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Menorca 7 – 14 October 2016

A relaxed wildlife holiday on this quiet Mediterranean island.

Menorca provides the perfect setting to see birds and flowers typical of the Mediterranean. A small island, a little over 30 miles long and 13 miles wide, its quiet, unhurried atmosphere complements a relaxing wildlife holiday.

All parts of the island can be reached easily and quickly so most of the holiday can be spent in the field enjoying an array of wildlife, set within a landscape rich in archaeological sites, with excellent access to the whole of its diverse coastline along the recently established coastal path. It all has a charm rarely equalled elsewhere in Europe today.

As with any autumn holiday to the Mediterranean, some things are not guaranteed: bird migration is dependent upon the weather at the time, and the quality of the ‘second spring’ of autumn flowering depends upon the rainfall over the previous weeks.

But some things are guaranteed: a leisurely holiday in wonderful surroundings and a good chance of warm sunshine to round off your summer!

Calescoves hummingbird hawkmoth on lantana
Calescoves (also known as Cales Coves), and hummingbird hawkmoth on lantana.

Birds

While small, the island holds a great variety of habitats. The rugged coasts are spectacular and off-islands provide nest sites for the scarce Audouin's gull. Views of the surrounding sea may reveal Cory's or Mediterranean shearwaters. Lagoons and fresh water lakes hold a variety of waders, plus egrets, herons and even the occasional flamingo.

Sardinian warblers skulk in bushes; Thekla and short-toed larks show themselves from drystone walls; stone-curlews stalk around rocky fields; ravens and tawny pipits are often seen.

There are often birds of prey overhead. Menorca holds concentrations of booted eagles, Egyptian vultures and red kites, the kites happily increasing after a period of decline.

The island provides a stepping stone for birds migrating across the Mediterranean – so anything can turn up. In autumn, depending on the weather, this could include thrushes, chats, flycatchers and finches. The last few bee-eaters may still be around, and hoopoes are semi-resident.

Merendera

Merendera Merendera filifolia and autumn narcissus Narcissus serotinus.

Flowers

Pastures, coastal rocks and sand dunes are home to a range of wild flowers, including several which are unique to the Balearics. Most are spring-flowering but, depending on when the autumn rains fall, we should see some marvellous displays of autumn bulbs, including merendera, autumn squill, sea squill and the tiny daffodil Narcissus serotinus. October is the peak time for blooming of the tree heath Erica multiflora.

chrisomelid beetle swallowtail on bougainvillea spurge hawkmoth caterpillar scarlet darter
Chrisomelid beetle; swallowtail on bougainvillea; spurge hawkmoth caterpillar; scarlet darter dragonfly, also known as broad scarlet.

Invertebrates and other wildlife

A great feature of early autumn is a selection of often spectacular insects: mantises, crickets, Egyptian and migratory locusts, wondrous beetles and moths. Butterflies include swallowtail and two-tailed pasha.

Other wildlife includes green toads, stripeless tree frogs and terrapins.

mole cricketpraying mantis
Mole cricket and praying mantis

History

The island's varied history shows well in architecture and archaeology. Strange stone monoliths, known locally as Torres, date from around 1000 BC. Of later origin are traditional stone huts called Talaiots. Access to these monuments is easy and they are often good places to see wildlife.

The small cities of Ciutadella and Mahón are both fascinating. A mix of architectural design reflects the result of dominance by Romans, Moslems and British.

Torre d'en Gaumes Naveta d'es Tudons
Left: Torre d'en Gaumes. Right: Naveta d'es Tudons.

Holiday details

Matchani Gran, our holiday base, is a Menorcan farmhouse near Mahón delightfully converted for private guests or small groups. It has a swimming pool and terrace, all set in 10 acres of countryside complete with hoopoes, Thekla larks and Hermann's tortoises.

Price: £1,430 per person in twin room for a full week (Friday to Friday)

En suite facilities.

Single room supplement (four): £150

Flights: Scheduled Monarch flights, Birmingham, Gatwick, Luton, Manchester or Leeds-Bradford to Mahón

Deposit: £300

Maximum number: 14, with two leaders

stone walls sea squill strawberry tree fruits
The stone walls that divide Menorcan fields are a distinctive landscape feature.
Middle: sea squill Urginea maritima, an autumn-flowering species.
Right: fruits of the strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo.

Leader

Chris Gibson is a conservation officer for Natural England based in north Essex, an author of several wildlife books and has led many holidays for Honeyguide. He is an outstanding all rounder, from birds through flowers to moths, recognised as a ‘naturalist of distinction’ by the British Naturalists’ Association.

Photos on these Menorca pages by Chris Gibson, unless otherwise stated.

Conservation project

The Grup Balear d'Ornitologia i Defensa de la Naturalesa (GOB – the Balearic Ornithological Group) is an active local organisation working to protect the Balearic Islands from overdevelopment.

A current project is 'Agronatural Farms' in Menorca - wildlife-friendly farming - and we are supporting this project in 2016. You can read more about this from GOB here.

Supporting GOB

GOB is campaigning against major 'improvements' on the main east-west road on Menorca between Mahón and Ciutadella, involving large road junctions that seem inappropriate in scale and the amount of land-take. There is more information on www.gobmenorca.com/savemenorca (scroll down to read in English). You can read Honeyguide's letter to the authorities on Menorca here.

Menorca map

Holiday reports

October 2016 report

Menorca 'fam' trip, October 2015
Chris Gibson

October 2013 report

Menorca October 2012 recce, by Chris Gibson

April 2011 report

Many other Menorca reports on our reports web page

Honeyguide web page

Ten reasons to visit Menorca with Honeyguide here.

Menorca photos

Chris Gibson's Photos on Facebook from October 2016.

Gallery of photos by Honeyguiders.

Private visits

For anyone visiting Menorca without Honeyguide who needs a wildlife guide, we are happy to recommend Javi Mendez of Menorca Walking Birds.

Egyptian vulture

Egyptian vulture
(Mika Selin www.birdnet.fi)

egrets

Little egrets, one great white egret and greenshanks.

Thekla lark

Thekla lark

Booted eagle

Booted eagle
(Mika Selin www.birdnet.fi)

Erica multiflora

Erica multiflora

green toad

green toad

stained glass window, Ciutadella cathedral

A modern stained glass window in the cathedral in Ciutadella.

To read more about the history and language of Menorca, click here to download a pdf.

Hermann's tortoise

Hermann's tortoise

Punta Prima

Punta Prima

Chris Gibson

SUPPORTING

The Grup Balear d’Ornitologia i Defensa de la Naturalesa

Honeyguide cheque handover to GOB

Honeyguide leaders Robin and Rachel Hamilton hand a cheque to Montse from GOB Menorca (picture by Shevaun Mendelsohn).

Menorca Biosphere Reserve

Since 1993, Menorca has been a Biosphere Reserve, designated by UNESCO.

This recognises the island's
"... diversity characteristic of nearly all Mediterranean island ecosystems."

The UNESCO citation lists a range of natural features, including gullies, nesting sites for birds of prey and aquatic birds, caves, wetlands, woods of oak & olive and the mosaic of landscapes.

More information from UNESCO here.

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... where there are many holiday photos to enjoy.

Atol protected

The air holidays shown are ATOL Protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is ATOL 3253. ATOL Protection extends primarily to customers who book and pay in the United Kingdom. Click on the ATOL logo if you want to know more.

Helping you enjoy wildlife – Helping you protect wildlife