Mallorca, surprisingly, is one of the most remote islands in the Mediterranean! Almost 200 kilometres from the nearest mainland coast, it has a range of high mountains (with 37 peaks over 1,000 metres), one of the largest marshes in the western Mediterranean, and a wealth of the garrigue and maquis vegetation so typical of the region. These features are in part the reason for the island’s rich birdlife, but Mallorca’s appeal to the naturalist also lies in the close proximity of its very varied habitats, enabling all of them to be covered easily from a single base, without the need to change hotels or travel vast distances, thus leaving more time to enjoy the natural sites in a more relaxed way. Further, Mallorca lies along one of the major bird migration routes across the Mediterranean and, due to its comparative isolation, is home to a number of rare species such as Cinereous Vulture, Eleonora’s Falcon, Audouin’s Gull and Balearic Warbler, not to mention over 30 endemic plants, including a relict from the ice ages, Hypericum balearicum.
Our holiday is based near Puerto Pollensa, a relatively quiet Mallorcan coastal town, situated in the north-eastern corner of the island and well away from the main tourist metropolis. From here we will take daily minibus excursions into the surrounding areas and pass our time enjoying easy walking in our search for birds and other wildlife. Behind our hotel lies S’Albufereta Marsh, a prime site for passing migrants together with a wealth of resident species. Our hotel has a private hide overlooking the marsh which is an excellent facility to enjoy some pre-breakfast or post-dinner birdwatching. Another local site worth exploring is the Bocquer Valley which attracts raptors, shrikes, wheatears and warblers during migration.
Amongst the other special sites we will be visiting is the Parc Naturel de S’Albufera, a 2,200-hectare freshwater marsh and one of the most important birding areas in the western Mediterranean. This provides a wealth of insect-life for passing migrants such as terns, bee-eaters, hirundines and warblers, and is home to such resident birds as Marsh Harrier and Moustached Warbler, of which the latter number some 1,000 pairs. We will also be looking for the marsh’s excellent selection of herons, egrets, waterfowl and waders, and some of the re-introduced populations of Purple Swamphen and Red-knobbed Coot.
We will spend at least one day in the northern mountains, the ‘Tramuntanas’, home of the rare Cinereous Vulture. These mountains are mainly composed of limestone, and the scenery here is magnificent. As well as enjoying some pleasant walking, our primary purpose will be our search for raptors, and we will hope to see Cinereous and Griffon Vultures, Booted Eagle, Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Common Kestrel and Red Kite.
The spectacular Formentor Peninsula is another area not to be missed. A rocky extension of the Tramuntana Mountains, the peninsula provides superb coastal cliff scenery and views, and is home to Blue Rock Thrush and Shag (the Mediterranean subspecies desmarestii). We will visit the lighthouse at the tip of the peninsula in search of newly arrived Eleonora’s Falcons, a summer visitor which breeds colonially on the cliffs, and spend time at Casas Vellas, a cultivated area containing fig and olive trees as well as vines in the middle of this otherwise pine-covered peninsula, which attracts many northbound migrants in spring.
Finally we will take a trip to the Salinas de Levante in the south, an area of worked and disused saltpans that are often the first landfall for migrants from Africa, and a particularly good site for waders that include such species as Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover and Pied Avocet. They are also an important area for wintering wildfowl, and small flocks of Greater Flamingoes have begun to overwinter here in recent years. We will view the pans from the main tracks and then explore the Cabo de Salinas, the southernmost point on the island, and a marvellous area of undisturbed garrigue which is home to Eurasian Stone-curlew and Thekla Lark. From the beach we should see the elegant Audouin’s Gull, one of the rarest gulls in the world, and possibly Scopoli’s and Balearic Shearwaters if the weather is favourable.
The comfort and simplicity of a birdwatching tour in this area, and the short driving distances involved, make this a most relaxing holiday. The exceptional range of southern European birds makes it an ideal venue for the less experienced birdwatcher and beginners. In this respect, Mallorca has certainly not changed since it first became a birdwatcher’s paradise over 40 years ago.
it first became a birdwatcher’s paradise over 40 years ago.
Nothing was too much trouble for the two leaders Dave and Alan. They were always polite, helpful and professional. This was my first holiday with Naturetrek and I thought that the itinerary was excellent. It was a great comfort to know that any problems or questiosn, not that I had any problems, could be dealt with by Dave and Alan. I would like to recommend them for their skills and teamwork
I very much enjoyed this trip because of the great variety of birds, most of them, especially waders, seen from a ver short distance. Both guides had good humour, great enthusiasm and competence. We were a good group and the weather also was good!
John & Jenny are excellent tour leaders - very knowledgeable on their own subjects. Excellent skills to get the group into a cohesive, friendly and co-operative party.
The hotel was excellent - plenty of space, cupboards etc. The food was first class - lots of choice. Staff was good and the wine service was excellent. Wine came within 2 minutes of ordering.
The tour leaders very much added to the enjoyment of the trip. We were well briefed ahead of each daily trip and they were at pains to ensure that as far as possible we were all able to see the target birds. Their catering skills were pretty good too!
The knowledge and enthusiasm of our leaders, Dave and Alan, was incredible. They were amazing! The way they organised the trip in every way - lunches, driving etc., made the holiday successful. Not being a great birdwatcher I found them so patient and helpful all the time.
We had an amazing week of birdwatching in Mallorca. Our guides, Dave Smith and Alan Miller, were really excellent, quietly arranging everything for us and producing birds on demand; they were very professional. The hotel is perfectly situated. Many thanks for organising this holiday for us. I hope we’ll be able to fit another Naturetrek holiday in before too long!
A very relaxing holiday with little travelling which gave plenty of time to enjoy each different habitat. The hotel was excellent - spacious rooms, wonderful buffet selection and amazingly quiet. Dave and Alan worked tirelessly to make sure everyone in the group was happy - very patient and efficient. Superb picnics too.
Both Dave and Alan were excellent leaders and very patient with all members of the group. The hotel was quiet, well sited for birding and had an excellent choice of buffet. The rooms were spacious and grounds of the hotel well maintained. That Mallorca had so much to offer was a surprise and really good birds were seen each day.
Our leaders were more than willing to help pinpoint birds some of us found difficult. Information on all things was given freely and every effort made to find out about any flora and fauna. This was a great holiday, enjoyed by all I am sure.
Excellent leaders - both top class birdwatchers, both ensured all of the group got what they wanted from their holiday. They were diplomatic leaders of a group with differing interests.
Great fun, and excellent company and guides. The two leaders, Kevin and Dave, were excellent. We both learned a good deal about bird recognition as well as plants and insects. Thanks also to all the staff at Cheriton for a great holiday.
J. & S.S.
Kevin Elsby and Dave Smith were extremely good at finding birds for us and instructing us in how to identify the birds. Kevin is exceptional with his broad interest in natural history. They both made the holiday a great pleasure.