Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Mallorca weekender

It had been over 15 years since I last visited Mallorca and a return visit was in order to connect with two specialities: Balearic Warbler and [Balearic] Tyrrhenian Flycatcher. Though I'd seen the flycatcher previously, this was as an uneducated 10-year-old and long before the potential split had been suggested, so it was as good as a tick.

I found the island to be much busier and more developed than when I'd previously visited with my parents in the 90s/early 2000s. There were also literally thousands of cyclists! Of course by no means a bad thing, but quite extraordinary to see so many people dedicating time to this ever-more popular hobby. It also meant you had to be pretty careful driving around corners on the winding mountain roads ...

Despite the increased development, many areas of the island remain beautifully unspoilt. It's always nice to see more traditional farming methods being practised and field edges full of Corn Buntings, Stonechats and larks (among others) - a stark contrast to the largely barren wastelands of the South Lincolnshire fens. The weather was also brilliant - although a little breezy on the Saturday, the sun shone throughout the weekend and the temperature was very pleasant in the low twenties (apart from at dawn, when it was positively chilly).

Bird-wise, I struggled a little with Balearic Warbler but eventually found a confiding bird at the Boquer Valley late morning on Sunday. Unfortunately the light was very strong by this time and my photos aren't what I'd hoped for on the outward journey (having dedicated two early mornings to finding them).

♂ Balearic Warbler, Vall de Boquer, 7 May

Occupying a similar niche to the warblers were both Thekla Larks and Tawny Pipits. I hadn't seen the former for a few years, and the views of the latter were perhaps the best I've ever had.

Migration wasn't as prevalent as it had been the previous weekend when, by all accounts, the island was littered with passerines after heavy storms. Nonetheless small numbers of nominate Spotted Flycatchers, Willow and Garden Warblers and a single Common Redstart were seen. Best passerine was a Melodious Warbler at Formentor lighthouse on the Saturday evening, apparently a fairly uncommon bird on Mallorca (but presumably overlooked?). I was also pleased to see a female Pallid Harrier over Portocolom on Saturday morning - I guess this would have been a big deal 10 years ago, but it seems to be recorded annually on Mallorca these days.

♀ Pallid Harrier, Portocolom, Mallorca, 6 May

It was also great to see a few Red-footed Falcons. I had three (ad ♂, 2cy ♂, 2cy ♀) at Vilafranca de Bonany and two (ad ♀, 2cy ♀) at Maria de la Salut. Heat haze was always a problem for photos as I saw both 'groups' in the middle of the day, but a few records below.

 Adult ♂ Red-footed Falcon, Vila Franca de Bonany, 6 May

 2cy ♀ Red-footed Falcon, Maria de la Salut, 7 May

Adult ♀ Red-footed Falcon, Maria de la Salut, 7 May

After seeing them fairly poorly in Corsica a few years ago, it was nice to reacquaint myself with the vocalisations and appearance of Moltoni's Warblers, with three singing males at Embalse de Cuber, as well as locally breeding Tyrrhenian Flycatchers there. Overhead in the mountains produced 20+ Griffon (these must be a recent thing on Mallorca - I never remember seeing them before?) and a handful of Cinereous Vultures and Booted Eagles.

Eurasian Griffon & Cinereous Vultures, Embalse de Gorg Blau, 6 May

It was a truly enjoyable couple of days away, and a cheap trip to boot - my return flight cost me £80 with Easyjet. I did the trip alone, but two or three up would make it an particularly inexpensive weekend trip, and very much recommended for some reasonable and relaxed birding in pleasant surroundings and weather.


  1. Love the island Josh....the Griffon thing IS new, odd wanderers but now seems a budding re/colonisation. Seen Melodious couple of times and yes probably under-recorded. Did you see Moustached?....found them difficult last spring. Great little trip....never thought of a couple days.

  2. Cheers Jonny, didn't think I remembered seeing them there as a kid! Nice that they've recolonised though. I didn't have chance to try for Moustached but I understand a few people saw them the week before I was out there... Never easy though are they?! Yes really enjoyed it and would definitely take advantage of cheap flights to do it all again some time. Cheers!