Mallorca, the largest of the Balearic Islands of Spain, is rugged. Much of the agricultural land I saw on the western side of the island was terraced for olive and lemon trees and other crops. Walking the paths and roadways among the terraces in the early morning produced many species new to me, including Blackcaps, Song Thrushes, Chiffchaff, Black Redstart, Wood Pigeons. On the north coast, extensive coastal marshes hold many shorebirds, such as Black-winged Stilts and many others.
It helps that Mallorca is on a migration flyway between Africa and Europe, I was there in mid-March, at the beginning of the migration.We’re staying in the mountain town of Valledemossa. Georges Sand and Chopin stayed here too and hated it, apparently. Times change. Valledemossa is beautiful.
Main Street, Valledemossa
Albufera, a wildlife sanctuary at the north end of the island near Can Picafort, is one of Mallorca’s birding jewels. One of the few places in Europe where the threatened Red-crested (or Red-knobbed) Coot still lives, it covers many hectares of marshland crises-crossed with trails and walkways.
Black-winged Stilts are plentiful at Albufera. They don’t mean to be hilarious but I smile whenever I see them. They’re so serious too. I guess you have to be to pull it off, what with those extra long ‘red vine’ legs!
European warblers are not related to our warblers, which are wood warblers. Often the European types are brown and, for me as a newcomer, not easy to identify. That’s putting it mildly. I think this guy is a Moustached Warbler, scolding me from a thicket. Of course, I could be wrong.
And then there are the Moorhens, some of them quite bold. This bird ran ahead of me down the walkway and then, chicken-like, hopped onto a rail and lingered a moment before jumping down into the scrub. A water bird with a vermilion beak, lemon yellow-tipped with extra long toes to boot — great.
Back in Valledemossa, a few tiny Scops Owls start calling at nightfall. This is a monotonous rounded peep, repeated at regular intervals. It sounds, at least to me, like water dripping (loudly), or like an attenuated sonar ping – slow and amplified, a submarine sound. I read somewhere that having a Scops Owl in your garden during mating season can drive you mad. Peep-peep-peep-peep—peep-peep-peep. You get the idea. I’m delighted to hear the little blighters though. Then again I’m only here for a few days.