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The best-known and most popular birding site in Mallorca, this important wetland finally became a designated nature reserve in the mid-1980s after being under threat from development for many years.
This area of marshland supports Little Bittern, Cattle Egret and Little Egret and Black-crowned Night Heron, Purple Heron and Grey Herons. In addition there are Water Rail, Common Moorhen, and in winter, Eurasian Coot and Common Kingfisher.
Marbled Duck bred here for the first time in 1997, Squacco Heron in 2000 and Western Swamphen has been successfully reintroduced. Mallorca's first breeding of Common Tern took place here in 2001.
Raptors include Osprey and Western Marsh Harrier with Eleonora's Falcon and passage Northern Hobby frequently hunting over the area. Red-footed Falcon is a rare but regular passage visitor. Usually hawking insects over the marsh are Red-rumped Swallow, Pallid and Alpine Swifts.
The reedbeds hold Zitting Cisticola and Cetti's Warbler, Moustached Warbler, Reed Warbler and Great Reed Warblers as well as Reed Bunting with Wryneck, Hoopoe, Nightingale, and Woodchat Shrike in surrounding Scrub. European Serin and the Balearic race of Common Crossbill also occur, mainly in the roadside trees at the entrance.
A short distance further south on the coast road are some disused saltpans behind which is an area of scrub good for Stone-curlew, Common Quail, Greater Short-toed Lark and Tawny Pipit.
The birds on the saltpans depend largely on water level, if favourable there are Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover and Kentish Plovers, Common Redshank, Greenshank and many smaller waders with numbers and variety greatest during spring passage. At this time of year all three marsh terns commonly occur and Roseate Tern was reported in April 2002, Mallorca's first record if accepted.
Birds you can see here include:
Little Grebe, Great Bittern, Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Eurasian Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Common Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Marbled Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, White-headed Duck, European Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, Western Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Booted Eagle, Osprey, Red-footed Falcon, Eleonora's Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Common Quail, Water Rail, Spotted Crake, Little Crake, Common Moorhen, Western Swamphen, Eurasian Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Stone-curlew, Collared Pratincole, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Eurasian Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Northern Lapwing, Red Knot, Little Stint, Temminck's Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Common Snipe, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Little Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, White-winged Tern, European Turtle Dove, Common Cuckoo, Eurasian Scops Owl, Common Swift, Pallid Swift, Alpine Swift, Common Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, Eurasian Hoopoe, Eurasian Wryneck, Greater Short-toed Lark, Thekla Lark, Sand Martin, Eurasian Crag Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Northern House Martin, Tawny Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Water Pipit, Blue-headed Wagtail, White Wagtail, Common Nightingale, Bluethroat, Western Black-eared Wheatear, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Moustached Warbler, Eurasian Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Common Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher, Penduline Tit, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Woodchat Shrike, Common Starling, European Serin, Balearic Crossbill, Reed Bunting
The area is also rich in flowers, especially orchids including Bee Ophrys apifera, Bumble-bee O.bombyliflora, Sawfly O.tenthredinifera and Tongue Orchid Serapias lingua as well as nearly twenty other species.
History and Use
Areas of Interest
Access and Facilities
Albufera Marsh is behind the coast road just south of Alcudia on the east coast of Mallorca.
The reserve is best entered by a footpath which leaves the coast road just south of the Hotel Esperanza and runs alongside a canal to a farm. There is a visitor centre with helpful staff who issue visitors with free permits, an observation tower and hides.
Most birding visitors to Mallorca base themselves at Puerto Pollensa in the north-east where hotel and self-catering accommodation is plentiful.
S'ALBUFERA DE MALLORCA, parc natural
GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1
Content and images originally posted by Steve
mr1967's review Visited site in Sept 2002. Excellent area in which to wander. Very good hides / towers to observe from. Log maintained at visitor centre at which you can pick up information leaflet.
Good viewing of raptors over the marsh with farmland & salt marsh to also explore around the area. Overall (y) Pros
- A large complex where you can easily spend a day!
ikw101's review May 2007
An excellent nature reserve located just behind the Alcudia - C’an Picafort road just past Playa de Muro.
The sheer size of the S’Albufera de Malllorca Parc Natural is staggering especially as its boundaries now include the Depudora. Realistically if on foot 2 days need to be set aside to explore the main areas however bike hire is available at the main entrance. The majority of visitors tend to restrict themselves to the footpath overlooking the Gran Canal that leads down from the main entrance to the information centre (useful for toilets, permits, a basic outline map of the reserve and perhaps most importantly drinks – remember a bottle of water if visiting in summer). Superb views of Night Herons, Cattle Egrets and Little Egrets can be had from the lower end of the Gran Canal with several viewpoints being suitable for brushing up on your digiscoping techniques. As the footpath turns away and over a small bridge the next section takes you to a fork in the road with either the long walk down El Ras to the Depudora or straight on up and onto an elevated boardwalk with excellent views over the marsh.
The walk down El Ras to the Depudora is largely enclosed by 18ft high reeds however there are several smaller pools and an elevated viewpoint before reaching an area of pinewood. The pools to the left are an excellent place to see Red Crested Pochard, again Purple Heron and yet more Egrets. Apparently Great Reed Warblers can occasionally be found around here but we’ve never had any luck. Parallel to the footpath two stone walls separate a developing area of scrub from the marsh. Excellent views of Hoopoe flying up and down this narrow channel can be had. Unfortunately the path does tend to flood in places and the large puddles are the breeding place for extremely vicious Mosquitos. After about 2km you come to an area of pine woodland. This is a superb area for Woodchat Shrike, Nightingale and the usual Mallorcan warblers. Behind the wood there is a very quiet pool with several overhanging trees used as a roost by Squacco Herons. Just beyond the Pinewood and immediately on the left an area of fossil sand dunes are frequently used by Bee-Eaters whilst over on the right another raised platform gives another superb view out over a large pool and the wider marshland beyond. In May 2007 we had Collared Pratincole, Purple Gallinule, Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers here along with close up views of a pair of Marsh Harriers, yet more Little Egrets, Black winged Stilts, Purple Herons and hundreds of Swifts, Swallows and House Martins. In the distance Ospreys, Booted Eagles and Eleonora’s Falcon can frequently be seen. Unfortunately we ran out of drinking water here and with a long walk back decided to opt out of the Depudora hopefully somebody else will fill in this bit? Apparently there is a well known area somewhere behind it that is the place to see Stone Curlews. One for next time!
If going straight on down to the information centre the boardwalk is another point to observe Marsh Harriers from along with Purple Herons, Little Egrets, Black Winged Stilts, Cetti’s, Fan Tailed and Sardinian Warblers. As well as the more common Mediterranean birds various Marsh Terns can be found here. In May 2007 we had 2 White Winged Black Terns. Whilst it doesn’t appear to be compulsory if you visit the information centre they do have details of recent sightings, a checklist of the more common birds that can be found and an outline map to the Parc giving various routes between the hides. In addition there are a few picnic tables and it’s a fine place to have a break. The scrub and pines immediately around the information centre again are good for warblers and finches with Crossbills being relatively common and Hoopoes in the larger trees.
Typical birdlist available from visitor centre. This one was for late April
From the visitor centre the main routes are marked out and on a cloudy day or any other day not suitable for lying about on the beach they can be fairly busy with holidaymakers and bikes. From the visitor centre most people tend to head out towards the CIM hide. In September the relatively low water levels brought about a greater variety of waders whereas in May 2007 due largely to the high water level there were fewer waders with Black Winged Stilts, Purple Herons, Yellow Legged Gulls, Red Crested Pochards with Little Ringed Plovers on the islands. Following the waymarked route around led to a viewing mound and a small pool which appears to be used for illustrating local conservation issues to Mallorcan schoolchildren. Although hardly wild bearing in mind the ongoing cull of Ruddy Ducks in the UK it’s still interesting to see White Headed Ducks. From the viewing mound this is a great spot for a spot of raptor watching. In September we had fantastic views of Eleonora’s Falcon, Booted Eagle, Marsh Harriers and Osprey however in May 2007 there was no sign of the Eleonora’s or Booted Eagle. The sheer number of Swifts and Hirundines that could be seen in the late afternoon was staggering surprisingly there was no sign of any Hobby’s however I suspect there were Pallid Swifts and Red Rumped Swallows amongst the more common Swifts, Swallows and House Martins. Unfortunately watching this number of birds has a strange mesmerising effect and after a few minutes it became a case of enjoying a spectacular display rather than picking out individuals that looked a little bit different.
After leaving the viewing mound we headed down to the Tower Hide. After another lengthy walk we arrived to find it shut with a large padlock and chain preventing access onto the stairs. The scrub and reedbeds around this area have a good reputation for some of the rarer warblers however in May 2007 apart from Sardinian and Cetti’s they escaped us. Following the footpath back took us onto the main circular walk across the Gran Canal and down towards the Bishops 1 and 2 hides. Along the way we passed through some carr like woodland, scrub and over a smaller canal. On a quiet day or in the early morning/late evening these areas would undoubtedly hold far more birds but mid afternoon in May 2007 we found the area to be too disturbed. The Bishop 1 and 2 hides are the place to see Ospreys fishing. Again Black Winged Stilts and Little Egrets were plentiful likewise Kentish Plover and Sardinian warblers. This area also contained a single incubating Common Tern apparently still quite rare in Mallorca.
Review by June Atkinson
- Diverse range of habitats
We were in Puerto Pollença last November. We always hire a car, and this time we hoped to visit the Albufera Reserve taking the car in, as Leonard cannot walk more than a short distance. We took his Blue badge, which is recognised, of course, in Europe, and I contacted the Albufera Office. We were given permission to take the car right in to the Visitor Centre, but no further! If we had had a wheelchair, we might have been able to cover a reasonable distance alongside the lagoons, but as Leonard walks with a stick, he couldn't go far at all. We managed to get to the Hide nearest to the Info Centre, and saw a number of interesting birds, the best of which, and a first for us, were black-winged stilts. Such handsome birds! Pro: Apart from this Reserve, we motored all over the north, including the Cuber Dam - saw the black vultures - and the Eleanora Falcons soaring and circling above the Formentor Lighthouse. But we have yet to find the Blue Rock Thrush!! It is a lovely island, and the northern region is ideal for a restful but rewarding holiday.
And an earlier review from September 2006
A huge area of Phragmites dominated marshland just outside of Alcudia. Although it has the reputation of being one of the best sites within the western Mediterranean we were slightly disappointed and considering what we saw I'm not sure why. Probably because we knew there was a lot we missed! Unfortunately the problem with visiting this site so late on in the year is the fact that the reeds were approx 24ft/8m high. Therefore many of the views down the ditches were just not there and as a result we had to use the hides. Highlights included a group of 6 Marsh Harriers, watching an Osprey fishing from the Bishop Hide, Black-winged stilts everywhere, Night Herons by the main canal and an unexpected encounter with a Little Bittern whilst walking down a path. If wearing shorts or sandals watch out for ticks!
Marsh Harrier, Coot, Little Egret, Night Heron, Cetti's Warbler (very common), Barn Swallow, Hoopoe, Stonechat, Goldfinch, Little Grebe, Osprey, Little Bittern, Black-winged Stilt, Greenshank, Redshank, Snipe, Red-knobbed Coot, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher
- Massive area
- Easy access
- Tourists with no binoculars and little interest