Friday 23 - Friday 30 April 2004

Jamie McMillan
Andy Smith

Trip Diary

23rd April

We arrived at Mahon Airport to rain and cold northerly winds having left from Luton in glorious morning sunshine. Shaun met us and confirmed that we were indeed in the Mediterranean despite appearances, and we drove for ten minutes or so round to Matxani Gran for an indoor welcoming coffee.

A quick look across the fields produced several Golden Orioles plus a ringtail Montagu's Harrier flying through; exciting signs that migration was well in progress. A female Black Redstart in one of the fields was also new for us on the island. After a filling lunch we set off up the main track for a first look at the flowers with Arabian Garlic showing nicely again in the end field. Back in the fields around the villa we saw the usual Stone Curlews, a good flock of about thirty Short-toed Larks and an impressive flock of raptors with five Marsh Harriers and three Booted Eagles in the air together. Jamie and Andy then went to the airport to meet the Manchester contingent who were also greeted by rain and cold. Will it improve tomorrow?

24th April

Audouin's Gull (Photo: Jamie McMillan)

Yes! Still a cold wind blowing first thing but it was a clear sunny start, and the pre-breakfast brigade had good views of Hoopoe and Tawny Pipit. But there were better views of Hoopoe at breakfast itself: Shaun produced one from his freezer, bearing it into breakfast on a silver platter. It had been found dead in one of the local barns.

Our first visit was to the Son Bou wetlands. We went the pretty way but eventually turned up in the car park to be greeted immediately by two Audouin's Gulls overhead.

Off the beach were several Cory's Shearwaters quite close inshore, and we set off along the dunes that were looking splendidly flowery. Several Whinchats and Wheatears, and an overflying Purple Heron were the only migrants, but the walk was nice in the sunshine. We had more good views of Audouin's Gulls on the beach with two Kentish Plover and four Sanderling. A bit of beachcombing on the way back turned up lots of Posidonia balls: bits of a kind of grass that we would see under water later on in the trip. We also found dead Velella - By-the wind-sailor jellyfish. Again we would see much better specimens of these later on in the trip.

Coffee in a beach-side café was quickly followed by lunch in the usual picnic site under the pines where two Turtle Doves were sheltering and gave superb views on the ground before flying off. The back of the marsh was very entertaining after lunch. The sun was warm now and lots of activity included several butterflies and dragonflies together with Pond Terrapins, while Fan-tailed Warblers "zitted", Quails called and Cattle Egrets popped up occasionally. A Red-legged Partridge was a good sighting in one of the now sadly weedless fields, and a male Redstart and a couple of Whinchats were the only migrants. Overhead we had excellent views of an Egyptian Vulture.

Finally we headed to the pre-historic site of Torre d'en Gaumes where Pallid Swifts and Egyptian Vultures flew overhead. The flowers here looked fine but didn't include the orchids that were here a few years ago (following spraying by the local authorities!) We had a good time exploring the ruins and small caves, and being entertained by whatever took our fancy, whether it be Tawny Mining Bees, Italian Wall Lizards or columns of ants. We were back at Matxani Gran by five-o-clock for a welcoming cup of tea and cake.

After dinner we heard Scops Owls calling, while up the track glow-worms were shining and overhead the stars were showing magnificently in the clear air.

25th April

A cold clear start and little appeared to be moving, that is until two Golden Orioles flew across the main track in brilliant sunshine. A male Pied Flycatcher, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Tree Pipit and a couple of Turtle Doves were the supporting cast. Hoopoes were singing and performing superbly too around the villa.

By the time we got to the Depuradora (a nice Spanish word for a sewage farm) outside Mercadal (negotiating the roadworks) there was obviously good visible migration in progress, with Common, Pallid and two Alpine Swifts going through, together with Swallows and Martins, one of the latter falling prey to a Peregrine as we watched. Round the pools were three Wood and three Common Sandpipers and three Little Ringed Plovers, while across the road four Stone Curlew came flying towards us landing on a small hill and giving wonderful views of this normally nocturnal species.

The Tirant wetlands were full of birds and full of water and really "humming" in the bright sunshine. We walked the road alongside seeing Purple Herons and Little Egrets, many Whinchats and Great Reed Warbler, while overhead a Red Kite performed well. As we walked back a Collared Pratincole flew over the heads of part of the group and continued up on its way north: an exciting moment.

Birding the Tirant wetlands (Photo: Jamie McMillan)

After coffee in a rather busy Fornells on a warm Sunday we headed back to Tirant stopping by the pig farm to look across at a little lake where two drake Garganey and a Wigeon were showing. We were just about to leave when an Osprey made us pause. We suddenly realised that the sky was full of raptors, prompting a quick exit from the vehicles. In quick succession we saw three Honey-Buzzards flying low overhead, a quickly disappearing Short-toed Eagle (unusual on Menorca) together with the regular Red Kite, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Marsh Harrier and a single Peregrine: eight raptors in ten minutes, with Egyptian Vulture not long out of the picture - a real taste of the full excitement of Menorcan migration.

The somewhat repulsive Dragon's Mouth flower (Photo: Jamie McMillan)

Then it was onto the Cap de Cavallaria for a rather belated lunch in rather windy conditions overlooking a small bay and then up to the rocky headland itself. Here were a few migrants like Redstart and Yellow Wagtail, but only a few rather distant Shearwaters on a rough sea. The startling flower Dragon's Mouth was in full bloom though. Some of the group said that they rather wished they hadn't seen this flower, deemed to look like a dead pig's ear!

Back at the Tirant wetlands a ring-tailed Montagu's Harrier shot through and at the back pool Andy found a splendid Glossy Ibis, a really unexpected bird here.

Finally we headed up Monte Toro where various members of the group found, and Duncan identified a most unexpected Alpine Accentor in the same area we found one (in early April three years ago): an excellent end to a superb day.

26th April

A sunny and clear start, and it was to be a hot day. There were very few migrants before breakfast with the female Black Redstart still present and only Wheatear, Willow Warbler and Whitethroat about in the fields.

We headed for the Algendar Gorge. It was hot and still here with Booted Eagles and Kestrels soaring in the sunshine. The first of several Pied Flycatchers greeted us at the fist corner. It was good for butterflies though and we had good views of Italian Wall Lizards, but there were few birds, except for a Scops Owl calling from the hillside above a few times. Nightingales were abundant and noisy, and on the way back we actually saw one singing from one of the pines and could all view it in the scopes.

Typical Menorcan gate in the Algendar Gorge (Photo: Heather Phillips)

Then it was onto Cala Galdana, a delightful little seaside village, for lunch. As we arrived a Blue Rock Thrush appeared upon one of the balconies above the car park. We actually took lunch on the beach and managed to paddle in the shallow lagoon before heading back for the car park where we saw a Spotted Flycatcher.

Then it was on to the famous archaeological site of Naveta des Tudons. Here there were some lovely weedy fields full of poppies and other flowers and we admired the reconstructed stone building reputed to be the oldest two-storey building in the world. Here we also admired distant views of Bee-eaters and had better views of these from the roadside afterwards.

We ended the day at Ciutadella, a superbly preserved old town that we explored in the late afternoon sunshine. It had been a hot and varied day seeing a lot of the island but relatively few birds, in contrast to yesterday.

27th April

A very fine and still morning prompted us to head for the nearest bit of coast at Canutells. There were very few migrants here in the Garrigue vegetation but there were lots of Pyramidal Orchids and a nice Blue Rock Thrush on the cliffs. Here there was a historic site with the obligatory badly-translated information board which referred mysteriously to a "boble curtain" amongst the ruins. There were also some interesting looking cave dwellings which we resolved to explore at a later opportunity.

After breakfast we headed for Mahon for an hour's shopping (we do allow this just occasionally on our trips!) and then a boat trip for the first time on this holiday. Mahon harbour is a fascinating sight and full of history, and the trip was delightful in the hot sunshine. The underwater views of fish and sea urchins amongst the Posidonia grass were a fascinating bonus.

Hermann's Tortoise (Photo: Jamie McMillan)

Then back to Matxani Gran for lunch and a swim for some, while the leaders found a Hermann's Tortoise for all to admire. While a few opted to stay by the pool during the hot afternoon, the rest of us had an afternoon trip to Albufera Es Grau. This produced a few birds only on the lagoon but it was a pleasant walk. The pinewoods, though, were more productive with at least twenty Willow Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher and two superb Wood Warblers. The group walked to Es Grau beach and round to the village where the leaders met them at a café only to find the female Subalpine Warbler in the café trees overhead as we drunk our tea. Back at Matxani after supper the Stone Curlew called and a Scops Owl came close but sadly not close enough to be seen in the torchlight.

28th April

A cloudier start brought a few migrants for the early morning walkers with Turtle Dove, Wood Warbler, a female Golden Oriole and three Pied Flycatchers down the drive. Today we were heading to one of the best birdwatching sites on the island, the private reserve of Mongofre Nou. On the way in we admired the rock formations, colourful and wind carved and a fine male Blue Rock Thrush.

We had got our permits and phoned in advance, but when we got there the gates were shut, so, nothing daunted, we climbed in through the bushes and ditch by the side. The first bird at the pools themselves was a fine Osprey carrying a fish away. Waders were numerous as usual with plenty of Black-winged Stilts and Wood Sandpipers and all three Ringed Plover species. A flock of nine Curlew Sandpipers going into breeding plumage made a fine sight, especially when seen close up around the far end of the main lagoon, where a Temminck's Stint (both new for our groups in Menorca) also showed well. There had been a hatch of Red-veined Darter dragonflies and we admired a male on the path before returning for lunch by the vehicle, which was enlivened by an Eleonora's Falcon whizzing past giving all-too-brief views.

Then onto the lunar landscape of Cap de Favaritz where we were immediately struck by the "blue tide" around the rocks. These turned out to be a mass of By-the-wind-sailor Jellyfish that we had seen earlier at Son Bou. Andy went down and got some for us to admire. Most of them were still alive and had tentacles; indeed one was still grasping a small fish. The seabird movement was slow but we did see both Cory's and smaller shearwaters going past the headland. Both Andy and I commented how pale they were for Balearic Shearwater, but only after some research when we came back have we identified them as Yelkouan Shearwater - the species common in the central and eastern Mediterranean that apparently breeds on Menorca.

By-the-wind-sailors (Velella velella) (Photo: Jamie McMillan)

We stopped on the way back to look at the sparse flora including several endemic plants, and the odd habitat here, also seeing a young Moorish Gecko under a rock. After a coffee stop in a nearby bar we headed back, some opting for a brief extension to the coast just south of Matxani. Here a happy hour was spent along the cliffs, some going back to explore the 'troglodyte' cave dwellings that we had seen on the early morning trip.

In the evening we headed down to Cala Fons for a fine meal at one of Es Castell's best fish restaurants, in a splendid setting by the little harbour, warmed by a giant patio heater! The walk back to the vehicles along the wave-lapped boardwalk alongside the harbour was also most memorable.

29th April

A cloudy start with rain threatening looked really promising - and yet there were no migrants apart from a single singing Golden Oriole. We opted to return to the productive Tirant wetlands today but when we got there it seemed much quieter, although the Bee-eaters were more visible. Round the back of the marsh we watched a Purple Heron perched in full view on a wall. It looked up and we did as well, only to see two Montagu's Harriers circling overhead.

Bee-eaters showing nicely for us (Photo: Jamie McMillan)

We had good views of a Fan-tailed Warbler on the ground, and back at the main track the Glossy Ibis was back on the marsh and showing well. We stopped just past the pig farm on the Fornells road to watch the Bee-eaters hawking, the best views yet of these rainbow birds as they swooped low over the flower-rich fields and perched nicely for us on the wires.

We then headed for coffee at Son Parc and had lunch on the beach. A walk up over the headland and then through the woods failed to get us a view of the marsh so we headed up to Sa Roca where we immediately connected with spectacular Violet Limodore orchids, having already seen the lovely Bertoloni's Bee Orchid back at Son Parc. We also admired some late Sawfly Orchids and had distant views of three Eleonora's Falcons before heading back to the vehicles. However just as we were about to leave the falcons returned and gave wonderful views right overhead: three superb light-phased birds. What a way to end the day and a spectacular end to the trip.

The group seemed to thoroughly enjoy the atmosphere of Matxani Gran. It is not everywhere where you can be kept awake by Stone Curlews and Scops Owls at night. A final mention that the best-hat prize went to Brooke for the 'donkey' hat he chose from the dressing-up box, and we are pleased that Sue finally got to "murder a curry" on the last evening!

Many thanks to Jenny, Shaun, Sue and Terry for making us so welcome again at Matxani Gran, and to the whole group for making this trip so enjoyable to lead.

Jamie McMillan
Andy Smith

The Matxani team - Jenny, Terry, Sue & Shaun (Photo: Jamie McMillan)

Species Lists


The numbers after each species entry denote the number of days out of a total of eight on which the bird was recorded, followed by the total number of individuals seen.

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis - Ones and twos seen or heard at most wetland sites. 5/6

Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea - 100+ off Son Bou on the 24th, 30+ off Cap de Cavallaria on the 25th, 10+ off Cap de Favaritx on the 28th and three off Son Parc on the 29th. 4/150+

Yelkouan Shearwater Puffinus yelkouan - Three off Cap de Favaritx on the 28th looked paler than the expected Balearic Shearwater, and communication with Spanish birders has confirmed that indeed it is Yelkouan Shearwater that breeds on Menorca, with 'Balearic' breeding on the other Balearic Islands. So now you know! 1/3

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo - One off Caparrot de Forma on the 27th and two at Montgofre Nou on the 28th. 2/3

Shag P. aristotelis - Small numbers seen on five dates at various coastal locations. Max 10 around Mahon Harbour on the 27th. 5/30

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea - Small numbers seen at a variety of locations on five dates. 5/10

Purple Heron A. purpurea - One at Son Bou on the 24th, at least five at Tirant Marsh on the 25th, two at Albufera es Grau on the 27th and two at Tirant on the 29th. 4/10

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis - At least three at Son Bou on the 24th and one with cattle near Tirant on the 28th. 2/4

Little Egret Egretta garzetta - Small numbers present at most wetland sites. Seen almost daily. 6/30

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus - One at Tirant Marsh on the 25th and 29th. 2/2

Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope - One drake at Tirant Marsh on the 25th.

Mallard A. platyrhynchos - Common, seen almost daily. Max. 110+ at Montgofre Nou on the 28th. 6/260+

Garganey A. querquedula - Two drakes at Tirant Marsh on the 25th. 1/2

Osprey Pandion haliaetus - Singles at Tirant Marsh on the 25th and at Montgofre Nou on the 28th. 2/2

Red Kite Milvus milvus - Singles seen at a variety of locations on four dates. 4/8

Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus - Three at Son Bou on the 24th, Singles near Es Mercadal and at Tirant Marsh on the 25th and at least eight in the Algendar Gorge on the 26th. 3/13

Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus - One passing north over Tirant Marsh on the 25th. 1/1

Montagu's Harrier Circus pygargus - Single ringtails at Matxani Gran on the 23rd and at Tirant Marsh on the 25th and then two ringtails at Tirant on the 29th. 3/4

Marsh Harrier C. aeruginosus - Seen at a variety of locations on five dates with a max. of 10 on the 25th and eight on the 23rd. 5/23

Honey Buzzard Pernis aviporus - Four passing north over Tirant Marsh on the 25th. 1/4

Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus - Common, small numbers seen daily. 7/50

Hobby Falco subbuteo - One seen briefly at Matxani Gran on the 24th. 1/1

Eleonora's Falcon F. eleonorae - One distant bird at Montgofre Nou on the 28th and then three superb pale phase birds close overhead at Sa Roca on the 29th. 2/4

Common Kestrel F. tinnunculus - Common, small numbers seen daily. 7/60

Peregrine F. peregrinus - One taking a Barn swallow at Es Mercadal sewage works on the 25th, another at Tirant Marsh, also on the 25th and one over Matxani Gran on the 29th. 3/4

Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa - One at Son Bou on the 24th, one flying off the Illa del Llatzaret, Mahon Harbour on the 27th, two near Alaior on the 29th and two near Son Parc, also on the 29th. 3/6

Quail Coturnix coturnix - Small numbers heard daily; an integral part of the Matxani Gran dawn chorus. 8/20h

Water Rail Rallus aquaticus - One heard at Tirant Marsh on the 25th and one seen briefly in the Algendar Gorge on the 26th. 2/2

Moorhen Gallinula chloropus - Seen or heard on five dates at a variety of wetland sites. 5/10

Coot Fulica atra - Common at most wetland sites with a max. of 80+ at Montgofre Nou on the 28th. 5/185+

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus - One at Tirant Marsh on the 25th, 40+ at Montgofre Nou on the 28th and four at Tirant on the 29th. 3/45

Stone Curlew Burhinus oedicnemus - A regular feature at Matxani Gran where seen or heard daily. Otherwise, superb views of a quartet in flight and on the ground at Es Mercadal sewage works on the 25th; one of the highlights of the trip! 7/30+

Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus - Two at Es Castel harbour on the 28th. 1/2

Collared Pratincole Glareola pratincola - One overhead at Tirant Marsh on the 25th. 1/1

Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula - Five at Montgofre Nou on the 28th and one on the river estuary at Tirant on the 29th. 2/6

Little Ringed Plover C. dubius - Three at Es Mercadal sewage works on the 25th and eight at Montgofre Nou on the 28th. 2/11

Kentish Plover C. alexandrinus - Two on the beach at Son Bou on the 25th and three at Montgofre Nou on the 28th. 2/5

Common Redshank Tringa totanus - One near Cap de Cavellaria on the 25th and two at Montgofre Nou on the 28th. 2/3

Greenshank T. nebularia - Two near Cap de Cavellaria on the 25th and three at Montgofre Nou on the 28th. 2/5

Wood Sandpiper T. glareola - Three at Es Mercadal sewage works and 20+ at Tirant Marsh on the 25th, 15+ at Montgofre Nou on the 28th and two at Tirant Marsh on the 29th. 3/40+

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleuca - Small numbers seen on five dates at a variety of wetland locations with a max. of 10 at Montgofre Nou on the 28th. 5/21

Sanderling Calidris alba - Four on the beach at Son Bou on the 25th and one at Montgofre Nou on the 28th. 2/5

Curlew Sandpiper C. ferruginea - A flock of nine birds in partial summer plumage at Montgofre Nou on the 28th. 1/9

Temminck's Stint C. temminckii - One at Montgofre Nou on the 28th. 1/1

Yellow-legged Gull Larus cachinnans - Common, seen daily. 8/500+

Audouin's Gull L. audouinii - 10 at Son Bou on the 24th, one at Cap de Cavellaria on the 25th, two in Mahon Harbour and one at Albufera es Grau on the 27th and one at Cap de Favaritx on the 28th. 4/15

Sandwich Tern S. sandvicensis - One off Son Bou on the 24th. 1/1

Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon Columba livia - Very common, lots seen daily including many apparently genuine wild Rock Doves. 8/400+

Wood Pigeon C. palumbus - Fairly common, small numbers seen at a variety of locations on five dates. 5/30

Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto - Common, seen daily. 8/70

Turtle Dove S. turtur - Small numbers seen most days at a variety of locations with a max. of 10 on the 29th. 6/25+

Scops Owl Otus scops - One or two birds heard almost nightly at Matxani Gran. 6/8

Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba - Two with Common and Pallid Swifts at Es Mercadal sewage works on the 25th. 1/2

Common Swift Apus apus - Common, large numbers passing through daily. 7/500+

Pallid Swift A. pallidus - Small numbers seen almost daily. 6/100+

Bee-eater Merops apiaster - Small numbers seen at a variety of locations on four dates with a max. of 15 on the 29th. 4/40+

Hoopoe Upapa epops - Common, seen and heard daily. A conspicuous feature of the early mornings at Matxani Gran. 8/35

Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla - Seen daily at Matxani Gran with a max. of 30 on the 23rd. 8/50

Thekla Lark Galerida theklae - Common, seen daily. 7/45

Sand Martin Riparia riparia - 10+ at Tirant Marsh on the 25th and 50+ there on the 29th. 2/70+

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica - Common, seen daily. 7/200+

Red-rumped Swallow H. daurica - Single birds with other hirundines at Tirant Marsh on the 25th and 29th. 2/2

House Martin Delichon urbica - Fairly common, small numbers seen at a range of sites on five dates. 5/70+

Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava - At least Four at Son Bou on the 24th, eight at Tirant Marsh on the 25th and two at Montgofre Nou on the 28th. 3/14

White Wagtail M.alba - Singles at Tirant on the 25th and at Montgofre Nou on the 28th. 2/2

Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris - Small numbers seen almost daily. Another Matxani Gran regular. 6/20

Meadow Pipit A. pratensis - One heard at Tirant Marsh on the 25th. 1/1

Tree Pipit A. trivialis - Ones and two's seen or heard at a variety of locations on five dates. 5/10

Woodchat Shrike Lanius senator - Common, seen daily. 7/55

Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris - One at the top of El Toro on the 25th. 1/1

Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius - Seen at a variety of locations on three dates. 3/12

Blackbird Turdus merula - Common, seen daily. 7/35

Nightingale Luscinia megarhynchos - Common, several heard daily and a few seen. Max. of 20+ in the Algendar Gorge on the 26th. 8/60

Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus - Single birds at Son Bou on the 24th, Matxani Gran on the 25th and Albufera es Grau on the 27th. 3/3

Black Redstart P. ochruros - A single female at Matxani Gran on the 23rd and 26th. 2/2

Stonechat Saxicola torquata - Small numbers seen almost daily at a number of locations. 6/20

Whinchat S. rubetra - Small numbers seen almost daily at a range of locations with a max. of 12 at Tirant Marsh on the 25th. 6/25

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe - Small numbers seen daily at a range of locations. 7/27

Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis - Common, seen almost daily. Most obvious at Tirant Marsh on the 24th and 29th. 6/30

Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti - Common, several heard daily and a few seen. 7/50

Great Reed Warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus - One at Tirant Marsh on the 25th, two there on the 29th and one singing at Son Parc on the 29th. 2/4

Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla - Ones and twos seen or heard at a variety of locations almost daily. 6/11

Common Whitethroat S. communis - Up to three seen at Matxani Gran on three dates. 3/6

Sardinian Warbler S. melanocephala - Very common, seen daily. A ubiquitous feature of the Menorcan countryside. 8/100+

Subalpine Warbler S. cantillans - One female at Albufera es Grau on the 27th. 1/1

Dartford Warbler S. undata - One on heathland at Son Parc on the 29th. 1/1

Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus - Small numbers seen daily with a max. of 20, mostly at Albufera es Grau, on the 27th. 7/35

Wood Warbler P.sibilatrix - Two at Albufera es Grau on the 27th and one at Matxani Gran on the 28th. 2/3

Firecrest Regulus ignicapillis - At least three heard in the Algendar Gorge on the 26th and another two at Sa Roca on the 29th. 2/5h

Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca - Small numbers seen on four dates with a max. of eight in the Algendar Gorge on the 26th. 4/14

Spotted Flycatcher Muscipapa striata - Singles seen at a variety of locations on three dates. 3/5

Great Tit Parus major - Ones and two's seen or heard at a variety of locations on five dates. 5/7

Raven Corvus corax - Common, seen daily with a max. of 20 on the 29th. A regular feature at Matxani Gran. 8/90

Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus - Passing migrants seen at Matxani Gran on three dates with six on the 23rd, two on the 25th and on the 28th. 3/9

Spotless Starling Sturnus unicolor - One seen by a lucky leader in San Clement on the morning of the 30th. 1/1

House Sparrow Passer domesticus - Very common, seen daily. 8/350+

Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs - One female at Tirant Marsh on the 25th and one heard at Albufera es Grau on the 27th. 2/2

Greenfinch Carduelis chloris - Very common, seen daily. 8/250+

Goldfinch C.carduelis - Common, seen daily. 8/130+

Linnet C. cannabina - Common, seen daily. 8/130+

Corn Bunting Milaria calandra - Very common, seen daily. 8/180+

Reptiles and Amphibians

Green Toad (heard, Matxani Gran), Stripeless Tree Frog (heard, various sites), Moorish Gecko (Matxani Gran, Algendar Gorge and Cap de Favaritx), Italian Wall Lizard (various sites), Hermann's Tortoise (Matxani Gran) and European Pond Terrapin (Son Bou).


Large White, Small White, Clouded Yellow, Cleopatra, Small Copper, Geranium Bronze, Brown Argus, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Small Heath and Speckled Wood.

Other notable insects

Hummingbird Hawkmoth, Red-veined Darter, Mediterranean Demoiselle, Common Blue-tailed Damselfly, Egyptian Grasshopper, Paper Wasp, Violet Carpenter Bee, Tawny Mining Bee, Dung Beetle, Violet Ground Beetle, Pollen Beetle and Glow-worm.

Other notable invertebrates

By-the-wind Sailor jellyfish (lots!)

Menorca Plant List

(compiled on previous trips, this is a cumulative list of species identified. Not all of them were found or were in flower this year)

(Order as in "Mediterranean Wild Flowers" Blamey and Gray-Wilson)

E - Endemic SB Son Bou TG Torre den Gaumes EM Es Mercadal, Depuradora

MG - Matxani Gran T Tirant CC Cap de Cavallaria MT Monte Toro

MN Mongofre Nou CF Cap de Favaritx F Fornells SR Sa Roca AG Algendar Gorge

NT Naveta des Tudons EG Albufera Es Grau

Gymnosperms (Conifers)

Pinus halepensis (Aleppo Pine) - most common tree

Juniperus phoenicea (Phoenicean Juniper) - adapted for life on dunes SB EG

Ephedra fragilis (Joint Pine) - erect shrub with brittle stems CC EG

Angiosperms (Flowering Plants)


Fagaceae (Oak family)

Quercus ilex (Holm Oak) - everywhere

Rafflesiaceae (Rafflesia family)

Cytinus hypocystis (Cytinus) - toothy bulbous parasitic perennial; SR

Ulmaceae (Elm family)

Ulmus minor (Smooth-leaved Elm) - a few scattered trees AG

Moraceae (Mulberry family)

Ficus carica (Fig) - mainly planted and surrounded by circular stone walls MG

Urticaceae (Nettle family)

Urtica urens (Annual Nettle) - odd plant at MG

U. membranacea (Membranous Nettle) - common eg MG and waste ground

Parietaria judaica (Pellitory-of-the-wall) SB

P. officinalis (Common Pellitory)

Polygonacea (Dock family)

Polygonum maritium (Sea Knotgrass)

Rumex crispus (Curled Dock)

R. conglomeratus (Clustered Dock)

Chenopodiacea (Fathen fmily)

Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima (Sea Beet)

Halimone portulacoides (Sea Purslane)

Arthrocnemum fruticosum [Salicornia fruticosa] - shrubby type of Glasswort. SB, EG

Salicornia ramosissima [europeaea?] (Glasswort) SB EG

Phytolaccaceae (Pokeweed family)

Phytolacca arborea (Ombu) - intriguing S. American tree at MG and Mao


Carpobrotus edulis - (Hottentot Fig) - an introduction known locally as 'patatas fritas' because of the leaf shape

Caryophyllaceae (Pink family)

Spergularia media (Sea Spurrey)

Silene gallica (Small-flowered catchfly) CC EG

S. vulgaris (Bladder campion)

S. sedoides

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)

Clematis flammula (Fragrant Clematis) - on walls

C. cirrhosa (Virgin's Bower) - usually blooms in winter but a few flowers seen

Adonis annua (Pheasant's Eye) - NT

Ranunculus macrophyllus - large-leaved plant seen in wet ditch

R. muricatus (Rough-fruited Buttercup) - found in moist habitats T

R. peltatus (Pond Water-Crowfoot) - T

R. scelartus (Celery-leaved crowfoot)

R. flamula (Lesser Spearwort) T

Papaveraceae (Poppy family)

Papaver somniferum (Opium Poppy)

P. rhoeas (Common Poppy)

P. hybridum (Rough Poppy) MG AG

Fumariaceae (Fumitory family)

Fumaria capreolata (Ramping Fumitory) - white/cream flowers, tipped with red

F. officinalis (Common Fumitory)

Cruciferae (Cress family)

Sisymbrium officinale (Hedge Mustard)

Matthiola incana (Hoary Stock) - mauve or white with sweet scent

Lobularia maritima (Sweet Alison) - common; our annual bedding plant at home SB

Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd's- Purse)

Cakile maritima (Sea Rocket) SB

Raphanus raphanistrum (Wild Radish) - some fields were white with it

Resedaceae (Mignonette family)

Reseda alba (White Mignonette) - common roadside and field weed but pretty

R. luteola (Weld)

R. lutea (Wild mignonette)

Crassulacae (Stonecrop family)

Umbilicus rupestris (Navelwort or Wall Pennywort) TG

Rosacae (Rose family)

Poterium verrucosum [Sanguisorba minor subsp. Magnolii] (Mediterranean Salad Burnet)

Potentilla reptans (Creeping Cinquefoil)

Rubus ulmifolius (Bramble)

Leguminoseae (Pea family)

Circis siliquastrum (Judas Tree)

Calicotome infesta [C. spinosa] (Thorny Broom) - Widespread with yellow gorse-like flowers MN

Ceratonia siliqua (Carob Tree) - Surprisingly rare and probably planted when seen

Lupinus micranthus (Hairy Lupin) T - further up the road, nearer the sea

Psoralea bituminosa (Pitch Trefoil) -attractive plant with blue pea-flowers, leaves smelling of pitch AG EG

Astragalus balearicus - hedgehog-like shrublet with tiny pea-flowers adapted to exposed sites. E MN

A. lusitanicus - at mosaic site

Vicia benghalensis - a handsome fodder vetch with red flowers - everywhere

V. hirsuta (Hairy Tare)

V. laxiflora (Slender Tare)

V. sativa (Common Vetch)

V. lutea (Yellow Vetch)

V. bithynica (Bithynian Vetch) - bi-coloured pea-flower in dry, stony places

V. villosa (Fodder Vetch)

Lathyrus cicera (Red Vetchling) - lovely brick-red flowers

L. ochrus - cream pea-flower with enlarged leaf stalks. TG

L. annuus - flowers with orange veined standard and yellow keel

L. setifolius - orange flowers

Melilotus indicus (Small melilot) -

Medicago marina (Sea Medick) - golden pea-flowers with silky grey leaves on dunes

M. arabica (Spotted Medick)

M. arborea (Tree Medick) - occasional road-side shrub

M. polymorpha (Toothed Medick)

Trifolium nigrescens - the white clover seen in fields

T. resupinatum (Reversed Clover) - pretty pink flower with reversed flowers. Punta Prima & Tirant

T. tomentosum (Woolly Trefoil)- pale pink clover with woolly fruiting heads

T. stellatum (Starry Clover) - pink clover with starry fruiting heads

T. scabrum (Rough Clover)

Dorycnium hirsutum - hairy shrublet with pale pea-flowers. Open places

D. pentaphyllum - more slender and seen with the above at Montgofre Nou

Lotus cytisoides - dunes yellow with this pea-flower SB

L. creticus (Southern Bird's foot Trefoil)

Scorpiurus muricatus (Scorpiurus) - easily identified by simple leaves (no leaflets)

Anthyllis vulneraria ssp insularum (Kidney Vetch) - hairy ssp balearicum - more glabrous

A. tetraphylla (Bladder Vetch) - creamy flowers with inflated fruits AG

Coronilla juncea (Rush-like Scorpion Vetch) - lunch stop after Algendar Gorge

Hedysarum coronarium (Italian Sainfoin) - unforgettable. Striking red pea-flowers

Oxalidaceae (Sorrel family)

Oxalis pes-caprae (Bermuda Buttercup) - many fields over-run with this yellow S. African plant

Oxalis corniculata (Yellow Sorrel)

Geraniaceae (Geranium family)

Geranium molle (Dove's-foot Crane's bill)

G. dissectum (Cut-leaved Crane's-bill)

G. columbinum (Long-stalked Crane's-bill)

Erodium malacoides (Mallow-leaved Stork's-bill) - common in fields and road-sides

E. cicutarium (Common Stork's Bill)

Linaceae (Flax family)

Linum bienne (Pale Flax) - dainty plant with delicate blue flowers

Euphorbiaceae (Spurge family) - many species seen but difficult to identify

Mercurialis annua (Annual Mercury)

E. dendroides (Tree Spurge) - common hill-side shrub in open situations EG

E. helioscopia (Sun Spurge)

E. paralias (Sea Spurge)

Meliaceae (Persian Lilac family)

Melia azedarach (Indian Bead Tree) - street tree in Es Castell. Seeds once used for rosary beads

Anacardiaceae (Pistacio family)

Pistachia lentiscus (Gum Mastic) - widespread shrub. Once much used for its resin

Rhamnaceae (Buckthorn family)

Paliurus (Christ's Thorn, Jerusalem Thorn)

Rhamnus alaternus (Mediterranean Buckthorn) - common evergreen shrub

R.ludovici-salvatoris - similar but leaves spiny-edged

Malvacae (Mallow family)

Malva sylvestris (Common Mallow)

M. neglecta (Dwarf Mallow) foreshore Santa Tomas

Malvella sherardiana (Malvella) Sa Roca

Lavatera cretica (Cretan Mallow)

L. arborea (Tree Mallow) SB TG

Hypericaceae (Hypericum family)

Hypericum balearicum (Balearic St. John's Wort) MN E

Cistaceae (Rockrose family)

Cistus albidus (Grey-leaved Cistus) - large pink flowers

C. creticus - similar but leaves stalked

C. monspeliensis (Narrow-leaved Cistus) - small white flowers and sticky leaves

C. salvifolius (Sage-leaved Cistus) - large white flowers

Tamaricaeae (Tamarisk family)

Tamarisk - probably several species

Cucurbitaceae (Cucumber family

Opuntia ficus-carica (PricklyPear) -introduced. Occasionally seen with fruit

Arialiaceae (Ivy family)

Hedera helix (Ivy)

Umbelliferae (Carrot family)

Eryngium maritimum (Sea Holly)

Smyrnium olusatrum (Alexanders)

Conopodium majus (Pignut)

Feniculum vulgare (Fennel) MN

Oenanthe globulosa (Mediterranean Water Dropwort)

Crithmum maritimum (Rock Samphire)

Ferula communis (Giant Fennel) - impressive umbellifer

Daucus carota (Wild Carrot)

Ericaceae (Heath family)

Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree) - evergreen tree often with flowers and fruits together SR MN

Erica arborea (Tree Heath) - MN SR

Primulaceae (Primrose family)

Anagallis arvensis - (Scarlet Pimpernel) - mainly in its blue flowered form

Cyclamen balearicum - TG E

Plumbaginaceae (Thrift family)

Limonium spp - (Sea Lavenders) - several species found but not flowering including:

L. echioides

Oleaceae (Olive family)

Phillyrea latifolia []- evergreen shrub: MN

Olea europaea (Olive) - usually planted but wild trees frequent F

Gentianaceae (Gentian family)

Blackstonia perfoliata (Yellow-wort)

Apocynaceae (Oleander family)

Vinca difformis (Intermediate Periwinkle) - some colonies with pale blue flowers

Rubiaceae (Bedstraw family)

Galium aparine (Goose-grass)

Rubia peregrina (Wild Madder) - scrambling plant with hooked bristles EG

Convovulaceae (Bindweed family)

Calystegia soidanella (Sea Bindweed) in sand at F

Convolvulus althaeoides ((Mallow-leaved Bindweed) - common in fields

Boraginaceae (Borage family)

Echium plantagineum (Purple Viper's Bugloss) - frequent and colourful SB

Borago officinalis (Borage) SB

Cynoglossum creticum (Blue Hound's-tongue) - softly hairy with veined blue flower

Anchusa calcarea - similar to Anchusa undulata (Undulate Anchusa) F

A.azurea (Blue Alkanet) SB

Labiatae (Mint family

Teucrium capitatum - clusters of tight pink flower-heads CC

T. subspinosum ssp spinescens - another adapted spiny 'hedgehog' plant. CC E

Prasium majus - attractive shrub with lipped flowers MG TG

Mentha aquaticus (Water Mint) T

Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary)- prostrate in harsh habitats SR

Lavandula stoechas (French Lavender) - seen on rock-face

Salvia verbenaca (Meadow Clary) SB

Solanaceae (Potato family)

Solanum nigrum (Black Nightshade)

S. sodomeum (Apple of Sodom) - prickly shrub with mauve 'potato' flowers, yellow-veined fruits SB

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort family)

Verbascum creticum - a lovely tall Mullein with large yellow flowers AG

Scrophularia peregrina (Nettle-leaved Figwort) - saw-toothed leaves with brown flowers: TG

S. ramosissima - persistent dead stems shelter new growth. Crimson and white flowers. Dunes

Misopates orontium (Weasel's Snout or Lesser Snapdragon) - agricultural weed

Linaria triphylla (Three-leaved Toadflax) - common field weed. Yellow toadflax with violet spur.

Cymbalaria muralis (Ivy-leaved Toadflax) SB TG

V. arvensis (Wall Speedwell.)

Parentucellia viscosa (Yellow Bartsia), - damp places AG MG

Bellardia trixago (Bellardia) - attractive spike of pink and white flowers. MG and elsewhere

Orobanchaceae (Broomrape family)

Orobanche minor (Common Broomrape) MG

O. ramosa (Branched Broomrape) - blue flower

Plantaginaceae (Plantago family)

Plantago coronopus (Buck's-horn Plantain)

P. lanceolata (Ribwort Plantain) - common and well known

P. lagopus - resembles the above; whitish velvety heads MG and elsewhere

P. maritima ssp crassifolia - fleshly-leaved coastal plant

Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle family)

Lonicera implexa (Honeysuckle)

Valerianaceae (Valerian family)

Centranthus calcitrapa - pink flowerlets, variable and in most habitats

Dipsacaeae (Scabious family)

Scabiosa maritima (Mournful Widow) - a dune Scabious. SB

Compositae (Daisy family)

Bellis annua (Annual Daisy) - similar to our lawn daisy but in shades of pink to lilac

Bellium bellidioides TG

Evax pygmaea (Evax) - cute silvery stemless rosettes. MG CC

Helichrysum stoechas - aromatic grey shrublet in exposed rocky areas

H. rupestre - larger leaves than above , not

Phagnolon rupestre - similar but single flower-heads

Inula salicina (Fleabane) SR

Inula conyza (Ploughman's Spikenard) - MN

Inula crithmoides (Golden Samphire) - MN

Pallenis spinosa - frequent. Yellow daisy-type flower with green starry bracts

Santolina chamarcyparissus Subsp. squarrosa (Lavender Cotton)

Anthemis maritimus - fleshy leaved coastal plant with daisy flowers

Chrysanthemum coronarium - Everywhere. Bright yellow or bi-coloured daisy flowers

Senecio cineraria (Silver Ragwort) - our silver-leaved garden plant

S. rodriguezii - lovely pink daisy found in harsh coastal areas CC E

Calendula arvensis (Field Marigold) - very common fieldweed. MG

Galactites tomentosa - a pretty thistle but many fields over-run with it

Silybum marianum (Milk Thistle) - a handsome thistle with white-veined leaves. MG

Cichorium intybus (Chicory)

Hyoseris radiata - a common yellow composite with stepped pinnate leaves

Urospermum dalechampii - a large soft yellow composite with dark centres. Lovely

Reichardia tingitana - a glabrous yellow daisy with a dark centre. Son Bou

Launea cervicornis - spiny shrublet on exposed rocky coasts E

Sonchus oleraceus (Smooth Sow-thistle)

Posidonia oceanica (Neptune Grass) - fibrous 'sea-balls' from this on beach


Liliaceae (Lily family)

Asphodelus aestivus - common taller Asphodel. Attractive but a serious weed

A. fistulosus - shorter, with rounded hollow leaves. An equal pest. MG

Aloe vera - succulent spiny leaves, orange-yellow trumpet-like flowers, naturalised in Med: probably from S.Africa - everywhere

Urginea maritima (Sea Squill) - large leafy bulb which flowers late summer

Ornithogalum arabicum (Arabian Garlic) MG

O. umbellatum (Star of Bethlehem) AG

Muscari comosum (Tassel Hyacinth) - mainly blue flowers with a tassel' atop the spike. MG

Asparagus albus (White Asparagus) - white stems with sharp spines beside leaf-like tufts, MG

A. stipularis - spiny looking asparagus - everywhere

Ruscus aculeatus (Butcher's Broom) - a stiff plant with tough flattened shoots AG

Smilax aspera (Common Smilax) - climbing prickly plant with heart-shaped leaves

Allium roseum (Rosy Garlic) - everywhere in varying shades of pink

A. triquetrum (Three-cornered Leek) - a common weed but attractively so

Allium cupanii EG

Amaryllidaceae (Daffodil family)

Leucojurn aestivum (Summer Snowflake) - like a large Snowdrop

Pancratium maritimum (Sea Daffodil) - leaves in plenty on sandy shores

Iridaceae (Iris family)

Gladiolus italicus

G. illyricus - an attractive, rather dainty Gladiolus

Palmae (Palm family)

Chamaerops humilis (Dwarf Fan Palm) - one of only two native European Palms C

Phoenix canariensis (Canary Palm) - Mahon

Araceae (Arum family)

Dracunculus muscivorus (Dragon's Mouth) - the most disgustingly memorable plant of the week! CC

Arum italicum (Italian Arum) - a shade-lover. Several hooded flowers seen CC

Arum pictum (Autumn arum) CC

Arisarum vulgare (Friar's Cowl) - more common in open sites

Orchidaceae (Orchid family)

Limodorum abortivum (Violet Bird's Nest Orchid): SR

Orchis lactea (Milky Orchid)

Ophrys speculum (Mirror Orchid) MG

O. lutea (Yellow Bee Orchid) MG

O. fusca (Sombre Bee Orchid)

O. bertolonii (Bertoloni's Bee Orchid): SR

O. tenthredinifera (Sawfly Orchid) - in great numbers MG

O. bombyliflora (Bumble-bee Orchid) MG

Barlia robertiana (Giant Orchid) MG

Anacamptis pyramidalis (Pyramidal Orchid) - white to deep pink SB

Serapias parviflora (Small-flowered Tongue Orchid) - also albino form SB MG

Graminae (Grass family)

Phragmites australis (Common Reed) SB

Phleum pratense (Timothy Grass)

Briza media (Quaking Grass)

Avena sterilis (Winter Wild Oat)

Ampelodesmus mauretanica - a green robust plant with striking flower heads up to 3m. tall CC

Arundo donax (Giant Reed) AG

Ammophila arenaria -(Marram Grass) - common dune-fixing grass EG

Juncaceae (Rush family)

Juncus inflexus (Hard Rush)

J. acutus (Sharp Rush) - with very sharp spines SB

Luzula pilosa ? (Hairy woodrush)

Pteridophytes (Ferns and Horsetails)

Equisetum telmateia (Giant Horsetail) - Algendar Gorge

Asplenium trichomanes (Common Spleenwort)

Polypodium australe (Polypody)

© The Travelling Naturalist 2004