Mallorca (Majorca), the largest of the Spanish Balearic Islands, is an ideal destination for a “first" foreign birding trip and also for attempting to combine a family holiday with a spot of birding in the sun. The landscapes in the eastern half of the island and the opportunities they offer the visiting birder are surprisingly rich and varied.
The birder based in the east of the island can chose from a number of tempting birding excursions, all within easy reach if using a hire car. These include the abrupt Tramuntana range in the north, peaking at Puig Major (1432m above sea level), and home to the Black Vulture, Booted Eagle, Red Kite and other birds of prey. Then there is the deservedly famous wetland reserve of S'Albufera, and the lesser known Albufereta marshes, both Natural Parks which hold a large number and variety of interesting birds. Here the most coveted species include Purple Gallinule, Crested Coot, Moustached Warbler, Squacco Heron, Little Bittern, and a long supporting cast.
The southern part of the island boasts salt pans (migratory waders, ducks, herons, terns, etc. ), a beautiful mosaic of scrub and farmland (Thekla Lark, Short-toed Lark, Stone Curlew, Hoopoe, Tawny Pipit) and probably the best opportunities for seawatching (Balearic Shearwater, Cory's Shearwater, Audouin's Gull) on the whole island.
The spectacular sea cliffs of the Formentor peninsula, in the north-eastern corner of Mallorca, should not be missed either. From late spring onwards they are graced with the presence of the spectacular Eleonora's Falcon, another delicacy for the birder already gorging himself on the likes of Blue Rock Thrush, the near endemic Balearic Warbler and Pallid Swift.
To birders spring and autumn mean migration. At such times Mallorca certainly holds its own, offering the birder good possibilities of finding avian gems such as Bee-eater, Red-footed Falcon, Montagu's Harrier, Marsh Sandpiper, Red-rumped Swallow, Golden Oriole, Ortolan Bunting and many more.
An important thing to note is that in Mallorca it is the early birder who sees the birds, gets the parking space, and avoids the traffic and the crowds. Hence the best approach is to bird in the morning and spend the afternoon lazing by the pool, with the wife and kids, reading, strolling along the sea front or whatever else you do when on holiday and not birding.
Let the family know about Mallorca, and maybe they will take you on a birding holiday!
Steve West is a bird guide, author and creator of the BirdingInSpain.com website. He has lived and birded in Catalonia, northeast Spain for the last 20 years and has written two books based on his local knowledge and experience, “Where the Birds are in Northeast Spain" and the more recent “Flying Over the Pyrenees, Standing on the Plains". His acclaimed BirdingInSpain.com website offers free birding itineraries, maps, checklists and a complete and studied network of recommended rural hotels for birders coming to northeast Spain and Mallorca. See more at the BirdingInSpain.com website: http://BirdingInSpain.com