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Mallorca, surprisingly, is one of themost remote islands in theMediterranean! Over 160 kilometresfrom the nearest mainland coast, it has arange of high mountains (with 37 peaksover 1,000 metres), the fourth largestmarsh in the western Mediterranean, and awealth of the garrigue and maquisvegetation so typical of the region. Thesefeatures are in part the reason for theisland's rich birdlife, but Mallorca's appealto the naturalist also lies in the closeproximity of its very varied habitats,enabling all of them to be covered easilyfrom a single base, without the need tochange hotels or travel vast distances, thusleaving more time to enjoy the natural sitesin a more relaxed way. Further, Mallorca liesalong one of the major bird migrationroutes across the Mediterranean and, dueto its comparative isolation, is home to anumber of rare species such as BlackVulture, Eleonora's Falcon, Audouin's Gulland Marmora's Warbler, not to mentionover 30 endemic plants, including a relictfrom the ice ages, Hypericum balearicum.Our holiday is based near Puerto Pollensa,a relatively quiet Mallorcan coastal town,situated in the north-eastern corner of theisland, well away from the worst of thetourist metropolis. From here we will takedaily minibus excursions into thesurrounding areas and pass our timeenjoying easy walking in our search forbirds and other wildlife. Closest to the hotellie the Albufureta Marshes, a prime site forpassing migrants, and close enough to thehotel to allow those who enjoy a pre-breakfast stroll to benefit from someexciting birdwatching. Another local siteworth exploring is the Boquer Valley whichattracts raptors, Hoopoes, shrikes,wheatears and warblers during migration.Amongst the other special sites we will bevisiting will be the Parc Naturel deS'Albufera, a 2,200 hectare freshwatermarsh, and one of the most important inthe western Mediterranean. This provides awealth of insect-life for passing migrantssuch as terns, Bee-eaters, hirundines andwarblers, and is home to such residentbirds as Marsh Harrier and MoustachedWarbler, of which the latter numbers some1,000 pairs. We will also be looking for themarshes' excellent selection of herons,egrets, waterfowl and waders, and some ofthe re-introduced population of PurpleGallinule, of which most of the originalpopulation - together with that of theNight Heron - were probably taken for thepot by the Romans and eaten at their lavish banquets!We will also spend at least one day in thenorthern mountains, the 'Tramuntanas',home of the rare Black Vulture. Thesemountains are mainly composed oflimestone, and the scenery here ismagnificent. As well as enjoying somepleasant walking, our primary purpose willbe our search for raptors, and we will hopeto see Black Vulture, Booted Eagle, Osprey,Peregrine, Kestrel and perhaps even RedKite in this region.The spectacular Formentor Peninsula isanother area not to be missed. A rockyextension of the Tramuntana Mountains, thepeninsula provides superb coastal cliffscenery and views, and is home to BlueRock Thrush and Shag (the Mediterraneansubspecies desmarestii). We will visit thelighthouse at the tip of the peninsula insearch of newly arrived Eleonora's Falcons- a summer visitor which breeds colonially on the cliffs - and spend time at Casas Veyas, an area of fig fields in the middle of thisotherwise pine-coveredpeninsula, which attracts manymigrants on their way north in spring.Finally we will take a trip to the Salinas deLevante in the south, an area of workedand disused saltpans that are the firstlandfall for migrants from Africa, and aparticularly good site for waders thatinclude such species as Black-winged Stiltand Kentish Plover. They are also animportant area for wintering wildfowl, andsmall flocks of Common Cranes andflamingoes which have begun to overwinterhere in recent years. We will view the pansfrom the main tracks and then explore theCabo de Salinas, the southernmost pointon the island, and a marvellous area ofundisturbed garrigue which is home toStone Curlew, Thekla Lark and even theelusive Marmora's Warbler. Nearby, fromthe clifftops, we should see the elegantAudouin's Gull, one of the rarest gulls inthe world, and possibly Cory's andMediterranean Shearwaters if the weatheris favourable.The comfort and simplicity of abirdwatching tour in this area, and the short driving distances involved, make thisa most relaxing holiday. The exceptionalrange of southern European birds makes itan ideal venue for the less experiencedbirdwatcher and beginners. In this respect,Mallorca has certainly not changed since itfirst became a birdwatcher's paradise over40 years ago.97Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Palma; transferPuerto Pollensa.Day 2/7Excursions to theBoquer Valley, AlbuferaMarsh, TramuntanaMountains, FormentorPeninsula, Salinas deLevante and Cuberreservoir, from our hotelbase near PuertoPollensa.Day 8Fly UK.AccommodationComfortable hotel near PuertoPollensa, with private facilities andswimming pool.FoodAll included in the price.GradingA traditional birding tour with easywalking. Grade A.FocusBirds.LeadersAlan Miller and Dave Smith.Single room supplement £140.ExtensionsArranged on request, with orwithout car rental. Web quick search: ESP03PALMATRAMUNTANAMOUNTAINSBOQUERVALLEYFORMENTOR PENINSULAPUERTO POLLENSAALBUFERAMARSHCABO DE SALINASSALINASMEDITERRANEANDE LEVANTE SEAMALLORCABook direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationSpring Birding in MallorcaAn 8-day birdwatching tour of Mallorca's finest sites, concentrating mainly on the spectacular north-east.Saturday 20th April - Saturday 27th April Cost: £1,295European Bee-eaterTramuntana Mountains from Albufera MarshFormentor Peninsula

Not just a smaller version of Mallorca,Menorca is the most easterly, andthe greenest of the Balearic Islands.It may not have mountains on a Mallorcanscale, but it is a rugged, very rocky island,has comparatively little flat land, andconsequently remains largely uncultivated.The southern coast is a series of low cliffsbroken by sandy coves, usually backedwith woodland and damp gorges. Thenorthern coast is more rugged, withspectacular headlands and a specialisedcoastal flora that includes many of thelocal endemic plants. The island is alsoblessed with several wetland areas whichare of particular importance for birds.Menorca in spring offers a most intricatemosaic of wild flowers. White and mauveCistusbushes, yellow Crown Daisies,purple gladioli, plus a great assortment ofvetches, hawkweeds, bugloss and Alyssumamong the dunes, ensure ubiquitouscolour. Asphodels grow almosteverywhere, and a wide variety of orchidsoccur, withOphrysand Serapiasspeciesbeing most numerous. Ophrys lutea, sorare on Mallorca, is common here, whilstthe Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptispyramidalis) is extraordinarily abundant,with flowers varying from pink to white. Weshould also find some of the Balearicspecialities, such as the sweetly-scentedHippocrepis balearica, the delightfulCyclamen balearicum, several sea-lavenders (Limonium spp.), and some ofMenorca's endemics, such as the rareCentaurea balearicawhich occurs amongstthe interesting and specialised plantcommunities of the northern coast; thelatter are usually low-growing, oftenforming dense, spiny mounds, or areclothed with white or silver hairs towithstand salt-laden winds.Birds of prey are one of the avianhighlights on any natural history tour tothis little island. Europe's only sedentarypopulation of Egyptian Vultures occurs onMenorca (with about 40 breeding pairs),Booted Eagles and Red Kites - thoughthe latter are declining - are seen withpleasing frequency, and a few pairs ofOspreys also breed on Menorca. Otherraptors which we may see includePeregrine, Eleonora's and Red-footedFalcons.One of the most spectacularmigrants, which also nests in severalcolonies on Menorca, is the Bee-eater. Atthe time of our visit, some of the breedingbirds should be arriving and largenumbers passing through. Another specialbird is Audouin's Gull, one of the world'srarest gulls, which wanders the coasts ofnorth-west Africa in winter but returns inspring to breed on the island. There areusually a few around the spectacular portof Mahon (arguably the best naturalharbour in the Mediterranean) butsightings can also be expected at severalother points on the coast.The marshes at Son Bou and Tirant, and thefine wetland area of Es Grau support avariety of wetland birds. Little and CattleEgrets, and Purple Herons are common;Night and Squacco Herons are moreelusive but are often present. These areasand the old saltpans at several other sitesare also excellent for waders, whilst theisland's woodland and scrub abound withwarblers, both resident species such asCetti's, Dartford, and Sardinian Warblers,plus the more numerous and activemigrants and summer visitors. Wrynecks,Hoopoes, Woodchat Shrikes, and abundantsinging Nightingales abound throughout theisland and add to the variety.One of the most exciting aspects ofbirding in Menorca is the constantpossibility of seeing somethingunexpected. White Storks, the occasionalBlack Stork, and Gull-billed Terns have allbeen recorded quite frequently in recentyears, whilst Moustached Warblers, whichhad not been recorded breeding on theisland before 1982, may now be seen atmore than two breeding sites. Indeed,almost anything can turn up here in spring,and the chance of finding a real rarity,perhaps even a bird previously unrecordedfrom the island, is very real!Our accommodation for the week is asplendid, and lovingly restored, 18thcentury Menorcan farmhouse. Set in 10hectares of unspoilt countryside, with alarge outdoor pool, this is a most relaxedsetting. From this delightful base it will beeasy to explore many of the most excitingareas of the island, using our minibus toaccess the best sites which we will thenexplore on foot. We will enjoy gentle walksalong the coasts, through woodland andaround the edges of wetlands where wewill have plentiful opportunities to see avariety of birds and at least some of theisland's flowers. Another fascinatingaspect of this island is the large number ofprehistoric human sites - standingstones, towers, stone dwellings, caves andother relics. We will see a number of theseduring our excursions, as well as gaining afeel for Menorca's more recent, butnonetheless long and very interestinghistory. It was, for example, held by theBritish as a naval base during much of the18th century, and as a consequence, eventoday, gin is still produced on the island!At the time of our visit - before the busysummer period - Menorca has relativelyfew tourists, and we will be able to explorethe island in comparative peace. It is in anycase a far less developed holiday islandthan Mallorca and many otherMediterranean islands. Indeed, most of thecoast can only be reached on foot (or byboat) and there are some beautiful, isolatedcoves and beaches. We should find nodifficulty in enjoying the history and, moreimportantly, the natural history of thisdelightful island away from the crowds!CAP DE CAVALLERIAFORNELSES PRATDE TIRANTCAP DE FAVARITXES GRAUMAHONMATCHANISON BOUGRANCALA MACARELLACIUTADELLAMENORCA98Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Mahon and transferto Matchani Gran.Day 2/7Daily birdwatching andbotanical excursions allover Menorca from ourbase near Mahon.Day 8Fly London.AccommodationA beautifully restored 18th centuryMenorcan farmhouse set in 10hectares of tranquil countryside, allrooms with private facilities.Food and wineAll included in the price.GradingDay walks only, all straightforward(and optional). Grade A/B. FocusBirds and plants.LeaderIan Nicholson.Single room supplement£150.ExtensionsExtra week(s) in Menorca, with orwithout car rental, available onrequest.Web quick search: ESP04MenorcaAn 8-day holiday on this beautiful Mediterranean island in search of both its birds and flowers.Friday 26th April - Friday 3rd May Cost: £1,295Audouin's GullMacarelleta cove