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Formentera - BirdForum Opus

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Balearic Islands


Formentera is the smallest and most southerly of the four main Balearic Islands lying about 5km south of Ibiza. Composed largely of ancient coral deposits, it is also the driest of the islands and much of it appears barren and flat.

Parts of the island are covered with Wild Rosemary and others have stands of Pinus halepensis and Juniperus phoenicea.

Athough the island is small enough to be covered in a day-trip from one of the larger islands, there is enough birding interest during spring and autumn for a week or two on Formentera.


Notable Species

Estany Pudent

The main ornithological interest on Formentera lies at the Estany Pudent, a large brackish lagoon with associated saltpans. This is famous as a site for Black-necked Grebe, the wintering flock has reached thousands and smaller numbers are usually present all year. A variety of ducks and waders occurs here. Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover and Kentish Plover are regular as are Little Stint and Spotted Redshank. Great Reed Warblers can be seen in reedbeds at the southern end of the lagoon.

In the scrubland around the lagoon and saltpans there are Greater Short-toed Lark and Tawny Pipit, Sardinian Warbler and Balearic Warbler. One of the best watchpoints is provided by a promontory, Ca Na Costa, on the eastern side which overlooks a marshy area ideal for waders.

Estany Pudent is situated in the north of the island and the road from La Savina to Es Pujols follows the northern and eastern shore.

To the north of this road is Salinas Marroig, a series of saltpans with gulls and terns, sometimes also Greater Flamingo.

The nearby Estany d'es Peix is another large lagoon to the west of La Savina, but having an opening to the sea it is more attractive to gulls and terns.

Punta Prima

The remaining birding sites are the various headlands of Formentera, all of which have dramatic scenery with interesting breeding birds and are attractive to migrant passerines. Punta Prima in the north of the island, to the west of Estany Pudent and north of Sant Ferran, has cliffs with breeding Mediterranean Shag and Peregrine Falcon, Cirl Bunting and Rock Sparrow.

The point is reached by a track from Sant Ferran towards Es Pujols.

Cap de Barbaria

Cap de Barbaria is the southernmost point of Formentera and thus the most southerly point of the Balearics.

Red-legged Partridge, Blue Rock Thrush and Thekla Lark breed here while the woodlands close to the point have Spotted Flycatcher, Woodchat Shrike and Common Nightingale. Pipits, wagtails and chats are recorded here in large numbers during passage periods. Cory's Shearwater and Balearic Shearwaters are common off the point.

To reach the point turn right in Sant Francesc Xavier and follow the road through woodlands to Es Pla del Rei. Despite its barren appearance this point is the closest point to North Africa in the Balearics and the first landfall for many passerine migrants.

La Mola

The most easterly point of the island is the headland at La Mola where small numbers of Audouin's Gull breed, Peregrine Falcon nests on the cliffs and shearwaters are common over the sea. Follow the main road eastwards across the isthmus, through woodlands to the village of El Pilar. From there to the lighthouse the land is open and barren with Rock Sparrow a common breeder. Just north of the lighthouse is a gorge with Thekla Lark and Cirl Bunting.

Larger numbers of Balearic Shearwaters breed here than elsewhere in the archipelago, and there are colonies of European Storm-petrel and Audouin's Gull on islets between Formentera and Ibiza.


Birds you can see here include:

Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cory's Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, European Storm Petrel, Great Cormorant, Mediterranean Shag, Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Squacco Heron, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Greater Flamingo, Common Teal, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, European Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, Red Kite, Western Marsh Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Red-legged Partridge, Common Quail, Water Rail, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Audouin's Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Sandwich Tern, Whiskered Tern, Black Tern, Common Woodpigeon, European Turtle Dove, Common Swift, Eurasian Hoopoe, Greater Short-toed Lark, Thekla Lark, Barn Swallow, Northern House Martin, Tawny Pipit, Tree Pipit, Blue-headed Wagtail, Common Wren, Common Nightingale, Eurasian Robin, Whinchat, European Stonechat, Common Redstart, Northern Wheatear, Western Black-eared Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Eurasian Blackbird, Great Reed Warbler, Balearic Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Common Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher, European Pied Flycatcher, Woodchat Shrike, House Sparrow, Rock Sparrow, European Greenfinch, Eurasian Linnet, Cirl Bunting

Other Wildlife

To do

Site Information

Spring is the best time to visit from a birding point of view with the greatest variety of species present.

History and Use

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Access and Facilities

Formentera has no airport and can only be reached by ferry from Ibiza. There are several trips per day from Ibiza Town and a daily car ferry. Car hire is available but perhaps the best way to explore this island is by bicycle as some of the sites are difficult by car.

Most of the tourist accommodation is found in Es Pujols, conveniently close to Estany Pudent. The town has a wide range of hotels and self-catering apartments and these can also be found in La Savina, Sant Francesc Xavier and Sant Ferran also have basic self-catering accommodation.

Contact Details

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External Links

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Content and images originally posted by Steve