With an approximate flight time of two hours from the UK, serviced by a number of airlines from many regional airports, Mallorca is an ideal destination for birding enthusiasts keen to watch the annual Spring migration.
Located between the Spanish mainland and North Africa, Mallorca attracts a multitude of migrants travelling from the African continent to their breeding grounds in both Europe and Asia.
The large choice of hotels and restaurants on this holiday island means that there is something to suit all tastes with the north of Mallorca being popular as a base from which to visit the famous Serra de Tramuntana mountain range and other bird sites and nature reserves. Puerto Pollensa and Alcudia are particularly favoured by visitors as many of the best reserves and breeding sites are easily accessible from these locations.
Spring brings with it the perfect climate for birdwatching, with beautiful sunshine and pleasantly warm temperatures coupled with a wonderful array of both rare and more common migrants that appear in differing numbers every year. Examples of some of the rarer visitors are the Golden Oriole and the Honey Buzzard.
Whilst some of the migrating birds stop over only briefly for a rest during their journey to other breeding grounds, others stay for the summer. Examples of the latter are the Woodchat Shrike and the relatively common Bee Eater.
During springtime some of the small islands surrounding Mallorca provide wonderful habitats for birds and those wishing to study them visit the excellent national park on Cabrera to the south of Mallorca. Cabrera can be reached by the twice daily ferry service which runs from the picturesque port of Colonia de Sant Jordi. Another national park, the uninhabited island of Dragonera, just off the west coast, can be reached by a short ferry ride from the small village of Sant Elm.
As already stated, one of the favourite areas for bird watchers has always been Puerto Pollensa in the north of Mallorca. The port is situated close to the top north east corner of the island and is a 40 minute taxi ride from Palma airport. Puerto Pollensa is also home to the island’s first bird visitors centre at La Gola. This fantastic facility is currently run by Cristina who has a wealth of bird and bird site knowledge and who is also responsible for collating important bird siting’s from around the island. Information and maps covering nearby sites and reserves are available from here. La Gola incorporates a series of lagoons which are a magnate for visiting migrants including Ospreys.
Puerto Pollensa also has the advantage of being close to the Boquer Valley and Pine Tree Avenue, both accessible within walking distance of the town. Car and bicycle hire, public transport and taxis are available from within the port and those wishing to visit the large nature reserve at s’Albufereta can catch the number 352 bus to Alcudia and get off just a short walk from the reserve. A popular restaurant on the edge of the reserve is the Can Curassa. There are regular sightings of flocks of Bee Eaters, breeding and migrating Yellow Wagtails, Shrikes and nightingales in this area and very occasionally Golden Orioles and Rollers resting on the overhead wires.
If you remain on the bus after passing the Can Curassa Restaurant, alight at El Gravet by the Club Blue Sol which has its own nature reserve complete with hide and a wealth of published bird information. Remain on the bus, en route back to Alcudia and you pass other interesting locations which are part of s’Albufereta but are named separately as Es Grau and sa Barcassa where you will find lagoons with a new hide which offers fantastic photo opportunities, particularly in the Spring, of Collared Pratincoles, Purple Herons, visiting waders and terns.
Travel on the same 352 bus route from Puerto Pollensa through both Alcudia and Port d’Alcudia towards Can Picafort and opposite the 5 star Grupo Hotel Natural Parc you will arrive at the main entrance to yet another natural parc, s’Albufera, not to be confused with the smaller s’Albuferata. This internationally famous park is the largest managed wetland reserve on Mallorca and attracts over 300 species of bird a year including all migrants and many birds indigenous to the island. This is normally the only area in which you can view breeding Marbled Ducks and Purple Gallinules.
Within the parc, approximately 1 Km from the main entrance, is the s’Albufera Visitors Centre which is open year-round from 9.00 am until 4.00 pm and which issues free entry permits (which are required) and maps. The parc itself closes to visitors at 6pm daily. There are four signed walking routes around the reserve with the longest being the ‘red route’ which takes in the many varied habitats and provides the best opportunity to see the largest number of migrants. A canal, which runs through the reserve, attracts migrating Night Herons in addition to Purple Herons, Cattle Egrets and Little Bitterns and the many hides located within the parc afford excellent opportunities to spot Osprey, Glossy Ibis, Eleanora’s Falcons, Booted Eagles and Marsh Harriers. In 2018 a rare visitor seen within the reserve was a passing Collared Flycatcher.
If you were to continue on the bus to Can Picafort and get off at the next stop, the hospital, you can walk to S’Illot which is a wonderful location from which to view both Shrikes and Bee Eaters.
A short drive from Puerto Pollensa is the iconic Cap de Formentor with amazing views back towards the port and out to sea. This is the most north eastern point on Mallorca and many species of bird can be seen soaring around the sea cliffs. Visitors are advised to contact the Tourist Information Offices in either Puerto Pollensa, Pollensa or Alcudia prior to making arrangements to visit Cap de Formentor for updated travel information, as the only road up to the lighthouse is subject to closure and/or restricted access at certain times of the year (June to September inclusive).
Albercutx tower, which is located along the route to Cap de Formentor is recognised as one of the prime sites on the island from which to view a large range of migratory birds, in particular huge numbers of Honey Buzzards, Harriers, Eagles, Red Footed Falcons along with other birds of prey.
Those wishing to follow Spring bird migration in the mountains are advised to visit the Ternelles Valley on the edge of the Serra de Tramuntana, just a short taxi ride from the old town of Pollensa. This area is only accessible with a permit available from the Tourist Information Offices in Pollensa and Puerto Pollensa. Chats, Warblers and numerous birds of prey including Black Vultures, Hobby and Red Footed Falcons, migrating Harriers and resident Eagles can be seen in the Spring as you walk along the valley towards the Castle del Rey.
The monastery at Lluc, set in the heart of the Tramuntana mountain range and accessible by car or the number 354 bus (during the tourist season only) is yet another worthwhile trip for those wanting to combine culture, history and bird watching. The area is good for migrants, Wrynecks being regular visitors and also for birds of prey and is an excellent day out.
During last Spring, Bird Migration in Mallorca recorded several rarities including the Red Backed Shrike, Red Flanked Blue Tail and Common Rosefinch (all at La Gola) in addition to the Collared Flycatcher and various warblers including Melodious and Pallas in the north of the island.