Thinking of holidaying in Mallorca? Think again!

The island of Cabrera visible from southern Mallorca

The southern part of Mallorca offers beautiful beaches, sea views and some very good birding

At this stage you really should know that Mallorca is more than just a sun and beach holiday destination. Especially if you are a birder. But if you are still in some doubt just check out the birding itineraries in the Mallorca section of the main website.

FOrmentor peninsula viewing area, Mallorca

The spectacular Formentor peninsula is home to Eleonora’s Falcons, Balearic Warblers and much more.

Places like s’Albufera, Ses Salines, the Tramuntana range, the Formentor peninsula, the Artà peninsula, are all places that the birder cannot afford to miss if he or she spends any time on this rich and varied island in the Western Mediterranean.

Black Vulture, Aegypius monachus

Black Vulture, one of the specialities of Mallorca, can be seen in the Tramuntana range

Birds you’d want to look out for include the endemic Balearic Warbler, Balearic Shearwater, Eleonora’s Falcon, Black Vulture, Audouin’s Gull….

Red-crested Pochard, Netta rufina.

Red-crested Pochards can be seen at the S’Albufera Natural Park

The good news is we are working with a number of top quality hotels on this splendid island. Take a look at the itinerary, click on the “Recommended accommodation” link and see for yourself what your travel agent hasn’t told you. You’ll find hotels of different kinds and styles but with something in common: they welcome birders and their families and have excellent birding opportunities nearby, often on the very doorstep.  

Scop’s Owl, Otus scops

Scops Owl can be detected in the grounds of some of our recommended hotels

S’Albufera Natural Park – try Iberostar Playa de Muro

Tramuntana range – try Can Torna or Mallorca4seasons

Boquer Valley and Formentor peninsula – try Grupotel Molins

Ses Salines and Salines des Salobrar – try Finca Son Guardiola or Can Canals

Artà peninsula – try Grupotel Cala Ratjada or Grupotel Gran Vista and spa

Birds of the winter

Red Kite, Milvus milvus.

Red Kites flock at a site near Lleida. 

Brambling, Fringilla montifringilla.

Has anybody seen a Brambling this winter? I haven’t yet, but last year I saw more than a dozen in a single tree!

Griffon Vulture, Gyps fulvus, in flight

The Griffon Vulture may be a carrion-feeder but it still has its beauty. And most of them stay around in the winter.

 Snow on the Bellmunt drylands

Bellmunt drylands. No Little Bustards here now!Instead we can look out for Merlin, Hen Harrier, Red Kite, Peregrine Falcon, Golden Eagle.

The Avellanes monastery in the Montsec range

The Avellanes Monastery as it is rarely seen. This is the doorway to the birds of the Montsec range as well as the drylands to the north of Lleida.


Winter scenes and birding in Spain

Cranes, Grus grus.

Gallocanta is the place to see Cranes in northeast Spain at this time of the year, but that doesn’t mean it is the only place. Cranes make a great complement to a winter day’s birding anywhere in Spain. Here we were fortunate to encounter a flock of almost 200 birds on the steppes of Belchite.

Looking for a Dupont’s Lark in the fog was a tough job. The Cranes made it easier to bear the pressure that mounted until we finally set eyes on our target in the early afternoon. They were grey for sure but added a lot of colour to a grey day. The other birds of the day that deserve a mention are Black Wheatear, Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (a big flock of more than 300 birds),  a single Black-bellied Sandgrouse, a Merlin, and plenty of larks.

Then there was a warming cup of tea at our recommended hotel, Rincón del Cierzo, and the smiling proprietoress Olga.

Birding landscapes

Wallcreeper wonder land II

 Alan and Marge on their way to a meeting with a Wallcreeper

Wallcreeper wonder land

Farther along the same path. The sun appears to be winning the battle with the fog. Do we start looking for the Wallcreeper now?

Here are some snapshots from a recent day out birding with Alan and Marge in my part of northeast Spain.

Late January. That on the ground is fresh snow, and that in the air is fog. The sun and blue sky is not far away. 

Farther up the same path the sun shone through the fog. We could see where we were: walking along the base of spectacular sandstone cliffs. The only shame was that we couldn’t admire the wonderful views “You’ll have to come again next time you’re here” I remarked.

Alan has wanted to see a Wallcreeper for more than 20 years now. When these photos were taken he was hopeful of seeing his prized Wallcreeper, but in the end would it be just another day to add to those 20-odd years of waiting? There are rarely any guarantees with birds.

I lagged a little behind, scanning the rock walls and taking some photos of the marvellous landscape. Alan, driven, forged ahead with Marge close behind.

An Alpine Accentor flew up and away half way up the rock face. Crag Martins wheeled one way and then another. A Red-billed Chough hurled itself into the void below its rocky perch, with a startled “Che-err!”. The sun shone resolutely through the mist, we bathed in its warmth and the snow started melting at a surprisingly rapid rate. A Blue Rock Thrush peered over a small pinnacle-shaped rock, its head gleaming satin dusky blue. A Wallcreeper flicked its intensely coloured wings, just for a second, but enough for our  human eyes to catch a glimpse of the movement and locate the avian treasure.  

We all watched as the Wallcreeper worked its way up and across the sheer rock face. Now hopping and prying with its bill, now fluttering around an overhanging with its wings outstretched. The similarity between the Wallcreeper and a large colourful butterfly was quite striking.

As you stand there pressing your binoculars into your eye sockets, contemplating one of the milliard of nature’s true wonders, that tiny figure flickering and flitting across the face of that immense wall, you somehow manage to hold your breath; perhaps fearing that as if by merely breathing you have the power to shatter that magical moment before it can be properly etched onto your memory.

Excerpt from “Flying over the Pyrenees, standing on the plains”