Monday, 8 October 2012

And a blue rock thrush sang on the balcony

Ah, the deep blue of the Mediterranean, the warmth of the sun, the crash of the thunder and the lash of the rain...... yes, it was a bit changeable, but we made the most of it.
An early treat by the hotel terrace at Ciutadella (beautiful old town) was an Audouin's Gull, one of a rare breed that seems to be increasing in the western Med. They are specialist fish feeders and reminded us of the delicacy of kittiwakes, despite happily taking bread, cheese and chocolate biscuits.
Generally they would lose out to the more brutish yellow-legged gulls,but as they are unusual in the north it's still a treat to watch them.
The first day (no I'm not going to bore you with a day-to-day diary but the first day was a bit special) we drove a few miles up the coast to Punta Nati, a bleak place of rock and hardy windblown shrubs, of which more later.
On the road we were pleased to see red kites wheeling around, but then were overjoyed to watch red-footed falcons, one with kill, flying over, superb aeronauts of great beauty.
We parked close to the lighthouse, and watched blue rock thrushes and thekla larks, then noticed a large strangely marked bird of prey flying over the fields. Scanning the area of boulders we found more Egyptian vultures, which occasionally mobbed a couple of buzzards while booted eagles and ravens flew slowly back and forth across the landscape. A stunning vista.

Some of the large Menorcan colony of Cory's shearwaters could be seen offshore from the cliffs around the lighthouse, with occasional smaller versions, Balearic shearwaters, with Majorca a shadowy presence on the horizon.
The rest of the holiday was not quite so bird-filled, but a steady stream of sightings were had.......

 This coot was the closest we came to a purple gallinule, reputed to live in the Son Bou marshes which were overgrown at this time of the year, and frequented by nefarious naked figures.

The local supermarket displayed quail and partridge, which were useful ticks.

A visit to GOB (an environmental ornithological group in Menorca) coincided with the arrival of a Scops owl with a broken wing, picked up by an alert driver who turned out to be our waiter! We were warmly welcomed by Dominic, who explained some of the principles and problems of Menorcan environmental work.

The Algendar gorge provided many butterflies (again, you'll have to wait) but also alpine swifts, booted eagles (above) and Egyptian vultures for comparison (below).  [Note - an expert has told me that they are both booted eagles and who am I to argue? We also saw the dark phase of booteds, just to confuse]

The second hotel we stayed in boasted fewer gulls, but overflying ravens, rock doves, booted eagles, a tawny owl .......
 ....and a blue rock thrush sang on the balcony!

No comments: