lagoon 39° 47' 45 N   003° 06' 21 E
Five Marsh Harriers visible at one time from 'The Mound'. Greylag Goose (3), Purple Swamp-Hen (14), hundreds of Coot and Shoveler, Pintail (f), Mallard, Teal (c20), Pochard (f), Black-headed Gull (30+), Meadow Pipit (o/h), Moorhen, Little Egret (5), Gadwall, Yellow-legged Gull (c70) circling over a distant lagoon, Wigeon (6).

Area around the reserve reception centre:
Two Sardinian Warblers heard calling. One bird, observed perched on scrub, flew into a pine before dropping down into ground cover. White-edged/tipped tail feathers visible in flight as it flew back up into the pine. Also noted: Great Tit, Goldfinch (2), Siskin (total of six today), Blackbird, Robin, and House Sparrow.

Area around the entrance:
At least seven Night Herons found roosting in the pines near the main gate. All birds were in juvenile and first-winter plumage with the exception of one adult bird. Around four Chiffchaffs flitting around the water logged scrub between the path and the main group of pine trees. A Migratory Locust (Locusta migratoria) was photographed on the main track through the reserve. Noted to be fairly abundant.

Es Cibollar, (The Orange Bridge)
Lagoons off Km 28.0, 39° 48' 35 N   003° 06' 49 E
Great Egret (1) with striking winter-plumaged yellow bill. Little Egret (6), Chiffchaff (2), Marsh Harrier (2), Kestrel (1), Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, House Sparrow, Moustached Warbler calling, Goldfinch (o/h), Blackbird, Yellow-legged Gull, Black-headed Gull, Meadow Pipit (3) overhead. Ruff observed in flight. Swallow (1) over the marshland near the power station. Starling flock of thousands c2Km away over the extensive marshes.

Depuradora de S'Illot (S'Albufera Waterworks) 39° 46' 32 N  003° 06' 52E
Stone Curlew (1) disturbed from dry fields around the farm at the end of the Ses Puntes track (initially took a wrong turning and ended up here). Two guys with air-rifles here. Hoopoe observed flying along the track in front of the car on the approach to the hide at the waterworks. Settled briefly on the ground before being flushed again. Meadow Pipit and Stonechat (f) perched on a nearby fence. Sardinian Warbler calling from scrub.
Observations from the hide: A flock of around (50) White Wagtails took flight and left the basin. On the surrounding concrete banks, 108 were counted, most of them calling and preparing to leave to roost in the marshes. Small flocks passing low overhead with some dropping in and some leaving. As only one basin was visible from the hide and there are several basins making up the water works, there was possibly many more birds involved. Green Sandpiper (2) and Common Sandpiper (2) feeding along the water's edge on the bare banks. A female Marsh Harrier hunting nearby, quartering an adjacent reed bed.




Day 3
Sunday 24 November 2002
Palma > Pollança > Cap de Formentor

Climbed the Calvari steps to the church with views back across the town to the Puig de Maria. Small groups of Crossbills, passing overhead on the walk up the 365 steps. Sardinian Warblers heard calling from scrub in gardens adjacent to the steps - plenty of Prickly Pears, Aloe VeraPollenca and Agave plants as well as native Mediterranean vegetation growing. A hirundine picked out through the bins at long range proved to a Crag Martin as it approached, flying high over the town. Speckled Wood butterflies and Sympetrum dragonflies noted. Red Admirals regularly passing overhead (at least six noted) - much more active and flying higher than autumnal Vanessids in Britain - perhaps due to the higher air temperature and increased intensity of the sun. A flock of three Serins passed overhead. A Firecrest heard calling in the pines around the church. Sardinian Warbler (m) watched at close range, though only in view for a few seconds at a time. Chiffchaff, Robin, Blue Tit, and Blackbird all heard calling. Feral Rock Doves perched on roofs around the town. A pair of Crossbills, of the endemic Balearic island race Loxia curvirostra balearica, observed through the 'scope at a range of less than 40 metres. Another two flew out of a fir tree. On descending back down the steps a group of (4) Crossbills flew into a pine with a healthy crop of cones. All birds very vocal and calling regularly. House Sparrows also noted in the town. Heavy rain from 1320h.

Parked near the viewpoint at the Mirador des Colomar on the CM-221 road. Climbed up the garrigue-covered hillside above the road. Sardinian Warblers common. Two Crossbills passed by over a few pines along the road below. Zitting Cisticola (3) feeding in long, lush grassland adjacent to the mainly garrigue habitat of this area. Crag Martin observed passing along the cliff top. Observed a small, pale, long-tailed warbler flying just above ground level. Watched briefly for a few seconds when it reappeared on top of a very low patch of scrub. Noted pale underparts and overall uniform grey plumage - Balearic Warbler. Later observed the bird perched with its tail cocked high against the horizon on the edge of the hillside, a few metres from a Stonechat. Also heard uttering a check call a few times. Some drizzle. Drove on through Aleppo Pine forest to Cap de Formentor.

Formentor Peninsula 

Spectacular limestone coastal scenery around the lighthouse: Crag Martin (5+) flying around the tops of the cliffs. A male Blue Rock Thrush flew low across the road in front of the car on one of the hairpin bends just below the lighthouse. A female was later 'scoped on a nearby rocky ridge along with at least four Black Redstarts. Another male Black Redstart observed in an area of open pines adjacent to the lighthouse. Yellow-legged Gulls and Cormorant (3) passing over the sea below. Chiffchaff flitting around the pines. Stonechat (1). Sardinian Warblers and a Robin heard calling. Sky cleared giving some nice seascapes above the 300 metre high cliffs.

House Sparrow numerous in this coastal resort town. Large roosts beginning to form in palm trees in one of the main plazas. Yellow-legged Gulls noted out over the Badia de Pollença. Flock of Chaffinches noted on the outskirts of the town.



Day 4
Monday 25 November 2002
Palma > Salinas de Levante > London

THE SALINAS DE LEVANTE (Salobrar de Campos)
Constant rain all day. This site was very muddy and wet and visibility was much reduced. Parked at the Banys and walked along the trail known as 'Eddie's Track'. Many passerines feeding the short grassy fields between the banys and the disused salinas: Linnet (c25), Goldfinch (5), House Sparrow (40+), Meadow Pipit (50+), White Wagtail (10+). Species noted, though the rain, in the salt lagoons: Little Egret (10+), Grey Heron (1), Black-winged Stilt (4), Common Sandpiper (2), Redshank (1), Mallard (20+). Flock of (4) Greenshank circling overhead and Palma calling. Nice view of a Slender-billed Gull flying past. Sardinian Warblers common in low, ankle-high salt-tolerant glasswort scrub. Feral Rock Doves common. Several Cetti's Warblers singing. Song Thrush flying over the field near the farm. Robin noted here.

Arrived back at 1300h for the 1445h flight - delayed until 1700h.
House Sparrows (12+) in the indoor 'artificial town' constructed in the departure lounge. Plenty of shrubs and trees growing in large containers providing cover. Probably surviving on scraps from the tourists around the cafés.





SPECIES LIST - Mallorca - 22-25 November 2002

Little Grebe

Night Heron
Little Egret
Great Egret
Grey Heron
Greylag Goose
Red-crested Pochard
Marsh Harrier
Purple Swamp-hen
Black-winged Stilt
Stone Curlew
Little Ringed Plover
Kentish Plover
Green Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Spotted Redshank
Black-headed Gull
Slender-billed Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
Feral Rock Dove
Wood Pigeon
Collared Dove
Rose-ringed/Monk Parakeet
Crag Martin
Barn Swallow
Meadow Pipit
White Wagtail
Black Redstart
Blue Rock Thrush
Song Thrush
Sardinian Warbler
Balearic Warbler
Moustached Warbler
Zitting Cisticola
Cetti's Warbler
Great Tit
Blue Tit
Common Starling
House Sparrow



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