Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why Menorca?

There’s no birding today, it's grandad duties looking after Isabella. So for blog regulars and “Menorca” Internet searchers here are some photographs from our recent holiday to that beautiful island. 

Sue and I go to Menorca because we adore the island scenery, admire the style, grace and friendly nature of the islanders, love exploring the countryside and the quiet little inland towns or perhaps visiting the historic cities of Mahon and Ciutadella. Two weeks of almost guaranteed sunshine plays a part too.

As ever, click on the pictures for a colourful slide show. 

Ciutadella 
 
 Mahon harbour

Es Mercadal

A bistro, Es Mercadal

While birding there takes second place to the actual holiday, any bird watching we do is a part of the relaxing time we have and the seeing afresh of common Mediterranean birds. Some years we pick up  new species for our island ”list” - this year Corncrake, Spoonbill and Glossy Ibis.

But bird watching is never easy in Menorca. Many of the regular species like Cetti’s Warbler, Nightingale, Firecrest, Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, Golden Oriole and Quail hide themselves away or stay distant whereby actually setting eyes upon any one of them becomes something of an occasion. Even the legendary and sought after Hoopoe is actually very shy in Menorca, more often heard as a distant 'oop-oop-oop' rather than seen well. Luckily I know of a regular breeding spot where both birds accept the busied click of the shutter button just once a year. 

Fornells bay

 Fornells

Bee Eater

Purple Heron

The Hoopoes weren't as far on as last year. This time I saw only the male as every fiftenn minutes or so he brought in food for the female's inspection, she sitting tight on the nest as he passed the food over without entering the concrete cavity.

Hoopoe

Hoopoe

 
Hoopoe

In ten visits to the island I have yet to meet a Menorcan birder and whilst there may be a small number, I imagine they could be counted on the digits of both hands and more probably one. Bird watching seems not to figure in the Menorcan culture. There are hardly any visiting birders either, the more substantial list and reputation of nearby Majorca ensuring that most foreign birders head there instead of its smaller neighbour. There is no bird news service on Menorca, word of mouth being the only means of relating news between the transient population of mainly European bird watchers who spend a week or fourteen days there before returning to the colder north. 

Screen Hide at Es Grau

View - Es Grau, Menorca

Spotted Flycatcher

Little Egret

Little Grebe

Whiskered Tern

Ses Salines - Menorca

Black-winged Stilt

In other words, and for those who appreciate such things, bird watching Menorca Style is rather old-fashioned by allowing discovery of birds alone, unencumbered by the annoying bleeps of pagers and mobile phones or car loads of hyped-up folk dashing between one bird-hit and the next. OK, at the end of a week the list in your notebook won’t be long but there will be a wonderful selection of Mediterranean species, a number of common birds and a few “goodies” thrown in, all of them with no pressure involved to the bird or the birder. 

Turtle Dove

Booted Eagle

Bee Eater

Stonechat

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egrets

Kestrel

It wasn't just birds. We saw good numbers of European Swallowtail Butterfly on a couple of days - flying too fast and frequently to get pictures. We also came acrosss a few large grasshoppers - up to 3 inches long - the migratory Egyptian Grasshoper I think. Insect experts help required please.

Egyptian Grasshopper?

And at the end of another stress free day there’s always a quiet bar to while away the time, watch the sunset and spend quality time, planning another day of discovery and hoping that tomorrow’s Roller may be a lot closer. If not, there's always next year and an excuse for a return visit.

Bar at Es Grau

European Roller

Menorca Sunset

Please log in soon to Another Bird Blog for more news and views. I'm linking this post to Stewart's Gallery - World Bird Wednesday  in Australia- take a look for more bird pictures.

25 comments:

Gail Dixon (La.Belle) said...

Stunning shots of Menorca and the birds. The hoopoe is a real treat, as is the bee eater. Wow!

Kay L. Davies said...

It's a beautiful place, Phil, and I can understand why you're a regular there. The birds, when you do find them, are lovely. That dove is SO pretty, the bee eaters are so fabulously colourful, and the hoopoe is almost too good to be true.
I really enjoyed your slide show: almost like being there, but not quite.
One of the first things to catch my eye was the clipper ship across the water from the cruise ship. I spent most of my life on the coast of British Columbia, so sailing ships and sailboats always intrigue me.
K

Gary said...

Great series!! Love to stop in at the little bistro. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

HansHB said...

Lovely bird photos!
Happy WBW to you!

Isidro Ortiz said...

Excelentes capturas de tu paso por Menorca.Un abrazo

prairiebirder said...

I love the photograph of the Bee Eater, it is so colorful!

prairiebirder said...

I love the photograph of the Bee Eater, it is so colorful!

Christian Weiß said...

It is a very nice place.

Chris said...

You are joking right??? no birders there with all these splendid species. I'll give everything for a shot of little grebe like yours and to see a roller again (haven't seen them for more than 11 years!)... This look like a paradise to me and I understand your love for it! Beautiful post Phil!

Andrew Fulton said...

Wonderful images of some of my favourite birds... a Hoopoe was spotted close to me in Cheshire a couple of weeks ago... I dipped I'm afraid.
Many thanks for sharing yours.

Carole M. said...

so many wonderful photographs to enjoy this post. I especially liked the bee-eater and the hoopoe!

mick said...

It looks like a great place for a holiday. Very interesting to see the Bee-eater with colors different from the ones I see around here.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Whoosh, take a breath, there is absolutely no way to choose any favorites out of this selection Phil. Magnificent adventure, just to scroll along through these gorgeous images. Hard to imagine such a wonder of thrilling birds and so few even care to look...kind of sad actually. It does sound like a wonderful place to take a journey and just do what you all enjoy. The male Hoopoe is brilliant absolutely outstanding...how delighted you must have been to get those captures. Very well done. Hope that you enjoyed your day with Isabella, what a lovely name~

ryancarter said...

Going myself once again ,soon can't wait,
fantastic Island enjoyed your pics by the way,I presume the bee eaters are best seen near Fornells beach/sand dunes?

eileeninmd said...

Phil, I enjoyed learning more about Menorca. It looks like a beautiful place to spend your vacations. And the birds are an extra special treat. I love the Bee-eater, Hoopoe and the Roller. Wonderful scenic shots and bird photos. Thanks for sharing, have a great week!

grammie g said...

Hey Phil...I have to say it always has been in my life that I usually am the one to go to my friends first, they never come to see me...thus it is with our friendship..where to hell have you been anyway LOL ; )
So I break the ice, and come over to say your visit to Menorca yielded some excellent bird photo's!!
The Hoopoes are stunning looking!!
Hope you survived your Grandad duty!!
Grace

Karen said...

Oh, what a lovely place! That Hoopoe is marvellous!

Russell Jenkins said...

Superb clarity in all the pictures, Phil. Birds and scenery are just so bright and clear. The light must be dazzling if you arrive there after dull days elsewhere. At fist glance the booted eagle looks like a Black-eared Kite -similar under wing patterns although I'm aware the eagle is a heftier raptor.

euthymic said...

So many beautiful bird photos. The Menorca is compelling, as is the bee eater. I never thought grasshoppers could be that big!

Gunilla Bäck said...

Wonderful birds! I love the bee eater and the hoopoe.

Arija said...

I am so impresse with you getting a bee-eater with a bee in it's beak. Great scenic shots and so many birds after all.

Ken Schneider said...

After your opening and beautiful street photos I did not expect the subsequent display of some wonderful birds. Very nice post!

HOOTIN ANNI said...

...the color of that bee eater is magnificent. And the sunset to end your day....marvelous!

Wally Jones said...

Phil, happy you were able to get away on vacation!
It sounds like a wonderful place.

No other birders there in a hurry to check off the next species?
No other birders to play bird calls on their "smart" phone apps?
No other birders to turn their noses up at "common" birds?

.....oops, you apparently triggered a "rant reflex" of some sort - sorry about that.

Thank you for sharing your holiday and the brilliant photographs of it all!

David Brown said...

What wonderful photos, a delight. My wife and I have been visitors for the past 4 years yet still to see our first hoopoe. We live in hopes. The villa that we stay in is superb for bird watching as the terrace overlooks a vast green gorge (Casa Campomar at Binisafuller) but no hoopoes. We have seen numerous booted eagles, harriers, kites and even vultures all from the side of the pool however. The two English girls who own the villa tell us that hoopoes are a not uncommon sight around March. Last trip we counted 34 species from the house alone.Numerous sardinian warblers etc.also heard nightjars. For a combined bird watching trip and holiday Menorca must be very hard to beat.

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