Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A Scops For Breakfast

There’s a story behind the Scops Owl in the picture below. It’s not the best quality photograph and that’s because it’s a photo of a photo.

"Click the pics" in turn for owls and scenes from Menorca 

Two friends of ours, Alan and Jane, who also go to Menorca each year, had arrived a few days before us. One morning while they were sat eating their breakfast, Juan Ramon the head waiter, and knowing them as birders, said that there was a strange bird in the conservatory dining room, a room unused in early May. He and other staff thought the bird might be a Hoopoe! When Alan went to look, having grabbed his camera, a Scops Owl sat at the breakfast table. As Alan approached closer a second Scops flew up from the floor and the two sat together briefly before a hastily opened door allowed them to depart. 

The picture makes for an interesting story but for a technophobe who has yet to invest in a computer, the Internet, a tablet or a Smartphone, there was no way Alan could send me a picture other than a print when he returned to Leeds in June. So when he showed me the picture, the only way for me to obtain a copy was to photograph the digital display on the back of his Nikon camera and hence lose the quality of the original. 

Scops Owl 

Our guess was that the owls had entered the building the previous night in their search for a nesting site. In previous years we have seen the owls on a nightly basis and also roosting in pines nearby. Early May of 2019 came with a cool Tramuntana wind for a number of days which made for unsuitable owling evenings when the owls would normally visit the hotel grounds. We heard them in the early hours on two or three occasions but for the first time in 15 years, failed to see a Scops Owl. 

Scops Owl 

Scops Owls are widespread across Europe with most of the population migratory, however those on the Balearic Islands including Menorca are thought to be mainly non-migratory. The Balearic race Otus scops mallorcae is also said to be slightly smaller than other races, with less bulk and a smaller wing length, the latter probably as a result of becoming less migratory over many, many years: mallorcae is also said to show less colour variation than the more widespread nominate race. 

Here’s more pictures from our time in Menorca 2019. 

Es Mercadal 

At Son Bou marsh we saw a good number of species: Cattle Egret, Squacco Heron, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, Bee Eater, Marsh Harrier, Whinchat, Wheatear, Wood Sandpiper, Redshank, Greenshank, Little Ringed Plover, Woodchat Shrike,  Great Reed Warbler, Spotless Starling, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Sardinian Warbler, Nightingale, Cetti's Warbler, Turtle Dove. 

Son Bou Marsh 

Glossy Ibis

Turtle Dove

Cala Galdana 

Cala Galdana is the best place to see Alpine Swift, Egyptian Vulture and Firecrest: three unlikely compatriots.

Egyptian Vulture 

At Tirant - Red-eared Slider

In two weeks we saw just 5 Red-footed Falcons, all second year females, scattered along an overhead cable on the road to Cap de Cavalleria on the morning of 4th May. 

Red-footed Falcon 

Red-footed Falcon 

The roads around Binimel and Cap de Cavalerria proved the best for photographing Corn Bunting, Stonechat and Tawny Pipit.

Tawny Pipit 


Corn Bunting



Log in to Another Bird Blog another day for more birds and photos.


Unknown said...

First, congratulations for your nice and interesting blog!
I only want coment you that this turtle is not the Emys orbicularis, it is a Tracheys scripta.
Best regards


Conehead54 said...

Nice images but your terrapin isn't a European Pond Terrapin but the invasive Red-eared Slider from North America.

Conehead54 said...

Not wishing to be pedantic but the "poppies" are nasturtiums- good to eat too!

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Hello Phil: I have stayed at many hotels, lodges, inns, air bnbs, hostelries......but I have never had an owl inside the premises. I was about to suggest that your turtle ID was incorrect, but I see that others have jumped on it. You have an erudite readership!

Angie said...

Phil - entertaining and educational story about the owl - glad they made it out of the restaurant unharmed. Noticed you changed your header - nice!

Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

Lovely story about the Owl Phil and I like all your photographs from holiday

italiafinlandia said...

Beautiful views, and critters, as usual!

R's Rue said...


Wally Jones said...

Owls at the breakfast table. Now, that's a REAL birder's vacation!

What an absolutely lovely spot Menorca appears to be! If it becomes necessary, hope you will be able to locate an alternate equally as appealing.

All of the bird images made me jealous (again). Quite a variety.

Happy you made it home safely and, I am sure, we will soon be caught up on what's happening with your local birds as spring is slipping all too quickly into summer.

Gini and wish you all the best as we approach another weekend.

Sharon said...

Lovely photos & love the story of the owl at breakfast - glad they managed to escape the room okay.

Lowcarb team member said...

I enjoyed the story about the Owl, and always nice to see all of your photographs.

All the best Jan

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