Last week my family and I spent a week on the Balearic Island of Menorca, it was our 10th visit to the island in 11 years! This year we stayed on the South East coast, at Binibequer, over the past 4 years we've stayed at this location I have learnt that unfortunately there isn't much wildlife in this area. We don't hire a car either, so I can't get to any good sites. But anyway it was a lovely relaxing holiday, and I did see a handful of good wildlife.
On the 20 minute taxi drive from Mahon airport to the apartment I kept my eyes peeled, but a single Kestrel and a couple of Swallows were the only birds of interest (in previous years, when we have stayed on the West coast, I've seen all sorts from the taxi whilst driving through the centre of the island, including Egyptian Vultures and Cattle Egrets, but sadly not this time). Around the apartment and on the walk to the beach I saw plenty of House Sparrows, Collared Doves, Spotted Flycatchers, and Sardinian Warblers often did their scratchy call from the scrubby vegetation in the area, occasionally providing close views. Smart Audouin's Gulls (probably my favourite out of the gulls I've seen) patrolled the beach with their long deep red bills snapping up scraps, and the odd Yellow-legged Gull flew overhead. A Peregrine powered over the beach one day, and on another day I had what was either a Peregrine or an Eleonora's Falcon saunter over the beach and circle up over the sea. Eleonora's would be a lifer for me, and I'm pretty sure that's what it was; it didn't seem as bulky as a Peregrine, and it's underparts seemed too dark, but as I have no experience whatsoever with Eleonora's I'm reluctant to tick it.
One day I decided to go for a little explore in what looked like some good scrubby habitat when I looked on Google Maps. I got some very close views of Sardinian Warblers, and a Red Kite glided overhead, I saw a couple of Blackbirds and a handful of House Martins too, and if I remember correctly then I've never seen those 2 species on the island before, which does seem rather odd! There was a warbler species singing a lot, which sounded like a Blackcap apart from the end notes to the song, they just didn't sound like any Blackcaps I've heard in England. Annoyingly the leaves prevented me from seeing the source of the song that day, but on another occasion I heard it again and found the bird - it was just a Blackcap! But again that was a 'Menorcan tick' for me. I found this small feather, which I thought might be interesting with the hint of yellow near the base (please comment if you know what it might be), and there were a few of these striking Ground Bugs Spilostethus pandurus.
We did lots of snorkelling, unfortunately not seeing any octopi this year (we saw 3 here last year), but there's always plenty of interesting fish to look at. Ornate Wrasses Thalassoma pavo are stunning little fish that we always see, they're so incredibly colourful, as well as lots of other fish I haven't identified yet. We saw a handful of Red Starfish Echinaster sepositus, I'm guessing that's what species they are, and a few small jellyfish of a couple of different species were spotted through our masks. One day we went to snorkel in a slightly different area, where a juvenile Shag was fishing, it wasn't bothered by us at all, and carried on fishing just a few metres from us whilst we snorkelled! I've never seen a bird from underwater like that before, it was an amazing experience.
On the beach there were these stunning White-banded Digger Bees Amegilla quadrifasciata and a couple of Common Blue butterflies, I also found this Painted Lady butterfly wing.
One day a Hummingbird Hawkmoth flew into our apartment for all of 10 seconds, landing on the curtains just long enough for me to identify it, but not long enough for a photo. We saw lots of lizards (however not when I had my camera) which were possibly Common and Italian Wall Lizards, and on the street lights there were a few Moorish Geckos, and some bats were flying around too.
It was a lovely holiday, and I didn't do too badly on the wildlife front, all things considered. Here's the stunning sunset we watched on our last night, and you could just see neighbouring island Majorca off in the distance.
I'm Sorrel, a young birder and wildlife artist based in the East Midlands - this is my blog all about my birding and wildlife adventures.