Patchwork & Potteric

2015 did not got off to great start for me – the first day that I had the free time to and could get over to Pugney’s and guess what – the Blyth’s Pipit has done a moonlight flit, so I miss out on a Yorkshire first. Annoyed doesn’t quite fit the bill in this instance, as I’d also missed the Little Bustard.

blyht's pipit - pugneys - Jim Welford

Blyth’s Pipit – Jim Welford provided the picture

So I had to content myself with getting down to patchworking during January, 1 visit to Eccup and 3 to Adel Dam/ Breary Marsh. Managed to get myself to 52 species, including 2 new to patch species ( Song Thrush & Golden Plover), which is an incredible result considering that last year I only got 67 the whole year. The light has been abysmal so no snaps unfortunately. Oddest sighting – on my trip to Eccup I saw an odd looking duck away down the West end of the reservoir, got the scope on it and it was someone swimming, in January with snow on the ground! You have to question his sanity, swimming solo in freezing weather in open water, hypothermia can strike at any time. Oh yes it was a bloke, he clambered out the water to reveal his nudity, even more of a divvy.

February was a bit better as I got out to play for the day on the 8th, meeting up with fellow birders at Potteric Carr. Richard was already at the car park when Ken and I arrived, first bird of the day Ring-necked Parakeet, a Yorkshire tick for me.

parakeet

Ring-necked parakeet – Potteric Carr

Great start to the day, sadly it didn’t last as we dipped on Bittern, Lesser Redpoll and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, although by the end of the day I’d added 20 year ticks. Andy and Rob arrived after the parakeet had been spooked by a couple of Carrion Crows, a flock of 30 or so Linnets didn’t quite make up for that. We took the route around by Old Eaa hide and the cafe before heading to the Huxter Well wetlands area. Willow hide failed to provide Willow Tit, that has to be a first. The Kingfisher was at the usual spot on the Mother Drain by the bridge, on a branch rather than the brackets in the bridge arch. Plenty wildfowl on Huxter Well, Tufties, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Greylags, Canadas and Mute Swan to name but a few, best were the 2 Pintail that flew over us as we left the Turret hide. We had a single Marsh Harrier as well as 2 Buzzards here also. Piper Marsh was pretty much all ice so very little there, so back to the Cafe for a brew and a buttie, some one needs to tell the chaf that bacon butties do not need a bit of lollo rosso and a tomato as garnish, just plenty of decent bacon. Sad to see the mugs have been replaced by piddling little paper cups, sacrilege. The decision was taken to leave Potteric and take our chances over at  Blacktoft Sands for the harrier roost. Marshland hide was completely iced over, Ousefleet was open but had little other than Blackwits, Dunlin and Redshank that were new for the day. We gave Xerox hide a miss and tried First, again little around, same at Townsend not really much about. Once in Singleton we settled down to await the harrier roost building up, we did get up to 4 Marsh Harriers eventually but sadly no hen harriers. Distant Pinkies flying over were small consolation.

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Majorca 2013 – The last bit honest!

Friday 28th June

Our last day, and to avoid stress I was to make myself scarce for most of the day, to allow Sheila to pack in peace. So I was once again visiting the s’albufera, not all day though as needed to be back before 3pm in order to drive to the airport.
I visited the Sa Roca hides first but sadly no stone curlew today, I did have stilts, common tern and a squacco heron though, along with both Kentish and little ringed plovers. A distant purple gallinulle was the last one I saw on the trip. After visiting all of the hides I made my way along the path to the depuradora area, a good day for raptors as I found Eleanora’s falcon, kestrel, osprey and marsh harrier whilst scanning from the viewing platforms along the way.

Looking west over the marsh

Looking west over the marsh

More bee eaters as well when I passed the ruined finca. I attempted to make the whole circuit of the reserve but had to give up less than halfway round due to my right knee giving me lots of grief, probably due to Wednesday’s tumble in the Bocquer. However I did connect with purple heron, little and cattle egrets, Sardinian, sedge and fan tailed warblers and a very obliging greenfinch in the stand of pines by the old finca.

Greenfinch by the old finca

Greenfinch by the old finca


I also managed to at last get something like a decent image of the swallowtail butterfly as well as a couple of dragonflies, not sure if they were male and female of the same species or two different species but I was quite pleased to get them both in one shot.
Swallowtail butterfly

Swallowtail butterfly


Dragonflies

Dragonflies


The walk back to the car park was necessarily slow but this did mean I got good views of yellow wagtail, purple heron and another squacco heron.
Cattle egret

Cattle egret

Purple heron

Purple heron

Totting up the trip list I had 58 species with 2 lifers this trip, not bad to say I only had couple of days of full on birding. I want to go back again with a better map so I can do the s’albuferetta properly, and also get right down to the south of the island to have a look round there, this is terra incognito to me.

Majorca 2013 – part 5

Tuesday 25th June

The drive to Cap de Formentor was not my favourite drive on the island. The last couple of hundred yards especially were somewhat nerve-wracking as you are looking down several hundred feet into the Med one side, as you try and avoid cars coming towards you on the other. As my phobia about heights is most definitely kicking in I was immensely grateful to reach the car park. Around the church there were a few spot flycatchers but sadly no Eleanora’ s falcons. A brief sea watch, hampered somewhat by the height did get me several shearwaters but not enough to allow id of the birds. The bird in this photo looks like a diver but is the local subspecies of shag.

Shag from Cap de Formentor

Shag from Cap de Formentor


The afternoon was spent in Puerto Pollenca enjoying a decent meal at the water’s edge. On the walk back to the car we found a piece of sand sculpture, there was skill in the way the sand held together but I defy you to recognise Homer and Bart Simpson in it.
simpsons sand art

The Sand Sculpture

Wednesday 26th June

My first visit in over 15 years to the Bocquer Valley. The area at the bottom of the valley was greatly changed as the Pollenca bypass road now runs between the valley and the town. The steep path up to the finca is still there, as are the gates but gone are the keep out signs that were there in 1998.

The Finca

The Finca


Difficult to work out if anyone is still living in the finca but the land is still being worked and there is still a dog tied up by the side of the dwelling so someone is using the place. The first crag martin’s were seen as I rounded the building, along with numerous spuggies nesting in the roof.
The start of the Bocquer

The start of the Bocquer Valley


The walk up the valley to the sea was uneventful and apart from the martins and the occasional stonechat, largely bird-free. I did manage to find the slimiest bit of mud on the island and almost dumped the scope and camera in it as I found my feet sliding from under me. Thankfully the wildlife improved after this mishap. I found a few small lizards basking in the sun but they were way too quick to get a picture of, blackbirds and Sardinian warblers started to appear and I had a very distant raptor which I couldn’t id as it flew across the sun and I didn’t really want to blind myself. Settling down on a small rise above the beach I had a rest and scanned the waters with the scope, initially with little success, eventually I got focussed on the end of the cliffs in order to catch any birds flying across the end of the valley .
Top end of the Bocquer

The view of the sea at top of the valley

After a few dozen yellow-legged gulls had drifted west, a bird skimming the water showed up. The first shearwater I could id positively, a Balearic, having got my eye in I realised that there were several birds moving west. Most of them were Balearics but there were a few larger, slightly paler birds with them, which I initially put down as paler than usual Cory’s shearwater but was later told that they would have been the subspecies known as Scopoli’s shearwater. One to watch as I believe the split is going to be made so an armchair tick is possible.
After seeing the last of the shearwaters disappear to the west I made my way back down to the car without encountering any new species sadly. A quick bite to eat in Puerto Pollenca and then off to explore the s’albuferetta area. I got hopelessly lost and whilst I did see loads of woodchat shrikes, fan-tailed warblers and little egrets, I didn’t find the areas I had hoped for. This was largely due to the map I had not being up to Ordnance Survey standards when you were away from the main highways. I found out later that there were at least 2 roads I drove along that did not exist on the map, we are talking proper metallized roads not tracks, crazy. I realised I was lost when I reached a t-junction which should have been a crossroads according to the guidebook. Later on worked out that the crossroads was in fact about 5 miles away from the T junction. After mooching around for a while, stopping at likely spots and scanning the fields, I realised the road I was on was going to intersect with the Alcudia-Palma highway, well away from where I thought I was, so having got my bearings I got onto the motorway and headed back to the hotel.

Thursday 27th June

Another drive to the east and Son Mill, no great birding as it was a family day. Did find a couple of lizards scuttling about the rocks above the harbours edge. I managed to get a decent snap of the fish in the harbour today, I’d been foxed on other occasions as the camera would focus on the water surface, today it actually focussed on the fish. A very photogenic Audouin’s gull stayed put whilst I got the picture I wanted.

lizard at son moll

One of the lizards


Audouins gull son moll

Audouin’s gull

fish in harbour son moll

Fish at Son Moll


However the drive back got me a new bird, seen whilst driving but well enough to rule out the confusion species. A nice black kite, my initial id was red kite but as the bird turned to glide away I got a good look at the upper tail area and realised the feathers were a pale greyish hue rather than the lovely red of the red kite. Get in!

Majorca 2013 – part 4

Monday 24th June

The Reserve Map

The Reserve Map


Off the leash today, down at S’albufera for 08.00 and it’s hot. Shoot – even arriving at this time I’m taking one of the last spaces in the car park. On the yomp from the car park I worked out why I got it wrong about the roost the other day, I’d been looking in the wrong place on Gran Canal due to my remembering things as they were last time. Vegetation grows over time and the open area I remember is now full of reeds and trees. Got good views of both cattle and little egret at the roost but couldn’t find any night herons. Once more had good, though brief, views of Cetti’s from the path to the Visitor Centre.
View along  Gran Canal

View along Gran Canal


Squacco heron - Gran Canal

Squacco heron – Gran Canal

I started my exploration of the reserve by following the Sa Roca loop this took in a couple of hides and an observation hill. The first hide, Sa Roca overlooks what should have been a decent wetland but with all the hot dry weather now looked like a desert in places. First holiday tick of the day, purple gallinule (they are not swamp-hens – end of!) a nice adult plodding across one of the few bits of open water. A moorhen that swam by really gave you a sense of the size of the gallinule.

Purple Gallinule - Sa Roca hide

Purple Gallinule – Es Ras hide


Black-winged stilt chick - Sa Roca hide

Black-winged stilt chick – Sa Roca hide


There was a constant stream of egrets flying over, both cattle and little along with an occasional purple heron. The black-winged stilts were pretty vocal, then I saw the chick and realised why they were giving all the other birds grief. Even the Kentish plovers were getting flown at. There a couple of common terns in the area occasionally landing on a dead bough. Plus all the usual suspects, spot fly, house spuggy, Sardinian warbler and wood pigeons. After about thirty minutes here I moved on to the next hide, Es Ras, this looked out over the same area but from 1/4 past rather than 1/2 past (clock face).
Common tern -Es Ras hide

Common tern -Es Ras hide


Kentish plover - Es Ras hide

Kentish plover – Es Ras hide


So much the same sort of birds again or so I thought until I caught sight of a brown blob across the other side of the dustbowl, a curlew I guessed. Getting the scope on it proved me almost right, it was a stone curlew! The bird was pretty relaxed and I was able to watch it for almost 10 minutes before it disappeared in to the scrub. I even remembered to get some pictures of it as strutted through the vegetation. I took my cue from the bird and quit the hide shortly after it disappeared.
First sight of stone curlew - Es Ras

First sight of stone curlew – Es Ras


Stone curlew - Es Ras

Stone curlew – Es Ras

Following the path around I was hearing nightingales in several places but could not get as much as a fleeting glimpse of one. The observation hill, basically a mound giving views over the lagoon and reedbed, was the next stopping place but sadly there was nothing to see from the top. However in a dyke at the bottom of the mound I found my first lifer of the trip, red-knobbed (crested) coot, a couple of tagged birds which seemed to be a pair. Wandered a bit further along the path and heard great reed warbler singing, couldn’t at first locate the bird but then found it across the water of a small pool and almost at the top of a reed, not where I’m used to seeing ordinary reed warblers. Managed a couple of record shots of the bird.

Red-knobbed coot by observation hill

Red-knobbed coot by observation hill


Great reed warbler behind the observation hill

Great reed warbler behind the observation hill


Arriving back at the visitor centre, the choice now was whether to head off North or South, North won and I started the walk to the Es Colombar hide, there were a couple of viewing platforms on the way but there was naff all to view unfortunately. No major sightings anywhere along the path unless you count a swallowtail butterfly that just wouldn’t stop still for a moment. The approach to the hide is via raised decking and health and safety went out the window when it was built, the wooden slats of the deck are various widths / thicknesses and it makes for interesting walking. Once in the hide I was looking out on a landscape that at first was difficult to understand, then I realised that the white stuff stuck in the bushes was probably Izal or the local equivalent. So that was where the smell came from the other night…
Power station - Es Colombars hide

Power station – Es Colombars hide

However there were birds here, egrets and ducks and little ringed plovers! Was not expecting them, and not breeders. There were also little grebe in abundance. Way over at the back of the area were a couple of ducks that took some time to id, one was a female red-crested pochard which was a mere trip tick, but the other was another life tick, a marbled duck. Sadly the marble was too far away to get even a rubbish record shot, I was only able to id after prolonged views with my scope up at 40x and second guessing the heat haze.
Little egret - Es Colombars hide

Little egret – Es Colombars hide


Little ringed plover pair - Es Colombars hide

Little ringed plover pair – Es Colombars hide


Sardinian warbler - Es Colombars hide

Sardinian warbler – Es Colombars hide


After the lifer there really wasn’t anything to keep me in the hide so I meandered back towards the visitor centre, calling in at the Es Cibollar hides on the way. The first one was good, shelduck, common tern and chicks, more black-winged stilts and another stone curlew, this time not very far away. I prepared myself for a long wait and sure enough the bird started ambling towards the hide.
Stone curlew - Es Cibollar 1 hide

Stone curlew – Es Cibollar 1 hide

I took several photos over the course of the next few minutes and then it all went wrong. A family entered the hide, 3 generations youngest in backpack on its Dad’s shoulders, none of them birders (no bins). They were quiet enough and the stone curlew kept coming closer, then the middle generation committed the cardinal sin of sticking a camera out the hide window to capture a view. I quickly got through to them that this was not good but the damage was done the stone curlew was spooked and it beat a hasty retreat to further away than when I first saw it.
The closest he got - Es Cibollar 1 hide

The closest he got – Es Cibollar 1 hide


I managed to stay calm and tried my best with my schoolboy german to explain that putting hands out the hide was not good as it frightened the birds. I’d forgotten the words for go, now, before, I, murder, you so couldn’t quite explain how narked I was. I stayed in the hide for a while longer in the hope that the stone curlew would return but sadly it was not to be. Another couple came into the hide, this time at least one of them were birders as he had bins, the chap got onto the stone curlew but was having difficulty getting through to his other half what she should be looking for. I offered her my camera to look at to see the pictures I’d taken of the bird. We managed to communicate successfully and she got a decent view of the bird eventually. At this point I left the first hide and made my way to the second one, a mistake as there was less to see from this hide. In fact no birds at all so I decided to head back to the visitor centre and plan my next move.

So where next, I hadn’t a clue, so after looking at the map and reviewing the water bottle I decided to go clockwise as that would mean a shorter journey to the car if I had to cut things short. The path here overlooks Ses Puntes to the left and Es Ras to the right, or it would do if the reeds weren’t so high. The walking wasn’t the best as the path although not tarmac was just as bloody hard. I had plenty of fan-tailed warblers, Sardinian warblers and goldfinches but no new species over the first half of the path. As I approached the Ses Puntes Deck observation platform I saw a large raptor with a small bird harassing it away to the left, at first I thought it was something like a marsh harrier with a thrush or something doing the harassing. After getting the bins on the smaller bird I realised it was an Eleonora’s falcon, which meant that the other bird had to be huge! Thankfully a common buzzard also started getting annoyed about the big birds presence and came up to dispute things, this gave me a good size indicator, the big bird was roughly twice the size of the buzzard. Turns out that it isn’t a mega-tick, rather an escapee golden eagle that hangs about down there so not a tick by any stretch of imagination BOO!

Golden Eagle with Eleonora's falcon - near Ses Puntes deck

Golden Eagle with Eleonora’s falcon – near Ses Puntes deck


View from Ses Puntes deck

View from Ses Puntes deck


Consolation was achieved quite quickly with my first bee-eater of the trip and also my first in Majorca so a double tick. Followed up by a woodchat shrike and another Cetti’s warbler. At this point my water bottle was looking a little bit lean so discretion being the better part of valour I thought it prudent to turn back. I’d reached the corner by the depuradora gates by this time but as the sun was pretty hot I didn’t want to get into difficulties any further into the reserve so turned back to walk to the car. I was rewarded by a fairly close in osprey that sadly didn’t hang around long enough to get a picture but I did manage to get a shot of a yellow wagtail, one of the subspecies rather than the all yellow bird.
Yellow wagtail - path to car park

Yellow wagtail – path to car park


It was just short of 3.00pm when I got back to the car, so my 2 litres of water had lasted me 7 hours in the field, not bad but I was wishing I’d taken 2 bottles. A bite to eat wouldn’t have gone amiss either. I’d meant to stop and get a sarnie but in my rush to get a parking space I had forgotten all about food. Those who know me will find that last sentence hard to believe.

Majorca 2013 – part 3

Thursday 20th June

A lazy day today, had a walk out to the old town and a thoroughly enjoyable ramble around the place, no crowds as it wasn’t market day. We were blown away by the Church of St Jaume, the artwork in there is amazing, well worth the 2 Euro it cost us to gain entry. The altar piece and the rose window were particularly good.

The Church of St Jaume from near the Roman Ruins

The Church of St Jaume from near the Roman Ruins


The Altarpiece

The Altarpiece


The Rose window showing the surroundings

The Rose window showing the surroundings


Detail of the Rose Window

Detail of the Rose Window

The ceiling

The ceiling

We found a great little bar with an enclosed courtyard, only had a drink but we decided to come back for an evening meal. Later on we found the old walls of the city and as there was a few hundred yards with access to the walkway at roof level, we decided to have a wander. Interesting view as the streets within the walls are so narrow you get the feeling you could jump onto the nearest roof and get across town without having to drop to the ground.

Looking across the roofs

Looking across the roofs


On the way back to the resort complex I realised that the cacti in the garden by the Roman ruins weren’t just haphazardly planted, I did my best to get a photo but really needed to be a few feet taller to really do it justice.
The Cacti

The Cacti


Also on the way back got my first serin of the holiday and managed to get a record shot.
Serin

Serin

Friday 21st June
Another lazy day, this time because I’d to drive to the airport to collect Sheila’s brother and his wife, who were sharing the apartment for the second week. So it was an alcohol free day as well, didn’t want any bother with the police. Come 6.00pm and into the car for the journey South West, not far out of Alcudia had the first hoopoe of the holiday, a single bird flying across the road in front of us. There were some distant raptors seen but I was unable to id them as I’d no optics with me. The flight was on time and surprise, surprise they too had had a stag party on board. Theirs was much worse than ours, all of the group were several sheets to the wind, one particular guy was completely wrecked. We’d seen him wander out of the arrivals area sideways, dressed as Captain Britain and completely incoherent. Thankfully he was ‘rescued’ by his mates before he made too much of a pillock of himself. The drive back was uneventful as once more the light very quickly dropped and we arrived at the resort complex in the dark.

Saturday 22nd & Sunday 23rd June

Another couple of hot days, so once more little activity, just general mooching around Alcudia, allowing the newbies to get their bearings. We again had an osprey fly by the resort complex on Saturday, first the morning and again later in the afternoon. We had our evening meal in the nice little courtyard we visited on Thursday. Mixed paella, bags of langoustines, cockles, mussels and prawns with chicken and rabbit- excellent.

Osprey

Osprey


Cattle egret on a goat

Cattle egret on a goat


Sunday was market day again but this time we knew the ropes and managed to avoid most of the worst stalls. In the afternoon we found the bullring, thankfully not being used for fights today. Quite the opposite in fact, there was a big family party going on, a humungous paella was being cooked. The pan they were using was at least 4 metres across, they were using what looked like dustpans on poles to turn the rice over. We paid our 3 euros and had a wander around the bullring, I hadn’t realised how small they were, probably not more than 40 foot across.
The bullring

The bullring


The sun was by this time not so much cracking the pavement as pulverising it so we didn’t stay long out in the open but came down to the bar area for the free drink that was part of the ticket price. Small beer, lemonade or water, no contest really. Whilst we were drinking the owner of the bullring came over with a large plate of the paella, this he plonked on our table and said ‘enjoy as a memento of your visit’. Very nice. A stroll along the walls and then a short taxi ride back to the resort complex, a dip and a shower and we were ready for the evening meal in the complex.

Majorca 2013 – part 2

Monday 17th June

Today we visited Puerto Pollenca, where we stayed on our first visit to Majorca all those years ago, man it has changed a fair bit. Still the lovely beach but the marina has grown, the boats almost outnumber the people now. We had a burger and a brew in a bar on the town square and looked for the tree that held the scops owl last time we were in town. Had a look at the start of the Bocquer Valley, but have to wait to visit it. First Eleonora’s falcon of the trip during the drive back to Alcudia, little egret at the ‘smelly stream’ loads of spot flys as well.

The beach at Puerto Pollenca

The beach at Puerto Pollenca


Just a few of the boats

Just a few of the boats


Little egret at the 'smelly stream'

Little egret at the ‘smelly stream’

Later that day whilst having a post bedtime snifter I realised that the ‘buzzing’ in my ears wasn’t water from the afternoon swim but nightjars churring somewhere above. A trip up to the roof terrace was called for, I could still hear the birds, then in the light of the moon at least 2 birds were visible flitting backwards and forwards over the roof. One of them taking time out to sit on the aerial and take up the churring again. This was great but sadly the camera was below and I’d had a little too much wine to try and get a photo tonight.

Tuesday 18th June

Visited the market in Alcudia old town to day, great if you want a belt or a leather bag but not really much else there. The various bars etc all looked very inviting but we stayed alcohol free for the duration. Nice kestrel action over the town and there were several goldfinches feeding in a field close by the Roman ruins, much darker birds than the UK variety.

Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher

Later in the day I had a wander about the area behind the resort complex and found Tucan Marsh, which I’d heard about but couldn’t find in any of the books. Loads of coot, pochard, mallard and little grebes. The first woodchat shrike of the holiday was photographed but sadly I committed the cardinal sin of focussing on the bush rather than the bird. A couple of stonechats also put in appearance but they were way too mobile for me. Another Eleonora’s falcon over the scrub was a nice addition to the day list.

The evening meal was at a bar on the main strip with live music, well the guy was breathing! He ‘played’ guitar and ‘sang’ along to karaoke tracks, Neil Diamond, Simon and Garfunkel that sort of stuff. Thing was his singing was appalling and the guitar playing was almost non-existent as the karaoke track had all the music there. When he was switching between tracks on his laptop he was playing the guitar whilst waiting for the tracks to queue up and daft thing was he was playing some good little riffs, why he didn’t actually play more I’ll never know.

The guitarist

The guitarist

Wednesday 19th June

Today we are mostly driving around the island, started from Alcudia and heading East along the road towards Arta then on to Cala Rajada and Son Moll beach out in the East of the island. Lovely place but why are they building a multi-storey apartment block right at the side of the sand? Once finished this is going to be a real blight. A walk along the clifftop brought decent views of Audouin’s gull, the inevitable spot fly but not much else.

Back to the car and then Southwards to Porto Colmb, Porto Cristo and then Cala D’Or, we stayed here a few years back during October and found it very nice. Today it was anything but, the temperature was ridiculous, somewhere in the 30’s and not a breath of a breeze. We were baking! Went to the main beach and after 10 minutes of being ignored at the beach cafe we moved inland a little and had lunch in a lovely little bar. Fried squid rings, delicious.

Returning to the car we set off Westwards for Santanyi, Ses Salines where I had intended to stop and scan the salt pans but the pans are not close to the town and I missed the correct junction. Never mind press on, Campos, Lluc Major where I almost drove the wrong way down a one way street. Direction change to head North towards Algaida, Sencelles and Inca. The roads here were a little narrow and there were times when I was doubting that a vehicle could get by without crashing, thankfully the locals knew what they were doing and collisions were avoided. We’d a couple of red kite during this drive along with a few woodchat shrike on fence wires. Once in Inca it was find the motorway and head back home.

After the evening meal and before too much vino had been consumed I made my way to the roof with the camera and laid wait for the nightjars. Cloud cover meant that the night was pitch black but based on the previous night I figured that when the bird was churring it was on the aerial. I took a few shots with the camera on highest ISO but they were pitch black, so I dropped the ISO and brought in the flash. Took a couple of shots and this time could just make out the satellite dish so kept things like that for when the birds arrived. Thankfully not too long to wait and as soon as the churring started I took a few shots in the direction of the aerial. It worked, as after a little work in Lightroom I was able to reveal a reasonable picture.

Nightjar

Nightjar

Majorca 2013 – Part 1

Friday 14th June
2.30pm and we are waiting for the taxi to whisk my wife and me off to the delights of Leeds & Bradford airport for the flight to Majorca. Jet2.com again, they are cheap and cheerful and usually on time. Two weeks in the sun and hopefully a few days birding for me.
There was a stag group on the flight, quite a subdued group really, their worst prank was continually hitting the call button. They did buy 3 bottles of the ‘champagne’ during the flight. The plane made good time, we landed at roughly 8.00 local time and after the normal hanging about for the luggage to appear, we had only a few minutes to wait for the pick-up bus to carry us to the car hire depot. I asked for a Ford Focus and got a Hyundai i-30, nice car but boot space limited. The drive from Palma to Alcudia was fun, I only upset one other driver when I had to hang a sharp right to get the correct slip road.
First bird of the holiday was a House sparrow at the airport, sadly the bulk of the drive to the resort was in the dark thanks to a knobhead at the car hire depot who was either stupid, senile or just plain bloody-minded and took forever to sign a piece of paper and pay for a tank full of gas. Got to the depot in daylight and left in the growing gloom.

House Spuggy

House Spuggy

Saturday 15th June
My god the sun is bright early doors in Majorca, breakfast on the balcony and we are taking in the area. The resort complex is towards the North Western part of Alcudia, at the side of the smaller of the two man-made lakes. We are on the top floor, normally a bit of a bind but we got a roof terrace and a couple of sunbeds to ourselves, plus the views are to die for. There’s a couple of house martins building a nest on the eaves of the balcony to our left so something interesting to look at. Plenty of swifts tazzing about, slowly dawned on me that they weren’t commons, got a couple in the bins against good background and ticked pallid swift for the trip.

The partial nest

The partial nest

House Martins - all 3 of them

House Martins – all 3 of them

First gull of the trip is… yellow-legged, buns, I did so want it to be a different species. Got used to seeing them around the resort complex over the holiday. Distant bird flying South – scope and first Purple heron, also a few egrets but too far off to make any other call.
A walk to the beach later in the morning gave me more yellow-legged gulls and then the first Audouin’s gull of the trip. Most days there were a couple of them hanging about on the beach, never landing for long.

Yellow-legged gull

Yellow-legged gull


The walk back gave me a nice spotted flycatcher and young,lots of food begging, the first Sardinian warbler of the trip and later in the day collared dove around the resort complex. As this was Majorca and not Lanzarote I didn’t need to rule out African this time. Early evening and the flyover egrets/herons were very nice, managed to id a cattle egret this time, then a lone bird flew close, darker than the egrets but smaller than the purple herons, got the bins on it and thought I had the id, jumped for the scope and managed to get it in focus and nearly had an accident. I’m looking at a bittern, first one on Majorca and I can hardly believe it.

Sunday 16th June
Morning and a walk to Port d’Alcudia got me the first picture of Audouin’s gull, a singleton on a roof but it’s snapped. We saw other birds on the walk, but by now the litany was establishing itself, house martin, swift, flycatcher, sparrow, woodpigeon/collared dove. These were to be ever present, in fact the spot flys were by far the commonest bird I saw.

Audouin's gull

Audouin’s gull


Afternoon and it’s off to the S’albufera to blag a permit for the fortnight, took bins but not camera. 15 years since I’d been here and last time you could drive up to the visitor centre, not anymore. You got to park outside the reserve, and as the car park only holds about 15 cars it was with relief we saw someone leaving as we arrived to park up. Then you need to yomp a kilometre to the office to get your permit. It seemed churlish not to have a bit of a birdwatch whilst there, so I nipped into the Sa Roca hide for a few minutes, my wife was sat in the shade of the trees by the vc so I couldn’t be long. I managed to rack up both egrets, stilt, Kentish plover, Cetti’s and fan-tailed warblers (bugger zitting cisticola for a name) as well as a particularly vocal nightingale just by the path to the hide. On the walk back couldn’t find the heron/egret roost so unable to get night heron.
Back at the resort complex had an osprey fly between our block and the next hotel along as we were getting ready to go for our evening meal, once more the camera was in another room. I really got to get into the habit of carrying it around with me at all times.