World Wetlands Day

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World Wetland Day 2017

Today, 2nd February, is celebrated the World Wetlands Day to commemorate the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. It is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. Since then, 169 countries from all the world’s geographic regions have acceded to became “Contracting Parties” and 2.245 wetlands have been declared Ramsar according to their international significance in terms of ecology, botany, zoology, limnology or hydrology, 215.029.188 hectares. Spain signed this treaty in 1982 and it has designed 74 wetlands on the Ramsar list, 303.090 hectares. The most well-known are: Doñana, the Tablas de Daimiel, the Delta del Ebre, Santoña, Gallocanta or Villafáfila. In the Balearic Island there are two: Mallorca lagoon and Eivissa and Formentera Salines.

Despite these figures, growing concern about these ecosystems or the fact that wetlands account for 45% of the value of all natural ecosystems on the planet, 60% of Spanish wetlands have disappeared in recent decades. Most of the Spanish Ramsar areas are in a serious situation due to alteration, exploitation or occupation among other impacts, although many of them also have other protection figures (National Park, Natural Park or Zepa). But if the state of conservation of areas of international importance is insufficient, it is much worse for those who don’t enjoy any measure or figure of protection or who don’t have this international importance.

Minorca doesn’t have Ramsar areas and any wetland of international relevance, but it has an important network of wetlands that provide shelter and resources to more than 50% of its biodiversity, which are winter quarters for thousands of European waterfowls, Which are primordial for thousands of migratory birds that cross the Mediterranean Sea or which give protection to breeding populations of birds as scarce in Spain as the Ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca, the Moustached warbler Acrocephalus melanopogon or the Purple heron Ardea purpurea. It is the work of all, to preserve them and to avoid that the threats that endanger the present and future of these island ecosystems disappear, and that in the future it isn’t necessary to celebrate the Wetlands Day because their conservation and rational use make it not necessary here or anywhere on the planet.

Illa de l’Aire ringing migration site

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Bird watching on Illa de l'Aire

The 1st of April started the ringing migration site at Illa del Aire. Today we have done our first tour to the island with Mark and Andrew. We have ringed lots of migrants: Redstart, Subalpine Warbler, Robin, Song Thrush, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Dunnock…, and some residents; Linnet, Sardinian Warbler…, but the highlight has been a female of Bluethroat.

We have also seen many birds during our stay on the island: Cory’s Shearwater, Yelkouan Shearwater, Shag, Great Egret, Booted Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Turnstone, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-legged Gull, Audouin’s Gull, Sandwich Tern, Hoopoe, Wheatear, Woodchat Shrike…

Fantastic and sunny day with our friends of Societat Ornitològica de Menorca.

Enjoying Menorca birds and nature

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Bird watching and nature tours in Menorca

Today we have enjoyed Menorca birds and nature with Eleanor and Mike. Lots of migrant birds: Redstart, Whinchat, Wheatear, Subalpine warbler, Spotted redshank, Redshank, Black-winged stilt, Ruff, Yellow wagtail, Willow warbler… Also lots of raptors (Egyptian vulture, Booted eagle, Marsh harrier, Red kite…), orchids (first Mirror orchid Ophrys speculum) and a great arrival of Painted lady Vanessa cardui.

Many migrant birds these days in Menorca

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Bird watching and nature guide in Menorca

These days we are enjoying during our bird watching tours. Spring has arrived and also many migrant birds. Normally, first ones to arrive are waders. These days we have seen several groups of ruffs, redshanks or black-tailed Godwit. Last weekend arrived to the island first black-winged stilts. We have also seen some water birds as garganey or the fantastic purple heron, one of our favorite birds. We saw the first purple heron this Sunday. Small migrant are also present everywhere: house martin, sand martin, barn swallow, yellow wagtail, swift, sedge warbler, willow warbler… But the highlight was a little group of alpine swift that we saw on last Sunday between an enormous mixed group of swifts, swallows and martins.

migrant' birds - Menorca Walking Birds

Menorca’ nature is fantastic now. Many flowers grow up everywhere, as our lovely orchids, resident birds sing all time and migrant birds are really abundant. A special time for birding or nature lovers. Next three months will be a great adventure in Menorca with Menorca Walking Birds.

The first orchids are starting bloom now in Menorca

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Menorca orchids - wildlife torus in Menorcaorquídeas de Menorca - excursiones de naturaleza en Menorcawild orchids Menorca - wildlife tours Menorca

Spring is coming and first orchids are shyly beginning to bloom, has we have been able to see in our trips during the last few weeks. 

The cold February has caused many plants still remain in lethargy, therefore, just in a few weeks time now, we’ll be witness to the magnificent colour explosion of Menorca’s fields.

Even so, we have already begun to delight us with some of our first orchids, such as the spectacular Giant orchid Himantoglossum robertianum, the beautiful Conical orchid Neotinea conica and the amazing flowers of Yellow bee-orchid Ophrys lutea and Sawfly orchid Ophrys tenthredinifera, both commonly known in the island as “flies”.

Over the coming months we will be able to continue enjoying all their splendor, as well as their flowers complexity. A delight for orchid enthusiasts and nature lovers that Menorca Walking Birds makes available to visitors and residents. Discover with us Menorca’s orchids.

A weekend at Monfragüe NP. Extremadura birdwatching fair (FIO) 2015

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Menorca Walking Birds en la FIO 2015

Last weekend Menorca Walking Birds attended the tenth edition of the Extremadura birdwatching fair. In a privileged context, Monfragüe National Park, gathered an important number of ornithological tourism professionals, as well as conservationist associations and institutions from all over Spain and many other countries from Europe, even from places as far as United States, China or India.

For a few days, Menorca Walking Birds has had the opportunity to bring the ornithological and natural richness of Menorca to the attention of national and international travel agencies and specialized companies, and of course, to the large audience of the event. It was an excellent opportunity to share experiences with birding professional, such as our Majorcan friends: Wildlife Mallorca, Mallorca Nature Tours and Cabrera Excursions. A place where to learn and make known Menorca as a destination for birdwatching and nature.  An opportunity to meet professionals from other parts of Spain as our friend Jesus Porras from Iberian Nature, with who we spend pleasant hours watching birds in Trujillo. An essential event for companies like ours and people like you.   


Menorca Walking Birds in the Extremadura Birdwatching Fair

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This weekend will be celebrated the 10th edition of The Extremadura Birdwatching Fair (FIO) in Monfragüe’s National Park. From the 27th February till March the 1st, the park will host one of the most important international events for professionals and nature enthusiasts from all around the world.

Menorca Walking Birds in the Extremadura Birdwatching Fair

During three days, many specialized nature and ornithology tourism companies, professionals, public institutions and conservations will get together in an annual event that attracts over 10,000 visitors.

If you have planned to travel close the area or attend to the fair, do not hesitate to visit our stand. We will be very pleased to inform you about our birding and wildlife programs in the island for the next few seasons, our activities, such as hiking tours, and all you may like to know about Menorca, rural hotels, agrotourism, gastronomy, cultural visits…

Menorca waterbirds winter census

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Birdwatching tours in Menorca

Last 18th of January, took place a water bird census in the most important wetlands of Menorca. An activity comprehended in an international census program (IWC, International Waterbird Census) coordinated by Wetlands International since 1967, and carried into effect here in the island by the members of the Societat Ornitològica de Menorca (SOM), who Menorca Walking Birds collaborates with.

In total 13 locations spread all over the island were censed. Standing out by their size and importance we will mention the Albufera de’s Grau, Salinas de Addaia, Prat de Son Saura del Nord, basses de Lluriac and Prat de Son Bou. 

This time, a total of 20 volunteers participated in this annual census, been now more than 25 the years that it has been performed here in the island. 

A total of 5,486 birds belonging to 49 different species were counted. Between them we find grebes, cormorants, herons, ducks, waders, gulls, raptors and many other species associated with aquatic environments.

Noted for their abundance: Coot Fulica atra with 2.364 individuals, Mallard Anas platyrhynchos with 506, Lapwing Vanellus vanellus with 456, Shoveler Anas clypeata with 381 or Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis and Pochard Aythya ferina with 343 individuals both. Other species to distinguish cause of them being scarce or rare winter birds, or cause them belonging to the group of new nesting birds in the island are: Red-crested pochard Netta rufina with 28 individuals; Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca with 8; Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus with 7; Audouin’s Gull Larus audouinii, typical summer bird, with two individuals; Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola with 2; Curlew Numenius arquata with 1 or Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus with also one individual.

Greylag Goose    Anser anser
Domestic Goose*
Shelduck    Tadorna tadorna
Wigeon    Anas penelope
Gadwall    Anas strepera
Teal    Anas crecca
Mallard    Anas platyrhynchos
Domestic Duck*
Muscovy Duck    Cairina moschata*
Pintail    Anas acuta
Shoveler    Anas clypeata
Red-crested Pochard    Netta rufina
Pochard    Aythya ferina
Ferruginous Duck    Aythya nyroca
Tufted Duck    Aythya fuligula
Little Grebe    Tachybaptus ruficollis
Great Crested Grebe    Podiceps cristatus
Black-necked Grebe    Podiceps nigricollis
Cormorant   Phalacrocorax carbo
Shag    Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Cattle Egret    Bubulcus ibis
Little Egret    Egretta garzetta
Great Egret    Casmerodius albus
Grey Heron   Ardea cinerea
Flamingo    Phoenicurus roseus
Marsh Harrier    Circus aeruginosus
Osprey    Pandion haliaetus
Water Rail   Rallus aquaticus
Moorhen    Gallinula chloropus
Purple Swamphen    Porphyrio porphyrio
Coot   Fulica atra
Ringed Plover    Charadrius hiaticula
Little Ringed Plover    Charadrius dubius
Kentish Plover    Charadrius alexandrinus
Grey Plover    Pluvialis squatarola
Lapwing    Vanellus vanellus
Dunlin    Calidris alpina
Snipe    Gallinago gallinago
Curlew    Numenius arquata
Common Sandpiper    Actitis hypoleucos
Green Sandpiper    Tringa ochropus
Greenshank    Tringa nebularia
Redshank    Tringa totanus
Black-headed Gull    Larus ridibundus
Audouin’s Gull    Larus audouinii
Lesser Black-backed Gull    Larus fuscus
Yellow-legged  Gull    Larus michahellis
Sandwich Tern    Sterna sandvicensis
Kingfisher    Alcedo atthis
Total = 49 species

Species detected during the Waterbirds Winter census in the most important wetlands of the island. Winter 2015.  *Species from captivity or introduced.

Durham Bird Club Seniors in Menorca with Menorca Walking Birds

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Mike Harbinson writes in Durham Bird Club magazine about his birdwatching week in Menorca last spring with Menorca Walking Birds. A little birdwatcher group came to Menorca last May. They spent a week birdwatching in the island. Mike talks us about their experience.

Read the article: DBC Menorca

DBC group during our tours. Above in a wetland seen Purple heron and Ferruginous duck. Below at north of the island looking for Shearwaters.

Studying winter populations of birds in the ecological farm of Algendaret

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This winter, as the last five, our guide continues studying bird populations in the farm of Algendaret. This farm, situated on the outskirts of Maó, is one of the only ecological farms in the island. The cover vegetation is composed by extensive crops for caws, wild olives and ecological vegetables crops, shaping the typical agricultural landscape in mosaic of Menorca.
This study is included into a big project that the Menorca Ornithologist Society (SOM) carries out in the island, using the ringing as study method like the Constant Effort Site (CES) in UK or the Monitoring Avian Productivity (MAP) in the USA, or other similar projects in Spain like the SYLVIA from Grup Català d’Anellament (GCA) or the SACRE from Sociedad Española de Ornitología (SEO).
One of the main objectives of this study is contribute with new and actual knowledge about the ecology of the Menorca landscape, allowing management that does not conflict with conservation. Birds play a vital role as biological indicators in terrestrial ecosystems, where it is sometimes very difficult to prove the adverse effects of pollution, habitat change or other factors.
This December have begun the field days that they lasted until the end of February.  On the first day on 23 December, he obtained information about ten species: robin, black bird, son thrush, chiffchaff, blackcap, white wagtail, great tit, sardinian warbler, greenfinch and chaffinch; an others were detected into the farm: collared turtle dove, wood pigeon, house sparrow, hoopoe, kestrel, black redstart, cetti’s warbler and goldfinch. Many of these species spend the winter in Menorca like the robin, the song thrush or the white wagtail, and others are sedentary birds, with an important population in this farm, like the sardinian warbler or the great tit.
This day highlighted the abundance of song thrush, possibly due to the abundance of olives on the wild olives in the area. By contrast, draws attention to the low number of robins when compared with previous years, data detected during this fall and winter began in other parts of the island.