Monday, August 25, 2014

Birdwatching in Central Greece: Mt Parnassos-Kopaida plain day trip, August 24th

It was a very hot day, Sunday 24th of August, but this didn't kept up from going birding to Mt Parnassos, the famous mountain of Apollo, with the renowned Oracle of Delphi. This is the closest to Athens mountain that holds population of very interesting woodland birds, like the White-backed and the Black Woodpecker, and alpine species like Alpine Accentor and Alpine Chough.

On our way to the mountain we made a not-so-short stop to the plain of Kopaida, a once shallow marsh converted to farmland in the late 19th century. We found great numbers of Bee-eaters, several Lesser Grey, Woodchat and Red-backed Shrikes, Cuckoos, Hoopoes and six different raptors: Common Buzzards, Honey Buzzards, Marsh Harriers, Kestrels, Lesser Kestrels and Short-toed Eagles. We also had the chance to see Kingfishers (there are numerous ditches in the plain), and numerous passing Yellow Wagtails. A Little Owl farewelled us, as we left the plain.
Short-toed Eagle, scanning for prey

The Bee-eater is always a welcomed sighting!
Although August is, most probably, the month with the least bird activity (in regards to resident species), the mountain was not as "quiet" as we were afraid that it would be. Coal Tits and Nuthatches were quite active, especially the former, while the White-backed Woodpecker gave us a few seconds to clearly identify it. On our way to the alpine zone, we found quite a few Rock Buntings, most of them female or juvenile and hundreds of migrating Barn and Red-rumped Swallows and House Martins. It was the alpine zone, however, that was the most active. The slopes were, literally, covered with Northern Wheatears and Tawny Pipits, while two juvenile Ortolan Bunting were foraging the ground among them. An Eleonora's Falcon was seen in the distance just before making a quick dive. Willow Warblers were quite unsual sighting for such a high altitude (c.1,800 m).

Willow Warblers have started to cross Greece on their way to Africa

The Northern Wheatear is by far the most common breeder of the alpine grasslands.
The complete checklist for the trip (P=Parnassos, K=Kopaida)

Honey Buzzard PK
Short-toed Eagle K
Marsh Harrier K
Common Buzzard PK
Lesser Kestrel K
Kestrel PK
Eleonora's Falcon P
Collared Dove K
Cuckoo K
Little Owl K
Kingfisher K
Bee-eater K
Hoopoe K
White-backed Woodpecker P
Crested Lark K
Barn Swallow PK
Red-rumped Swallow P
House Martin P
Yellow Wagtail K
Tawny Pipit P
Wren P
Robin P
Black Redstart P
Northern Wheatear P
Blackbird P
Cetti's Warbler K
Great Reed Warbler K
Whitethroat K
Sardinian Warbler K
Willow Warbler P
Firecrest P
Spotted Flycatcer PK
Great Tit PK
Coal Tit P
Nuthatch P
Short-toed Treecreeper P
Red-backed Shrike PK
Woodchat Shrike PK
Lesser Grey Shrike K
Jay P
Magpie K
Jackdaw K
Hooded Crow K
Raven P
House Sparrow K
Chaffinch P
Goldfinch K
Linnet P
Rock Bunting P
Ortolan Bunting P

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