Sunday 26 February 2012

Pesky Kingfisher

I was planning to show you some top class Kingfisher shots this weekend but my plans haven't quite worked as they should. Several weeks ago I got the idea of photographing the Carrigrennan Kingfisher and so I set up a little hide near one of its fishing posts. The hide had been in place for a week when I came back on Saturday morning. However, when I arrived at the pool the hide had fallen over and the Kingfisher was cheekily perched in a willow right above the only bit of my makeshift hide that remained in place. Once he moved I got into position and fixed up my hide. However he failed to play ball and at 14:50 I baled out and rushed home to watch Ireland versus Italy. Of course I know now that it was a 13:30 kick-off so missed most of that match. Darn Kingfisher!!
Not to be defeated I went back again Sunday morning, the hide was still there but the weather was a bit dull. Back into position and while I had nice views of Little Egret, Water Rail, Siskin, Reed Bunting and Redpoll there was no sign of the Kingfisher. The best I have to show you is his fishing post, use your imagination and you'll see the beautiful electric blue and chestnut colours as he deals with yet another Stickleback!!

Fishing Post - try and picture that Kingfisher!!

The hide remains in place and I intend to return, but for now the Kingfisher is winning!

Not very comfy hide
As the weather got more drizzly and I got colder and more in need of a 'bio-break' I called it a day and decided to drive over towards Ballycotton pier. A few weeks ago there had been good numbers of white-winged gulls there so I thought it might be worth a go.

Ballycotton lifeboat - 26th February 2012

Picking up a loaf of Brennan's Bread in Cloyne I was all set.
I arrived at the pier and immediately spied a 1st winter Iceland Gull. There were no other white-winged gulls around sadly but this would do for now. No need for a hide this time, I chucked some bread into the water and he was one of the first gulls over.

Iceland Gull, Ballycotton Pier, 26 February 2012
I was glad to take a break from just sitting in a hide, photographing gulls can be very satisfying. I remember spending one very enjoyable afternoon in Baltimore 3 years ago watching Julian Wylie's superb Ivory Gull, it was one of the most enjoyable twitches I've ever been on.
The Iceland Gull filled himself up with slliced bread before indigestion probably set in and he took to just resting on the water.

1st winter Iceland Gull and Brennan's sliced pan.
Amongst the other gulls present I noticed this 1st winter Herring Gull which had a black ring on its left leg and a BTO ring on its right. The number is TU8F and after a little bit of detective work it turns out the bird was ringed as a pullus on the Calf of Man last July. Interesting stuff!

Ringed 1st winter Herring Gull
Also present were several Kittiwakes, GBB Gulls, Herring Gulls, Common Gulls, Pied Wagtails and Rock Pipits. Before I left I noticed this Grey Heron looking like he was about to drive off in a fishing boat, couldn't help but laugh to myself.

My boat, my boat!!!

 Hopefully some Kingfisher shots to come in due course.

Monday 20 February 2012

Just resting my eyes!

In case you're wondering I am letting my blog have a little snooze. Work is getting very busy and rather than write for the sake of writing I'll take a wee rest.
Although I'm tempted to look for this Hobby in Inishshannon...........what the heck is it eating!!

Sunday 12 February 2012

Carrigrennan Point

Carrigrennan Point, Little Island is about 10 minutes from home and a perfect location for a few hours of birding when I don't want to drive too far. Located just past the entrance to Harbour Point Golf Club, it starts at a small carpark and childrens playground, with a path that runs for about 1.5km in a loop eventually returning back around to the car park. On that path you will pass by several pools, some small areas of relatively young woodland, open areas of grass and furze and open views of Cork harbour as it works its way in around Fota Island, Little Island and the Douglas estuary.

Fota Island from Carrigrennan Point - February 2012
It was Brian Lynch who first put it on the map for me when he found a Surf Scoter there in January 2007. Its fair to say its probably underwatched, but it has had more than its fair share of good birds over the last 5 years. Apart from Brian's Surf Scoter, one of the pools there held a male Garganey for about 3 winters in a row (2008, 2009 and 2010). In fact that particular bird became known amongst a few of us as 'Gary the Garganey'. Gary would appear sometime in mid-winter on the pond and before that particular pond became too overgrown it was possible to get quite good views of Gary out in the open and up close.

Gary's pond, Carrigrennan Point, February 2012
Gary was sufficiently nervous to make me think his origins were wild and not from a collection. I remember one year sneaking up on poor Gary on my belly and getting this shot before he saw me and took off. It was in my early days with a DSLR and I was very pleased with the shot at the time although I felt a little guilty about spooking poor Gary.

Gary - Carrigrennan Point, Little Island, Cork - 2009 

After he was first found in 2008, Gary stayed for three consecutive winters on that pond. Last year, Gary's pond was frozen over for more than a month and there was no sign of him. I checked today more out of hope than expectation but predictably he wasn't there.
Anyway apart from Gary, Carrigrennan has also had Slavonian Grebe and Pied-billed Grebe and my own particular favourite, a male European Nightjar which I picked up one evening in August 2009 as I was walking back towards the car. I remember searching the area for about an hour in the hope of picking it up again but that was it, given the time of year I expect it was a bird on passage. Still only my second ever sighting of European Nightjar.
I recalled several weeks ago that Brian had told me he'd had a Kingfisher in one of the pools and that it might be a decent photo opportunity. I was thinking of heading over towards Ballycotton pier to check out the white-winged gulls but Carrigrennan was closer so that's where I headed for first. Sure enough on reaching the pool there was the Kingfisher perched proudly albeit distantly on a post sticking up out of the water. I saw my first ever Kingfisher when I was 9 years old somewhere near Lough Owel Co. Westmeath and for a long time after it was one of my favourite birds. It still is in fact and I reckon that of all the kingfisher species in the world the Common Kingfisher is the most handsome. Now, good shots of Kingfishers don't come too easily and I would say that some of the very best images taken in bird photography have been of this species. A good Kingfisher image has to be really good because there are some stunning images out there. You only have to look back through the galleries on birdguides to see that. So I'm not sure why, without a hide or decent light or a gillysuit or whatever, that I even bothered to try and take some shots of this chap (because as you can see from the all dark bill he is a 'chap') but here's some for the record anyway.

Male Kingfisher - Carrigrennan Point, February 2012

Sitting in a distant willow - Kingfisher, Carrigrennan Point, February 2012

I may go back for some better shots in the next few weeks. At the same time Carrigrennan is a popular spot for walkers and families so several people stopped to ask me what I looking at and I was very pleased to be able to show a few punters their first ever Kingfisher. I know I made at least one persons day!
There was a slight feel of spring today also, a mildness and brightness that first comes in February. Teal had began to pair up and Blue Tits were busy displaying in the willows along the path.

Eurasian Teal - Carrigrennan Point, February 2012

I even found some frog spawn in a small ditch as I headed back to the car.

Spring is here - frogspawn.

With the maker of the spawn still lurking innocently nearby.

Common Frog (I think) - Carrigrennan Point, February 2012

Time was pressing on so I didn't get a chance to do a full circuit of the path. I headed back to the car just as the sun was setting.....roll on springtime!

Cork harbour looking back towards Douglas estuary - February 2012

Tuesday 7 February 2012

10 years a birding

Its almost 10 years since I got back into birding. I say "got back into" because there was a period way back when as a little boy of 8 years of age I was bird obsessed. And I remember how it all started. My mother had taught me to recognise the common species, Blackbird, Thrush, Blue Tit, Magpie and Robin. Then one day I saw a bird on the back garden wall that didn't look like any of those (looking back it was probably a fledgling Blackbird). Then, as luck would have it, a week later I found a bird book in my national school library. This, I thought, would tell me what my mystery bird was. Well no such luck, but every week for the next year I drew that book out (I think I can safely say that no-one else was interested in it apart from me!). I knew that book inside out, but for the life of me I can't recall the title. All the nice birds seemed had the caveat "does not occur in Ireland" Woodpeckers, Golden Eagles, Golden Orioles or an innocent 8 year I thought "did Britain have that much of a hold on us that they had taken all the good birds for themselves.....surely not?" Ah, the innocence of it. Anyway, little by little, I started to recognise some of the birds from the book. I ticked House Sparrow on a cub scouts outing to Dublin Zoo, Rook and Hooded Crow eating leftover crusts in the school play-ground and those were no longer seagulls, they were Herring Gulls......or whatever (I still struggle there)! I made a little make-shift bird table in the back garden. It was more of a death trap than a bird table, nice and low for the local cats and with several bent nails sticking out of it. Nonetheless I was nearly beside myself when a  female Blackcap appearred on it! Meanwhile I convinced my Dad to fork out a few quid to join me up to the Irish Wildbird Conservancy (IWC). I'd wait for weeks on end for the postman to bring the quarterly newsletter which I'd then read cover to cover. Then wait another 3 months for the next issue. Christmas and birthday presents became easy for me, birdbooks.....I still have them all. They're pretty dog-eared now but precious nonetheless. I remember one book 'The Osbourne Spotters Guide to Birds' had a little box beside each illustration. The idea being to place a tick in the box when you had seen the bird. I had very few ticked but that all changed on a school outing to the Natural History Museum.........I ticked almost everything in the book when I got home that afternoon. No-one said the bird needed to be living (I've tidied my list up a little since then). Meanwhile, the birds in our back garden got a surprise upgrade to their dining facilities when my Grandfather (a dab-hand with a hammer and nails) made me a very smart bird table. I kept on feeding the birds every winter and added Coal Tit, Great Tit, Siskin, Fieldfare and Greenfinch to the garden list. I remember great excitment when I saw my first Swifts wheeling over the house one morning in May. And my birding (or birdwatching as I called it back then) went beyond the back garden. I had read in the IWC newsletter that the West Pier in Dun Laoghaire was a good place to see birds. I asked my Dad to take me and he gave up his Saturday morning golf on several ocassions to bring me down the pier. That's where I saw Common Scoter, Great Crested Grebe and Red-breasted Merganser for the first time. In Sligo, where we'd go on holidays, I saw Brent Goose, Gannet, Willow Warbler and Redwings for the first time. I remember staying somewhere up in Donegal in a caravan, my Dad woke my in the dead of night to allow me hear my first ever Corncrake. I remain very grateful to this day that he woke me, I've heard very few since.
Then, sometime around the age of 12 my interest seemed to wane. I had started secondary school, birds were seriously uncool and I had a new passion........schools rugby!! I played 2 matches a week, trained 3 days a week and bit by bit I forgot about the birds. The IWC newsletter would arrive and I would barely glance at it. In the end I wouldn't even bother to open the envelope. Eventually Dad cancelled the subscription.
The years passed by, rugby, exams, college, career and all that meant I paid next to no attention to the birds. There were plenty of more important distractions. Ok, so my eye would still be caught by a Kestrel hovering on a motorway or one time a Kingfisher on the river Loire when I was in France for a summer holiday but no more than that.
Then, 20 years on I bought my first house. It was a normal 3 bed semi in Sallins, Co. Kildare. But it had a beautiful garden. I collected the keys from the solicitor on my 32nd birthday as it happened. I remember letting myself into the house and feeling that sense of pride you get as a new home-owner. I looked out to the back garden and there was a flock of birds crowding around an almost empty feeder. I could still recognise some of them, Chaffinches mainly, the odd Greenfinch and a few Blue Tits. All clamouring for the last remaining peanuts. It was my house, my garden and so my birds I thought. I went straight up to the local hardware shop, bought a big bag of peanuts and replenished the feeders. I turned a dustbin lid upside down and filled it with water. The birds seemed very pleased.

The garden of my old house in Sallins, a great place for birds!

That was 2002, and it had started all over again.  I dusted down one of my old field guides and re-joined Birdwatch Ireland. Bit by bit I started to see more birds. A Sparrowhawk in the garden, a Kingfisher on the river Dodder beside Lansdowne Road stadium and one day while fishing off a pier near Waterville, Co. Kerry....a Great Northern Diver.
From that point on the birding just seemed to gather momentum for me. I joined up with the Liffey Valley branch of BirdWatchIreland and went on field trips to Kilcoole, Broadlough, Shannon Callows and many other places. I made some great friends in Denis Carty, David Browne and Bob Strickland. A career move to Cork really added fuel to the fire, finally getting to visit Cape Clear Island in 2006, the first of many trips there.

Seawatching on Cape Clear Island 2006

Indeed in 2008 I found a first for Cape Clear........a Great Spotted Woodpecker.

I don't care to think how much of my hard earned cash I've spent on birding between bins, telescopes, cameras, lenses, tripods, birding trips, clothing, books and magazines...........a lot! But worth every penny. And birding has brought me to parts of the world that I never would have gone to otherwise. The Gambia, Namibia, Ecuador, Argentina, Panama, The Galapagos and even the Antarctic.

A break from the birding - playing footy with the local kids - The Gambia 2006
Paradise Bay, Antarctic Peninsula 2007
Miraflores Lock, Panama Canal 2009

Looking for Albatrosses - Southern Atlantic Ocean 2007
I'm also very fortunate to have a wife that shares my interest in birds. Going to Galapagos for our honeymoon in 2010 was an obvious choice and the trip of a lifetime!

Polina and I - Santa Cruz Island, The Galapagos 2010
Shortly after I became interested in birds again my girlfriend at the time told me never to tell anyone I was into birds...'no good can come of it' she said. Possibly she was joking but I'm glad I didn't listen to her. Birding will probably never be cool, I remember as a kid being ridiculed for being interested in birds. Its changed a bit now but birders are an odd lot. I still get strange looks when I wander about with bins around my neck. However when people ask, I'm always very happy to show them what I'm looking at and tell them a little bit about birds, who knows what sort of spark I might be setting off.
If you're reading this and you're becoming interested in birds then good for you......stick at it, its a wonderful pastime. Put out food for your garden birds and then go and join BirdwatchIreland or if you live in the UK join the RSPB. Birds face so many challenges now, from habitat loss to illegal hunting and trapping, they need all the friends they can get.  I'm eternally grateful to have found birding again and I doubt I'll ever lose that interest. I hope the next 10 years are as good as the last!

Sunday 5 February 2012

Mallorca trip report

OK so it was in April last year but it's taken me this long to get around to writing a trip report for Mallorca 2011. The main reason for doing it now is that during those dark and wet winter morning commutes I have been casting my mind back to our week in Mallorca last year when the skies were blue, the days were warm, the food was great and the birds even better. Its memories like that which keep you going through the Irish winter! (mind you according to P's mum it was -34 Celsius in Riga last night so it could be worse!!).

Riga - last Friday night - where did I park the car?
I had been to Mallorca for the first time in 2007 with David Browne and Bob Strickland. Bob being a veteran of at least 6 trips to Mallorca meant we needed no guidebook. In that one week we saw over 100 species, 36 of which were lifers for me at that time. Mallorca was were I saw my first ever Firecrest, along with male Blackburnian Warbler, now my all time favourite bird. 
I could recall the whereabouts of most places we went to in 2007 but rather than take any chances I got hold of this great book on amazon.

A birding tourists guide to Majorca

It's a very fine guidebook, written by 5 local birders, good quality photographs and best of all GPS coordinates for each location. Just punch the details into your satnav and off you go.
We had booked the flights Cork-Palma in January so we got a good deal. The next thing was accommodation, rather than a hotel we checked and found this smashing villa near Alcudia in the heart of the best birding sites on Mallorca.

5 minutes from Alcudia and 10 minutes from Pollenca it was perfect, well done P for digging it out. We went in mid April so it was well priced but prices do increase as the season opens up.
Once it was all booked we spent the rest of the winter looking forward to our trip. On 9th April we took the late evening flight to Palma and we were finally on our way. We picked up a rental car at Palma airport (a nice little diesel Seat...of course), entered in the coordinates and 40 minutes later we had pulled up to the gates of the villa....easy!
Because we were arriving late I asked the owner if they would mind leaving something in the fridge for breakfast. Well as it turned out there was enough food in there to last a couple of days....very generous and a very nice welcome! It was heading for midnight so we dropped our bags and sat out on the porch enjoying a cool bottle each of Cruz Campo beer, eating some tasty snacks and listening to the Nightingales singing and the Stone Curlews calling. I remember saying to P that I'd expect to hear a Scops Owl sometime when just a couple of minutes later out came that distinctive single note call from several fields away. Probably not the right thing to do but we played Scops Owl song on the ipod briefly and the bird came into the garden, sat high up in a tree and studied us both. After that we left it well alone and every other night we enjoyed its simple song as we sat out on the porch drinking our Spanish beer. Shortly after that a Barn Owl flew past, it gave a single shriek before disappearing into the night.
The next morning after breakfast it was time to take a wander around the gardens. The villa was set on about an acre of land, in front there was a nice lawn and pool and to the side a very attractive looking orchard with about 50 fruit trees of various types (lemon, orange and olives mainly).The first bird to catch my eye was a nice male Sardinian warbler, I chased this little chap around all week but never got a decent shot of him. I'd spend an hour sitting in the car with skrim netting covering the window so I could get a nice shot but never succeeded.  Just as I would finally give up it would show well. Sardinian Warbler =  1: Graham =  Nil

heavily cropped and a little blurred - Sardinian Warbler
P, without too much effort, did a little better as you can see from this shot.

Sardinian Warbler - Mallorca April 2011
However, all was not lost because I did manage to get some shots of another garden regular from my Seat Ibiza hide. A Zitting Cisticola was busy gathering nest material most of the week and sat up nicely for a shot.

Zitting Cisticola / Fan-tailed Warbler
Once P had managed to drag me away from the birding we headed into Alcudia for supplies. There was a very nice market in the old town where we stocked up with lots of nice cheeses and meats, all other essential supplies (i.e. Cruz Campo) came from the local supermarket. Each evening we'd light up the stone barbecue and grill fish or meat, smashing!!

The barbeque - P became quite the expert on this!
On the second full day I thought it'd be worth driving over towards the excellent S'Albufera reserve. This national park is one of the most well known birding locations in Mallorca. There is a network of small canals around reedbeds, saltmarsh and brackish lagoons. There are several very nice hides and a small visitor centre. Throughout our week in Mallorca we visited S'Albufera about 3 different times, the light wasn't always that great but there were plenty of opportunities to see some good birds up close. S'Albufera is an excellent location to see the rare Red-knobbed Coot and Marbled Teal as well as the almost prehistoric looking Purple Swamphen.

Dinosaurish!! - Purple Swamphen

Red-knobbed Coot

Other birds that were present at the reserve during the week included Red-crested Pochard, Black-winged Stilt, Marsh Harrier, Kentish Plover, Garganey, Common Tern, Cattle Egret, Night Heron, Great Reed Warbler, Little Ringed Plover and Litttle Stint.

Red-crested Pochard - good numbers on the canals and waterways around the reserve

Black-winged Stilt -always posing for photos.

Male Kentish Plover

Little Ringed Plover

One of the highlights of the week in fact was the flock of about 30 Spotted Redshanks that stayed for several days while sporting their very striking black breeding plumage. This rather obliging individual came close to the hide on one occasion allowing some decent shots.

Spotted Redshank

Spotted Redshank
 And on the final visit this Wood Sandpiper dropped in briefly.

Wood Sandpiper - S'Albufera, Mallorca.
Another a place I wanted to visit though was Son Real. This is about 20 kms down the coast between Alcudia and Arta. In the guide book is was given the title 'Kingdom of warblers' and described as one of the best spots on the island to see the endemic Balearic Warbler as well as Dartford Warbler. We set out with high expectations and reached Son Real at the relatively early hour of 9.30am (very early for us). Son Real was once a working estate now under public ownership. You park the car and then walk past the farm buildings and house before reaching a path that goes through an area 'characterised by low Majorcan garrigue of rosemary, heather, together with coastal pine woods and rain-fed arable land'.....sounds nice eh? It looked spot on for those nice Sylvias. But the further we walked the more disappointed we got. No Dartfords and no Balearics at all, only the resident Sardinians. No sign either of any Stone Curlews. We reached the end of the path as it opens out onto the beach and found a nice Tawny Pipit and on the way back a pair of Woodchat shrikes (though not the endemic badius subspp.). Half way back along the path I realised I was missing sunglasses, back I tracked to pick them up on the beach and even though it was April it was getting hot and we were getting tired. I joined P again and we headed back to the car for lunch, the pine trees in the car park had a single Wood Warbler, at least that was something. So no joy at Son Real, perhaps we were unlucky or the wrong time of the day, I don't know, but the walk is nice all the same. Just don't forget your sunglasses.
The following evening we took a drive into the town of Pollenca. There is a small stream that runs under the road and I remembered Bob telling me in 2007 that it is a good spot for Yellow Wagtail. Since my last visit they have created a nice little path around the stream with plenty of signs for visitors about the birds they are likely to see. We spent about an hour here and enjoyed good views of Yellow Wagtail (subspp. iberiae) as well as several Auduoins Gulls on the rooftops.

Yellow Wagtail gathers nest material - an excellent shot by Polina

Yellow Wagtail (iberiae) - Pollenca, Mallorca
Another spot I had visited in 2007 was Cuber Dam, a large reservoir set in the Tramuntana mountains and a great spot for Black Vulture, Spectacled Warbler, Firecrest and Booted Eagle. In 2007 I recall seeing Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Thrush, Subalpine Warbler, Firecrest (for the first ever time), Black Vulture, Osprey, Booted Eagle and Tawny Pipit. As I recall it was a Saturday or Sunday when we drove up to Cuber Dam so the whole area was pretty busy with cyclists and walkers although few birders. The first part of the path around Cuber was pretty quiet on the bird front unfortunately, we checked the usual spot for Spectacled but were probably too early. Nonetheless the views of the reservoir were spectacular, the cold clear mountain water looking very blue indeed.

Cuber Dam, Tramuntana Mountains, Mallorca
However as we continued on along the path in due course at least one Black Vulture drifted over. The habitat surrounding the path changed from grassland interspersed with rocks to small stunted pine forest. Here there were several Wood Warblers picking their way through the trees, presumably on their way further north.

Wood Warbler en route - Cuber Dam, Mallorca
The path switches around then and tracks back towards the car park on the opposite side of the reservoir.

Cuber reservoir from the north-eastern side

There are more trees here and this is where I had seen Firecrest in 2007 so I broke off the path and starting listening and looking. The area was full of sheep resting in the shade of the trees, the sound of their 'sheep' bells clanging adds to the overall feel of the place, its the sound of Cuber.

The local sheep - with bells on!

In several spots the cliff face rose upwards from the woodland and there were groups of Crag Martins here with the occasional House Martin also. After 20 minutes of searching I picked out the high pitched call of a 'crest' and got onto a single Firecrest feeding alongside another Wood Warbler in the small trees. A little bit wary of me but I did manage a shot for the record.

Firecrest - Cuber Dam, Mallorca
I joined Polina back on the path just as a Booted Eagle drifted past. We met a pair of German birders and chatted with them briefly before moving on towards the car park. In the trees and bushes below where we had started from was where the most bird activity seemed to be. Several Nightingales, a female Common Redstart and a couple more Firecrests. Just then Polina spied a very smart Tawny Pipit sitting up on a rock. We got into position and it afforded us close approach giving us what I think were the best shots of the week including this excellent image by P.

Tawny Pipit - Cuber Dam, Mallorca

It was evening time by now so the crowds had thinned down a little. We took our time coming back down from the mountains and stopped at several other spots just to take in the views.

Lake beside Tunel del Puig Major

Me and our mobile photography hide
Looking for Crag Martins
Back at the villa, I had continued my daily walks around the orchard and it was clear that stuff was passing through all the time. Each morning was an exciting time, to see if anything new had dropped by and if anything from the previous day had stayed around. On the first morning I had a very smart male Common Redstart that stayed for about 3 days but was very wary of me and never allowed any close approach. A female Whinchat was present for two days and for one day only a nice male Northern Wheatear. On the second evening a striking male Woodchat Shrike turned up and spent at least one day singing in a tree at the bottom of the drive-way. I guess you could describe his song as a scratchy type of warble, for a brief moment I was reminded of a distant Marsh Warbler. Using the Seat Ibiza hide he allowed a few shots.

Woodchat Shrike - Mallorca
By the end of our week he had moved on. Another thing I noticed was how flocks of swallows would come through every couple of hours, clearly on the move and busy calling to each other as they headed northwards towards Formentor. A close check of these flocks often indicated the odd Red-rumped Swallow. One bird that seemed to be surprisingly scarce during our stay was Hoopoe, again a tick for me in 2007 when we saw plenty. This time I was wondering if we'd see any until I heard one singing distantly from the villa. It came into a field about 200 meters away and sang from a tree, the next day it had moved on.
Corn Buntings and Red-legged Partridge were ever present but again like many birds in Mallorca, quite wary of people. I guess shooting and trapping of small birds may have something to do with that. Raptors were on the move too, a single Red Kite passed over and I'm pretty sure I had a Bonelli's Eagle during the middle of the week but couldn't get enough on it to be certain. On the second last day of our trip the Bee-eaters turned up. I heard them first, the chorus of their purring calls, a few seconds later and the flock goes past, wonderful birds.
I mentioned earlier that the old town of Alcudia has a very nice open air market. Old Alcudia is well worth a visit itself. The old town is walled and within the walls are lots of nice charming little cafes, shops and restaurants. Narrow little streets which you can wander around for hours.

Graham wanders off!
We bought the obligatory 'tat' here, fridge magnets and ceramic lizards that stay on the fridge or bathroom wall for a few days when we get home until one of our 2 cats decides they need closer examination and they end up in little pieces on the floor. One year on a single 'lizard' has survived.
Just to show it wasn't all birding on our last day, for a "bit o' culture" we visited Els Calderers. A beautifully restored old Manor House / Country Estate. A glimpse of Mallorca in days gone by, privately owned and well maintained. I'm sorry now we didn't take some more shots of the house and grounds itself. Here are a couple of the chapel within the estate and one of the many bedrooms within the manor house itself (which if you look at the photo closely you can just about make my reflection out in the mirror.....creepy looking!)

Els Calderers Chapel

Bedroom - me in the mirror!

After that we headed back to the airport, dropped off our little Seat and headed for home. Any of you familiar with Mallorca will notice that there were plenty of great spots we didn't visit, Boquer Valley, Albufereta, Cases Velles and Cape Formentor to name just a few. That's for the next time!