Birding in Mallorca.

To: "birding aus" <>
Subject: Birding in Mallorca.
From: "Allan Benson" <>
Date: Sun, 9 Nov 2003 20:27:52 +1100

Please see artcile I have written for my Club newsletter. Please contact me if anyone would like additional info.




Birding in Mallorca

Most Australians will know Mallorca as Majorca and as the place where Christopher Skase lived out his days in apparent luxury. Most Europeans will know Mallorca as a holiday destination famous for sun, sand and booze. Birders, know Mallorca as a trap for passage migrants between Europe and Africa and therefore a particularly interesting place to visit.

So where is Mallorca? It lies off the coast of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea, being the major island in the Balearic group of islands and is fact a province of Spain. It is about 80 km long by about 60 lm wide with a mountain range reaching up to 1500 metres dominating the western side of the island. Every piece of sand on the island has a tourist complex built behind it to varying degrees of tastefulness. Germans and Brits dominate the tourist population, in fact, German seemed to be the major language spoken by both the tourists and the locals who look after them in northeast of the island

What excites birders to Majorca is a bird list of 340 species. Of these only 58 are resident while an additional 38 are regarded as winter visitors. So the majority are vagrants and virtually anything can turn up. Spring migration seems to produce the most vagrants. Interesting resident birds include Black Vulture, Audouin’s Gull, Mamora’s Warbler, Thekla Lark, Blue Rock Thrush, Kentish Plover and Purple Gallinule.

The best place to go birding is Parc Natural de S’Albufera. This is a very extensive area of marshland, in the north of the island near the town of Port de Alcudia. This area has a series of hides overlooking shallow ponds surrounded by hectares of reed beds.

The other "famous" birding area is the Bocquer and other valleys of Cap Formentor in the north west of the island. This is the area where passage migrants are likely to be found.

All this information was supplied from a publication called "A Birdwatching Guide to Mallorca" by Graham Hearl, which was purchased from This guide not only contains very precise directions to various birding sites in Mallorca but an annotated list of the species seen which proved very useful.

Our reason for going to Mallorca was a holiday with my wife, daughter and two granddaughters. Except for two mornings at Parc Natural de S’Albufera, any other birding was incidental. We stayed in the northeast part of the island in a village called Capdepera. The house we had rented was on the edge of the village with open fields at the back and beyond forest on a hillside. Around this area I saw Greenfinch, Blackcap, Robin, Firecest, Redstart, Woodpigeon and a Yellow Wagtail in the courtyard. The leaf warblers proved to be extremely frustrating. They called from the middle of thick trees then didn’t move. Imagine thornbills in thick pine trees and you get the picture.

One of the highlights of the Mallorca was seeing a Blue Rock Thrush perched near the lighthouse at Cap de Pera with Auduoin’s Gulls circling and Black Redstarts on the rocks nearby.

At Parc Natural de S’Albufera highlights included Purple Gallinule which has been re-introduced here. The iridescent light blue around its breast was stunning. Other good birds were Kentish Plover, Spotted Redshank. Dunlin, Little Stint, Teal, Shoveler, Gadwell plus Cetti’s and Willow Warbler. I was really excited to see the spectacular Hoopee here. Probably the "rarest" bird here was Glossy Ibis listed as an uncommon passage migrant. Overhead I identified Booted Eagle, Marsh Harrier and a pair of what, I believe were Eleonara’s Falcon. These were two falcons palish underneath, dark on top with long pointed wings and longish tail flying like Peregrines.

Another highlight of the marsh was seeing the Starling flock leaving their roost in the morning. The flock was 500-600 metres long and 100-150 metres high and within this densely packed flocks were pockets of birds that were even more densely packed which "waved" through the flock. Amazing! The guide estimated this flock as up to 1 million Starlings!

My final list after 6 days on Mallorca was 56 species. Although any serious birder would probably sneer at such a miserable total, I reckon the total birds possible at this time of year (October) and excluding passage migrants is 96 so I was quite happy with the total.

Mallorca is a very interesting. It offers much more than sand, sun booze and birds. Spectacular coastal scenery combined with of very interesting history and its associated architecture makes a visit more than worthwhile. The extensive tourist infrastructure also makes Mallorca a very "easy" place to visit and worth adding to the list of venues to visit in Europe.

Allan Benson
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