Friday, June 06, 2014

Birdwatching in Central Greece: Part II - June 2nd, 2014

After a great day birding in Athens, we reached Kalampaka town, in the heart of mainland Greece and beneath the impressive rock formations of Meteora, in the evening of June 1st. The next day, we started birdwatching from the breakfast hall of Epavlis Suites Hotel (www.hotel-epavlis.gr). We could see our first birds of the day, (Barn, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Alpine Swifts, Jackdaw) while at the same time enjoying the hotel's delicacies!

Syrian Woodpecker, Olivaceous Warbler and Subalpine Warbler were also seen literally from the parking lot of the hotel. The signs for the day's birding were great! Our first stop was the riparian forest of River Mourgani, one of the many tributaries of River Pineios, the largest river of the region that flows into the Aegean Sea. Our first target, the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, was seen very easily and that was just the beginning; soon we had Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Levant Sparrowhawk, Roller, Honey Buzzard and many small passerines (Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch, Blue Tit) while a male Golden Oriole was singing from a well-conceiled perch. An Eleonora's Falcon was also a very welcomed sight, flying low above our heads, looking for large insects.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker of Europe
The Levant Sparrowhawk is a common dweller of riparian woodland of central and northern Greece

We moved towards the village of Gavros and its dense riparian woodland. There we found Green and Middle Spotted Woodpeckers, while a Short-toed Eagle was seen soaring above the fields close to the village. Heading towards the village of Vlachava we found several interesting species on the way: Sombre Tit was one of them; family parties were seen in several occasions, along with the ubiquitous Blue Tit and the odd Short-toed Treecreeper. Red-backed and Woodchat Shrike were also found in open woodland. Needless to say, Nightingales were...everywhere! We also found a Black Stork, briefly seen in a small stream, and several herons (Little Egret, Grey and Night Heron).
The density of breeding Nightingales is that high that some birds have to sing from exposed songposts! 

The last stop around Mt Antichasia was the feeding station for the Egyptian Vulture; a Lesser Spotted Eagle was seen on the ground, taking advantage of the food supplied for the critically endangered vulture.

Lesser Spotted Eagle is an uncommon breeder of mainland Greece
 We left Antichasia to look for another specialty of the area; the Dipper. To see it, we had to get to the stone bridge of Palaiokarya, a small village located close to the Arta-Trikala road, a twisting route through rugged mountains. Fortunately it was worth it! Two birds were seen, along with a family of Grey Wagtails. Other interesting sightings included Greek Stream Frogs and Freshwater Crabs.

It was getting late and we spend the rest of the time in the plain that lies between Trikala city and Pyli town. A large Rookery, three more Rollers and the spectacular sighting of more than a dozen Eleonora's Falcons were the best way to call it a day. We returned to Kalampaka for some dinner, exhausted but full of great observations!

The checklist for June, 2nd

Night Heron
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Black Stork
White Stork
Honey Buzzard
Short-toed Eagle
Levant Sparrowhawk
Common Buzzard
Lesser Spotted Eagle
Lesser Kestrel
Kestrel
Eleonora's Falcon
Collared Dove
Turtle Dove
Cuckoo
Alpine Swift
Swift
Bee-eater
 Roller
Green Woodpecker
Syrian Woodpecker
Middle Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Crested Lark
Woodlark
Grey Wagtail
Barn Swallow
House Martin
Red-rumped Swallow
Robin
Nightingale
Blackbird
Dipper
Olivaceous Warbler
Subalpine Warbler
Sardinian Warbler
Spotted Flycatcher
Long-tailed Tit
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Sombre Tit
Nuthatch
Short-toed Treecreeper
Golden Oriole
Red-backed Shrike
Woodchat Shrike
Lesser Grey Shrike
Jay
Magpie
Jackdaw
Hooded Crow
Rook
Raven
Tree Sparrow
Chaffinch
Goldfinch
Cirl Bunting
Black-headed Bunting
Corn Bunting

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