Over night there was rain. The first clouds of the week had rolled in over the hills with the approaching darkness and my sleep was periodically interrupted by the sounds of the swirling wind and rain outside. By morning it was gone with only a few remnants of cloud remaining as we headed down to the south of the island to see what the famous saltpans may hold. We made our way along the ornithologically infamous 'Eddy's Track'. Steve headed one way and I the other. Bird photography rarely works in pairs.
I headed towards a lagoon which had a small penninsula that allowed me to get in amongst the birds and down to water level. The aroma surrounding the lagoons was memorable and the mosquitoes in a hungry mood. All that was on offer for the camera was a number of Stilts wading through the placid brine. It was good to be out in the open and down at water level with the birds rather than being constrained by a hide.
After taking some stilt photos I met back up with Steve who had little to report from his wanderings, so we headed back to the car and drove around to check the rest of the saltpans. If there had been any other birds in the other lagoons they appeared to have been scared out of camera distance by a person in a red car and bright yellow t-shirt who kept jumping out with his camera on the road ahead of us. We decided to check an adjacent field althought it produce no images Serin, Tutrtle Dove and a Hoopoe were seen. Steve also managed to do his best impression and called a cuckoo in several times but it evaded having its photo taken. Back in the car again and we came across a Corn Bunting in full jangling song on top of a post. So we stopped for a short while ,got out of the car and took a few images of a very acommodating bird.
We decided to then head to most southerly point of the island which is known as a good place to find weary migrants crossing the Mediterranean. We thought the previous night's rain may have brought some down to earth. However, once more no migrants were present with only the occasional Sardinian Warbler breaking the silence of the garrique scrub under the late morning sun. Time to head northwards.
En route we came across a lake and decided to stop for a while. Steve busied himself with some large red dragonflies while I thought I would photograph some of the low flying Swifts using my Canon 7D.
I doubt that these fast flying birds contributed to the subsequent meltdown of the camera body, which from then on showed a persistent 'Error code 40' message (electrical fault) and refused to work. Fortunately there was only one day of the holiday to go but it shows the importance of taking two camera bodies when travelling. The only other bird that appeared at the lake was a Greenshank that appeared at point blank range to completely fill the viewfinder.
We continued our journey northwards and decided to head to the lighthouse at far end of the Formentor pennisula, the most northerly point of the island in an attempt to try and find some Blue Rock Thrush. However, all we found was one calling at great distance and out of sight. We had now covered the full length of the island from north to south.
Heading back down the pennisula we saw a sign for the beach. As the sun was now dropping we decided to see if there were any Yellow Legged Gulls around as we still had not managed any good photographs of these birds. Yellow Legged Gulls are the southern equivalent of the Herring Gull but much more photogenic in my opinion. If you wonder why they are called yellow legged gulls ;)
We found a number of birds drifting off a small jetty, built out from the beach, and had some great fun with them as the sun sunk rapidly down towards the hills behind.
Having got the portrait images done, it was time to have some fun and get some more interesting poses in some wonderful light. Steve donated his remaining uneaten sandwiches to the cause and some great fun was had with the birds who ended up with a free meal for their fine display. I was also glad of all the flight photography practice I have done on the gulls close to my home over the years which was now proving useful. There are quite a few images below but it may be a long time before I post a yellow legged gull photograph again.
An adult showing a young bird who is in charge.
The last we saw of the sandwich.
The gulls had saved an otherwise fairly quite day. We now had only 24 hours lef,t as this time the following evening we would be heading for the airport. What would the last day bring, something special and memorable?