Tuesday, 26 June 2012

A wonderful Hobby

 I'm really behind on my posts after trips to West Wales and Norfolk recently.
But last Friday I was fortunate enough to encounter this Hobby perched up at Gayhurst Quarry. He was totally unconcerned by my prescence, allowing me to walk right underneath the tree he was in.

                                                          A brilliant encounter !!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Willen Babies

Guess what it's raining again! So I thought I'd put a couple of pics of the cuter birds I saw on my latest walk around Willen yesterday.
 Things have started to quieten down a bit now birdwise although 8 species of  Warblers ( including Cettis) was a good score and a few Little Egrets are now nesting on the island.
young Canada Goose

young Mute Swans

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Some Menorcan Insects

A few pics of the insect life of Menorca. I'm afraid I don't know some of them so any help would be gratefully accepted
clouded yellow

wall brown
crimson Speckled moth

Small Copper

Bath White
This moth must have been 5 or 6 inches across. It loked as though it had been attacked by a bird
Blue of some sort

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Menorca Birds

Our recent fortnight in Menorca was not strictly a birding holiday, but as ever whenever I got the opportunity I would go out for a wander. On a couple of occasions I hired a cycle and travelled slightly further afield.
 Despite being so close to Mallorca - which we could actually see across the sea from the grounds of our hotel, the bird life was fairly different as there is practically no water on the island and species that are commonplace on the larger island are absent or rare on Menorca .Likewise some Menorcan birds are scarce in Mallorca.
 We stayed on the West side of the island on the coast at a place called Cala'n Forcat near to Ciutadella.
This was fortunate as this area is home to a colony of Spotless Starlings, at least a hundred birds and this is the only place to find them on either island.
 The area around the hotel was very rich in birdlife. Cory's and Balearic Shearwaters were numerous offshore and the Mediterranean race of Shag were commonplace on the cliffs.
Shag (mediterranean Race)

Yellow-legged Gull
Spotted Flycatcher (balearic race)
 A new bird for me was Tawny Pipit and these were everywhere along with Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Doves, Sardinian Warblers and Spotted Flycatchers

Tawny Pipit
 A regular walk for me was along the cliff tops north of the hotel past the Pont d'en Gil, along to the water treatment works and the viewpoint of Sa Falconera. Here there were abundant, Tawny Pipits, Thekla Larks,Corn Buntings.I even stumbled upon a nesting Stone Curlew, that skulked away before taking flight when it thought it was far enough away. A pair of Peregrines were nesting on the cliffs as were some Kestrels.Continuing the Bird of Prey theme on one occasion I was fortunate enough to see an Osprey snatch a fish from the sea.
 Five Bee-eaters visited one morning as did a Turtle Dove and eight Wheatears another day. At the Water treatment works a few Cattle Egrets and several of the local Spotless Starlings called in to feed..

Blue Rock Thrush

 My best birding day was when I hired a cycle and headed towards Ciutadella and then took the minor road along to the Punta Nati .Every couple of yards I was stopping to look at something, Tree Sparrows, Stonechats, Whinchat, Woodchat Shrike, Tawny Pipits, Thekla and Short-toed Larks Corn Buntings, Ravens, Red and Black Kites, Booted Eagles, Egyptian Vultures, a passing flock of Hirundines that included Sand and House Martins, Barn and Red-rumped Swallows. Nightingales and Cettis Warblers called from just about any wooded area.
Corn Bunting
Thekla Lark

 One of the numerous highlights was a nest colony of Cattle Egrets right next to the road. The birds seeming to show very little fear of man as they just stood there looking down at me.

Cattle Egret

 At the lighthouse itself I watched several Cory's Shearwaters skimming the waves just offshore, some following a boat with Yellow-legged Gulls.

Cory's Shearwaters and Yellow-legged Gulls

 Another cycling day out saw me travelling  to Cala Morell, a resort on the North Coast, seeing very much the same birds as on the previous two wheeled excursion, but a group of nine large birds in a field near the Algaiarens turn turned out to be Egyptian Vultures that one by one took to the air and soared around.

5 of the 9 Egyptian Vultures

juvenile Egyptian Vulture
 My destination was the Punta de S'Esculiar just west of Cala Morrel which consisted of some very rough scrubland on top of very steep cliffs.
 The expected  Blue Rock Thrushes, Sardinian Warblers, Tawny Pipits and Stonechats were encountered but the highlights had to be several Pallid Swifts and a pair of Peregrines.

 Other places visited were perhaps not as noteworthy bird wise as I would have anticipated, most notably the S'albufera Es Grau which is the only real wetland reserve on the island. Here a few Coots, Great crested Grebes, Little Grebes and some highly dubious Mallards accompanied 3 Black-winged Stilts and a couple of Little-ringed Plovers.
 The Son Bou Marshes were very disappointing, with very little seen.
Cala Galdana only redeemed itself with a couple of Alpine Swifts and my only Little Egret of the trip.
 If you are visiting Menorca to go birding I would suggest just get out there and find your own birds as there seems to be little information out there  and what there is doesn't seem particularly reliable.
 It's much for fun that way and a whole lot more satisfying. I thoroughly enjoyed my fortnight out there. Sixty eight species doesn't sound a great deal, but so many of them were species you don't see every day back home.

juvenile Shag (race desmarestii)
Booted Eagle
Audouins Gull