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BIRDING TRIP REPORT:

MALLORCA (Majorca)

20 - 27 October 2007

By Stephen Burch

Introduction
This is a brief illustrated report on birding during a one week family holiday to Mallorca in October 2007. This was our third and probably last visit to the same villa at the same time in consecutive years!

Weather
Unlike the previous two years, the weather was very mixed. The first few days were generally fine but comparatively cool (no higher than about 21C). But it was considerably cooler and wetter in the second half of the week, with torrential rain at times - notably during my second visit to the Albufera. Here the hides made a good shelter to see out the worst of the downpour!

Sources of Information
There is plenty of information on where to watch birds in Mallorca, including numerous web trip reports and the book by Hearl and King, which is still recommended, but somewhat out of date now.

Sites

Albufereta
This site is probably my favourite on Mallorca in autumn - it generally turns up a reasonable selection of birds without too much effort, whereas my expectations with the better known Albufera are usually higher and I can leave somewhat underwelmed. In addition, the beach by the mouth of the river at the Albufereta can be a good for photography. There is often an Audouin's Gull around, as was the case on both my visits this year. There was also a remarkably obliging Little Egret, fishing in the sea on one of my visits. It was so intent on its prey, a close approach was quite easy. There was also a good flock of very wary Kentish Plover, which didn't allow anything like the same photo opportunities.

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Little Egret, Albufereta beach (click to enlarge)

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The same Little Egret, Albufereta beach (click to enlarge)

Little Egret, Albufereta (click to enlarge)

Flock of Kentish Plover, Albufereta beach

Inland from the beach, on the slightly raised area, along the track behind the finca, there are reasonable views over the marshes and a lagoon on the seaward side, which held a Black-necked Grebe on one of my visits - my first for Mallorca. On the marshes, a leisurely scan around produced 2+ Great White Egret, and to my surprise, 3-4 Purple Gallinule (not seen before here). Also there were Marsh Harrier, and a distant Osprey, and well as the usual Fan-tailed and Cetti's Warbler. A 'scope, which I had this year, is a great help at this site, as the marshes are pretty distant.

Great White Egret, Albufereta (distant record digiscope pic)

Cattle Egret, road between Pollensa & Albufereta

Albufera
My visit to the main section of the Albufera was rather late in the morning. Maybe an earlier visit would have been more productive, before all the tourists, some with young children and even babies fill the hides and probably drive some of the birds away or least back from the immediate vicinity!

Anyhow, the walk in along the canal produced the usual roosting Night Heron in the bushes on the opposite bank. I stopped briefly at the visitor centre to pick up a useful permit/map and then headed to the CIM hide to try to find Marbled Duck. Nearly all the duck were unhelpfully asleep, and much scanning didn't turn up what would have been a lifer for me. Plenty of Shoveler, Teal etc, and also another Purple Gallinule (see below) - unfortunately on the far side, and really too distant for the DSLR. The water level was high which presumably accounted for a lack of waders, apart from a few Greenshank and a Spotted Redshank.

Having spent some time at the CIM hide going through the duck, I tried again from the nearby mound which gives views of a few lagoons behind. Again there was no sign of Marbled Duck, though.

On then to the Bishop 1 hide, which again had a high water level. There were a few nearby Black-winged Stilts, but by now the light was becoming poor for photography. In the distance, there was an Osprey eating a fish on a fence. There were also a few waders - Greenshank etc.

It then began to rain, but I got back to the CIM hide for another go for Marbled Duck in reasonably dry conditions. A nice mixed group of Kentish Plover, Little Stint and Dunlin (one of each!) appeared - but on an island again too distant for the DSLR. A real deluge then began, and all the ducks departed leaving practically nothing in view. So once the rain had more or less stopped, I departed. This site is definitely better in Spring, with all the summer visitors present with some singing.

Black Winged Stilt from the Bishop I hide.

A distant Purple Gallinule from the CIM hide with Greenshank behind.

Albufera - Depuradora (Waterworks)
This site is well described in Hearl and King, and I had a good early morning visit there last year. However this time, I didn't make it until late morning, but still managed to pick up a few notable species - the best being Bluethroat (at least 2 adults and 1 juv), in the damp corner at the back of the car park for the new viewing platform. Also here were Green Sandpiper, Snipe, Cetti's and Sardinian Warblers, but no sign of Moustached Warbler this year.

The viewing platform itself wasn't very productive, with no waders other than Green Sandpiper - again due to the high water level.

Cetti's Warbler in the damp corner behind the viewing platform carpark

Penya Rotja
This is a viewpoint at c. 300 m elevation on the peninsula north of Alcudia - reached by a walk up from the Santuario de la Vitoria. It is unlikely to be on many other birder's itineraries, but I mention it here because there was a Marmora's Warbler right at the end by the viewpoint itself - some reward for this 2-3 mile walk, which also involved ascent/descent of about 150m.


All pictures copyright Stephen Burch

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