Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Blog Is Back

The blog is back online after our two week sojourn in sunny Menorca. Thanks are due to regular readers who followed our adventures and kept in touch. There’s the necessary catching up with friends and family so it will take a few days to get back to local birding and ringing. 

In the meantime here are some words and pictures from that sunny Mediterranean island. Don’t forget to “click the pics” for a better view of Menorca and its birds. 

As usual we picked up a Fiat Panda from Mahon Airport via Momple Cars. The little Fiat is great for negotiating some of the narrow, poppy-lined lanes off the main tourist trails, places where birds are more often found. 

Near Es Mercadal, Menorca

Menorcan Donkey

Wild Poppies, Menorca

Near Es Mercadal, Menorca 

Two weeks allowed us to visit birdy places but also tour the island and drop by a number of favourite places. While our stay wasn’t just a birding holiday, we came across a good number of birds as well as enjoying rest and relaxation. Some days we found specialties like European Roller, Whiskered Tern, Quail, Great White Egret and Red-footed Falcon which livened up the everyday common stuff like Woodchats, Nightingales, Bee Eaters, Booted Eagles and Red Kites. 

Near the centre of the island and close to the town of Es Mercadal and the lanes of Tirant, Bee Eaters bubble overhead and Hoopoes call from far away. Raptors crowd the morning skies to a background melody of Corn Buntings, Nightingales and the chattering of Cetti’s and Sardinian Warblers. 

While Booted Eagles are common enough it is very difficult to get good photos of a wary raptor which keeps a good distance away from people and roads. The local Red Kites are often slightly more accommodating while Egyptian Vultures sail overhead on their aeroplane wings. Once or twice we saw vultures on the ground feeding amongst the livestock whereby the animal droppings become an unusual source of food for this specialised and mainly vegetarian vulture. 

Red Kites
Red Kite

Egyptian Vulture

 Egyptian Vultures

Booted Eagle

Bee Eater

Woodchat Shrike

Hermann's Tortoise

On more than one occasion we stopped the car to avoid running over a Hermann’s Tortoise, Testudo hermanni, a common and seemingly abundant resident of both Menorca and southern Europe. 

Via Wiki - “Early in the morning, the animals leave their nightly shelters, which are usually hollows protected by thick bushes or hedges, to bask in the sun and warm their bodies. They then roam about the Mediterranean meadows of their habitat in search of food. They determine which plants to eat by the sense of smell. In addition to leaves and flowers, the animals eat small amounts fruits as supplementary nutrition. Around midday, the sun becomes too hot for the tortoises, so they return to their hiding places. They have a good sense of direction to enable them to return. Experiments have shown they also possess a good sense of time, the position of the sun, the magnetic lines of the earth, and for landmarks. In late afternoon, they leave their shelters again and return to feeding.”  

Once again and as in previous years of visiting Menorca, the commonest bird of the island seemed to be the Corn Bunting, its local abundance a tribute to the traditional way of farming that is employed. What a contrast to the UK where a once common farmland bird and its "bunch of jangling keys" song is but a distant memory to many bird watchers. 

Corn Bunting

After a morning in the hot sun a short drive to the fishing village of Fornells in the north of the island is a regular lunch and coffee stop. There’s a chance of a resident Osprey fishing the shallow waters, but if not, just along the shore there’s always an Audouin’s Gull or two to admire. 

Fornells, Menorca

Fornells, Menorca

Audouin's Gull

Fornells, Menorca 

And after a morning in the hot sun who can resist an ensaimada crema for lunch? There are a number of variations of ensaimada - plain (unfilled), filled with angel's hair (squash jam), custard cream (crema), almond puree, ice-cream, chocolate or apricots. That’s a lot of ensaimadas to try. But someone has to get stuck into the thankless task. 

La Palma, Fornells

 Ensaimada Crema & Coffee

There’s more birds and birding soon. Don’t miss it.

Linking today to Eileen's Saturday and Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.


Linda said...

Phil, it looks like you saw much beauty and had a great time, and I am very happy to see your post and lovely photos. The food looks so good, the donkey is adorable and everything else is beautiful. A very warm welcome back! Thank you so much for sharing.

David Gascoigne said...

I love the flight shots of the Red Kites. What a lucky fellow you are to have been able to experience all these delights.

carol l mckenna said...

Wonderful post and photos ~ love the Mexican donkey and looks like you had a wonderful time in a beautiful place ~ thanks for sharing it ~

Happy Week to you ~ ^_^

Adam Jones said...

So many good birds here, it's hard to pick a favourite. The Bee-eater is special though, and for me the Corn Bunting too.

Stuart Price said...

Nice looking avifauna (and food)!

Photo(Geo)grapher said...

Interesting post and photos

Anu said...

Interesting post and nice photos. The photo of Bee Eater is my favorite.

Marie C said...

Such wonderful photos and interesting info on your trip! Love the bee eater, and those poppies. The entire post was fascinating!

Tony McGurk said...

Looks like you had a great trip. The Bee Eater is an especially beautiful coloured bird. Great shots of the Kite too. I'm no good at moving birds/animals. I tend to fuss around too much & am too slow clicking the shutter.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, great post. I love the scenery, the birds are awesome and the tortoise is cool. My favorite birds are the Red Kites and the Bee-eater. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

Maria Gagliano said...

You definitely got some great captures. What a gorgeous assortment of photos

Chandra@GreenComotion said...

In addition to your nice photos of the beautiful birds, turtle and the venues, I enjoyed the photo of the Ensamada bread and coffee. Isn't travel to new places awesome? 😄
Have a Happy Weekend, Phil!
Peace :)

Lowcarb team member said...

A lovely selection of photo's Phil, they enlarge so well.
Isn't it nice to have blue skies ...

My that ensaimada crema with coffee does look rather tasty!!!

All the best Jan

Lowcarb team member said...

Oops forgot to mention those glorious red poppies ... I love them.

All the best Jan

A Quiet Corner said...

First time here and I am in awe!!! Nice to "meet" you...:)JP

Jill said...

What truly lovely photos! Thank you for sharing! Found your blog through the link up, have a great weekend!


Annelies said...

Great photos Phil! I'm counting down till thursday to return to this fantastic island. I hope to come home with lovely memories and pictures like yours! Annelies

Mary Cromer said...

Ah yes, Ensaimada cream treats and yummy coffee, now that looks like something to begin, or end a day with. I just finished a small lunch that the hubby brought to me as I am still recuperating in the bed and I am craving everything I see. The scenery there is so gorgeous and being near the sea, the fragrances, the sounds, all must be a sweet memory for you now. I just want to get outside again, let alone take a journey next Autumn, For now, seeing your journey, is just wonderful. That Woodchat Shrike, what a gorgeous bird!!!~

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