Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Birding Mallorca

I visited Mallorca for just five days with my family and birding was not our main focus. Nevertheless, I went birding twice, and I was very successful. I visited a wetland, Albufera, to try and track down wetland birds. My main target for the trip, however, was Balearic Warbler, as this bird is endemic to the Balearic islands.

I stayed in Pollensa in the north of the island, in a holiday house which was pretty good for birds itself. Late at night the day I arrived, after going into the town for dinner with my family, we saw a Barn Owl in the headlights of the car, sitting on a fence. I also saw a Black-crowned Night Heron on the small concrete, man-made pond in the backyard.

Audouin's Gull - 09/04/2017

I visited Albufera in the afternoon, and despite the many bicyclists and other birders, I managed to see many birds. The first notable birds were a flock of Audouin's Gulls bathing on the canal. As I was watching them I saw a Little Bittern flying diagonally across the canal, immediately identifiable by its striking wing patches. I looked for it in the reeds at the other side, but couldn't find it.

I was surprised by the size of the preserve, it had countless canals and ponds, some with hides. On the way to the two main hides I heard and saw many Cetti's Warblers, a lifer. They are very rare vagrants in Switzerland but seemed to be common here, with their 'explosive' songs, as described in my Collins Bird Guide, ringing out from all directions. They were very shy however, and only showed for a few seconds each time, so I was never fast enough to get a picture.

In the hides I saw many interesting birds as well. Kentish Plovers came very close to the hide, making for great pictures. Two Purple Swamphens were feeding out in the open, but quite far away from the hide. A pair of Marbled Ducks sat out on a rocky island preening and sometimes swimming around. A Red-knobbed Coot with an identification ring around its neck fed ridiculously close to the hide. Albufera reminded me of Doñana National Park in southern Spain where I went a few years back, and in fact I read that the Red-knobbed Coots were reintroduced here with birds from Doñana.

Marbled Ducks - 09/04/2017
Marbled Ducks - 09/04/2017
Kentish Plover - 09/04/2017
Kentish Plover - 09/04/2017
Little Ringed Plover - 09/04/2017
Purple Swamphen - 09/04/2017
Red-knobbed Coot - 09/04/2017
Red-knobbed Coot - 09/04/2017
Red-knobbed Coot - 09/04/2017
Black-winged Stilt - 09/04/2017

In another hide I got close views of common shorebirds such as Ruff, Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Black-winged Stilt, Common Avocet and Common Snipe as well as a pair of Garganeys.

Pied Avocet - 09/04/2017
Common Snipe - 09/04/2017
Black-winged Stilt - 09/04/2017
Garganeys - 09/04/2017
Spotted Redshank - 09/04/2017
Ruff - 09/04/2017
Mallard duckling - 09/04/2017

The next day I went to the island of Dragonera, my main goal being to find a Balearic Warbler. The island is reached by a short ferry from the town of Sant Elm, and it is popular with tourists, its main attraction being that it is literally crawling with Lilford's Wall Lizards. The species is endemic to the Balearics and extinct on the mainland, but extremely common on small, uninhabited islands like Dragonera.

Lilford's Wall Lizards - 10/04/2017

Lilford's Wall Lizard - 10/04/2017
It took a 2 hour trail, hoping to pass through good habitat for Balearic Warblers. It didn't take me long to find one, but I only saw it for a few seconds, which made me doubt my identification. After a while I learned to recognize its song, quite different from that of the Sardinian Warbler. I finally got a good view of one that was foraging in a small pine, right next to the trail. It was a challenge to photograph, but I got a few decent pictures. Its bright orange bill and feet were striking against the bluish-gray plumage and I thought it was a beautiful bird.

Balearic Warbler - 10/04/2017
Balearic Warbler - 10/04/2017
Balearic Warbler - 10/04/2017

Overall it was a very successful trip and I hope to visit again soon.

Sardinian Warbler