It's amazing how quickly the time goes – somehow the timelords seem to put their foot firmly on the accelerator, and before you know you are hitting old age smack in the face.
That's how it seems to me, at any rate as I alarmingly approach my 60th birthday. 60! Such a big number in my book – and I don't like it.
So Annie and I headed off to the Balearic isle for an end-of-spring break. We prefer to go down the self-catering villa-in-the-countryside-with-a-pool route and we headed for the same area we stayed at last time.
|The villa was in the Marc valley, to the west of Pollença,
before the foothills of the Tramuntana mountain range
|Evening sun hits the top of the mountains
For the first couple of days it was sunny with a cool breeze, but it got progressively warmer. We then had a couple of days of rain before the sun returned into the second week.
For any birder Mallorca is one of the must-go-to islands of the Mediterranean, with plenty of great sites around the whole island. The north is the most popular area to visit, with the Albufera Nature reserve one of the highlights, along with the other famous sites like the Boquer Valley.
This time around I tended to focus on the area surrounding the villa rather than racing around ticking off birding spots, as we will return to the island over the coming the years – probably again this autumn. We really enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, the fact nowhere is too far to travel to on any given day and the general lack of pretension. Life is simple and straightforward here.
|One of many secretive but tuneful Nightingale along the valley
Like our previous visit, I found I didn't need to travel far to see the majority of the species I wanted to tick. The area of the Marc valley is exceptionally good birding country, but not an area noted on the guides.
The road outside the villa is on a hiker's route between Pollença and the mountains. Annie and I walked from the villa along the valley most mornings and it was extremely satisfying discovering different species every day.
What was also satisfying was how much Annie enjoyed seeing, listening to and recognising different bird species.
I basically created a birding patch from the villa that stretched along the lane west for a mile. Surrounding us was farmland with different habitats and mountains. So a mix is assured.
Every day was different.
But the song we woke to every morning until the sun went down was that of the Nightingale. They are everywhere, and was a pure joy to hear as a backing track.
The other sound, more often at night was the less tuneful call of the Stone Curlew. One made me jump one evening as it flew over the villa loudly calling as it went. Stone Curlew fly-overs would be a common occurrence during our stay.
By the end of the holiday I had 53 species on the list, with 39 seen on the villa patch.
|Audouin's Gull at Puerto Pollenca
|Spotted Flycatcher at the villa
|One of many Spotted Flycatchers along our walk
|Serin at the villa
|Corn Bunting in the field at the back of the villa
|Dark-phase Booted Eagle
|Pale-phase Booted Eagle
In fact, all four species flew very close by the villa itself on different days.
|Kentish Plover and Black-winged Stilt at S'Albufereta
|A flushed Hoopoe in the Boquer Valley - about the best I could come up with of one of these all holiday!
|Balearic Warbler at Boquer Valley
Apart from that though, the Boquer Valley was quiet, with no raptors of any kind. Curiously, I find this popular site can be a bit of a disappointment at times.
|Woodchat Shrike at the villa
|Woodchat Shrike targets a meal
|Woodchat Shrike along the lane from the villa
A local Hoopoe was a regular, if fleeting sight, on our walk until the penultimate evening when I heard it calling in a field behind the villa. It immediately flew into a tree where the Woodchat Shrike was perched. In a tree closer to the villa I had my first patch sighting of a Yellow Wagtail.
Another surprise on a few evenings was hearing a Nightjar churring not that far away.
I didn't see any firsts for my life list but searching for the real rarities like Bonelli's Eagle and Moltoni's Warbler requires a bit of research and a good map. Despite that you don't always need to go far in Mallorca and make too much effort to find some decent birds. That was more than enough for me.
2019 Mallorca notable bird list (53 in total, incl. 39 villa patch):
Red-legged Partridge (S'Albufereta)
Cattle Egret (over motorway heading to villa)
Purple Heron (S'Albufereta)
Marsh Harrier (S'Albufereta)
Black-winged Stilt (S'Albufereta)
Little-ringed Plover (S'Albufereta)
Kentish Plover (S'Albufereta)
Audouin's Gull (Port de Pollença)
Common Tern (S'Albufereta)
Scops Owl (heard only)
Nightjar (heard only)
Red-rumped Swallow (Palma airport)
Balearic Warbler (Boquer Valley)
Stonechat (Boquer Valley)