Dear Sir,

I believe that I may have the answer to the mysterious sound reported by Mr & Mrs Billton at the Regal Block in Cala Viñas. The sound described is not sonar nor any other man-made sound, but neither is it supernatural. It is the call of the Scop's Owl (otus scops), a small (20cm) owl found around the Mediterranean region. It feeds at night, on insects. Its call is described as “A constantly repeated short, deep, whistling “tyuh” every 2-3 seconds, audible to 1 km”. I have heard this call while on holiday in Cala Galdana, Menorca and also in Port de Pollenca in Majorca. The sound is particularly piercing and does indeed sound like a sonar “peep”. By copying the whistle it is apparently possible to tempt a calling owl closer, or the bird can be observed quite closely against a lighter background by following the call to its source, often in a pine tree. The Hotel Uyal and the grounds of the Pollenca Park Hotel are good places to hear this delightful bird and I hope to hear its call again in July when we return on holiday to Port de Pollenca.

A. Gilbertson, England (by email).

Freedom of Movement: discrimination against European residents

Dear Sir,

My Swiss wife was also refused permission to live with me in Mallorca when we arrived here. Only an expensive lawyer stopped her deportation and the division of our family. We were accused of a sham marriage, although we had been married seven years before moving to Majorca. Her Swiss medical degree has still, four years later, not been recognised by Spain, even though she practised several years in Germany. We were forced to pay import taxes on cars, which were confiscated by the Guardia Civil until this illegal ransom was paid. My Spanish lawyer appealed against the import taxes, but the Customs and Excise (Aduana) in Palma are steadfastly refusing to reply to him. Where is my money? What do they have to hide? My lawyer has now appealed to the Defensor del Pueblo, whose job it is to ensure that even bureaucrats obey the law. We have also appealed to the European Commission. Who amongst we European residents has not paid illegal import taxes on his car and a big fee to have it registered? Spain must obey both the spirit and the word of the Treaty she signed, but we residents must be vigilant. We have no vote, no political representation in Majorca. We are todays disenfranchised suffragettes. Our only recourse therefore is the media, the European Commission, the Defensor del Pueblo and the law courts. We get the Europe we deserve.

Dr. G. Bonsall, Dental Surgeon, Alcudia (by e-mail).

Unable to visit the Balearics on principle!

Dear editor,

We have recently returned from our holiday at Puerto Pollenca during which time President Antich brought about the tourist tax as from the lst May 2002. We purchase the Daily Bulletin every day when on holiday to keep up with events in Majorca. Last year when we visited, Antich's idea of a tourist tax was in the making. We totally disagree with his idea as we feel we are contributing financially to the island during our holiday. Unfortunately for Puerto Pollenca and ourselves if the tourist tax stays in existence, we will be unable to visit the Balearics on principle. We feel President Antich to be a dictator president as he would not listen to the request not to bring in the tax. Also because of the way that he decided, “no more talking, the tax will begin on 1st May”. We also feel he is irresponsible on reading in the paper that he has worked out how much will be collected and will be spending the money beforehand. Any sensible citizen homemaker would not entertain the idea of purchasing a new kitchen or extension before the money or loan had been agreed. We really do hope that Madrid will quash this lunatic idea, and are wondering if there is anyone who would listen to us in Madrid if we were to send a letter about our feelings. Apart from making our feelings known via the Daily Bulletin, could you advise us of anyone including name and address that we could write to in Madrid please. Back home here in Wales, even Great Britain the public is not as aware of this tourist tax for the Balearics and are nor getting shocks on receiving notification from their tour operators. The cost I have seen as being between 0.50 Euros and 2 Euros per person per day depending on the star rating of your accommodation, that also includes children from the age of 12years. On that note we will close this letter, hoping to hear from you with regard to a name and address we can let our feelings known in Madrid. Regards to all, hoping the weather has warmed up and settled by now.

Mr.& Mrs. Crimmins, South Wales.

Burgled in Majorca hotel

Dear Sir,

Whilst reading your very informative section of the Daily Bulletin on Sunday, April 7, 2002, I was particularly interested in the story “Beware of the gypsy flower sellers” in Palma. This story took me back to three weeks ago when we first arrived for a wonderful holiday in Majorca. We were ecstatic to arrive here from England to be greeted with warm sunshine, friendliness of people and a lovely hotel apartment over looking the sea in Magaluf. We dined at some fabulous restaurants, we were most impressed with the value for money at the local supermarkets and we hired a very cheap and satisfying car to explore the picturesque island. We too were approached by the flower sellers but after holidaying in the Canary Islands last year, we were well aware of this organised crime. However, unfortunately our holiday was to be ruined by a hotel burglary, where along with personal possessions, our laptop computer was stolen from our hotel room. Only two weeks into the new season and us along with five other rooms in the hotel became victims of an organised burglary where hundreds of pounds worth of belongings were stolen. The saddest part of it all is that the burglars must have used a hotel master key as there were no signs of a forced entry, and seemed to know exactly what they wanted to steal. Thankfully we did enjoy ourselves and the magnificent sights Majorca has to offer, but we were deeply disappointed to have our holiday dampened by a severe lack of hotel security. Not only was our privacy invaded, but we also face a financial loss. It is also such a shame that the hotel management and the tour operators have taken no responsibility or seem to be that concerned about the problem. We too want to make visiting tourists aware of the type of callous behaviour they may endure whilst on their long awaited holiday, and is not it a pity that one of the world's most beautiful islands is subjected to such a crime.

Name and address supplied

“Carelessness” is not the issue

Dear Editor,

Following the rescue of Dr. Irons and others in their canyoning incident recently, the reported comments from the Consell de Medioambiente and letter from Dr. Irosn on the cost of such rescues, etc. the accusation of “carelessness” is not I feel the main issue, nor the 6.000 euros of public money spent. Rather, for this sport, and any other of a known dangerous nature (insurance companies clarify them) certain things should be put in place. Show jumping, which our daughter competes in, has rules such as there must be an ambulance in place during the event, although the federation riders etc. are insured, if a horse escapes there is insurance to cover any damage etc. Many will recall the English sailor in Australian waters a few years past who was lost at sea in his boat, the ensuing search involving the Australian navy had a cost factor of around one million U.S. dollars, - and I recall reading an expert's opinion at that time that the boat was totally the wrong design for such areas etc. If that “sailor” had had to have insurance to cover such a rescue in that part of the world, its refusal by insurers should have eliminated the possibility of the event. There is a responsibility for persons engaged in risky activities (pot holing is one often read about) to not put others at risk, i.e. the rescuers, and being insured for a specific pastime will, through the conditions laid down by the same insurance company, minimise the dangers, risks and costs.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Phillips.

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