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Tour-leader and Guide : Michael Richardson
Trip report : Michael Richardson

 

Day 1 - April 5th - Pre-extension of 3 Days to Mallorca

Visited sites: Salinas de Levante, Colonia San Jordi and Salinas Colonia San Jordi.
After a swift and eventless pick up at Palma airport, the five of us headed out south west via Campos to Salinas de Levante, an area of working and disused saltpans. We first parked just off the main road to Colonia San Jordi and walked down what is still known as Eddies Track (After Eddie Watkinson who first regularly watched the area). Just passed the buildings the first birds seen were a pair of Thekla Larks feeding on a rough field, other birds seen on the fields included European Stonechat, Barn Swallow, Corn Bunting, European Serin and European Greenfinch.

01salinas-de-levanteWe then moved out into the saltpans, most of which are disused along this track. The sides of the pans are vegetated almost completely by Shrubby Seablite and Glasswort species, dotted here and there by Rosy Garlic and Common Asphodel. On the first pans some of the commonest birds were Common Shelduck, Kentish (Snowy) Plover, Spotted Redshank and the noisy Black-winged Stilts which flew up scolding every passer by. Also here we found a pair of Eurasian Curlew, Common Greenshank, Temminck's Stint, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Ruff. Both Cetti's and Sardinian Warblers called from cover and Spanish Yellow Wagtail, Corn Bunting and European Serin sang from more prominent song posts. In the air above the Pans there were large numbers of Common Swifts, Barn Swallows and House Martin, all feeding to fuel there migration northwards. Further along the track the pools get a bit larger and at the far end of the largest the was a flock of 10+ Greater Flamingo's feeding in the deeper water, also in this area we picked up Grey Heron, Little Egret, Dunlin, Avocet, 3+ Marsh Sandpipers, Black-headed and Yellow-legged Gulls, Hoopoe and Meadow Pipit.
We then retraced our steps back to the car, picking up Water Rail which we had been hearing all morning, Zitting Cisticola, Common Chiffchaff, Marsh Harrier (female) and Garganey (guide only). At the car we had the time to have a good look at the fields on the roadsides which were covered with the yellow flowering Crown Daisy and Corn Poppy.
By this time lunch was required so we headed into Colonia San Jordi where we found a very nice restaurant. We had a good lunch whilst watching Audouin's Gulls on the beach. We then headed back towards the saltpans in a slightly roundabout way (code for taking a wrong turn) but ended up at the working pans just on the out skirts of the town, where we got good views of several Audouin's Gulls resting on the ridges in between the pans.
A few Butterflies were noted during the day including, Clouded Yellow, Large White, Small White, Swallowtail and Speckled Wood. The rest of the afternoon was spent along the tarmac road which gives views over the working pans back at this morning's site. Here we added Common Redshank, Grey (Black-bellied) Plover, Little Ringed Plover and Sanderling. On the fields opposite the pans we found Purple Viper's Bugloss, Bellardia and Mastic Tree.
We then drove to the Northern end of the island to Alcudia, where we spent the next three nights in the Vanity Hotel Golf.

Weather: Bright and sunny but windy later.

Day 2 - April 6th

Visited sites: S'Albufera, Caves of Drach and Porto Colom.

After a nice leisurely breakfast we travelled the short distance east to the best known birding site on Mallorca, S'Albufera. The reserve is largely covered in dense Reed beds, interspersed with canals, lakes and marshes, all of which hold a wealth of wildlife.

We started by parking by the main entrance and making our way along the Gran canal (S'Oberta) towards the visitors centre. By the entrance we saw a colony of Cattle and Little Egrets in the taller pine trees and several (Black-crowned) Night Herons roosting in the lower bushes which grow along the canal. 02-fellow-travellers-on-the-gran-canalThe whole group had some very good views of Cetti's Warbler and heard both Moustached Warbler and Water Rail as we approached the small stone bridge which crosses the smaller canal to the side of the road. Along here we also saw Eurasian Coot, Greater Cormorant, Little Grebe, Western Marsh Harrier and Mallard. We then arrived at the Visitor Centre and several guide books were purchased and we registered ourselves on the reserve. Our next point of call was at the two Bishop hides, on the way we had some great views of several Red-Knobbed Coots and Red-crested Pochard which kept Kent's camera clicking. From the large stone bridge over the Gran Canal several Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Gadwall were scoped, as were single Great-crested Grebe and Osprey. Once in the hide the species list grew quickly, with good close views of Little Egret, Kentish Plover, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank and Ruff all being recorded on Nancy's and Kent's Cameras. More distant views were had of Green and Wood Sandpiper, Common Snipe and Water Pipit. On the walk back to the car, Diana picked out a Purple Swamp-hen making its way through the scrub and we had good views of our only Little Bittern of the trip. We then made our way on to the boardwalk by the visitor centre where we again heard Moustached Warbler and were treated to views of a hunting Western Marsh Harrier quartering the reed beds. Just before we reached the car an Iberian Chiffchaff was seen well and more importantly it was singing nicely so ID was simple.
03-caves-of-dracWe then made our way towards the Porto Cristo and the Caves of Drac for an afternoon under ground. The tours take place on the hour so we had a little while to wait by the entrance but this was not wasted as we picked up Common Crossbill (race Balearica), Firecrest, Blackcap and Sardinian Warbler. The caves were fantastic and the music form the rowing boats at the end was very good. As we were so close to Porto Colom, a good site for Balearic Warbler we decided to make our way there for a quick visit. We parked on the track above the beach and made our way down towards the light house, Audouin's Gulls, Sandwich Tern and Cory's Shearwater (ssp diomedea) were all seen. As we made our way through the scrub, Thekla Lark, Sardinian Warbler and European Robin were found, as were a couple of species of Orchid, including the endemic Balearic Bee Orchid and Mirror Orchid. We got a fair way out and decided that we needed to leave to get back for our evening meal, so we made our way back towards the car. A few meters into our walk a pair of Balearic Warblers put in a good but brief show on the top of the Grey-leaved Cistus bushes. And a couple of very cooperative Audouin's Gulls had Kent and Nancy reaching for the cameras. We then had an uneventful drive back to Alcudia for our evening meal.

Weather: Bright and sunny but windy, clouding over later.

 

Day 3 - April 7th
Visited sites:
S'Albufera, Cap Formentor and the start of the Bocquer Valley.

The first stop of the day was at Orange Bridge on the edge of the S'Albufera. Here we added Osprey x3, Booted Eagle, Sand Martin and Great Egret. We then made the short journey to S'Albufera and in along the main track towards the visitors centre, seen much the same birds as yesterday. This time we went straight out to the CIM Hide, which over looks a shallow scrape and some reed beds. Several new species were added to the trip list including Glossy Ibis x4, Garganey x 1 male and Purple Heron, good views of Yellow-legged and Black-headed Gulls, Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers, Eurasian Teal and Northern Shoveler were also had. 04-common-greenshankLater we made our way around to a raised view point over looking a small reed fringed pool where we could here a Great Reed Warbler rattling out it distinctive song, It remained elusive only Diana got views as the bird flew across the pool. Further on Great Tit was added to the trip list and on to Kent's photo list. Passing the Visitor Centre we reached the small stone bridge here we turn right along the Ses Puntes Track to wards the distant pines where we spent some time looking for Orchids and other wild flowers. Orchids seen included the rare Marsh Loose-flowered Orchid, Fragrant Bug Orchid and the more common Bumble Bee and Yellow Bee Orchids. A new raised viewing platform had been built, which gave us a good vantage point for scanning the marsh. Here we saw Purple Swamp-hen, Wood Sandpiper, Common Greenshank and both Spotted and Common Redshanks and on a wire fence some distance away Common Greenshank. the first Woodchat Shrikes of the trip (ssp badius). On our way back the wind started to get up which kept many of the birds down but Diana managed to find us a cracking Moustached Warbler singing from a small shrub only about 10 feet from the track side, a real bonus. 05-cap-formentorAlso seen on the return walk were Great Egret, Purple Heron, Hoopoe and Zitting Cisticola. We had lunch in a small restaurant in Alcudia and later in the day we made our way 06-fellow-travellerout through Puerto Pollensa to Cape Formentor, picking up European Shag of the Mediterranean ssp desmarestii. At the first stop we spent some time on a walk along several view points high on the cliffs of the above the sea. Here we picked up Blue-rock Thrush, Peregrine Falcon, Winter Wren and Crag Martin. We then moved on to the Light House at the end of the Promontory seeing Firecrest, Common Crossbill and European Stonechat. On the way back to the hotel we paid a brief visit to the entrance to the Bocquer Valley and checked the lower fields for migrants, picking up Common Redstart and a fine pair of Stone-curlew (Eurasian Thick-knee).

Weather: Cloudy start, bright and sunny later.

 

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