Thursday, June 09, 2005

Central Greece birding

Here is a bird report by two american birders, Anders Price and Richard Thrickner. It refers to Central Greece, starting from the valley of Kopais (cultivated area), continuing to Sperhios valley and ending up with Sperhios Delta.

We left Athens at 5:15. We had some rain on our way north, but around the time we reached Kopais, it was getting light and the rain stopped. We went off to bird at Glas for while, where we had a big auditory epiphany about "whip...whipwhip": quail. We had a few other typical birds. We continued "north" and pulled off at the statue at Thermopolae. I had thought this dry bushy area might be good for bush robins, but we found only a few white wagtails, a kestrel pair in a nest(?) on a big power pylon, and some swallows and swifts.

We went off the national road at the small hot spring and headed toward Sperchiada via the villages on the south side of the Sperchios valley. We stopped at a nice grove along a stream coming down from Iti, where we found the first two of many Eleonora's falcons. We continued on, and eventually turned uphill on a detour out of the valley and up the mountain. We took an exciting 4WD shortcut up from Kapnochori to Kastania. On the way we found several red-backed shrikes that seemed to all be paired up. We were suprised to miss mistle thrushes. We continued up the mountain from Kastania for a while on the paved road, but soon the clouds moved in, we couldn't see anything, and it started to rain. We went back down to the valley via Lichno and Mesochori in the rain. At Sperchiada, we decided we didn't want to get on the highway, so we back-tracked toward Mesopotamia (cradle of civilization?). Before we got there we pulled off the road onto a paved portion of road that had been cut off from the main road like an ox-bow in a river, stopped, got out our chairs, and ate lunch watching a stork, and listening to the great reed warblers and frogs.

We then went through the village of Mesopotamia, and got onto some farm roads. We stopped at some pistachio groves to look for bush robins, didn't find any, but did turn up whitethroats, and had some excellent views of bee eaters. We also flushed a stone curlew. We followed the Inachos river on dike roads back to the highway, by which time it was raining very heavily. We took the highway to Lianokladi, turned south to cross the Sperchios, by which time the sun was out again, and threaded our way with many stops, toward the east on farm roads. We found some little ringed plovers on the river bars, looked all through the tamarisks for bush robins, and found some long-tailed tits, woodchat shrikes and lesser gray shrikes (not to mention about a million olivaceous warblers).

We continued on farm roads past a few groves of pistachios, and then went around the perimeter of a grove of impressive plane trees (platanus), unusual to my eyes for its location on a flat surrounded by farmland. Perhaps some of Iti's water percolates up here. Over the fields were many Eleonora's falcons. Around one side of it, we found a fairly dry road in, and took it. It's quite a beautiful grove if you can overlook the trash dumped under the trees. We parked and took a walk, finding short-toed tree creeper, tawny owl, and a magnificent flower: plant about a meter tall, blossom a deep red collar about 30 cm tall and 15 cm wide, with a spike sticking out above. From there we drove along the river, then went onto the paved road again at Kombotades.
From there we went to the highway at Stavros and headed to the north side of the Sperchios delta, where we had never been. Past Lamia, we turned off the national road at a petrol station, and drove along the side of a factory down into the farmlands along farm roads, crossed the RR track, and went as far as we could get by car before putting our boots on and threading our way through the reeds to the waters edge. We saw a few flying pratincoles along the way. We were a bit disappointed at the water at first. Although it was a beautiful evening, birdwise it was pretty quiet. We managed to scope a few shorebirds and a good selection of gulls and terns, among others things. That was our trip. We saw a lot of really nice birds, and some beautiful countryside. We were really amazed by the number of Eleonora's falcons throughout the farmland we covered. We saw 20 minimum. (compiled by Richard Trinkner).

28 May 2005, Entire Day
Great Cormorant Gray Heron Little Egret Little Bittern White Stork Mute Swan Mallard Western Marsh-Harrier Eurasian Buzzard Eurasian Kestrel Eleonora's Falcon Common Quail Water Rail Eurasian Coot Eurasian Thick-knee Collared Pratincole Little Ringed Plover Kentish Plover Eurasian Curlew Common Redshank Dunlin Yellow-legged Gull Lesser Black-backed Gull Black-headed Gull Slender-billed Gull Mediterranean Gull Little Gull Common Tern White-winged Tern Black Tern Rock Dove Eurasian Turtle-Dove Eurasian Collared-Dove Tawny Owl Alpine Swift Common Swift Pallid Swift European Bee-eater Hoopoe Crested Lark Wood Lark Barn Swallow Red-rumped Swallow Common House-Martin White Wagtail Firecrest Eurasian Blackbird Cetti's Warbler Great Reed-Warbler Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Greater Whitethroat Sardinian Warbler Spotted Flycatcher European Robin Common Nightingale Stonechat Long-tailed Tit Great Tit Rock Nuthatch Short-toed Treecreeper Eurasian Penduline-Tit Red-backed Shrike Lesser Gray Shrike Woodchat Shrike Eurasian Magpie Eurasian Jackdaw Hooded Crow Cirl Bunting Black-headed Bunting Corn Bunting Chaffinch European Greenfinch European Goldfinch House Sparrow Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Kopais Area (Gla etc)
Eurasian Kestrel Common Quail Yellow-legged Gull Eurasian Blackbird Cetti's Warbler Sardinian Warbler Common Nightingale Great Tit Rock Nuthatch Hooded Crow Black-headed Bunting Corn Bunting House Sparrow

Sperchiada Region (including Iti)
Little Egret White Stork Eurasian Buzzard Eurasian Kestrel Eleonora's Falcon Eurasian Thick-knee Little Ringed Plover Yellow-legged Gull Rock Dove Eurasian Turtle-Dove Eurasian Collared-Dove Tawny Owl Alpine Swift Common Swift Pallid Swift European Bee-eater Hoopoe Wood Lark Barn Swallow Red-rumped Swallow Common House-Martin White Wagtail Firecrest Cetti's Warbler Great Reed-Warbler Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Greater Whitethroat Sardinian Warbler Spotted Flycatcher European Robin Common Nightingale Stonechat Long-tailed Tit Great Tit Short-toed Treecreeper Eurasian Penduline-Tit Red-backed Shrike Lesser Gray Shrike Woodchat Shrike Eurasian Magpie Eurasian Jackdaw Hooded Crow Cirl Bunting Black-headed Bunting Corn Bunting Chaffinch European Greenfinch European Goldfinch House Sparrow Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Sperchios Delta
Great Cormorant Gray Heron Little Egret Little Bittern White Stork Mute Swan Mallard Western Marsh-Harrier Eurasian Buzzard Eurasian Kestrel Eleonora's Falcon Water Rail Eurasian Coot Collared Pratincole Kentish Plover Eurasian Curlew Common Redshank Dunlin Yellow-legged Gull Lesser Black-backed Gull Black-headed Gull Slender-billed Gull Mediterranean Gull Little Gull Common Tern White-winged Tern Black Tern Eurasian Collared-Dove Common Swift Pallid Swift Hoopoe Crested Lark Barn Swallow Red-rumped Swallow Common House-Martin White Wagtail Cetti's Warbler Great Reed-Warbler Eastern Olivaceous Warbler Common Nightingale Rock Nuthatch Eurasian Magpie Hooded Crow Black-headed Bunting Corn Bunting Chaffinch European Greenfinch European Goldfinch House Sparrow
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