Thursday 1 March 2018

Mallorca 24th-27th February 2018 : Day Two

25th February: Day Two:

A lazy start with Sardinian Warblers, Serins and Thekla Larks from the villa window over breakfast with Stone Curlews and Hoopoes calling from the surrounding fields before driving the short distance to Port de Pollenca and the car park on the north side of town to begin our walk up the Boquer Valley.

Looking back on Port de Pollenca

Mind your head as you go through the little gate on the left!

It was still not overly warm but I stuck with the shorts and sandals for the walk. It had been raining and the path up beyond the Finca was slick and sticky in places. Black Redstarts, Stonechats and Robins kept us company to start with and two Crossbills flew up the valley while a pale Booted Eagle sat sentinel in a scraggy pine.   

Black Redstart - ACV
Barry picked up a Black Vulture almost immediately and although it was a long way up the enormous dark fingered rectangle cut an unmistakeable shape across the skyline.

This was one of my target birds and although I may have seen one in the Pyrenees way back in 1993 from a moving coach, I was never really happy with it so this was most gratifying.

Sardinian Warblers churred and female Blue Rock Thrush and Dunnock added themselves to the list too as we climbed through the Mastic scrub towards the ridge before the sea. A pair of Peregrines were being noisy up on the cliff but although I kept my eyes up, the Black Vulture did not return.

Mastic - Pistacia lentiscus - related to the Turpentine Trees we see on Lesvos

I had been told that just beyond the last wall where the habitat changed and the stunted Rosemary bushes became prevalent was the best spot to search for Balearic Warbler and within just  a couple of minutes I had found one. Over the next half hour we all had great views of two pair as they flitted about and although they were not that keen to sit up, some excellent views were had of the little powder grey Sylvia.

Balearic Warbler habitat

Balearic Warbler

Balearic Warbler - Barry Jackson

Sardinians were also pretty showy here and a male Blue Rock Thrush was using boulders as a look out for prey although quite what he was finding I do not know as I never saw a single invert the whole time we were there. Flocks of Serin and Linnet fed amongst the vegetation.

Down in the bay a Shag dived and a couple of Audouin’s Gulls drifted around while a pair of Booted Eagles skydanced and made pathetic squeakings!

Blue Rock Thrush

I was very pleased to have seen the second of my three hoped for ticks so easily so we retraced our steps and headed back to Ca Ne Neus for lunch and brew adding Stone Curlew on the way.

Ping pong in the sunshine followed lunch with a complete disregard for anything vaguely like the rules and a primary desire not to topple back into the icy swimming pool!

I took us south afterwards and made our way back past l’Albufereta where the scope came in handy and I was able to scan the duck properly and add Wigeon, Pochard and Tufted Duck to the list amongst the many Shoveler, Gadwall and Mallard. There was no sign of the Osprey but the Booted Eagles and Crag Martins were still around. 

From here we continued down and through Alcudia and the Albufera Marsh just beyond it. I had not appreciated the passion for proper road cycling on the island until we hit that coastal strip where the only things open were cycle hire and equipment stores although I can imagine it heaving with other tourists later in the season.

This was a little exploratory visit in preparation of a longer one tomorrow and we only walked down to the visitors centre and back after negotiating a parking space with the help of the whistle blowing local police who were doing car spot checks at the same spot but obviously leaving hire cars alone!

The Canal de Siurana alongside the main path held at least roosting Night Herons in the Mastic trees and we suspected that there were many more secreted away. All were adults bar a single 2nd year and two first years. Stone Curlews called and a Spotted Redshank flew over while 12 Red-crested Pochards drifted on the far side. 

Night Heron

Cetti’s and Sardinian Warblers were ever present along with countless Chiffchaffs and Robins while Song Thrushes, Blackbirds and Blackcaps were also present. 

Moustached Warbler was my third tick for the trip and it did not take long to find one singing in the calm afternoon sunshine. I thought that seeing it would be nigh on impossible but Barry picked the singer moving around some distance away in the giant reed and the little beauty even decided to climb up a stem and linger long enough for me to get my scope on it! It felt like a dark Sedge Warbler with rich warm colours, a dark crown and a huge flaring white supercilium and white throat. The tail looked longer and more rounded than Sedge and was waved around more like a Cetti’s.

I was over the moon... a second male was heard a little further up – like a more melodious Sedge Warbler packed into a Reed warbler tempo.

The last pool before the centre looked great for Gallinules and sure enough six were found plodding around in the open pulling up stems with that huge red snipper of a bill before grasping it in those outsized pink feet.  Several Teal followed them around looking for titbits dredged up by their gardening.

Purple Gallinule

Black-winged Stilt and Lapwing were added and the reserve looked more than capable of keeping our attentions on another visit.

Dinner beckoned so it was back off to Port de Pollenca. There was nowhere to park on the town seafront at all so I doubled back to the Gola car park where we had smelt a good restaurant yesterday but even that car park was full but with Police and not cars and they were surrounding the abandoned car that we commented on.  A blanket covered something on the ground. Annie’s suggestion of a body had been correct.  We avoided the car and crowd and parked a little further up before venturing to Tolo’s for a delightful dinner in an empty restaurant that is seemingly patronised by the great and the good in the world cycling community.  Mr Wiggins has a dish named after him...

The old car, police and everybody had gone by the time we returned. A sobering end to the day...

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