Monday, May 23, 2016

The Port

Weekends are for birding but with builders in the house, there was the inevitable aftermath of the clearing up. Sunday I got stuck into the clear up operation so had to give birding a miss and now on Monday I'm painting,

So for today I’m posting pictures of the recent holiday to Menorca with a morning trip to Es Grau, the tiny fishing village on the north-east coast.  "Es Grau" is not Spanish but Catalan and means "The Port"

Es Grau is home to the well-known nature reserve of S’albufera where there’s a rich variety of bird life. Sand dunes, wetlands and scrubland make up one of Menorca’s most beautiful and peaceful locations. The reserve stretches 8km north along the coast from Cap de Favaritx and contains over 100 species of birds and animals living in their natural habitat. It’s fairly important to arrive here early with a large bottle of water for the hours ahead, not to mention beating the procession of visitors, often school parties learning about their environment.

On the way there and up on roadside wires we spotted a European Roller, the only one of the two week holiday and a much sought after species. It was just a shame that the bird was above a particularly fast piece of road with no stopping places. Despite turning the car around in a gateway and looking afresh, there was nowhere to pull in for a closer look or a picture.

So we headed for the entrance gate from where around the edges of the pool and by searching hard we found 6 or more Black-crowned Night Herons, a few feeding on the tree-lined perimeter, the others just roosting in the higher branches. Here we also found a couple of Little Egrets, Black-winged Stilts, Audouin’s Gulls and Yellow-legged Gulls.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Not far from the visitor centre and watching from screen hides found many distant waterbirds, more gulls, hundreds of Coot, dozens of Little Grebe, a dozen or more Great Crested Grebe and even two Greater Flamingos. Unfortunately most of the birds remain distant on the huge expanse of water, both open and reed fringed but it’s a peaceful and relaxed environment in which to spend a morning or longer.

Hide at Es Grau

Little Grebe

Black-winged Stilt

The usual raptors were in evidence – Red Kites, Booted Eagles, Marsh Harriers and Kestrels plus a bonus in the shape of a dashing Peregrine Falcon. Peregrines aren’t numerous in Menorca but they do nest around the often rocky and remote coastline.

Along the paths we heard the purring of Turtle Doves without actually getting any really exciting or prolonged views. Similalry the Nightingales, Cetti's Warblers and Sardinian Warblers stay out of sight while proclaiming their prescence.

Turtle Dove

Purple Herons mostly remain hidden from sight as they sneak through the reeds hoping to catch unwary prey. That’s a mighty big dagger of a bill than can easily despatch a good sized Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe or an unsuspecting frog or lizard.

Purple Heron

We encountered good numbers of Spotted Flycatchers here, not unreasonable since it is a common resident of Menorca whereby by mid to late May it’s fairly certain that migrants heading for northern Europe are long gone.

The local Spotted Flycatchers Muscicapa striata balearica are smaller, noticeably paler, and less streaked than their northern counterparts as can be seen from the pictures below, my Menorca photos from early May. For comparison, the third image is the type  of Spotted Flycatcher that we see in the UK. Dutch birders are currently working on the idea that Mediterranean Spotted Flycatchers should be treated as a full and separate species, one differing from Muscicapa striata in morphology, migration and mitochondrial and nuclear DNA.

Spotted Flycatcher - Muscicapa striata balearica 

Spotted Flycatcher - Muscicapa striata balearica

Spotted Flycatcher - Muscicapa striata - Photo credit- Ian N. White via / CC BY-NC-SA

Moorish Gecko was a first for me. It’s native to the Western Mediterranean region of Europe and North Africa and widely introduced to America and Asia. It is commonly observed on walls in urban environments, mainly in warm coastal areas, though it can spread inland - especially in Spain 

Moorish Gecko


I hope everyone enjoyed the morning in Menorca. Come evening time we decided to try a glass of Cava and a few chocolates brought all the way from Belgium by two friends and blog fans, Ivan and Jeni. 

Belgian treats

Thanks guys. the chocs sustained a little superficial damage on their long journey but after close inspection they were just fine. A lovely ending to a perfect Menorcan day.

Linking today to World Bird Wednesday .


David Gascoigne said...

I can see that you have not really absorbed the Code of Conduct for Dedicated Birders. It is quite clear that nothing, make that NOTHING, shall interfere with a good day's birding - not domestic chores, whining children, nagging wives or any other reason that some people (read non-birders) might find that should take precedence over birding. I expect you to bone up on these facts and be more prepared to resist next time.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, lovely post filled with beautiful birds And a lovely tour of Menorca. The Gecko is cool. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

Linda said...

I really like the video, Phil, the music is lovely and the views are beautiful. Your captures here are gorgeous and enchanting, and your header is amazing!

Amy Franks said...

lovely photos, the gecko is my favourite, we have loads of those guys here in NZ in particular tiny little ones we call skinks. Happy Tuesday :-)


Oh yum....did you say chocolates are in store for us visitors...or did y'all eat 'em up already!!

Well, next to birding, I LOVE to paint. So, count me in.

Love the beautiful turtle dove the most today, Phil. So different from ours....yours is better. I'm here again today from my personal blog and botanical gardens post...stop by if you'd like to say hello. I know you're way too busy, so understandable if you can't make it.


PS...well, I love to sketch and paint 'art' works...but I LOVE painting walls both exterior and interior.

My Little World !!! said...

perfectly shot

carol l mckenna said...

More gorgeous bird photography even though you got 'stuck home' ` glad you had some chocolate left over???

Happy Week to you ~ ^_^

Anu said...

Great photos of birds! Yum yum... I like chocolate :)

Fun60 said...

Great views of Menorcan birdlife. Hope you've completed your chores and are free to get back to the birding.

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil!:) Beautiful photos of the Menorcan birds.Favourites today are the Turtle Dove, ( I know how shy they are,) so you did well to get a photo, and I loved the Spotted Flycatcher. Thank you for adding a most enjoyable vídeo.:)

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I'm loving the Menorca trip tours , thank you! ( And so I am not a bit bothered that you had to stay home and do chores.) I like those bird hides... And the Night Herons are a great favorite. Chocolate and wine sound a perfect end for a beautiful day. (Or for the end of one where you had to stay home and work, for that matter! Hope you had replacements!)

Kay L. Davies said...

I've mentioned those islands as a destination more than once, but my husband doesn't seem interested. My only Spanish day this year will be one day and night in Barcelona between our cruise and our flight home. I'll be in England for a week, or maybe 6 days, before flying to Venice to meet Himself and board the cruise ship. Meanwhile, I looked at a Google Earth view of Knott End but couldn't find Kay's Chippy. Here's hoping I have better luck getting there my very self. I'm looking into getting a train pass for England, but can't find a 6-day pass. Back to doing my research on that. Train to Morecambe, bus to Kay's Chippy?

Findlay Wilde said...

Brilliant set of pictures, really like that heron.

Valerie said...

Wow, that European Bee-eater in your header is stunning! Enjoyed your other captures too. Thank you for sharing.

Adam Jones said...

Great looking Turtle Dove. If only there were more here.

jandi said...

sounds like a lovely trip! my favourite images are those of the Night Herons and the Fly Catchers! I also love the gecko!

Lowcarb team member said...

Well I'm sure you enjoyed those Belgian treats ...

But back to birds and gecko's! A lovely set of photo's for us to enjoy, especially enlarged.

Thanks for sharing.

All the best Jan

Mary Cromer said...

What a gorgeous day you all had and the little film that you put together with music, how great that was to see. I love all of the birds and scenes shared. Flycatchers all have such sweet faces. Always a sweet treat would be assorted candies and how special a gift that was. I am so happy to be catching up with your all's adventure to Menorca~

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