Article written by: Michael Montier
Many visiting birders have Balearic warbler on the top of their list of most wanted birds to see here in Mallorca but some visitors go away empty handed having failed to see this enigmatic little skulker.
They are indeed difficult to see but with patience and some inside information, good views can be obtained and therefore this endemic member of the Sylvia family can be added to your trip list without too much difficulty.
The truth is, they are not rare and they can be found pretty much anywhere near the coast in their favoured habitat, the low coastal scrub, known here as “garrigue”. Many birders are directed to the Bóquer Valley, they can be seen there but it is not the best place, it being quite exposed and often windy, conditions that the Balearic warbler doesn’t like. They will rarely show on days like this and all you will see is the rear end disappearing into the foliage.
Balearic warblers are never seen in scrub anything taller than knee-high, they frequent the really low bushes. March and April are obviously the best months when the male birds can be seen singing from on top of the bushes but they do show in any month. The hottest days in August are probably the worst times but even then they are around and will show after a wait.
They are not hard to identify and the only real difficulty could be when the young are out of the nest when immature birds may be confused with Dartford warblers which also breed here and always in the same locations as the Balearics. The adult birds are very grey overall but it is the legs which really stand out and appear very orange, contrasting with the subtle grey underparts, they really are a little gem and will give immense pleasure once located.
Patience is the key to obtaining satisfactory views, there is a temptation to move on and look elsewhere, but staking out a known location is much better. Three-quarters of the way down the Bóquer Valley looking to the right hand side of the path is a good place to stop for a while and makes a welcome break.
They are also seen at Son Real, there is a viewing platform near the beach which is a good place but Porto Colom in the south-east is now one of the best places. It is quite a trip from the north but is worth it for the coastal views, nesting Pallid swift, Blue Rock thrush and Dartford warblers too.
Good luck, and do please report any sightings, new information is always welcome.