Tour At A Glance

Cost:

1499.00

Deposit:

500.00

Single Room Supplement:

300

Tour Code:

Leisurely with optional early morning starts.

Group Size:

Eight plus leaders

Scops Owl Audouin's Gull Red-footed Falcon Balearic Shrike European Serin Squacco Heron Zitting Cisticola Purple Swamp-Hen

Mallorca and Cabrera - Balearic Birding in Spring

Date: 25th April - 2nd May 2020 [FOUR SPACES]
Leaders: Jason Moss

Itinerary

 

DAY ONE

We catch a morning flight to Palma and take the one-hour transfer to the Agrotourism Hotel Son Siurana in the north of the island. Once everyone has settled in, we can take our first walk around this 100-hectare ecological estate, where we can hope to encounter our first Hoopoes, Nightingales, Wrynecks, Serins, Sardinian Warblers and ‘Balearic’ Woodchat Shrikes. A dinner will be provided for us each night by the hotel, consisting of delicious traditional Mallorcan cuisine using locally sourced produce. Each night after dinner we will sit down to perform our checklist, likely to the sounds of calling Stone Curlew and Scop’s Owl.

 

DAY TWO

A pre-breakfast walk around the almond, carob and fruit tree orchards surrounding our accommodation might reveal newly arrived migrant species such as Wrynecks, Redstarts or Pied Flycatchers. Resident species such as Cirl Bunting, Wryneck and Hoopoe will entertain while being situated close to a mountain ridge on the borders of the Tramuntana should reveal a selection of raptors including Booted Eagle and perhaps Griffon or Black Vulture. Staying at such a wonderful site gives us a huge advantage over those based at the main hotels in Puerto Pollença and Alcudia, with good birding right on our doorstep! In addition, being situated in the north of the island places us in close proximity for many of the islands premier birding sites. One of these is the Boquer Valley. A beautiful rocky valley, this forms the beginnings of the Tramuntana mountain range, and is a magnet for migrant birds, forming a funnel as they head north. A morning visit may reveal a selection of migrants including warblers, chats, flycatchers, Bee-eaters and hirundines, while rarer species such as Melodious, Western Subalpine and Western Bonelli’s Warblers can occur, and the ridges here often host Raven and Peregrine, Blue Rock Thrush, Crag Martin and Eleonora’s Falcon. This could also be the first place where we encounter the endemic Balearic Warbler, so we will be sure to listen out for its distinctive song. In the afternoon we will visit the vast expanse of the S’Albufera marshes, just a short drive away. The network of pools and waterways are well served by a variety of trails and hides, while the reed bed here is simply colossal! Our trip list is likely to soar, with bustling heronries hosting Little and Cattle Egrets, Night Herons and Glossy ibis, and the lagoons hosting Kentish Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Common Tern, Red Crested Pochard, Great White Egrets, Purple and Squacco Herons, Cetti’s and Great Reed Warblers and Marsh Harriers. Parties of Yellow Wagtails often pause here, and might include one of the more interesting races, and migrant shorebirds abound. Common Greenshank, Common and Wood Sandpipers, Spotted Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Ringed Plovers occur, and we will also search for another one of the specialities, Western Swamphen. Rarer still are the few Red-knobbed Coots that occur here, and our other target bird is the skulking Moustached Warbler. S’Albufera is the jewel in Mallorca's birding crown and one visit really only scratches the surface. There are also several excellent sites around the edge of the main reserve, such as the Depuradora ponds where Marbled Duck can often be seen and passing Whiskered Terns and Collared Pratincoles might be found. There is also a small colony of European Bee-eaters here, and the whole area is good for migrants generally. Returning to our hotel after a superbly varied day, a cold beer by the pool accompanied by the calls of Stone Curlew will be the perfect ending.

 

DAY THREE   

This morning we will be making our way into the spectacular World Heritage Site of the Tramuntana mountains. Winding our way through breath-taking limestone peaks and valleys, we will stop for a walk through one of our favourite passages, at Mortitx. A spectacular valley with the Vinyes Mortitx winery at the heart of it, this location is particularly special for giving us the opportunity to see the rare Bonelli's Eagle, recently reintroduced to the island. This is also an excellent site for both Black and Griffon Vultures, and we can expect to get good views, along with Blue Rock Thrush and Crag Martin. Bee-eaters may be noted passing overhead or perhaps hawking for insects over the grapevines, while flycatchers can be everywhere if a fall has taken place, and a variety of warblers might be found in the surrounding vegetation. Fence lines are checked for shrikes and chats and an eye as always kept on the sky for passing raptors and hirundines. We have previously found the rare Collared Flycatcher in this location so anything is possible! In the afternoon, we will head out again to the nearby smaller S’Albufereta marsh. This can be a good place to see Greater Flamingo and Red-crested Pochard, while Purple Heron or Great White Egret might be noted along with a fishing Osprey and a selection of wildfowl and waders. Zitting Cisticola are common in the surrounding grasses, while Firecrest are frequent in the pines. Audouin's Gull is also quite easy to see along this stretch of beach, while the nearby Can Cuarassa track holds one of the few colonies of Spotless Starlings in Mallorca and can also be good for migrant species.

 

DAY FOUR

Today we will drive west to the small seaside village of Sant Elm, our gateway to the spectacular island of Sa Dragonera. The pines surrounding the village could produce the balearic subspecies of Common Crossbill, as well as Firecrest, Black Redstart and Sardinian Warbler. From here we will catch our boat and make the short crossing to Sa Dragonera, likely noting Yellow-legged and Audouin’s Gulls, along with Scopoli’s Shearwater and Balearic Shearwater.  This is a very new destination for Oriole Birding, recently introduced into our autumn birding holiday, and should be a very exciting one! Osprey can often be seen fishing in the small island harbour, while Audouin’s Gulls breed here. Balearic Warbler, endemic to the Balearic Islands, can be found here in high densities, while another Balearic speciality is the near-endemic Moltoni’s Warbler which also breeds here and will hopefully also reveal itself. The islands isolated location off the far western tip of Mallorca make it an ideal place to observe migration, and the right weather conditions can result in falls of large numbers of Wheatears, Willow Warblers, Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers, along with species such as Turtle Dove, Melodious, Wood and Bonelli’s Warbler, Woodchat Shrike, Nightingale and Golden Oriole. The island has an excellent track record for attracting rarities, further adding to the excitement! Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush and Peregrine Falcon all breed here, while Eleonora’s Falcons also breed here in large numbers, and while it is still early in the season, we can hope to encounter one of these spectacular falcons. Returning back to Son Siurana, we may opt to take a walk around the ecological estate to enjoy the resident species and check for newly arrived migrants, or perhaps just chill by the pool before another delicious dinner! 

                                                                    

DAY FIVE

We make the longer journey to the southern tip of the island today, taking a circular route which passes through some beautiful countryside on the way. Our route down will take us through agricultural land where our main target will be Red-footed Falcon. These diminutive falcons pass through Mallorca in very small numbers each spring, and we will be looking for them at their peak time, searching recently cut hay fields which often encourage them to stop over to feed on flying insects. Lesser Kestrels often join the feeding opportunities, while the area also hosts Thekla and Greater Short-toed Larks, Stone Curlew and Quail. Reaching the south of the island, we will pay a visit to Salobrar de Campos, the saline lagoons here being one of Mallorca’s premier sites for shorebirds. Greater Flamingo can be found in good numbers, along with an assortment of shorebirds such as Curlew Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Spotted, Wood and Green Sandpiper and perhaps a Collared Pratincole or Marsh Sandpiper. Birds of prey frequently include Osprey, Booted Eagle, Eleonora’s Falcon and Red Kite, while Bluethroats might be discovered in the thick suaeda bushes. We will take a look at one of the islands only breeding colonies of Alpine Swifts at Castell de Santuari, where we will also look for breeding Firecrest, Blue Rock Thrush and Crag Martins. At nearby S’algar, we will take a stroll to look for Thekla Lark and Tawny Pipit, while Balearic Warbler can also be found hear fairly easily. Finally, we will visit a colony of Pallid Swifts near Portocolom, perhaps timing our stop here with a local fishing boat, coming into Portocolom with a trail of feeding Balearic and Scopoli’s Shearwaters attracted by the days catch. We will then return to Son Siurana for dinner.

 

DAY SIX

After a relaxed breakfast back at the hotel, we head along the coast to the wetlands of S’Albufera and S’albufereta again; the area being so rich that it is often worth revisiting! At the main reserve pools, shorebirds are a focus with Wood Sandpiper often seen and Marsh Terns pause to feed. We will have the opportunity to re visit some of the hides and perhaps catch up with any missed species or new arrivals – if the constant views of Cetti’s Warblers posing uncharacteristically in the open allow us! Moustached and Great Reed Warblers will be high priority and perhaps this time a Stone Curlew, Glossy Ibis or Temminck's Stint might be found. We will also visit some of the outer edges of the reserve, trying to take in as much of this fantastic place as we can. In the late afternoon we return to our hotel for our last meal here, with tomorrow bringing an exciting visit to Cabrera.

 

DAY SEVEN

Today we will pack up and say farewell to the wonderful Son Siurana hotel, with an exciting day in store as we travel down to the south-east of the island for a boat trip and overnight stay on the island of Cabrera, just off the southern tip of Mallorca. This island is famously one of the best sites in Spain to observe bird migration and is certainly one of the most stunning locations in the whole of Mallorca. Our previous visits to the island have always blown us away and spending the night will allow us to explore the island more thoroughly than ever before. On our route down we may pay the Salinas at Salobrar de Campos another visit to check for interesting waders, or perhaps a return visit to S’Algar near Portocolom to see if any further migrant birds have arrived overnight. Arriving into Colonia de San Jordi, we board a fast boat around midday which takes about 45 minutes to reach Cabrera. We will receive a short boat tour around this most stunning of archipelagos, where we will encounter both Balearic and Scopoli's Shearwaters, nesting Ospreys and the Mediterranean subspecies of Shag should be noted at sea. Arriving, we will drop our bags at the accommodation, and start exploring on foot, going in search of migrant birds - Cabrera is like the Scilly Isles are to the UK! Being a remote island off the south coast of Mallorca, the island acts as a refuge for species making their way north into Europe. Many other rare and scarce birds have been found on the island over the years (we saw a Collared Flycatcher here on the 2018 spring tour, while the arrivals of commoner species which make landfall here can be spectacular if the weather conditions are in our favour. Species such as Willow Warbler, Common Redstart, Pied and Balearic Flycatchers, Whinchat and Yellow Wagtail all occurring in good numbers, while there is also a good chance of Turtle Dove, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Balearic Woodchat Shrike and perhaps a Western Bonelli's or Melodious Warbler, Eurasian Wryneck or something more unusual. Eleonora’s Falcons again breed here in important densities and we will hopefully get some good views, though it is still early in the year. In addition, we have two key targets. The recently split Moltoni's Warbler and Balearic Warbler, both of which breed here at high densities. Once the day visitors have all left, we will have the island almost to ourselves, and may chose to take a guided walk with one of the islands expert rangers, taking us to areas of the island otherwise inaccessible to the public. Afterwards we will enjoy a dinner of traditional Mallorcan cuisine overlooking the beautiful natural harbour, and undoubtedly want to take a swim off the white sandy beaches, which we will have almost to ourselves!

 

DAY EIGHT

Waking up at dawn on Cabrera is a special and privileged experience, having the island all to ourselves before the day visitors arrive. We will take a walk out to the picnic area and museum, where we will be able to see if any new migrants have arrived. Early May is a very exciting time of year on the island, with a high possibility of finding rare or scarce species, so we will go out in search of newly arrived migrant species with high hopes! At about 11 we will catch our boat which will take us back to Colonia de Sant Jordi, looking our again for Eleonora’s Falcons, Osprey and shearwaters along the way. We have previously encountered Bottle-nose Dolphins on this journey, so we will keep an eye out! Returning back to the mainland, we will have some time to pay another visit to Salobrar de Campos to check through the waders, herons and terns, and also may venture into some of the small wetland sites close to Palma. From here we will make our way towards Palma Airport, where we will catch our early evening flight back to the UK.

 

Additional Information

 

WHATS INCLUDED

Return flights from UK/Palma, seven nights accommodation including all meals, packed lunches, minibus transport, services of guides and reserve entrance fees.

 

NOT INCLUDED

Transport to/from UK airport and any overnight stay that might be required, travel insurance, drinks and any items of a purely personal nature. 

 

ACCOMMODATION

A luxurious Agrotourism Finca hotel with pool and individual private terraces for the first six nights. Last night on Cabrera will be in well-appointed hostel. Both accommodations are en suite.

 

PASSPORT, VISA & HEALTH

Visas are not required by UK nationals. Passports must have 6 months validity beyond the return travel date. Standard health and inoculation requirements apply for UK nationals, visit www.masta-travel-health.com to check these and if necessary, download a free health brief to take to a travel appointment at your local medical practice.

 

 

 

 

Tour Reports

 

2009    2010    2017     2018

 

Testimonials

 

"We rate this as a 10/10 holiday - an excellent all round package" M & F. S. Leicester

 
"Just a line to say thanks a lot for organising such a great trip and for all your help in finding and identifying the birds! Again we really enjoyed every moment" V. R. & J. L. Hertfordshire
 
" The villa was quite outstanding - very luxurious and the grounds provided some excellent birding. Ashley worked extremely hard to ensure the tour was a huge success" P H Essex
 
" Another fantasic holiday. I thoroughly enjoyed the villa and the birding was top quality too" M C Edinburgh
 
" Great birding meets luxury villa house party!! We really enjoyed the small group team spirit and all set in a beautiful location & with excellent accommodation and a very high standard of meals. It was absolutely first class. AJ & MS London

 

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