Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Birdwatching in Athens: Full day, Apri 17 2019

Tom Beal, an American birder who came to Athens for vacations, wanted to have a full day of birding and make the most of the area's birdlife. Therefore, contacting Greece Bird Tours was the best way to achieve it. Pick up time from his BnB apt in downtown Athens was 5.45 so that the Scops Owl would be our first bird (and Tom's lifer) for the day. We saw a pretty male bird very easily at Lycabettus Hill and then headed off to the northern slopes of Mt Parnitha.

The scrubby areas were full of warblers: Sardinian, Subalpine and Eastern Orphean were singing all over the place.
Subalpine Warbler
There were also Sombre Tits, Cirl Buntings and distant Rock Nuthatches.

Next destination was Oropos Lagoon, Athens' most important brackish wetland. It really lived up to its name as we saw a very close Great Bittern, three beautiful Spoonbills and a Pygmy Cormorant, along with Red-throated Pipits and many more passerines!  

Great Bittern

Pygmy Cormorant and Sandwich Terns

Spoonbills

Red-throated Pipit
We could stay all day there but had to leave for the next stop: Schinias National Park. There, Ferruginous Ducks were very easy to find but we also had great views of Cretzschmar's Buntings on the way from Oropos Lagoon. There were also a lot of Glossy Ibises, Garganeys and Turtle Doves.

Cretzschmar's Bunting

Ferruginous Duck
We left Schinias and headed towards Mt Hymettus, for the Ruppell's Warbler. On the way, we stopped at the fields around Spata which are flooded due to the heavy rains of winter and spring. A Little Crake was the most interesting species and the place was full of hirundines, Coots and Moorhens. We also looked for the Great Spotted Cuckoo but the pouring rain didn't help.

We left Spata fields and drove to Mt Hymettus, where we found the Ruppell's Warbler just minutes after the rain stopped. 
Ruppell's Warbler

It was almost dusk and a short walk around the forested lower slopes yielded the Short-toed Treecreeper, along with Jays, Blackbirds and Great Tits.

The day was over and we managed to record 91 species, an amazing number indeed!



TRIP CHECKLIST

Common Shelduck - Tadorna tadorna
Garganey - Spatula querquedula
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
Ferruginous Duck - Aythya nyroca
Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
Rock Dove - Columba livia
European Turtle Dove - Streptopelia turtur
Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
Common Cuckoo - Cuculus canorus
Alpine Swift - Apus melba
Common Swift - Apus apus
Water Rail - Rallus aquaticus
Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra
Little Crake - Zapornia parva
Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
Eurasian Oystercatcher - Haematopus ostralegus
Grey Plover - Pluvialis squatarola
Kentish Plover - Charadrius alexandrinus
Black-tailed Godwit - Limosa limosa
Little Stint - Calidris minuta
Common Sandpiper - Actitis hypoleucos
Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus
Common Greenshank - Tringa nebularia
Wood Sandpiper - Tringa glareola
Black-headed Gull - Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Mediterranean Gull - Ichthyaetus melanocephalus
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
Little Tern - Sternula albifrons
Sandwich Tern - Thalasseus sandvicensis
Pygmy Cormorant - Microcarbo pygmeus
Great Bittern - Botaurus stellaris
Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea
Purple Heron - Ardea purpurea
Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus
Eurasian Spoonbill - Platalea leucorodia
Osprey - Pandion haliaetus
Short-toed Eagle - Circaetus gallicus
Western Marsh Harrier - Circus aeruginosus
Eurasian Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus
Common Buzzard - Buteo buteo
Eurasian Scops Owl - Otus scops
Little Owl - Athene noctua
Eurasian Hoopoe - Upupa epops
European Bee-eater - Merops apiaster
Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Eurasian Jay - Garrulus glandarius
Common Magpie - Pica pica
Eurasian Jackdaw - Corvus monedula
Hooded Crow - Corvus cornix
Common Raven - Corvus corax
Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
Sand Martin - Riparia riparia
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Red-rumped Swallow - Cecropis daurica
Common House Martin - Delichon urbicum
Sombre Tit - Poecile lugubris
Great Tit - Parus major
Long-tailed Tit - Aegithalos caudatus
Western Rock Nuthatch - Sitta neumayer
Short-toed Treecreeper - Certhia brachydactyla
Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti
Wood Warbler - Phylloscopus sibilatrix
Common Chiffchaff - Phylloscopus collybita
Sedge Warbler - Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Eurasian Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Great Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
Eurasian Blackcap - Sylvia atricapilla
Eastern Orphean Warbler - Sylvia crassirostris
RΓΌppell's Warbler - Sylvia ruppeli
Subalpine Warbler - Sylvia cantillans
Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
Common Whitethroat - Sylvia communis
European Robin - Erithacus rubecula
Common Nightingale - Luscinia megarhynchos
Whinchat - Saxicola rubetra
European Stonechat - Saxicola rubicola
Black-eared Wheatear - Oenanthe hispanica
Eurasian Blackbird - Turdus merula
Grey Wagtail - Motacilla cinerea
Western Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla flava
Red-throated Pipit - Anthus cervinus
Common Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs
European Greenfinch - Chloris chloris
Common Linnet - Linaria cannabina
European Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
Cirl Bunting - Emberiza cirlus
Cretzschmar's Bunting - Emberiza caesia
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus


Monday, April 08, 2019

Birdwatching in Athens: Full day trip, April 5 2019

Spring migration is at its best and a full day around Athens is certain to yield a good number species.

Chris and Pam from Washington DC had a day free while in Athens and the initial arrangement was for Saturday, April 6 but we had to change it to Friday, 5 because the weather forecast was not very optimistic about Saturday.

We started very early on Friday morning (05.45) because we searched for the Scops Owl at Lycabettus Hill, a quite easy task actually as by 06.15 we were already heading to our next stop: Mt Hymettus.

On Mt Hymettus, we visited the Aesthetic Forest of Kaisariani to look for the Tawny Owl and passerines like the Short-toed Treecreeper and the Firecrest. We managed to get great views of all three along with lots of Blackbirds, Jays, Great Tits and a couple of Cirl Buntings.

It was time to move to Vravrona Wetland, the very beautiful site of the east coast. Two Little Crakes were seen for a while as they were foraging in the river Erasinos flooded banks. Mute Swans, along with Great, Little Egret, Grey and Night Herons were also seen at the estuary. The most interesting passerine seen was the Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, while several other warlblers (Cetti's, Sardinian, Sedge, Willow and Chiffchaff) were also present.

Little Crake

Eastern Bonelli's Warbler
Spata Fields was the next destination; a very rainy winter and early spring has transformed large part of the cultivated area to a vast freshwater lagoon. Dozens of Ruffs and Wood Sandpipers were there, along with Garganeys, Little Grebes, Coots and Moorhens. The surrounding dry land was full of migrants like the Yellow Wagtail, the Tawny Pipit and wheatears (Northern and Black-eared). Two Short-toed Eagles passed through and a pair of Great Spotted Cuckoos passed overhead. 

The next destination was even richer in birds. Schinias National Park, the most importand freshwater wetland of Athens was full of waders: Greenshanks, Spotted Redshanks, Black-winged Stilts, Black-tailed Godwits, Wood, Green and Marsh Sandpipers were easily seen in the area. Migrant Garganeys and breeding Ferruginous Ducks were also widespread along with Little Egrets, Purple Herons and Glossy Ibises. 

Spotted Redshank

Glossy Ibis

Ferruginous Duck
It was time to leave Schinias and make a quick pass on Mt Penteli to look for the Cretzschmar's Bunting; we found it quite easily and headed to Mt Hymettus again, this time to the top of the mountain for the Ruppell's Warbler. The Ruppell's was, again, very cooperative and a Chukar was the last bird to be seen by us. The total number of bird species was 86, a full day indeed!

Ruppell's Warbler

Chukar

A last-minute 'selfie' 
TRIP CHECKLIST

Mute Swan - Cygnus olor
Garganey - Spatula querquedula
Northern Shoveler - Spatula clypeata
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
Eurasian/Green-winged Teal - Anas crecca
Ferruginous Duck - Aythya nyroca
Chukar - Alectoris chukar
Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
Rock Dove - Columba livia
Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
Great Spotted Cuckoo - Clamator glandarius
Common/Pallid Swift - Apus apus/pallidus
Water Rail - Rallus aquaticus
Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra
Little Crake - Zapornia parva
Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
Little Ringed Plover - Charadrius dubius
Black-tailed Godwit - Limosa limosa
Ruff - Calidris pugnax
Common Snipe - Gallinago gallinago
Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus
Spotted Redshank - Tringa erythropus
Common Greenshank - Tringa nebularia
Marsh Sandpiper - Tringa stagnatilis
Wood Sandpiper - Tringa glareola
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
Caspian Tern - Hydroprogne caspia
Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea
Purple Heron - Ardea purpurea
Great White Egret - Ardea alba
Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
Black-crowned Night-Heron - Nycticorax nycticorax
Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus
Short-toed Eagle - Circaetus gallicus
Western Marsh Harrier - Circus aeruginosus
Eurasian Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus
Common Buzzard - Buteo buteo
Eurasian Scops Owl - Otus scops
Little Owl - Athene noctua
Tawny Owl - Strix aluco
Eurasian Hoopoe - Upupa epops
Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus
Ring-necked Parakeet - Psittacula krameri
Eurasian Jay - Garrulus glandarius
Common Magpie - Pica pica
Hooded Crow - Corvus cornix
Woodlark - Lullula arborea
Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Coal Tit - Periparus ater
Great Tit - Parus major
Long-tailed Tit - Aegithalos caudatus
Short-toed Treecreeper - Certhia brachydactyla
Common Firecrest - Regulus ignicapilla
Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti
Eastern Bonelli's Warbler - Phylloscopus orientalis
Willow Warbler - Phylloscopus trochilus
Common Chiffchaff - Phylloscopus collybita
Sedge Warbler - Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Great Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
Eurasian Blackcap - Sylvia atricapilla
RΓΌppell's Warbler - Sylvia ruppeli
Subalpine Warbler - Sylvia cantillans
Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
European Robin - Erithacus rubecula
European Stonechat - Saxicola rubicola
Northern Wheatear - Oenanthe oenanthe
Black-eared Wheatear - Oenanthe hispanica
Song Thrush - Turdus philomelos
Eurasian Blackbird - Turdus merula
Western Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla flava
Tawny Pipit - Anthus campestris
Meadow Pipit - Anthus pratensis
Common Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs
European Greenfinch - Chloris chloris
European Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
European Serin - Serinus serinus
Eurasian Siskin - Spinus spinus
Corn Bunting - Emberiza calandra
Cirl Bunting - Emberiza cirlus
Cretzschmar's Bunting - Emberiza caesia
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus
Eurasian Tree Sparrow - Passer montanus




Monday, December 17, 2018

Birdwatching in Athens: Family birding tour, Dec 8 2018

Svante and Elisabeth are a lovely couple from Sweden. They came to Athens for a short holiday, along with their 5-year old son, Oscar. Despite his age, Oscar has joined his parents on birding trips several times and this trip was no exception. Of course, the trip was adjusted to cover a toddler's needs as well and the pace was more relaxed but by no means not focused on seeing as many birds as possible.

Starting from the hotel at 08.00 and headed to Schinias National Park, looking for the site's specialities of the season like the Pygmy Cormorant, the Ferruginous Duck, the Red-crested Pochard and the Moustached Warbler. We saw them all at the Olympic Rowing Center quite effortlessly. A very nice Eared Grebe was lookin for food quite close and there were also a lot of other waterbirds (Coots, Cormorants, Gray Herons etc).

Red-crested Pochards
Eared (aka Black-necked) Grebe
Svante, Elizabeth and Oscar at the rowing center



We left the rowing center and searched the central marsh for raptors. We had good views of Marsh Harriers, Common Buzzards, Kestrels and Sparrowhawks but no sign of the Great Spotted Eagle. Lots of passerines, however, made our search very productive and kept as quite busy. 

As the Rock Bunting was another target species, we headed south and reached Vravrona Wetland. It was late noon and time was running out but we managed to find 3 Rock Buntings! 

The trip was over and we managed to find 50 species, a great number for an easy-going trip. 

TRIP CHECKLIST

Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
Red-crested Pochard - Netta rufina
Ferruginous Duck - Aythya nyroca
Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
Eared Grebe - Podiceps nigricollis
Rock Pigeon - Columba livia
Eurasian Collared-Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
Water Rail - Rallus aquaticus
Eurasian Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra
Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus
Black-headed Gull - Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
Pygmy Cormorant - Microcarbo pygmeus
Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo
Gray Heron - Ardea cinerea
Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
Eurasian Marsh-Harrier - Circus aeruginosus
Eurasian Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus
Common Buzzard - Buteo buteo
Eurasian Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Eurasian Magpie - Pica pica
Hooded Crow - Corvus cornix
Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
Great Tit - Parus major
Western Rock Nuthatch - Sitta neumayer
Eurasian Wren - Troglodytes troglodytes
Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti
Common Chiffchaff - Phylloscopus collybita
Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
Eurasian Blackcap - Sylvia atricapilla
Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
European Robin - Erithacus rubecula
Black Redstart - Phoenicurus ochruros
European Stonechat - Saxicola rubicola
Song Thrush - Turdus philomelos
Eurasian Blackbird - Turdus merula
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris
Dunnock - Prunella modularis
White Wagtail - Motacilla alba
Meadow Pipit - Anthus pratensis
Water Pipit - Anthus spinoletta
Common Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs
European Greenfinch - Chloris chloris
European Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
European Serin - Serinus serinus
Corn Bunting - Emberiza calandra
Rock Bunting - Emberiza cia
Reed Bunting - Emberiza schoeniclus
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus





Saturday, November 10, 2018

Birdwatching in Athens: Express Birding Trip Nov 2, 2018

Marie is a French journalist who came to Greece for a few days' break from her job. She is not a birdwatcher but she wanted to get to know better of the Athenian wildlife. Even though it was literally a last-minute call as she contacted us on Friday Nov, 2 morning and wanted to have a tour on the same day, we could arrange a few hours' visit to Schinias National Park, Athens' most important freshwater wetland and a very nice place for complete amateur birders.

We focused on the Olympic Rowing Center, as the two lakes are easy to scan with the field scope and there are a lot of different birds around, from the very common Coot to the rare Pygmy Cormorant.

Coot

Pygmy Cormorant
Ferruginous Ducks were also very easy to see along with Common Pochards, Wigeons and a few Garganeys

Ferruginous Ducks

Garganey
They were even Barn Swallows; a flock of c.20 was hawking overhead while typical winter visitors like the Black Redstart and the White Wagtail had already taken their wintering posts. 

After watching waterfowl at the lake, Marie is looking at the details of a beautiful Black Redstart
Male Black Redstart


In less than three hours, we managed to see and hear 42 species! Another very successful tour was completed! 

TRIP CHECKLIST
Garganey - Spatula querquedula
Eurasian Wigeon - Mareca penelope
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
Common Pochard - Aythya ferina
Ferruginous Duck - Aythya nyroca
Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
Eurasian Collared-Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
Water Rail - Rallus aquaticus
Eurasian Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
Pygmy Cormorant - Microcarbo pygmeus
Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo
Gray Heron - Ardea cinerea
Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
Eurasian Marsh-Harrier - Circus aeruginosus
Eurasian Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus
Common Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis
Eurasian Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Eurasian Magpie - Pica pica
Hooded Crow - Corvus cornix
Eurasian Skylark - Alauda arvensis
Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti
Common Chiffchaff - Phylloscopus collybita
Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
Eurasian Blackcap - Sylvia atricapilla
Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
European Robin - Erithacus rubecula
Black Redstart - Phoenicurus ochruros
Eurasian Blackbird - Turdus merula
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris
Gray Wagtail - Motacilla cinerea
White Wagtail - Motacilla alba
Meadow Pipit - Anthus pratensis
Water Pipit - Anthus spinoletta
Common Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs
European Greenfinch - Chloris chloris
Eurasian Linnet - Linaria cannabina
Corn Bunting - Emberiza calandra
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus




Thursday, October 25, 2018

Birdwatching in Athens: Half-day, October 18 2018

Joe Farkas came to Athens because his wife had to attend a business conference. He had some time to spend on his own so he contacted us to show him the feathered attractions of the area. Since this was a half-day tour, the itinerary included Oropos Lagoon and Schinias National Park.

We started at 07.00 and headed to Oropos Lagoon, the most important coastal wetland of Athens. Our target species included the Mediterranean and the Slender-billed Gull and the Kentish Plover.

We managed to have very good views of all the Gulls of the area: Mediterranean, Black-headed, Yellow-legged and Slender-billed.

All the gulls of the lagoon in one picture
But there were more new birds to Joe to see: Kingfishers, a Great Flamingo and at least two Red-throated Pipits, a regular but scarce passage migrant. We also managed to see Sardinian Warblers in the surrounding scrubs and a very close Mediterranean Shag as we started driving the coastal road, heading for Schinias National Park.

Mediterranean Shag (juvenie)
On our way to Schinias we stopped to look for Sombre Tits and Cirl Buntings. We got a very nice view of the bunting and a brief  view of the tit in flight.

Schinias National Park had another great surprise for both of us. While looking for waterfowl at the Olympic Rowing Center, a small group of three Bearded Reedlings came right in front of us! This is a very rare sighting in Athens, as the last confirmed record is from the 1990s. 

Male Bearded Reedling
Among the new birds for Joe - and there were a lot - the Ferruginous Duck, the Pygmy Cormorant (both seen at the rowing center) and the Cetti's Warbler were the most interesting.

Ferruginous Duck

Pygmy Cormorant and Ferruginous Duck

By 14:00. we had alread seen and heard 56 species; it was time to head back to Athens. Joe had added a good number of lifers in just a few hours and wanted to tell all about his experience to his wife! Antoher great birding trip was over. 





TRIP CHECKLIST


Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
Northern Pintail - Anas acuta
Ferruginous Duck - Aythya nyroca
Greater Flamingo - Phoenicopterus roseus
Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
Eurasian Collared-Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
Eurasian Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra
Black-bellied Plover - Pluvialis squatarola
Kentish Plover - Charadrius alexandrinus
Common Ringed Plover - Charadrius hiaticula
Sanderling - Calidris alba
Dunlin - Calidris alpina
Little Stint - Calidris minuta
Common Redshank - Tringa totanus
Slender-billed Gull - Chroicocephalus genei
Black-headed Gull - Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Mediterranean Gull - Ichthyaetus melanocephalus
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
Sandwich Tern - Thalasseus sandvicensis
Pygmy Cormorant - Microcarbo pygmeus
European Shag - Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Gray Heron - Ardea cinerea
Great Egret - Ardea alba
Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
Eurasian Marsh-Harrier - Circus aeruginosus
Common Buzzard - Buteo buteo
Common Kingfisher - Alcedo atthis
Eurasian Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Eurasian Jay - Garrulus glandarius
Eurasian Magpie - Pica pica
Hooded Crow - Corvus cornix
Bearded Reedling - Panurus biarmicus
Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti
Common Chiffchaff - Phylloscopus collybita
Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
European Robin - Erithacus rubecula
Black Redstart - Phoenicurus ochruros
European Stonechat - Saxicola rubicola
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris
Grey Wagtail - Motacilla cinerea
Western Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla flava
White Wagtail - Motacilla alba
Meadow Pipit - Anthus pratensis
Red-throated Pipit - Anthus cervinus
Water Pipit - Anthus spinoletta
Cirl Bunting - Emberiza cirlus
European Greenfinch - Chloris chloris
European Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus
Tree Sparrow - Passer montanus

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Birdwatching in Greece: Athens & Mt Parnassos, Oct 6-7 2018

On this two-day trip we had the honor and pleasure to guide Mrs Jeanne Dubi, Executive officer in Sarasota Audubon Society, Florida.

We had a full day to explore Athens, while on the second we drove to Mt Parnassos.This time of the year most of the migrants are already gone and most of the winter visitors have not yet arrived; nevertheless, we managed to see 65 species.

DAY 1 – Athens
Our day started very well seeing a very confiding Scops Owl in Lykavittos Hill. From the same spot, we heard the characteristic call of Alpine Swifts (breeding in Lykavittos) and decided to wait until the sunrise to see them.Very few Alpine Swifts can be seen at this time of the year but in Lykavittos Hill they stay till late October, so this would be the chance to see them. Unfortunately, by the time the sun lit their nesting spot they had already left it. We decided to give it another try in late evening when they would have returned to roost.

Next stop was the Aesthetic Forest of Kaisariani in the foothills of Mt Hymettus (or Imittos). The day was very windy and this resulted to low bird activity. We did, however, managed to see and hear Robins, Willow Warblers, Firecrests, Jays, a Tawny Owl etc.

Our next stop was Oropos Lagoon, north-east of Athens. Our target species was the Slender-billed Gull and the Garganey. After some extensive search among a few dozen Mediterranean and Black-headed Gulls, we managed to see a first-winter Slender-billed. The Garganey proved to be much easier as 4 individuals were flying above our heads for some time giving us enough time to see the key characteristics of this species. Some other species we saw were: Kentish Plover, Redshank, Grey Wagtail, Sanderling, Crested Lark, Red-Backed Shrike etc.

Kentish Plover


It was time to move on for our next destination. Schinias NP comprises of a large freshwater wetland, a coastal pine forest, a freshwater spring, a peninsula, a hill and a magnificent bay and is the most important coastal ecosystem of Attica and belongs to the Natura 2000 network. The Park also includes the Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Center. Our target species were: Sombre Tit, Ferruginous Duck, (Eurasian) Reed Warbler and (Eurasian) Penduline Tit.

Ferruginous Duck

We had stunning views of both Sombre Tit and Ferruginous Duck. The Reed Warbler was difficult to find as most of them already migrated south, but we finally managed to see one hoping around in the tamarisk trees.Some other species were: Little Grebe, Cirl Bunting, Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, Crested Lark etc.

Last stop for the day was Lykavittos Hill again for Alpine Swifts. We reached the area a little while after sunset and a flock of about 40 Alpine Swifts were flying low above our heads. Another lifer for Jeanne and what a great ending of a very successful day.

DAY 2-Mt Parnassos
Next morning we started very early as we had to drive 2,5 hours to reach Mt Parnassos.On the way we stopped at Kopaida plain, a very productive area all year round. Some of the species seen there were: Syrian Woodpecker, Common Buzzard, Crested Lark, Cetti’s Warbler, Kestrel, Jackdaw etc.

On the way to Mt Parnassos we made a 15min drive deviation to visit the ancient site of Delphi. There we had great time seeing the famous archaeological site and had some birding also. Jeanne had another lifer from a very close distance: the Western Rock Nuthatch. Other species were: Crag Martin, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Great Tit, Chaffinch etc.

Rock Nuthatch

We left Delphi and headed for higher elevation in search of woodpeckers. That proved to be a difficult task, but we finally managed to see the Black Woodpecker, another lifer for Jeanne. We were lucky enough to see a second individual standing on top of a tree in clear view and short distance! On a tree nearby was a Red Squirrel (in Greece looks more black than red). We then headed for the alpine zone to search for Alpine Choughs. Unfortunately, we had no luck with them even we tried hard for 2-3 hours.

Some other species were: Rock Bunting, Black Redstart, Wood Warbler, Northern Wheatear etc.
We ended this trip having a wonderful dinner with local food at a taverna in Tithorea which is located at the north-east hillsides of Parnassos.

TRIP CHECKLIST

Mallard
Garganey
Ferruginous Duck
Little Grebe
(Great) Cormorant
(European) Shag
Little Egret
Great Egret
Grey Heron
Common Buzzard
(Common) Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
(Common) Moorhen
Coot
Kentish Plover
Grey (Black-bellied) Plover
Ruff
Sanderling
(Common) Redshank
(Common) Greenshank
Black-headed Gull
Slender-billed Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Yellow-legged Gull
Sandwich Tern
Rock Dove (wild)
Collared Dove
Tawny Owl
(Eurasian) Scops Owl
(Common) Swift
Alpine Swift
(Common) Kingfisher
Black Woodpecker
Syrian Woodpecker
Crested Lark
(Eurasian) Crag Martin
Barn Swallow
Grey Wagtail
(European) Robin
Black Redstart
(Common) Stonechat
(Common) Blackbird
(Northern) Wheatear
Sardinian Warbler
Cetti's Warbler
(European) Reed Warbler
Willow Warbler
Wood Warbler
Firecrest
Spotted Flycatcher
Great Tit
Coal Tit
Sombre Tit
(Western) Rock Nuthatch
(Eurasian) Nuthatch
Red-backed Shrike
Magpie
(Eurasian) Jay
(Western) Jackdaw
Hooded Crow
(Common) Starling
House Sparrow
(Eurasian) Tree Sparrow
(Common) Chaffinch
(Common) Linnet
Cirl Bunting
Rock Bunting


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Birdwatching in Greece: Summer birding 2018

The first things that come to everyone's mind regarding summer in Greece are sea and sun. Birding is supposed to be not as pleasant or productive during the June-August period. Is this, however, the case?

Well, certainly not! Greece Bird tours can plan a trip you will never forget no matter the season. This summer, we travelled to Lake Dystos, Messolonghi Lagoon, Mts Parnassos, Dirfy and Parnonas and all around Athens and made a lot of birders from all over the world happy! 

We managed to see many breeding specialties of Greece like the Ruppell's Warbler, the Cretzschmar's Bunting, the Olive-tree Warbler, the Sombre Tit, the Rock Nuthatch and the Rufous Bush Robin.


Rufous Bush Robin (or RB Chat), Messolonghi Lagoon
Cretzschmar's Bunting@Mt Penteli
We also had the pleasure of seeing really impresive birds like the Dalmatian Pelican, the Pygmy Cormorant, the Golden Eagle, the Eleonora's Falcon, the Black Woodpecker and the Eagle Owl. 

Dalmatian Pelican@Messolonghi Lagoon
Black Woodpecker@Mt Parnassos
Eleonora's Falcon@Lake Dystos
We even managed to see both Mediterranean marine specialties; the Yelkouan and the Scopoli's Shearwaters. 

Yelkouan Shearwater@South Evoikos Gulf

Scopoli's Shearwater@South Evoikos Gulf


These were just a few from the total of c.200 species we had the chance to see during the summer birding tours. But the best sight for us was the happy face of the people who chose us for their Greek birding experience. We are looking forward to seeing them all again!




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