Friday, September 26, 2014

Birdwatching in Greece: Bird Trip to Athens, Mesolongi Lagoon and Mt Parnassos, September 17-19th, 2014

September is the best month of autumn migration. A three-day bird trip can be really productive at this time of year, and this one was no exception. The trip included visits to Mesolongi lagoon, Mt Parnassos and many sites around Athens. The total count of bird species for the three days was 125 species, a very impressive number indeed!

Day 1 - Athens

We started very early in the morning, at 5.45 because we wanted to find the strictly nocturnal Scops Owl at Mt Hymettus. The search for this tiny owl close to the monastery of Kareas was successful and then we headed for the Sarina ravine. Chukars, Rock Nuthatches and Blue Rock Thrushes were some of the species seen close to the rocky outcrops, while Firecrests, Jays and Coal Tits were found in the woodland close to the monastery.

We left Kareas and visited the Aesthetic Forest of Kaisariani, which is also found at Mt Hymettus. The forest was teeming with birds; Redstarts and Spotted Flycatchers were everywhere, along with Willow and Wood Warblers. There were also some more hard to find species, like the Red-breasted Flycatcher and the Collared Flycatcher. Long-tailed and Great Tits were also common while several Garden Warblers and Blackcaps were also present.

Redstarts are very common in autumn

Mt Hymettus is the best place to look for Red-breasted Flycatchers in autumn
Next stop was Spata Fields. The well known turpentine trees had lots of birds inside their foliage; Lesser Whitethroat, Subalpine and Spotted Flycatcher were the most numerous. The agricultural land was also very interesting as Northern Wheatears, Whichats and Red-backed Shrikes were some of the species found.

The small lagoon of Artemis was the next stop. More than 20 Ferruginous Ducks were present in this tiny wetland, along with Teal, Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank, Little Ringed Plover and many Coots, Moorhens, Water Rails and Little Grebes. 

The last stop of the day was Kandili Peak of Mt Pateras, an extensive but poorly known mountain range of Western Attica. Sombre Tit was among the species seen, while a pair of Ravens was the last species we saw in Athens.

We headed to Mesolongi. It was a near 3-hour drive and we checked in at Hotel Theoxenia, a hotel that's located literally at the banks of Kleisova Lagoon at Mesolongi.

Checklist for Day 1 (H=Hymettus, S=Spata, A=Artemis, K=Kandili)

Teal - A
Ferruginous Duck - A
Chukar - H
Little Grebe - A
Little Egret - A
Grey Heron - A
Sparrowhawk - H
Water Rail - A
Moorhen - A
Coot - A
Little Ringed Plover - A
Little Stint - A
Greenshank - A
Wood Sandpiper - A
Collared Dove - SAK
Scops Owl - H
Little Owl - HK
Crested Lark - SK
Barn Swallow - HSK
Red-rumped Swallow - SA
Yellow Wagtail - S
Robin - H
Redstart - HS
Whinchat - S
Northern Wheatear - S
Blue Rock Thrush - HK
Blackbird - H
Cetti's Warbler - A
Blackcap - HS
Garden Warbler - H
Lesser Whitethroat - S
Subalpine Warbler - S
Sardinian Warbler - HSK
Wood Warbler - H
Willow Warbler - HSK
Firecrest - H
Spotted Flycatcher - HSK
Red-breasted Flycatcher - H
Collared Flycatcher - H
Long-tailed Tit - HK
Great Tit - HK
Coal Tit - H
Sombre Tit - K
Rock Nuthatch - HK
Red-backed Shrike - S
Jay - H
Magpie - HSAK
Hooded Crow - K
Raven - K
House Sparrow - SAK
Chaffinch - HK
Goldfinch - SK
Cirl Bunting - HK

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