Tuesday 16 May 2017

Mallorca 2017 - Day Three

Day Three (1st May)

If previous trips were anything to go by then I was eager to avoid the legions of lycra-clad cyclists along the road to Cuber Dam. Those mountain roads can be difficult enough without having to contend with that too. So we set off from Port d'Alcudia at 7am and had the road to the Tramuntana more or less to ourselves (apart from all those Chaffinches).
When we arrived at Cuber we were only the second car in the car park. We had a quick breakfast (bread roll, cheese, bag of crisps and bottle of water), put some layers on (it was cold) and set off along the path looking and listening for Moltoni's Warblers. I also wanted to try for Spectacled Warbler having missed out this bird on both previous visits (not to mention Madeira and Norfolk - so bit of a bogey for me). I scanned the rocky slope below the pines beyond the heli-pad and after thirty minutes or so had tickable views of a female Spectacled Warbler. No photos but a lifer in the bag at last. Present also was a single Pied Flycatcher on the beach (flycatching from the rocks!!) and a Spotted Flycatcher (Balearic race most likely) - also flycatching on the beach. About twenty yards before the dam I heard a short and scratchy-type sylvia song followed by a few wren-like calls and knew that there was a Moltoni's about somewhere. I called Nick over and within five minutes we had tracked the bird down. We watched it for about twenty minutes as it evaded our attempts to take good photographs but the views were more than acceptable.

Moltoni's Warbler, Cuber Dam, Mallorca - 1st May 2017
A single Raven croaked overhead, a Nightingale sang from the pines and Crag Martins buzzed around the Dam. Eventually the rain came down and we had to head back to the car. However we got side-tracked by four or five Spotted Flycatchers around the heli-pad that just had to be "papped".

Tyrrhenian Flycatcher - Cuber Dam, Mallorca - 1st May 2017
I'm going to shamelessly steal Nick's description of these from his facebook post at the time - I think it describes these birds very succinctly.

"Spotted Flycatcher of the Balearic subspecies Muscicapa striata balearica which is treated by some authorities as a subspecies of Tyrrhenian Flycatcher (Muscicapa tyrrhenica balearica) which is restricted to the Western Mediterranean islands. Whatever its formal taxonomic status the unstreaked breast, white half-collar isolating the darker ear coverts and preference for fly-catching from perches within ~30cm of the ground certainly give this taxon a very distinctive feel.

Couldn't have put it as well myself!

By now the cyclists and walkers were arriving, we packed up and headed back down the mountain stopping for a celebratory expresso at road-side cafe about half-way down. Here we were treated to great views of a singing Firecrest along with a supporting cast of Blackcap, more Tyrrhenian Flycatchers and a male Pied Flycatcher.

Firecrest, Tramuntana, Mallorca - 1st May 2017
While we sipped our coffee Nick read out a tweet saying that a male Collared Flycatcher had been found the previous eveing at s'Albufera - so guess where we were headed for next?
After a short afternoon siesta we returned to s'Albufera and checked for the Collared Flycatcher but no sign. Pity! But we did have Squacco Heron, Stone Curlew, Glossy Ibis, Kentish Plover, LRP, Purple Heron and BW Stilt from the hides overlooking the Sa Roca pools.

Black-winged Stilt, Sa Roca pools, s'Albufera, Mallorca

Stone Curlew, Sa Roca pools, s'Albufera, Mallorca
 We checked some suitable spots for Moustached Warbler without success but fortunately bumped into two UK birders who gave us some decent "gen" and after about two hours we found one bird singing. Not at all easy but persistance won out in the end and we both had good views. A Little Bittern was there also.
We were on our way out of the reserve thinking of driving to Port de Pollenca to search for Scops Owl when we bumped into our friends again. And as luck would have it they had tracked down the Collared Flycatcher once more. Scops Owl plan went on hold and we headed back into the reserve where their excellent directions had us connecting with the bird within ten minutes. And what a bird it was - in fact for me 'Bird of the Trip'. A cracking male Collared Flycatcher.

Male Collared Flycatcher, s'Albufera, Mallorca - 1st May 2017
And the obligatory video of course!

We couldn't top that really. Dusk was settling and dinner was calling, we sensibly decided to put our Scop's Owl plans on ice and call it a day. I was so shattered that even a posing Nightingale wasn't going to postpone dinner (and Cruzcampo) for any longer!

Nightingale, s'Albufera - 1st May 2017


  1. Hi Graham. Unless it's just a trick of the light I would say your Nightingale looks to have a slightly mottled breast and sullied underparts, and also looks a little 'colder' than that species. Are you sure it's not actually a Thrush Nightingale?

    Nice Collared Flycatcher incidentally!

    1. Hi Gavin
      Thanks for your comment. It would be great if it was Thrush Nightingale (which may not even be on the Mallorcan list) but it was singing very much like a Common Nightingale. It was late evening when I took the photo so could be an effect of the poor light at the time.

      All the best