The Bee-eater Merops apiaster in Menorca. Current situation of breeding populations.
The Bee-eater is one of the most beautiful and emblematic of birds to breed in Menorca, and a very highly-regarded bird for birdwatchers and nature lovers who visit the island every year.
The Menorca population of Bee-eaters spent winter at west of Africa, between Senegal and the Chad. At the end of April it is possible to see the first migrants arriving from their winter quarters although many of them will pass over Menorca and continue their journey to the mainland of Europe.
Many of these migrants will cross our small island during May – at the same time as other migrants like the Subalpine Warbler, the Melodious and the Icterine Warblers, the Red-rumped Swallow, the Red-footed Falcon or the Squacco Heron.
Normally, our population arrives at beginning of May with many other transaharians birds that breed in the island like the Red Warbler, the Nightingale, the Turtle Dove or the Spectacled Warbler. They will be at breeding colonies on the first/second week of May.
In Menorca, Bee-eater always excavate their nests in sandy ground (sand dunes, farm land, pine forests, quarries…) sharing a habitat with other birds like the Tawny Pipit, the Thekla Lark, the Short-toed Lark, the Corn Bunting or the Woodchat Shrike.
Our guide, Javier Méndez, knows the habitats of the Bee-eaters very well. He has studied Menorca population for the last two years with his local ornithological group “Societat Ornitològica de Menorca (SOM)”.
The group of volunteers found sixteen Bee-eater colonies in the island, mainly along the north coast but also one in the middle of the island and one at the south coast. They found 146 nests definitely in use and 67 nests probably, but not certainly, in use. With these results, they quantify the Bee-eater population in the island between 146-213 pairs. The biggest population of the Balearic Island.
There have been no previous studies of Bee-eaters in Menorca, so it is not possible to compare these results, but it is believed that population has decreased during the last decades and some colonies have disappeared altogether, especially at the south coast.
SOM will repeat this study in a few years time and then they will know the real situation in Menorca of this beautiful bird.
Each summer season, the Bee-eaters continue to fill the Menorcan countryside with their glorious colours and sounds, and our guide will be very happy to show them to birdwatchers and nature lovers – along with many other interesting birds like the Egyptian Vulture, the Osprey, the Purple Heron, the Little Bittern, the Ferruginous Duck, the Red-crested Pochard, the Purple Gallinule, the Kentish Plover, the Hoopoe, the Sardinian Warbler…