Wednesday 12th - Friday 21st October 2011
|La Gola nature reserve, Port De Pollença|
We had an early flight from Bristol, arriving at our hotel just after 11.00am. First birds ... House Sparrows, at the airport, then a Buzzard and two groups of Cattle Egrets of around 25 each between the airport and Alcudia; c40 Shags were off the beach road to Port de Pollença (the Shags are of the Mediterranean desmarestii race, the young birds being very pale).
Taking in our surroundings at the hotel, I saw two Ravens over the impressive craggy ridges above Boquer Valley, towards which our balcony faced.. A Blackbird, c15 House Sparrows, c10 Wood Pigeons, and a White Wagtail over were also noted.
A walk along the promenade past the harbour after lunch took us to the nature reserve of La Gola. This reserve was created at the mouth (La Gola = the throat) of a tidal creek, less enchantingly marked as 'Smelly Stream' in the birding guides. A male Stonechat, a Little Egret, a Sardinian Warbler, a Zitting Cisticola (I prefer this name to Fan-tailed Warbler, don't know why, I just like saying it), a singing male Cetti's Warbler, c6 Goldfinches, c12 Mallard, a Muscovy Duck (not tickable!), and House Sparrows. House Sparrows are just about everywhere on Mallorca, so I won't mention them much more. An impressive Praying Mantis, Mantis religiosa, was on the path, and we disturbed several large Grasshoppers Eyprepocnemis plorans (the plorans subspecies) from their afternoon bask as we walked the paths. Butterflies included three Clouded Yellows, including a very pale female helice type. Walking back along the beach area produced three Yellow-legged Gulls, a Cormorant and c6 Collared Doves.
Sunrise during the holiday was quite late compared to the UK, with the clocks being two hours ahead of our BST, so it didn't start to get light until around 7.45am (this also meant of course a later sunset; it didn't really get dark until around 7.45pm). Before breakfast was therefore an ideal time to check out local sites, and a walk along the seafront produced my first lifer of the holiday, an Audouin's Gull, plus a Yellow-legged Gull. YLG were always present on the beach in fact, and usually Audouin's too. At La Gola as the sun rose, another Audouin's Gull was present, and two Night Herons circled in flight over the trees before going to roost. Other birds noted were two Chiffchaffs, two Grey Wagtails, a Sardinian Warbler, a Coot, two Moorhens, and a Grey Heron.
|The 'big rocks', Boquer Valley|
|A singing male Blue Rock Thrush, atop of one of the 'big rocks'|
|Boquer Valley scenery|
At La Gola early morning the highlights were 2-3 Eleonora's Falcons, one almost overhead, a Cetti's Warbler singing again, a Grey Heron, a Little Egret, Sardinian Warblers, and several Robins and Blackbirds. Wintering Robins were increasingly numerous as my stay progressed, and became virtually ubiquitous, even more so than House Sparrow, and numbers of wintering Blackbirds (and other thrushes) increased steadily too. On the beach I got quite close to an adult Audouin's Gull, and a first-winter desmarestii Shag was along the Pine Walk.
Later we got the bus to Alcudia and explored the old town, and then walked most of the was back to Port de Pollença, taking in S' Albufereta nature reserve on the way (it seemed a long way in hot sun!). More Clouded Yellows were seen just out of Alcudia, and a single Cattle Egret was in a roadside field. At S' Albufereta we only had time to check out the area nearest the coast, and water levels in the scrapes we could were quite dry with just two Little Ringed Plovers being the only waders present. Around 10 Swallows were hawking insects over one of the fields and a male Kestrel, several Sardinian Warblers, Goldfinches and Greenfinches the only other birds noted. Back along the coastal road we spotted several interesting plants including Small Pheasant's Eye, Sea Holly, Sweet Alyssum, Sea Pincushion Flower, and the Autumn-flowering 'crocus' Colchicum filifolium.
|Small Pheasant's Eye|
Before breakfast I noted a Zitting Cisticola, a Stonechat, and several Serins, Sardinian Warblers, Goldfinches and Greenfinches on weedy ground near the hotel; two Firecrests and a Blackcap were at Postage Stamp Wood.
|S' Albufera nature reserve|
|Southern Speckled Wood|
|Lang's Short-tailed Blue|
|Grasshopper Eypropocnemis plorans|
Before breakfast, a Hoopoe was at Bocchoris Avenue near the hotel, also two Chiffchaffs and a Chaffinch. The Redstart was still below Boquer finca, and walking beyond a Stonechat, and lots of Song Thrushes and a few Redwings all moving through south. At the big rocks, a Blue Rock Thrush was singing, and on the return walk two Zitting Cisticolas were near the hotel. At La Gola after breakfast a Hummigbird Hawk-moth was around flowers near the road, and I saw these at various sites throughout the rest of the holiday.
We got the bus to nearby Pollença, where I saw my star bird of the trip. From the centre of the town, a long flight of steps take you up a hill between rows of Cypresses to a chapel at the top. This is Calvary Hill, and from here there is a superb views of the surrounding area with Port de Pollença to the north and the Tramuntana Mountains to the west (and also a nice café). After admiring a view, I was delighted to spot a Black Vulture, which soared towards us and then flew directly overhead, before climbing and circling and then heading off towards the mountains. The view was amazing, and another lifer. A futher five were circling together on a thermal over the distant peaks. A Lang's Short-tailed Blue was seen on the way down the steps.
|Lang's Short-tailed Blue|
The early constitutional walk to Boquer's big rocks produced the Redstart again, a Black Redstart, c5 Song Thrushes, a Blue Rock Thrush, a singing male Cirl Bunting, a Stonechat, two Booted Eagles, an Eleonora's Falcon, a Chiffchaff, and a male Wren singing by the rocks, plus Sardinian Warblers, Greenfinches, Goldfinches, Robins, and Blackbirds.
We took a boat trip later around Cap Formentor to Cala Sant Vicenç. This produced great views of a total of c30 Eleonora's falcons at various points on the journey. Other birds noted were 2-3 Peregrines at the cape, two Ravens, 3+ Balearic Shearwaters and 1+ Cory's Shearwaters, two Booted Eagles, c6 Shags, a Cormorant, and several Yellow-legged Gulls.
|Boquer Valley seen from from the sea|
The Redstart, two Black Redstarts, three Cirl Buntings, two Stonechats, and the singing male Wren were at Boquer again first thing.
|Willow Emerald Damselfly|
|Almond - this tree was on the walk between the town and|
Around Port de Pollença early morning in the playground/Police Station pines just south of La Gola were at least 4 Serins including two singing males; on the beach an Audouin's Gull and a Yellow-legged Gull; and at La Gola were c30 Starlings feeding on Mastic Tree berries, a Grey Wagtail, two Grey Herons and a Little Egret; from the hotel balcony I spotted 1-2 Booted Eagles and 3+ Crag Martins over the crags; at Bocchoris Avenue at least one Serin in the pines; and at Postage Stamp Wood two Fiercrests, two Wall Brown, a Geranium Bronze, and a Red-veined Darter.
Later we walked to Cala Sant Vicenç, and highlights on the way were three Stonechats, six Crag Martins, and numerous Sardinians Warblers. At Cala Sant Vicenç I saw six Crossbills, five Firecrests (one quite close as we rested at the ancient burial caves of Alzinaret), two Booted Eagles, an Eleonora's Falcon, 4+ Serins, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, a Humming-bird Hawkmoth, a Red-veined Darter, a Southern Wall Brown, a Rose Chafer, and a Common Field Grasshopper.
|Female Red-veined Darter|
|Male Red-veined Darter|
|Common Field Grasshopper|
We took the bus back to Alcudia to see the ruins of the roman town of Pollentia. This is an impressive site, especially the amphitheatre carved out of the bedrock. Around 8 Cattle Egrets were between Port de Pollença and Alcudia, in a field near the road, and two Audouin's Gulls were on the beach; also several Yellow-legged Gulls.
|Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull|
|Adult Yellow-legged Gull|
On our last day we spent the day around Port de Pollença, and we visited some of the local spots which had become familiar to me. An Audouin's Gull and seven Little Egrets were on the beach near the harbour; at La Gola a Common Sandpiper was present again, plus a Grey Heron plus around six Serins; along the Pine Walk an approachable first-winter desmarestii Shag was on one of the jetties, and a Firecrest and a Geranium Bronze were around the pines. Finally at Postage Stamp Wood two Firecrests were showing well next to the road, one of my favorite birds and a nice highlight to round off a great 10 days.
|Young desmarestii Shag|
Books: For information on sites I found "A Birdwatching Guide to Mallorca" by Graham Hearl (thanks for the loan Mike), and "Finding Birds in Mallorca" by Dave Gosney very useful.
Thanks also to Mark, Mike, Duncan and Ian for their invaluable tips on sites, and also to Ian for help with identifying plants.
For more of my Mallorca photos, see my Picasa web album.