Saturday, May 17, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Athens Panorama, May 13th, 2014

Migration may be about to end but a trip around Athens in May is always very productive as all the summer visitors have arrived (including the Black-headed Bunting and the Rufous Bush Robin) and the weather is still very nice for a full day trip around the capital of Greece.
Our first stop was at Mt Parnitha, the highest mountain of the area that is also a very rich site for Mediterranean breeders like the Sombre Tit, the Eastern Orphean Warbler, the Subalpine Warbler, the Rock Nuthatch. the Black-eared Wheatear and many more. We enjoyed great views of the aforementioned species, while the Blue Rock Thrush was singing from the rocky outcrops of Armeni, an impressive peak of northern Parnitha, close to the village of Avlonas. The forested area was full of Chaffinches and Long-tailed Tits while Cirl Buntings were found in areas with scattered trees.

Our next stop was Oropos Lagoon, not too far from Mt Parnitha. This small brackish wetland is full of breeding Black-winged Stilts, Yellow Wagtails and Fan-tailed Warblers, while a few Ruffs, Little Stints, Curlew Sandpipers and Little Ringed Plovers were still on the move. A pair of Little Terns is also found (this being the sole breeding site around Athens), while Penduline Tits are nesting in the numerous Tamarisks. Herons are also common, including Grey Heron, Little and White Egret. Swallows, including Red-rumped, were also very common. A Little Owl was using an electricity post for lookout in broad daylight!

From Oropos we moved to Schinias National Park, making a stop first to see a beautiful Cretzschmar's Bunting singing in a bare slope close to the village of Grammatiko. Before entering the wetland, we enjoyed several Black-headed Buntings in Ramnous, a very picturesque area with traditional cultivations (vineyards, olive, fig and pistachio groves) and a very important archaeological site.

The wetland held, among others, more than 20 Ferruginous Ducks (including females with nestlings) that were all over the marsh, the males performing spectacular 'escape flights'. Black-winged Stilts, Coots, Moorhen and Little Grebes are widespread and common, while Reed and Great Reed Warblers were singing from various posts. A female Red-backed Shrike was also an interesting sighting.

A very quick stop to Rafina, yielded a Turtle Dove and a Hoopoe, while Vravrona Wetland had Purple Heron and many Olivaceous and Cetti's Warblers. 

Turtle Dove
The fields of Markopoulo, close to the Athens airport, had singing Black-headed Buntings but, unfortunately, we could only hear the Rufous Bush Robin because it was too far to be seen. 

Our last stop was Mt Hymettus, that gave us an exposed Ruppell's Warbler and a very cooperative Cretzschmar's Bunting, just before the sunset!

Ruppell's Warbler

The total list of the trip was 64 species (seen and heard). A very productive day, indeed!

Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
White Egret (Ardea alba)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Coot (Fulica atra)
Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
Little Tern (Sterna albifrons)
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)
Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
Little Owl (Athene noctua)
Common Swift (Apus apus)
Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
House Martin (Delichon urbicum)
Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica)
Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava)
Rufous Bush Robin (Cercotrichas galactotes)
Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus)
Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica)
Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius)
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Cetti’s Warbler (Cettia cetti)
Fan-tailed Warbler (Cisticola juncidis)
Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
Olivaceous Warbler (Hippolais pallida)
Eastern Orphean Warbler (Sylvia crassirostris)
Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia cantillans)
Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)
Ruppell’s Warbler (Sylvia rueppelli)
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
Great Tit (Parus major)
Coal Tit (Periparus ater)
Rock Nuthatch (Sitta neumayer)
Penduline Tit (Remiz pendulinus)
Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)
Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)
Magpie (Pica pica)
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)
Raven (Corvus corax)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Serin (Serinus serinus)
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus)
Cretzschmar’s Bunting (Emberiza caesia)
Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala)

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