The S'Albufera National Park, south of Port d'Alcudia is one of the finest wetland reserves in Europe, and while I didn't have a great deal of time to pay it a visit while in Mallorca I still had to go there.
What is so apparent in Mallorca, especially if you are located in the north of the island, is that nowhere is very far to get to. Back in Britain, a twitch to the coast usually takes about an hour and a half to get to from Redhill, often much longer, whereas the S'Albufera reserve was only 30 minutes away from the villa.
In fact, the walk down the footpath into the reserve proper probably took as long as the drive there.
Typically, as with many reserves in Britain, it doesn't officially open until 9am – long after the best time of the day to go birding. We also had the misfortune to bump into a couple of wardens as we ventured down the path to the reserve centre at 8.30am.
They insisted we couldn't enter the reserve for half an hour, even though the gate wasn't locked and the walk to the centre itself is about a mile and would be open by the time we got there. Also a couple of joggers came past from their direction and nothing was said about them!
Anyway, we hung around for a while until they had gone and continued on our walk. The reserve entrance and path runs alongside a canal with plenty of reeds and decent habitat.
We missed a Little Bittern that flew down stream, seen by a Swedish birder we had earlier bumped into, but it was still full of activity.
There were plenty of Spotted Flycatcher
around the entrance and Cetti's Warbler
, and as we walked down the path a Hoopoe
flew over. It wasn't long until we noticed a Night Heron
perched in the bushes on the bank opposite.
Further along the path we came across a roost of Egrets in the trees, at least 30 Cattle Egret
, with a few Little Egret
and another Night Heron
|Roost of Cattle Egret and Little Egret|
Once at the centre (which was still closed after 9am) I ventured to some of the hides in the immediate vicinity, the first being the closest hide to the south.
|There were plenty of Black-winged Stilt on the reserve|
The wetland habitat had dried up quite a bit but there was still plenty to see. There were numerous Black-winged Stilt
, some with young, likewise Kentish Plover
and Little Ringed Plover
. Two Purple Heron
flew over the scrap, landing in the distant reeds, while directly in front of the hide one of two Purple Swamphen
showed exceptionally well.
|A Purple Swamphen came up close to the hide|
A walk over the footbridge to the north featured another Purple Swamphen
, plenty of Coot
(but none of the Red-knobbed variety), and two more Black-winged Stilt
|Little Ringed Plover|
|Black-winged Stilt with Kentish Plover|
At the first hide on the north side of the canal, another Purple Heron
flew over, plus more Black-winged Stilt
featured, as well as Avocet
and Common Tern
Reluctantly, I had to leave well before I wanted to. The reserve is huge and so full of decent birds, it would day an entire day to get the most out of it.
|A Common Tern at the S'Albufera nature reserve|
Not to worry, it had been a great morning, which concluded with four Zitting Cisticola
calling and flying around the footpath on the walk back to the car. The reserve is a must for any birder visiting the island. I think a trip there during migration will be on my agenda at some point in the future.
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