Monday, July 15, 2019

Birdwatching in Greece: Athens Full Day Trip, June 8 2019

Rob Van Epps in an enthusiastic nature lover who as on vacation on the island of Santorini and was so determined to see some cool birds that he flew from Santorini on Saturday, Jun 6 to go birding with us.

Picking him from the airport early in the morning, we headed straight to the adjacent farmland, to look for the Black-headed Bunting and the Rufous Bush Robin. We found both of them and had some really nice photos.

Rufous Bush Robin

Black-headed Bunting
There were also lots of Common Swifts, Crested Larks, Barn Swallows, as well as a Little Grebe and a Moorhen in a ditch close to the airport. 

We then moved north, to the still-flooded Spata fields. The Ferruginous Ducks were one of the highlights along with the Black-winged Stilts, the Great Reed Warblers and the Zitting Cisticolas. A Short-toed Eagle flew overhead while, Alpine and Common Swifts were flying around all the time. 

Ferruginous Duck
It was time for one of the Athenian specialties: the Ruppell's Warbler. We drove west and reached Mt Hymettus, where we managed to find one bright male at its usual post. 
Ruppell's Warbler
It was time for Mt Parnitha, Athens' highest mountain. The main target, the Sombre Tit, was found rather easily and along with that we saw Lesser Whitethroats (the sole breeding area in Athens), Red-backed Shrikes, Subalpine Warblers, Black Redstarts, Woodlarks, Nightingales, lots of finches and Cirl Buntings, among other species. 

Subalpine Warbler
Leaving Mt Parnitha, we headed east and reached Mt Penteli. Thre, we saw Rock Nuthatches, Cretzschmar's Buntings and a Tawny Pipit, which is a rare summer visitor to Athens. There were also Blue Rock Thrushes, Black-eared Wheatears, Stonechats etc. 

Tawny Pipit

The last stop for the day was Vravrona wetland. There we found Green Sandpipers, most probably very early fall migrants, Little Egrets, a Peregrine Falcon with prey in its tallons (most probably a chick Black-winged Stilt from Spata Fields or Artemis Lagoon), dozens of swifts (including Pallid), Cetti's and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and Goldfinches.  

The day was over and the tally was 57 species. Rob was very happy to have seen many lifers in a single day! 
                                                                   
TRIP CHECKLIST

Ferruginous Duck - Aythya nyroca
Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
Alpine Swift - Apus melba
Common Swift - Apus apus
Pallid Swift - Apus pallidus
Water Rail - Rallus aquaticus
Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra
Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
Short-toed Eagle - Circaetus gallicus
Common Buzzard - Buteo buteo
Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus
Red-backed Shrike - Lanius collurio
Common Magpie - Pica pica
Hooded Crow - Corvus cornix
Woodlark - Lullula arborea
Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Common House Martin - Delichon urbicum
Coal Tit - Periparus ater
Sombre Tit - Poecile lugubris
Great Tit - Parus major
Western Rock Nuthatch - Sitta neumayer
Short-toed Treecreeper - Certhia brachydactyla
Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - Iduna pallida
Eurasian Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Great Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
Lesser Whitethroat - Sylvia curruca
RΓΌppell's Warbler - Sylvia ruppeli
Subalpine Warbler - Sylvia cantillans
Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
Common Whitethroat - Sylvia communis
Spotted Flycatcher - Muscicapa striata
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin - Cercotrichas galactotes
Common Nightingale - Luscinia megarhynchos
Black Redstart - Phoenicurus ochruros
Blue Rock Thrush - Monticola solitarius
European Stonechat - Saxicola rubicola
Northern Wheatear - Oenanthe oenanthe
Black-eared Wheatear - Oenanthe hispanica
Eurasian Blackbird - Turdus merula
Tawny Pipit - Anthus campestris
Common Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs
Common Linnet - Linaria cannabina
European Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
European Serin - Serinus serinus
Black-headed Bunting - Emberiza melanocephala
Cirl Bunting - Emberiza cirlus
Cretzschmar's Bunting - Emberiza caesia
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus




Monday, July 08, 2019

Birdwatching in Greece: Western and Central Greece Tour, May 17-21 2019 Day 5

DAY 5

On the last day of the tour, we visited several birding hot spots around Athens; the first site was Cape Sounio, where we found some Chukars, a Peregrine Falcon and a distant Bonelli's Eagle, at least 200 Yelkouan Shearwaters off the coast, Bee-eaters and Alpine Swifts, among other birds.

Chukar

Peregrine Falcon
From Cape Sounio, we drove north to Vravrona Wetland for a quick stop and got lucky enough to have great views of a juv Great Spotted Cuckoo and a very close Citrine Wagtail! 

Citrine Wagtail

Great Spotted Cuckoo
Next stop was Artemis Lagoon, where we watched Black-winged Stilts, Little Grebes, Coots and lots of hirundines. 

House Martin

We also made a brief stop at Rafina's Megalo Rema river mouth for a new species for the trip (Little Ringed Plover) and the flooded Spata fields for some more Ferruginous Ducks, a Great Reed Warbler and a Whiskered Tern. 

Early in the afternoon, the Harris' couple was dropped off at a hotel close to the airport as they had to take a very early flight next day. The total count for these five days was 137 species (including those heard), an impressive number made possible by the selection of so many different habitats. Wade and Karren, we look forward to seeing you again in Greece for some more exciting birding! 

DAY 5 CHECKLIST

Ferruginous Duck - Aythya nyroca
Chukar - Alectoris chukar
Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
Rock Dove - Columba livia
Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
Great Spotted Cuckoo - Clamator glandarius
Alpine Swift - Apus melba
Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra
Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
Little Ringed Plover - Charadrius dubius
Ruff - Calidris pugnax
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
Whiskered Tern - Chlidonias hybrida
Cory's Shearwater - Calonectris diomedea
Yelkouan Shearwater - Puffinus yelkouan
European Shag - Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea
Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
Bonelli's Eagle - Aquila fasciata
Common Buzzard - Buteo buteo
Eurasian Hoopoe - Upupa epops
European Bee-eater - Merops apiaster
Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus
Common Magpie - Pica pica
Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Common House Martin - Delichon urbicum
Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - Iduna pallida
Great Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
European Stonechat - Saxicola rubicola
Citrine Wagtail - Motacilla citreola
European Greenfinch - Chloris chloris
Black-headed Bunting - Emberiza melanocephala
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus








Friday, July 05, 2019

Birdwatching in Greece: Western and Central Greece Tour, 17-21 May 2019 Day 4

DAY 4

We had a very early start on the fourth day of the trip as the first target bird was the Scops Owl and we had to be at Lycabettus Hill before dawn. So, at 05.30 we reached the hill and in just a few minutes we managed to find one Scops Owl and start our drive towards Agia Marina Port, close to Schinias National Park, as our main birding hotspot would be Lake Dystos in the island of Evvoia.

We made a stop at Schinias and saw Ferruginous Ducks, Glossy Ibis, Zitting Cisticolas among others. Reaching the port of Agia Marina, the first great sighting came from the port: three Mediterranean Monk Seals!

Mediterranean Monk Seals
On our way to Nea Styra port, we managed to see Scopoli's and Yelkouan shearwaters, shags and rock doves. 

Scopoli's Shearwater
We reached Nea Styra and drove to Lake Dystos; when we reached the lake, the first surprise came from the surrounding fields where a flock of Rosy Starlings were feeding on a mulberry tree stand. 

Rosy Starling
The fields also held large numbers of Black-headed Buntings, Crested and Short-toed Larks, finches and warblers, while Lesser Kestrels, Eleonora's and Red-footed Falcons were foraging overhead. 

Red-footed Falcon

Short-toed Lark
In the lake, Mute Swans and Mallards, Grey Herons and Marsh Harriers were the most common birds seen. We left the lake and drove uphill to Mt Koskina in the west. We looked for Cretzschmar's Buntings and found several birds, along with lots of Black-eared Wheatears, Rock Nuthatches, Linnets, Sombre Tits and Subalpine, Sardinian and Eastern Orphean Warblers. 

Cretschmar's Bunting
Early in the afternoon, we drove back to Nea Styra and took the ferry to Agia Marina. We visited Schinias National Park again, this time to find the secretive Water Rail. Even though we heard a lot, none was "bold" enoigh to come out of the dense vegetation. At least we saw Ferruginoud Ducks, Little Bitterns, Little Grebes and heard a couple of Scops Owls at dusk. That was the end of the fourth day of birding and most of the target birds were found!

TRIP CHECKLIST

Mute Swan - Cygnus olor
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
Ferruginous Duck - Aythya nyroca
Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
Great Crested Grebe - Podiceps cristatus
Rock Dove - Columba livia
European Turtle Dove - Streptopelia turtur
Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
Water Rail - Rallus aquaticus
Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra
Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
Scopoli's Shearwater - Calonectris diomedea
Yelkouan Shearwater - Puffinus yelkouan
European Shag - Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Little Bittern - Ixobrychus minutus
Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea
Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
Squacco Heron - Ardeola ralloides
Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus
Western Marsh Harrier - Circus aeruginosus
Common Buzzard - Buteo buteo
Eurasian Scops Owl - Otus scops
Little Owl - Athene noctua
European Bee-eater - Merops apiaster
Lesser Kestrel - Falco naumanni
Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Red-footed Falcon - Falco vespertinus
Eleonora's Falcon - Falco eleonorae
Woodchat Shrike - Lanius senator
Eurasian Golden Oriole - Oriolus oriolus
Common Magpie - Pica pica
Hooded Crow - Corvus cornix
Common Raven - Corvus corax
Greater Short-toed Lark - Calandrella brachydactyla
Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Sombre Tit - Poecile lugubris
Great Tit - Parus major
Eurasian Penduline Tit - Remiz pendulinus
Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - Iduna pallida
Eurasian Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Great Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
Eastern Orphean Warbler - Sylvia crassirostris
Subalpine Warbler - Sylvia cantillans
Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
European Stonechat - Saxicola rubicola
Black-eared Wheatear - Oenanthe hispanica
Eurasian Blackbird - Turdus merula
Rose-coloured Starling - Pastor roseus
European Greenfinch - Chloris chloris
Common Linnet - Linaria cannabina
European Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
Black-headed Bunting - Emberiza melanocephala
Corn Bunting - Emberiza calandra
Cirl Bunting - Emberiza cirlus
Cretzschmar's Bunting - Emberiza caesia
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus













Monday, July 01, 2019

Birdwatching in Greece: Western and Central Greece Tour, 17-21 May 2019 Day 3

DAY 3

Leaving Arachova, we drove north and passed Livadi Plateau, looking for birds in the Greek Fir forest. Lots of passerines: finches, tits, firecrests and wrens were abundant but we also saw hoopoes and Red-backed Shrikes, as well as lots of Cirl Buntings.

Cirl Bunting

Wren
The main targets for today, however, were north of Parnassos, more specifically close to Mt Oiti. We visited Gorgopotamos river and Sperchios river to look for the Dipper and the Levant Sparrowhawk; both species were found and we had great views of them! We also saw a nice Nightingale, singing in the dense riparian forest of Sperchios

Dipper

Levant Sparrowhawk
At late noon, we drove south to reach Athens and stopped on the way at Kopaida Plain, just to enjoy the flocks of the Bee-eaters and the dozens of Great Reed Warblers in the ditches, among others.

Great Reed Warbler

Bee-eater
Our targets for the day were found so it was time to relax and start building our day list; we visited Lake Paralimni and found some new birds for the trip like the Great Crested Grebe, the Lesser Grey Shrike and the...Coot.

Late in the afternoon, we reached Athens and had a very short visit to Lycabettus Hill, seeing a very close Hoopoe and several Alpine Swifts. It was not dark enough for the Scops Owl and our plan was to visit the same hill the next day so we called it a day. And what a day it was! 

Alpine Swift

Hoopoe


TRIP CHECKLIST
Great Crested Grebe - Podiceps cristatus
Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
Alpine Swift - Apus melba
Common Swift - Apus apus
Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
White Stork - Ciconia ciconia
Levant Sparrowhawk - Accipiter brevipes
Common Buzzard - Buteo buteo
Eurasian Hoopoe - Upupa epops
European Bee-eater - Merops apiaster
Syrian Woodpecker - Dendrocopos syriacus
Eurasian Green Woodpecker - Picus viridis
Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Red-backed Shrike - Lanius collurio
Lesser Grey Shrike - Lanius minor
Common Magpie - Pica pica
Eurasian Jackdaw - Corvus monedula
Hooded Crow - Corvus cornix
Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Red-rumped Swallow - Cecropis daurica
Coal Tit - Periparus ater
Great Tit - Parus major
Western Rock Nuthatch - Sitta neumayer
Eurasian Wren - Troglodytes troglodytes
White-throated Dipper - Cinclus cinclus
Common Firecrest - Regulus ignicapilla
Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - Iduna pallida
Eurasian Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Great Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Eurasian Blackcap - Sylvia atricapilla
Lesser Whitethroat - Sylvia curruca
Subalpine Warbler - Sylvia cantillans
Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
European Robin - Erithacus rubecula
Common Nightingale - Luscinia megarhynchos
Black-eared Wheatear - Oenanthe hispanica
Eurasian Blackbird - Turdus merula
Common Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs
European Greenfinch - Chloris chloris
European Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
Black-headed Bunting - Emberiza melanocephala
Corn Bunting - Emberiza calandra
Cirl Bunting - Emberiza cirlus
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus
Eurasian Tree Sparrow - Passer montanus






Friday, June 28, 2019

Birdwatching in Greece: Central and Western Greece, May 17-21 2019 - DAY 2

DAY 2

Leaving Agrinio early in the morning, we stopped again at Kleisoura Gorge and saw the Griffons again, at the very same cliff ledge we left them yesterday as well as a couple of Blue Rock Thrushes, lots of House Martins, a pair of Ravens and dozens of Jackdaws. We drove east towards Arachova and made several stops on the way, especially at the hilly area close to the towns of Galaxeidi and Itea.

The hilly country was full of passerines; most notable were the Eastern Orphean, Subalpine and Ruppell's Warbler. the Rock Sparrow, the Sombre Tit and the Black-eared Wheatear. The Rock Nuthatch was very common and it was virtually impossible to miss.

Rock Sparrow

Ruppell's Warbler
At noon, we reached Mt Parnassos and drove straight to Kelaria Ski center. The Common Rock Thrush was common, we saw at least 5 adult male birds, and the Northern Wheatear was literally everywhere. A small group of ten Alpine Choughs was also seen, along with Tawny Pipits, Woodlarks, Black Redstarts and Rock Buntings.

Alpine Choughs

Northern Wheatear

Common Rock Thrush
We wanted to climb higher than the 2.000 m we were but snow cover was very thick, so we headed down to the wooded parts of the mountain.

Wade and Karren at Kelaria Ski Center, Mt Parnassos


The main target was the Mistle Thrush and one male was seen singing at the top of a Greek Fir. Many Coal Tits, Firecrests, Short-toed Treecreepers and Chaffinches were singing and a male Common Cuckoo made a quick pass overhead. 

Late in the afternoon, we drove to the picturesque town of Arachova where we spend the night. 

DAY CHECKLIST

Rock Dove - Columba livia
Common Cuckoo - Cuculus canorus
Common Swift - Apus apus
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
Griffon Vulture - Gyps fulvus
Common Buzzard - Buteo buteo
Eurasian Hoopoe - Upupa epops
Middle Spotted Woodpecker - Dendrocoptes medius
Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Woodchat Shrike - Lanius senator
Eurasian Jay - Garrulus glandarius
Alpine Chough - Pyrrhocorax graculus
Eurasian Jackdaw - Corvus monedula
Hooded Crow - Corvus cornix
Common Raven - Corvus corax
Woodlark - Lullula arborea
Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Red-rumped Swallow - Cecropis daurica
Common House Martin - Delichon urbicum
Coal Tit - Periparus ater
Sombre Tit - Poecile lugubris
Eurasian Blue Tit - Cyanistes caeruleus
Western Rock Nuthatch - Sitta neumayer
Eurasian Wren - Troglodytes troglodytes
Common Firecrest - Regulus ignicapilla
Ruppell's Warbler - Sylvia ruppeli
Subalpine Warbler - Sylvia cantillans
Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
Eastern Orphean Warbler - Sylvia crassirostris
Spotted Flycatcher - Muscicapa striata
European Robin - Erithacus rubecula
Black Redstart - Phoenicurus ochruros
Common Rock Thrush - Monticola saxatilis
Blue Rock Thrush - Monticola solitarius
Northern Wheatear - Oenanthe oenanthe
Black-eared Wheatear - Oenanthe hispanica
Mistle Thrush - Turdus viscivorus
Eurasian Blackbird - Turdus merula
Pied Wagtail/White Wagtail - Motacilla alba
Tawny Pipit - Anthus campestris
Common Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs
European Greenfinch - Chloris chloris
Common Linnet - Linaria cannabina
European Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
Black-headed Bunting - Emberiza melanocephala
Corn Bunting - Emberiza calandra
Rock Bunting - Emberiza cia
Cirl Bunting - Emberiza cirlus
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus
Rock Sparrow - Petronia petronia






Thursday, June 20, 2019

Birdwatching in Greece: Central and Western Greece Tour, 17-21 May 2019

Wade and Karren are a Canadian couple with an impressive life list of more than 4,400 species. They wanted to fill the gaps of Balkan and South-eastern species so they chose us for a five-day tour that included every major birding site of western and central Greece.

DAY 1

On the first day of the tour, we left Athens and drove west to Messolonghi Lagoons. Before we entered the lagoon, we had good views of Lesser Kestrels, hirundines and swifts as they all nest in the town of Messolonghi. Upon our entry to the lagoon, the Dalmatian Pelican, one of the lifer birds, was very easily seen as there is a breeding colony.

Dalmatian Pelican
The wetland was full of terns (Common, Little and Gull-billed being the most numerous), Pygmy Cormorants, Spoonbills, stilts, Avocets, Flamingoes and egrets. Close to the sea, we found Ruddy Turnstones, Curlews, Oystercatchers etc.

Pygmy Cormorants
A few Stone-curlews were also present, while lots of passerines were flying around (Yellow Wagtails, Short-toed and Crested Larks, Zitting Cisticolas etc). There were also a few Rufous-tailed Scrub Robins (aka Rufous Bush Robins), another target of the couple.

Spanish Sparrow

Stone-curlew

Yellow Wagtail
In the afternoon, we drove to the area of Louros, west of Aitoliko and apart from the wetlands species, we enjoyed great views of Black-headed Buntings, Black-eared Wheatears and Rock Nuthatches at the cliffs bordering the lagoons. 

Rock Nuthatch
Before we reach our hotel at Aginio, we stopped at Kleisoura Gorge and enjoyed a few Griffons, Blue Rock Thrushes and lots of Jackdaws, totalling 71 species on the first day. 

DAY 1 CHECKLIST


Common Shelduck - Tadorna tadorna
Garganey - Spatula querquedula
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
Greater Flamingo - Phoenicopterus roseus
Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
Common Swift - Apus apus
Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra
Stone-curlew - Burhinus oedicnemus
Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
Pied Avocet - Recurvirostra avosetta
Eurasian Oystercatcher - Haematopus ostralegus
Grey Plover - Pluvialis squatarola
Kentish Plover - Charadrius alexandrinus
Eurasian Curlew - Numenius arquata
Ruddy Turnstone - Arenaria interpres
Common Redshank - Tringa totanus
Black-headed Gull - Chroicocephalus ridibundus
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
Little Tern - Sternula albifrons
Gull-billed Tern - Gelochelidon nilotica
Black Tern - Chlidonias niger
Common Tern - Sterna hirundo
White Stork - Ciconia ciconia
Pygmy Cormorant - Microcarbo pygmeus
Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo
Dalmatian Pelican - Pelecanus crispus
Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea
Great White Egret - Ardea alba
Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
Squacco Heron - Ardeola ralloides
Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus
Eurasian Spoonbill - Platalea leucorodia
Griffon Vulture - Gyps fulvus
Western Marsh Harrier - Circus aeruginosus
Little Owl - Athene noctua
Lesser Kestrel - Falco naumanni
Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Common Magpie - Pica pica
Eurasian Jackdaw - Corvus monedula
Hooded Crow - Corvus cornix
Common Raven - Corvus corax
Greater Short-toed Lark - Calandrella brachydactyla
Calandra Lark - Melanocorypha calandra
Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
Sand Martin - Riparia riparia
Eurasian Crag Martin - Ptyonoprogne rupestris
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Red-rumped Swallow - Cecropis daurica
Common House Martin - Delichon urbicum
Eurasian Blue Tit - Cyanistes caeruleus
Eurasian Penduline Tit - Remiz pendulinus
Western Rock Nuthatch - Sitta neumayer
Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - Iduna pallida
Eurasian Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Great Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin - Cercotrichas galactotes
Blue Rock Thrush - Monticola solitarius
Black-eared Wheatear - Oenanthe hispanica
Western Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla flava
Common Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs
European Greenfinch - Chloris chloris
European Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
Black-headed Bunting - Emberiza melanocephala
Corn Bunting - Emberiza calandra
Cirl Bunting - Emberiza cirlus
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus
Spanish Sparrow - Passer hispaniolensis




Friday, May 24, 2019

Birdwatching in Athens: May 3, 2019 Half-day trip

A half-day tour, starting from the port of Piraeus has some restrictions on time, that's why the itinerary shall be carefully planned to yield as many species as possible.

Debbie Einarson, along with her mother and aunt, were picked up from the port and we headed straight to the flooded Spata fields. Hundreds of swifts and swallows flew above the water, while Little Bitterns and Purple Herons looked for frogs and other small prey. Waterfowl was also very interesting, as Ferruginous Ducks were easily found, along with Pochards and Mallards.

Purple Heron

Pallid Swift

Black-winged Stilt
Furthermore, Great Spotted Cuckoos and Turtle Doves were among the most interesting sightings in the surrounding farmland. We were also lucky to see a Nose-horned Viper crossing the road!

Nose-horned Viper
Very close to Spata fields lies the small but very rich in birds Artemis Lagoon. Breeding Black-winged Stilts were incubating while a small group of several different waders rested in one of the 'islets' formed in the wetland. 

Ringed Plovers, Ruffs, a Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stints
After a delicious lunch at Artemis we started our way back to Piraeus but first we stopped at the Aesthetic Forest of Kaisariani on Mt Hymettus. We managed to see Short-toed Treecreepers, Jays, Long-tailed and Great Tits, Blackbirds and Chaffinches. 

Three happy birders!

We ended up at 49 species, all within a few hours; mission accomplished!

TRIP CHECKLIST

Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
Common Pochard - Aythya ferina
Ferruginous Duck - Aythya nyroca
Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
Rock Dove - Columba livia
European Turtle Dove - Streptopelia turtur
Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
Great Spotted Cuckoo - Clamator glandarius
Alpine Swift - Apus melba
Common Swift - Apus apus
Pallid Swift - Apus pallidus
Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra
Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
Common Ringed Plover - Charadrius hiaticula
Ruff - Calidris pugnax
Curlew Sandpiper - Calidris ferruginea
Little Stint - Calidris minuta
Wood Sandpiper - Tringa glareola
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
Little Bittern - Ixobrychus minutus
Purple Heron - Ardea purpurea
Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus
Western Marsh Harrier - Circus aeruginosus
European Bee-eater - Merops apiaster
Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Woodchat Shrike - Lanius senator
Eurasian Jay - Garrulus glandarius
Common Magpie - Pica pica
Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
Sand Martin - Riparia riparia
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Common House Martin - Delichon urbicum
Coal Tit - Periparus ater
Great Tit - Parus major
Long-tailed Tit - Aegithalos caudatus
Short-toed Treecreeper - Certhia brachydactyla
Sedge Warbler - Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Great Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
Whinchat - Saxicola rubetra
European Stonechat - Saxicola rubicola
Eurasian Blackbird - Turdus merula
Western Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla flava
Red-throated Pipit - Anthus cervinus
Common Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus











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


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