Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Menorca Mishap

We had a great time in Menorca. Two weeks of unadulterated sunshine and not a drop of rain. We visited most of our favourite island places and saw lots of birds. Birding highlights proved to be thousands of Common Swift delayed from heading north by days of northerly winds. Mixed in with the common we saw a few Alpine Swifts, Swallows and Sand Martins. We had a morning of migrating Red-footed Falcons together with superb views of a female Montague’s Harrier. 

There was a disaster when on day two I damaged my Canon 400mm lens to the extent that for the rest of the holiday I had to use a bog standard 35-135mm zoom – not good for taking bird pictures. Apologies then for the lack of bird pictures but please do enjoy the extra number of photographs of sunny Menorca. Don't forget to "click the pics" to enjoy the sunshine.

We saw Scop’s Owls every evening in the hotel grounds where they appeared as if by clockwork about 2130 to feed on moths and beetles. About 400 yards away another pair of Scop’s spent their daylight hours roosting in a pine tree after annoying the hotel guests with their monotone hooting throughout the night. This owl has reputation for being hard to see as it sits motionless against the trunk of a tree. On some days both owls were sat within inches of each other but on other days just a single one would sit unperturbed as people below struggled to give definition to the dark shapes above. 

Hotel Sant Tomas

Sant Tomas, Menorca

Scop's Owl

Scop's Owl

On day one, May 1st, a few late Wheatears could be seen along the hotel frontage or in the grounds. The local Turtle Doves can get fairly tame, quite unlike their country cousins who live their lives away from tourists. As ever, Spotted Flycatchers can be found near tourist spots where a 135mm lens shows how the species is tiny. 


Turtle Dove
Spotted Flycatcher

In the centre of the picture below is El Toro, at 342 metres, the highest point of the island. There are few birds up there except for Greenfinch, Goldfinch and the ubiquitous Sardinian Warbler and House Sparrow. The many viewpoints do give good views of the island common raptors, Red Kite, Booted Eagle, Egyptian Vulture and Kestrel. Naturally there’s a shop selling tourist goods but like most places in Menorca the parking is free and there is never a feeling that visitors to the island are simply cash cows.
 At Torre del Daume

View from El Toro

El Toro



Es Migjorn

Es Migjorn

Es Migjorn

Cookery demo - Es Migjorn

Menorcan centipede

It was on day two that I broke my lens. We had stopped at the Cattle Egret colony on the outskirts of Ciutadella and taken a few pictures before contusing on to Punta Nati and the specialities of Blue Rock thrush, Short-toed Lark, Thekla Lark and Corn Bunting. 

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egrets

By early May the Menorca breeding season is well under way with most species either feeding young in or out of the nest. Upon crossing one rocky field I heard the warning “chip, chip” calls of adult Corn Buntings and within a few minutes found a young Corn Bunting hiding in the grass. Like many ground nesting birds, young Corn Buntings leave the nest before they can fly. It’s an evolutionary adaptation that lessens the chances of a nest full of youngsters falling victim to a predator whereby at least one or two young will survive to adulthood. 

Corn Bunting

Corn Bunting

I tripped over a particularly well hidden rock and dropped my lens onto the stony ground. Today I’ll parcel it up and see if a lens doctor can make it better. If not, those floorboards will need to come up. 

The road between Es Mercadal and Cap de Cavalleria proved the best for birding with regular Bee-eaters, Red Kite, Booted Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Stonechat, Sardinian Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Nightingale, Tawny Pipit and a mix of herons. We managed to see the regular species of Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Squacco Heron and Little Egret. It was along the same road that one morning we found a single but superb female Montague’s Harrier quartering the fields. A morning following overnight cloud and a cool start saw a movement of 15/20 Red-footed Falcons quite high in the sky and drifting steadily north. We found a single female on a roadside post which gave us a short but spectacular hunting display above a thistle-filled field before she too hurried on. When we checked the road the very next morning all the falcons had gone, along with hundreds of Swifts that had filled the sky. 

To Cavalleria


Near Cap de Cavelleria

Es Prat, Tirant

Es Mercadal

Es Grau produced water birds like Coot, Gadwall, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Purple Heron, Grey Heron and Little Egret. Yellow-legged Gulls nest here but I think the much less common Audouin’s Gull nest only on offshore islands. 

Audouin's Gull at Es Grau

Es Grau


Es Grau

Es Grau

 Es Grau

 Es Grau

Hopefully I will be up and running soon with local news and my lens back in action for better photos; so log in soon to Another Bird Blog. 

Linking today to World Bird Wednesday.


Linda said...

So nice to not have to pay for parking, Phil! It looks and sounds like a beautiful place. I absolutely love all your photos and feel as if I have visited this place with you. Thank you so much for sharing this lovely and amazing tour!

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, what a fabulous place for a vacation! I love the scenic shots and the birds! So sorry about your lens, I hope it can be fixed!

Enjoy your day!

David Gascoigne said...

Seems to me that you did well despite the damage to your big lens. I hope that the damage is not so serious that it cannot be repaired. These devices are not cheap.

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil, I love your new header of the White Throat, and all your bird captures, but what a shame about your damaged lens,.. I hope it can be repaired to your satisfaction. So many of your photos remind me of the Algarve, it's a beautiful getaway destination, and of course nearly always sunny, but we, do have to pay for parking!

Stuart Price said...

Sorry to hear about the lens, hopefully it will be fixed/repaired ASAP.....

Breathtaking said...

Hi Phil!:) Thank you for your visit, and kind comment. It has been 25 "degrees" here ever since we arrived back home, so you are spot on about the temperature.:) We also sat in the car for ages to get
shots of the Bee Eaters, just as you said, they are extremely shy.

Lowcarb team member said...

Whenever I read ... I tripped or I fell, the main thing is no bones broken!
Such a shame about your camera lens though but hopefully it can be repaired ok.

Lovely to see your photo's and Es Migjorn looks very nice.

I always click and enlarge your photo's what a glorious selection, just lovely.

Welcome back to a rainy UK it's not stopped in my part today!
Although we do need it!

All the best Jan

Lea said...

Lovely birds and beautiful scenery!
When it comes to accidents, tripping and dropping the camera is not as bad as falling down an embankment as I did years ago. The camera (a 35mm Minolta) had to be repaired, and I was bruised from head to toe, but no broken bones, thank the Good Lord.
Happy Birding!

A Colorful World said...

What an amazing vacation! Wonderful photos! So sorry your bird-taking lens became damaged! I enjoyed sunny Manorca!

KK said...

I did not know you were so knowledgeable on insects as well Phil

S S Cheema said...

Sorry for the lens - but this was a great read and good pictures. I would like to make a suggestion. Can you widen the blog body please - will make reading a bit easier...

Wally Jones said...

Your royalty check from the Menorcan travel bureau will, no doubt, cover the cost of your lens repair. Hopefully, you won't have to rip up those floor boards! (Of course, any excuse for a lens upgrade......)

All of the birds, sights, sounds, sunshine - it must have been almost overwhelming! You certainly captured much of it for us mortal folks! Owls in the parking lot. It just isn't fair!

Pay no attention to my complaints, I'm just jealous!

In any event, welcome home!

Dave Lewis said...

I feel your pain on that lens...I had a mishap with ice and -15f temps with my old Canon 100-400.

Jeanne said...

I have been scrolling back to see what happened to your lens... so sorry about that. my nephew also had a major crisis with his 600 mm about that time. He was climbing up a cliff to photography a coming haboob and when he got to the top he set the lens up on a tripod. When a large gust of wind from the approaching haboob took lens and camera over the cliff. Needless to say, both were lost. A sad day when something like that happens. Hopefully your lens will be back soon and in great shape... best to you

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