Continuing my work as a freelance surveyor
I headed to the Mediterranean for a couple of weeks route survey in
October 2020. The route went from the east coast of Spain across to
Mallorca - an area I have worked in before. It took a few days before I
managed to get out on deck but from 24 October I spent an hour on deck
every morning prior to going on shift. This was one of the more
difficult vessels to bird from as there were few areas with easy access
outside - so most mornings were spent standing under the helideck.
Going out on deck to take sound velocity profiles provided a few extra
birds now and again.
I saw a total of 19 species, most of these typical late autumn
migrants. Black Redstart were present onboard on a daily basis and, at
least on days without strong winds, managed to find plenty of food -
insects were also crossing the Mediterranean. White Wagtail were the
next most regular species onboard and were aslo seen on direct
Gulls were often at long range and although it is likely that most were
Yellow-legged Gulls I did see a couple of Audoin's Gulls. Smaller gulls
were also present but the only ones positively identified were
Flocks of unidentified passerines were seen heading towards Mallorca on
Other links to offshore birding in the Mediterranean
(Sicily September 2017)
straights (March / April 2011)
page regarding Mediterranean
The first few days were spent approximately 50km east of Spain whilst
we investigated the slopes heading down from the continental shelf.
Here Balearic Shearwaters put in an appearance along with small numbers
of Scopoli's Shearwaters.
Shearwater, Mediterranean, October 2020
only saw Balearic Shearwaters on the Spanish side of the route up to
about 50km east of the Spanish mainland. This time around I did not
note them closer to Mallorca.
Black Redstart, Mediterranean, October 2020
We then worked our way east before looking at some route alternatives
on the Mallorca side of the route. On the Mallorcan side the best day
was 28 October with a big movement of Scoploi's Shearwater with at
least 145 heading west during my hour on deck in the morning. I spent a
bit more time on deck on work related telephone calls during which a
pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins and a flock of three Cattle
Egrets turned up.
Kestrel, October 2020
Shearwater, Mediterranean, October 2020
Far from the best photos I have of this species - my best ones are not
even in the following book where some of my other Scopoli images have
One day they will turn up on my website:)
A superb guide to the seabirds of the world and one of the latest additions to my library
Female Blackcap with
Redstarts, Mediterranean, October 2020
Fishing vessel with Mallorca in the background
Yet again we saw that the Mediterranean is trawled heavily to much
deeper depths than the North Sea.
A Black Redstart that probably didn't make it, October 2020
This one sat side by side with the bird in the image above and looked
to be in good shape.
At least on the days when it was not too windy I saw these birds
actively catching insects such as flies and small moths that were also
attempting to cross the Mediterranean.
Black Redstart, October
Still looking pretty good despite not being in the best of shape.
Sunset over Mallorca, October 2020
Two of three Cattle
Egrets that landed onboard close to Mallorca, October 2020
Cattle Egret are one of the most widespread species in the world and
have turned up on survey vessels I have worked on many times
On this trip there were MMOs (Marine Mammal Observers) onboard. They
spent their entire days looking out over the sea for marine mammals and
manged to see surprisingly many in addition to moonfish, tuna, turtles
and more. They also kept an eye on the birdlife so it was always
interesting to chat at mealtimes. Sounds like a career choice that
would have suited me very well.....
Dolphins close to Mallorca, October 2020
This is the book I use for marine mammal identification
Dolphins, Mallorca, October 2020
Yellow-legged Gull, Mallorca, October 2020
Gull, Mallorca, October 2020
near Mallorca, October 2020