Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sunny Days

Here's a post from 2 weeks in sunny Menorca. Brilliant indeed proved both the holiday and the birding with 14 days of unbroken sunshine and not a spot of rain. The island has a list of over 220 species throughout the seasons, so our two week birding list of 78 species is respectable but isn’t going to break any records. But bird watching is not the only joy of a Menorca holiday as blog regulars and/or visitors to the island will already know. Don't forget to click the pics for a colourful Menorca experience.

This year I met up with a Menorcan birder and ringer, Javier Mendez. Javier is extremely knowledgeable about birds and all things Menorcan, and for visitors to the island who prefer a guide, he does that too. You can contact him at  Javier Mendez.

I spent a morning with Javier at his Constant Effort Ringing site at Algendarat, an ecological farm near Mahon. Some lovely birds in the hand on Another Bird Blog soon, but for this post there are photos from birding mornings and exquisite places around the island. 

First port of call each year is to a Bee-eater colony on a farm close to the main road between the unspoilt, authentic inland town of Es Mercadal and the picturesque but touristy Fornells. The Bee- eaters fly to a roadside fence as long as there are not cars speeding by. Bee-eaters burrow into sandy soil to make a nest chamber, hence the dusty residue on this bird’s bill. 

European Bee-eater

Menorca

 European Bee-eater

We regularly see Hoopoes at the same location although they aren’t especially approachable, as Hoopoes tend to be. They have to keep a look out for raptors overhead, the common Booted Eagle or the ever present Kestrels that might rob them of their large insect prey. 

Hoopoe

Hoopoe

Kestrel

Booted Eagle

In a nearby field we discovered this year a spectacular display of wild poppies. Menorca has over 1000 species of plants, 60 of them endemic to the island. In the background of the picture is the resort of Cala Tirant, a world away from the flower-filled fields of a Menorcan Spring where the song of Corn Buntings fill the air and farming is carried out in traditional ways.

Menorcan Poppies

Hay Making Menorca

Corn Bunting

Menorcan Foal

We found just a few pairs of Stonechat this year, and it seems that the Stonechat is not doing too well here at the moment, Menorca is not totally immune from environmental changes that threaten species worldwide. The island’s Stonechats are a little darker than the ones we see in the UK, just like one or two other species, for instance Goldfinch and Woodpigeon being particularly evident in showing darker shades. Perhaps it’s something to do with all that sunshine? 

On the way to lunch at La Palma, a favourite café in Fornells we found a male Stonechat along the roadside telling us he had a family nearby. But there’s no time to stop when tapas is on the menu so we piled back in the Panda and set off again. 

Stonechat

Menorcan Panda

Fornells- Menorca

Fornells - Menorca

Fornells - Menorca

There’s more birds and scenes from Menorca soon on Another Bird Blog.

Linking this post to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.

19 comments:

Carole M. said...

WOW, WOW, WOW!! Loving that header photo Phil. Sheez...to get them just sitting on the fence, ready to have their photograph taken!! Menorca is really looking something special, especially when you go throwing in the Hoopoe again too. What a bonanza. The poppy field and all, no wonder you were rejoicing in all things Menorcan!

Bob Bushell said...

Brilliant shooting Phil, I wish.............

Santi said...

Excelent job, I like very much.Overall birds.Thaks.

Karen said...

Wowsers! That Bee-eater is spectacular. Fabulous shots Phil.

Frank said...

Another series of spectacular birds from Menorca.

Note to self .. must get back to the Med sometime.

TexWisGirl said...

fabulous finds! very exotic!

Christian Weiß said...

Great sights and wonderful birds.

Gunilla Bäck said...

It's a very beautiful place. I love the field of poppies and the foal is so cute.

Andrew Fulton said...

Looks like you had a wonderful trip... your images are fantastic.

Janet Shaw said...

beautiful birds

Kristi Bowman said...

Such beautiful birds, I love them alll!!

Chris Rohrer said...

You lucky lucky man. I love your yearly trips and I have to admit that I'd be loving a bird expedition in this area. 78 is respectable and wonderful. I think we always try and see how hard we can push the numbers wherever we are......I do it as well. It's a fun challenge. No matter how you fee, you found and observed some great birds!! Congrats....look forward to more of your Memoirs from Menorca:)

Stewart M said...

Great pictures - I don't think you can really add the panda to your life list - it looks introduced!

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

David Gascoigne said...

My, my! Aren't you the lucky dog to have spent two weeks in what looks like paradise? I have never visited Menorca and I somehow doubt that I will, so I'll have to do it vicariously through your eyes. I have often read of the slaughter of migratory birds by the gunners along the coast of these Spanish islands. Does this still take place?

Mary Cromer said...

How fabulous that banner image is of the European Bee-eater and the others shared as well. The Hoopoe images that you shared are really great...those birds, both of them would be such a treat to see. Menorca looks stunning and the field of Poppies, what a sight that had to have been, gorgeous beauty shared Phil. Thank you for taking us on a tour~

Gary Phillips said...

Great series!! Boom, Bobbi and Gary.

KK said...

European Bee Eaters seem to have very small heads, or their beaks are somewhat higher up.

Most islands have been in a state of separation from mainland life for large periods, so they have had different evolution. But 1000 species is a lot for such a small island.

Stuart Price said...

Like I said before, you have to move there................

Gemma Wiseman said...

The bee-eater has extraordinary colour contrasts. And so love that flamboyant crest on the hoopoe.

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