Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Birdwatching in Peloponnese: Collared Pratincoles@Metochi mudflats, Strofylia Forest

The area of Strofylia is one of the best birdwatching destinations of the western Peloponnese, as it combines several different habitat types (wetlands, maquis scrub, conifer and deciduous woodland) and is home to a great number of rare and endangered birds. The Collared Pratincole is one of them, and the mudflats close to Prokopos Lagoon are an ideal breeding site. 

Furthermore, the extensive reedbed of Lamia, south of Prokopos is home to many species; Little Bitterns, Penduline Tits and Great Reed Warblers, like the juvenile of the photo below.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens:Snapshots of summer in Athens...

The secret colony of Bee-eaters in Athens is doing fine!

Young Great Tits discover the world 

The usually wary Jay perches out in the open

Friday, July 18, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Frogs and terrapins of summer

When the heat makes any birdwatching attempt vain, the small wetlands of Eastern Attica may provide some quite interesting alternatives for nature lovers. Few know that a very rare and critically endangered freshwater fish, the Marathon Minnow, is found in a few locations like Schinias National Park and Vravrona Wetland. Terrapins are widespread, so are the Greek Marsh Frogs, an endemic of southern Greece. 

Balkan Terrapins are the most common terrapin found near Athens, preferring ponds and slow-flowing streams

The Greek Marsh Frog is very widespread, found in every freshwater wetland

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Eleonora's Falcons over Athens!

We may be in July but Eleonora's Falcons' breeding season hasn't started yet. Birds can be still seen flying over the mainland to look for their favourite prey; large insects. Therefore, wandering individuals are often found above the Acropolis, the hill of Lycabettus and other vantage spots of Athens!

The Eleonora's Falcon is an icon of the rocky islets of the Aegean.
However, from April to July it mostly frequent the mainland. 

Apart from the Eleonora's, Alpine Swifts are the most common bird seen flying above your head, if you visit one of the hills of Athens.

It is always a joy to watch the Alpine Swift. A good photo is always a difficult task, however, especially when the summer haze drives the autofocus system crazy!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: The heat is on....

July is traditionally the hottest month of the year and the intense heat prevents most birders from going outdoors in Athens. Birds are still there, however, and albeit less active they still hang around their breeding territories...

 Hoopoes are well known to nest close to human settlements. This year has been a very successful one in terms of breeding success as we have seen more Hoopoes close to man than ever. This one was photographed at Porto Rafti, a densely populated town close to Vravrona Wetland.

On the other hand, Reed Warblers are confined to dense reedbeds, always skulking under cover. This young bird never stepped out in the open, preferring to play hide-and-seek with us...Vravrona Wetland is one of the best sites to look for it.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Hirundine time...

Swallows and martins in flight are always a hard-to-get photography subject. Many hours can be spent before one can take a decent close-up shot of them. The result, of course, is always worth the trouble...This is the best period of year to try for them, especially in the afternoon when birds are flying quite low, looking for insects close to houses. 

Friday, July 04, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Breeding Bee-eaters@Athens!

A small colony of Bee-eaters has been found in Eastern Attica, quite many years after the last breeding attempt of the species in the area. The location, which for the birds' safety will not be disclosed, is ideal as it combines loose ground for easy digging, lots of insects and many trees for perching.

Last known breeding colony was found in Southern Attica in the 1990s. As this is a species that easily changed nesting location from year to year, there might have been other breeding attempts in the pasts that remained unnoticed. Let's hope that these birds will remain faithful to this site! 

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Summer birding@Mt Parnitha

Mt Parnitha is the highest (1,413 m) of the mountains that surround Athens. Despite the damage inflicted by the great wildfire of 2007, dense conifer and mixed woodland covers large tracts, especially in the eastern part, rendering the area a very good birdwatching destination for the hot summer months.

Among the forest dwellers, the Honey Buzzard is soaring in search of hives, nesting in the large pine trees.

The Honey Buzzard can be seen soaring above the forested slopes

This is also the sole area around Athens to hold breeding Lesser Whitethroats, as this small warbler's distribution extends from central Greece northwards.

Lesser Whitethroat is hard to see, even though it frequently comes very close, looking for insects in the dense foliage

The Red-backed Shrike is also a very interesting breeder, as its distribution in southern Greece is patchy.

Red-backed Shrikes in southern Greece prefers clearings in high and middle altitudes.

Parnitha is also very rich in butterflies, therefore it is highly recommended for those who want to enjoy wildlife even in the hottest period of the year. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: More than birds...

Athens has a lot more to offer to nature lovers, apart from birds. A large variety of butterflies, reptiles, amphibians and mammals can be found across the area.

The Greek Marsh Frog Pelophylax kurtmuelleri is the most common frog of Athens, found in rivers, lakes and other freshwater wetlands

The Red Fox is, by far, the most common carnivore. It is also the most easy to see in broad daylight.

The Swallowtail is a very common and widespread butterfly, and one of the most beautiful

Monday, June 23, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: More Scopoli's Shearwater photos

The ferry connection from Ag.Marina, north of Schinias, to Nea Styra (a small port of the island of Evvoia) is most probably the best way to enjoy Cory's (aka Scopoli's) Shearwaters.

You can have really close views of the soaring birds as they effortlessly fly around the boat.

The birds feed on the fish pushed to the surface by the propellers, fighting their way continuously with the Yellow-legged Gulls.

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