Friday, May 27, 2016

Memory Lane Menorca

It’s been a rubbish week. Laid low with a vicious bug, lethargy has been the order of the day. I’ve barely eaten a thing, spent 10 hours at a time in bed and struggled to leave the house. Even the thought of a glass of wine has left me cold. 

But now it’s time to shake off the self-pity and head off to Menorca for the last time this year. It’s a journey we make each year to Punta Nati, a remote, unforgiving and brutal landscape of rocks and field after field of moonscape with dwarf vegetation but where speciality birds abound. Don't forget to "click the pics" for better images.

We left our hotel soon after breakfast, found our way to the Me1 and joined the commuter run to Ciutadella, Menorca’s second city. The Ronda, the Ring Road, skirts the busy city where with luck we’d find the purple signpost that would send us to the parallel world of Punta Nati just ten minutes from the old world charms of Ciutadella. 

I pulled the car into the barely possible parking spot, the wing mirror just a whisker from the stone wall. The old fellow came out to greet us as he always does and explained again in zero English how the Cattle Egret colony here is the only one for many miles, maybe even the only one in Menorca. In my best zero Spanish I nodded in agreement and motioned with the camera that a few shots later we’ll be on our way and leave the egrets to their squawking family squabbles and bad hair days. 

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Towards the point Bee Eaters were on the move, circling high in the sky, resting on overhead wires and bubbling out their unforgettable contact calls. There’s urgency in their excited calls. Some drift off, others move closer together before as a group their calls grow more eager and they’re off as one, specks in the sky and heading over the lighthouse, over the Med and towards Europe. 



Punta Nati

The calls of larks, buntings and pipits are constant as all seem to be in the throes of breeding. Searching for food, looking out for their nests, warning of predators or snatching a song; it’s all in a day’s work where the dry atmosphere and unrelenting sunshine takes its toll on a bird’s plumage. 

Thekla Lark

Short-toed Lark

Tawny Pipit

Tawny Pipit

Corn Bunting

Towards the lighthouse we eventually found a pair of Blue Rock Thrush, the calls of the male leading us to the spot where the pair lived. A Kestrel watched us as we went, the species is a common sight dashing across the bare fields and where there are more than enough vantage points. Red Kites lazed through the skies, their twisty tails a delight to watch in the remarkable blue of a Menorca sky. 

Punta Nati

Red Kite


An hour or two later the trippers arrive, fresh from their tourist maps looking for something to do, something to see, a little excitement on a sunny day. But unless they are into birds, and very few are, there’s little for to do except walk without purpose to the lighthouse and back, trample over unforgiving terrain along coastal paths and maybe sprain an ankle. Most give up at the sheer desolation of the place, jump back in their shiny hire cars and probably vow never again to visit Punta Nati. 

We’ve had our fun, seen some great birds, laughed at a few German tourists with their huge knapsacks and knobbly white knees but we kept the secret of Punta Nati. Now it’s time for a trip to the busy city ten minutes away. 

We park in the main square for all of two Euros and head to some favourite watering holes. 


The Aurora


The Harbour - Ciutadella

Ciutadella is a fabulous place, a working Spanish city which remains untainted by the tourism that has blighted so many other similar places. And after a dry, dusty trip birding along Memory Lane, what better than a coffee or two, an ensaimada or a bocadillo and a spot of people watching for a change?

Linking today to  Eileen's Saturday.


Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I hope the memories of Menorca helped you get over your bout of the "creeping crud" (as we call it when we feel like you described). Your memories made me feel good! What a wonderful place. I would feel so sorry for those tourists who don't know what they are missing by not birding this area. But of course we would both love the way you ended your day/memory.

Kay L. Davies said...

Hi Phil, so sorry you've been ill. I know it's no fun, but Menorca looks wonderful. I've never seen bee-eaters before, except on your blog. They're gorgeous.
And I think I'd like to live in Ciutadella. I've been promising myself I'll leave North America if Donald Trump becomes president of the USA. I was planning to ask for refugee status in Britain on my way home from our Mediterranean cruise, but maybe the Spanish would allow me asylum on this wonderful island. My Spanish is of the rudimentary Mexican variety, but...
Meanwhile, I've been plotting out my trip and have hit a bit of a snag—is the Chippy open on Sundays? I have promised a blogging friend in Scotland I'd spend the first part of my stay in Scotland, but it turns out I'd be on the train to England on a Sunday.
Thinking, thinking,

Linda said...

Phil, I am so sorry to hear you were ill. I absolutely love this post and your photos are beautiful and bring me such joy!

David Gascoigne said...

Sorry to hear you have been under the weather, Phil. Get well soon and provide us with more blog posts to enjoy. The key to knowing how sick you have been is hearing that you didn't even feel like a glass of wine. Now that's sick!

Margaret Adamson said...

No fun being sisk Phi Right? However you have shared a lovely post with us today. great birds seen, marvellous photographs. I have a soft spot for the Bee eater. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, I hope you are feeling better now! It is no fun being sick. I loved this post and the gorgeous variety of birds and photos. The Bee-eater and the Cattle Egrets are some of my favorites. The Kites are cool too. Great post, happy birding. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Have a happy weekend!

sandyland said...

spectacular birds always so comforting to me

carol l mckenna said...

Hope you are healing and well soon ~ Sending lots of healing hugs to the best bird photographer ~ Gorgeous photography and favorite is the Lark ~

Happy Weekend to you ~ ^_^

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil!:) I have just had a week as you describe, and it was no fun at all. I'm on the mend now, as I hope you are. Your bird shots are all fabulous. The Bee-eater and egret captures are my favourites, but I like them all. Enjoy your weekend.:)

Anni said...

Hope by now you're feeling better!! Having a 'bug' stings.

Loved the bird photos...but your commentary today surpasses all.

The knobby kneed Germans had me rolling.

Lowcarb team member said...

Sorry to hear you've no been feeling too good - hope things improve soon.

All of your bird shots here are just magnificent, the colours are just lovely.
I like the look of the harbour at Ciutadella, fabulous blue sky too.

Feel better soon and hope you can enjoy your Bank Holiday weekend

All the best Jan

Mary Cromer said...

Well goodness mercy me Phil, at first I thought that I was the only one feeling well like crap, but it appears you had your spell too. The visit down memory lane to Punta Nati is quite lovely, and those most amazing colourful Bee Eaters, both species of Larks you shared were all so wonderful! The Red Kite is stunning and the other birds including the first Cattle Egrets which with their wild feathered hair are quite delightful as well.
Then your visit to the BIG city, OK larger city of Cituadella looks like a lovely place to gather your thoughts and enjoy your treats with coffee.
I hope by now you have enjoyed a glass of wine, or two and are enjoying a nice weekend~

David Gascoigne said...

More than a week with no news from you probably indicates that you are still not feeling well. I hope that you will soon be back to your normal ebullient self - we are all looking forward to hearing from you again, Phil.

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