A week in Menorca

It was a weeks holiday in Menorca with the grandchildren and their parents, but I tried to fit some bird photography in as well 😉

There were plenty of Yellow-legged Gulls and Audouin’s Gulls flying around the hotel looking for an easy meal.  I was surprised with the Audouin’s Gulls as they’re not supposed to be scavengers.  I took a walk to the beach and along the coast and I could hear Sardinian Warblers but couldn’t see any.  I did see plenty of gulls again as well as Linnets in the shrubs along the cliff top

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Linnet, Carduelis cannabina

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/8000 s. f/5.6 iso800 500 mm.

 

 

The following day I went for a very pleasant walk with my wife Sandra along the coast, but this time in the opposite direction towards the lighthouse.  Again, there were plenty of gulls as well as a male Blue Rock Thrush that was happy to pose, although at a fair distance away from us.

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Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola solitarius

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/3200 s. f/5.6 iso800 500 mm.

 

 

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Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola solitarius

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/4000 s. f/5.6 iso800 500 mm.

 

 

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Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola solitarius

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/3200 s. f/5.6 iso800 500 mm.

 

 

We also saw a few flowers amongst the rocks

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Flower

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/1600 s. f/5.6 iso800 500 mm.

 

 

At the lighthouse there was a Tawny Pipit on the wall and in the grounds of the lighthouse there were a couple of Spotted Flycatchers but none of them stayed around for long.

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Tawny Pipit, Anthus campestris

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/5000 s. f/5.6 iso800 500 mm.

 

 

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Spotted Flycatcher, Muscicapa striata

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/6400 s. f/5.6 iso800 500 mm.

 

 

We walked back along the streets rather than the coast and came across a Hoopoe feeding in someones garden

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Hoopoe, Upupa epops

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/4000 s. f/5.6 iso800 500 mm.

 

 

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Hoopoe, Upupa epops

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/3200 s. f/5.6 iso800 500 mm.

 

 

I didn’t venture out the next day, but the following day I had booked to do a private tour for the morning in the hope of seeing a Dartford Warbler, which would be a new lifer for me.  My wife, Sandra, had done a lot of research on the internet and found a guide at Menorca Walking Birds and told them I’d like to see Dartford Warblers and Little Bitterns as well as a few other things.  He said he could fit me in on a private tour on Thursday morning and would pick me up at 06:00 as earlier was better.  I got up at 05:30 and went to the front of the hotel for 05:50 and the guide Javier was already there.  After introductions we set off to the north of the island in search of Dartford Warblers. The weather was very poor with thunder clouds building up. We arrived at the area where Javier said there were 3 pairs with nests. We walked through the shrubby area to a small clearing and waited.   Javier was extremely good at picking up the different bird noises and explaining the differences.  We saw and heard several Sardinian Warblers but they were difficult to photograph because of the bad light and poor contrast which made it hard for the camera to focus.

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Sardinian Warbler, Sylvia melanocephala

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/200 s. f/4 iso1600 500 mm.

 

 

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Sardinian Warbler, Sylvia melanocephala

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/250 s. f/4 iso1600 500 mm.

 

 

Finally a few juvenile Dartford Warblers started to flit about. I did manage to get some very poor images but at least it’s a tick.

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Dartford Warbler, Sylvia undata

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/200 s. f/4 iso1600 500 mm.

 

 

Just as we were leaving an adult sat at the top of a bush but it was 35 metres away 🙁 .  A very noisy image was the best I could manage.

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Dartford Warbler, Sylvia undata

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/1250 s. f/4 iso1600 500 mm.

 

 

Our next site was the wetlands area to look for Little Bittern. We arrived with the weather looking even worse although it was a bit brighter. Settings off on a footpath we passed some small fig trees that were alive with the sound of Cetti’s Warbler and we saw a few amongst the leaves but none to photograph. Further down the path it opened up with fields full of thistles which had flocks of Goldfinch and Greenfinch on them. We also heard and saw a Zitting Cisticola which was another new lifer for me.
On the other side of the path the fields went down to the wetlands and the reedbeds. In the distance we could see a Little Egret and a Purple Heron hunting.  The distance to the subject was over 150 metres, so again a poor shot 🙁

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Purple Heron, Ardea purpurea

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/1250 s. f/4 iso1600 500 mm.

 

 

Then the heavens opened 🙁 We sheltered in a cave and watched the sheet rain for over an hour with a Great Tit and Blackbird for company before it started to slow. Looking for Little Bittern was now not possible due to the rain so we decided to go looking for Thekla’s Larks and Short-toed Larks in another area that hopefully was dry.  On a wet walk back to the car we saw Turtle Doves and a male Marsh Harrier as well as an European Pond Turtle

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European Pond Turtle, Emys orbicularis

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/2000 s. f/4 iso1600 500 mm.

 

 

That was a good suggestions by Javier as the area had better weather, although it had rained there, and better light. Driving down the narrow road we saw both Thekla’s Larks and Short-toed Larks on the walls either side of the road but couldn’t get good shots as there were other cars following us.

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Thekla's Lark, Galerida theklae

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/8000 s. f/4.5 iso1000 500 mm.

 

 

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Short-toed Lark, Calandrella brachydactyla

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/6400 s. f/4 iso640 500 mm.

 

 

Javier had said that the area was normally very quiet with few visitors but when we were there it was very busy, probably due to the rain and not being a beach day.  This meant that most birds were in the distance.  We looked for Stone Curlew but didn’t find any although we did see a distant Egyptian Vulture which did a fly past later in the day and a Pied Wagtail which Javier said wasn’t usually on the island at this time of the year.

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Egyptian Vulture, Neophron percnopterus

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/6400 s. f/7.1 iso800 700 mm.

 

 

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Egyptian Vulture, Neophron percnopterus

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/1250 s. f/7.1 iso400 700 mm.

 

 

At the lighthouse Javier set up his scope and we looked out to sea and saw Balearic Shearwater Puffinus mauretanicus and Scopoli’s Shearwater Calonectris diomedea

A great morning’s birding which ended with the drive back to the hotel but not before seeing Corn Buntings, Tawny Pipit, Red Kites, Spotless Starlings and the only Cattle Egret colony on the island.

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Cattle Egret, Bubulcus ibis

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/2500 s. f/7.1 iso400 500 mm.

 

 

If you’re visiting the Island of Menorca then I can highly recommend Javier and Menorca Walking Birds who did his utmost to give me a great experience despite the weather.

 

The next day was my last day and I was determined to get some flight shots of Yellow-legged Gulls and Audouin’s Gulls.  I walked to the beach and managed to get a few shots of the Audouin’s Gulls and returned to the hotel where I took shots of the Yellow-legged Gulls.

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Yellow-legged Gull, Larus michahellis

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/3200 s. f/7.1 iso400 500 mm.

 

 

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Audouin's Gull, Ichthyaetus audouinii

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/3200 s. f/7.1 iso400 500 mm.

 

 

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Yellow-legged Gull, Larus michahellis

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/4000 s. f/7.1 iso400 500 mm.

 

 
Despite it not being a birding holiday I managed to see 30 different species, 5 new lifers, and  photographs of 16 including 3 lifers.

 

 

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