One of the most unforgettable experiences of my holidays in Mallorca was the close encounters with shags. They sat on the rocks near the beach preening or drying their wings, or just standing still, upright like dark statues. Often people would sit on the rocks or swim by them and they would take no notice most of the time. While I was snorkelling, I saw a young one take to the water and followed it, and it allowed me to watch its diving prowess at close range, as it swam to the sea floor looking for food. Absolutely magic!
A little group of Audouin’s gulls were regulars on the beach of Port de Pollenca, about five adults and a few subadults. During the day, they would mostly be loafing about on a line of rocks off the beach, at dusk, when the beach was quieter, they would patrol looking for scraps amongst the parasols, by groups of people having a picnic or on the tide line. Despite their approachability, Audouin’s gull is a vulnerable species, only present in the Mediterranean, with some discrete breeding colonies, some of them in Mallorca. Compared to Herring gulls, their dark eyes give them a gentle expression, and the colour of their mantle is paler. Overall, they look rather elegant. I based this watercolour on one of my photos, taken from the shore.