Juvenile Crossbill. | Neville James-Davies

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During a couple of early morning visits to a bird hide in Son Real, the wait was worth it, as not only did I get to see my first ever Hermann’s Tortoise (three in total), that came along to have a drink, but the variety of species visiting the little artificial pool was amazing. A group of tall Reeds have been planted at the back of the pool, standing around 10ft tall, and make an ideal place for a lot of the birds to fly into, then make their way down the stems to the water itself. A small group of Hornets was ‘buzzing’ around the left-hand side of the reeds.

First to visit were the local finches, including Goldfinches, Linnets and Greenfinches, and always in ones and twos. A pair of Woodchat Shrikes made two visits but each time they flew away without having a drink. A Turtle Dove was ‘purring’ away someone on the surrounding Pines, and several Nightingales were belting out their song, with two also coming down for a drink. I could hear Hoopoe’s too, and hoped that one of them would turn up for a drink, but no luck on that score. Some warblers paid a visit which made the variety much more interesting, and the first was a Garden Warbler, followed by a male and later a female Blackcaps, and some time after them, a female and then a male Sardinian Warbler.

Female Crossbill.
Female Crossbill.

A Bonelli’s Warbler, Great Tit and House Sparrows added more species to the list, as did the arrival of a male Seren, but the one star of the show I was hoping to see eventually made an appearance. I could hear the familiar ‘chip chip’ calls from the Pines, and eventually there in the reeds half way up, was a scruffy looking juvenile Common Crossbill, and mum was close by taking a drink from the edge of the pool. Her olive-green colouring stood out, but there was no sign of the male with its brick-red plumage, that would have been nice to see. Crossbills on Mallorca are of the sub-species ‘Balearica’, and in Catalan, they are known as ‘Trencapynions’, or the ‘pine nut cracker’. Sat in a hide in the early morning, with some bottles of water and a few croissants, watching the coming and goings of the local bird life, is very relaxing and fulfilling.