Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Birdwatching in Greece: Bird Trip September 17-19th: Day 2 - Mesolongi Lagoon

The second day of our trip was devoted to the very important wetland of Mesolongi. A complex of lagoons forms the most important habitat in western Greece for great numbers of herons, waders and many other species.

We first visited Kleisova lagoon, the water body next to the town of Mesolongi. This is the best place to look for the Greater Sand Plover, a wader that has become annual visitor to the area. We did find it, along with Kentish, Ringed, Little Ringed and Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher and lots of Curlews.



Greater Sand Plover
The canals west of the lagoon are also very good birding sites. A great variety of terns (including Black, Moustached and Caspian) were found, along with Garganeys, large numbers of Coots, Moorhens, Little and Black-necked Grebes and two very interesting birds: the Pygmy Cormorant and the Dalmatian Pelican! The latter is now breeding in Mesolongi and can be seen year-round. 

Dalmatian Pelican

We also saw our first Slender-billed Gulls along with dozens of Kingfishers. Needless to say, hundreds of Flamingos were seen almost everywhere. 

After Kleisova, we visited the impressive gorge of Kleisoura, to check for the Griffon Vultures that still persist in the area. We saw three birds, along with Long-legged Buzzards and several migrating Short-toed Eagles! 
Griffon Vulture
 We left Kleisoura and headed to the extensive wetland complex of Louros, southwest of the town of Aitoliko. This vast ecosystem includes agricultural land, grasslands, a series of canals and lagoons that host very large numbers of herons, waders and many more. Literally hundreds of Little Egrets, White Egrets and Grey Herons foraged the flooded areas, along with Avocets and Glossy Ibis, while a very remarkable sighting was the flock of more than 60 Stone Curlews found in open grassland close to the sea. Other interesting species seen include the Ferruginous Duck and the Gull-billed Tern. Hundreds of Yellow Wagtails were following cattle, while Northern Wheatears and Whinchat were seen all over the area.

Stone Curlew
A quite unexpected encounter was that of a Hobby that was perching on a small rock. The bird was very tame, allowing us to take many good photos!

Hobby

As the day was coming to its end we headed back to Mesolongi, and, as the sun was very close to the horizon, we saw more than 50 Spoonbills along with dozens of Redshanks. A great way to call it a day!

COMPLETE CHECKLIST FOR SEPTEMBER 18th (90 species)
(K=Kleisova, L=Louros, G=Kleisoura Gorge)

Garganey K
Ferruginous Duck L
Little Grebe KL
Great Crested Grebe K
Black-necked Grebe K
Cormorant KL
Pygmy Cormorant K
Dalmatian Pelican KL
Little Bittern K
Squacco Heron L
Little Egret KL
White Egret KL
Grey Heron KL
Glossy Ibis L
Spoonbill K
Short-toed Eagle G
Marsh Harrier KL
Greater Flamingo KL
Griffon Vulture G
Common Buzzard KLG
Long-legged Buzzard G
Kestrel G
Hobby L
Moorhen KL
Coot KL
Oystercatcer K
Black-winged Stilt L
Avocet K
Stone Curlew L
Little Ringed Plover K
Ringed Plover K
Kentish Plover KL
Greater Sand Plover K
Grey Plover K
Little Stint KL
Curlew Sandpiper K
Dunlin K
Snipe KL
Bar-tailed Godwit K
Curlew KL
Spotted Redshank L
Redshank KL
Greenshank KL
Wood Sandpiper KL
Green Sandpiper K
Common Sandpiper K
Black-headed Gull KL
Slender-billed Gull KL
Yellow-legged Gull KL
Little Tern K
Gull-billed Tern L
Caspian Tern K
Whiskered Tern K
Black Tern K
Common Tern K
Collared Dove K
Kingfisher KL (more than 60!)
Hoopoe KL
Crested Lark KL
Sand Martin K
Barn Swallow KL
Yellow Wagtail KL
White Wagtail L
Tawny Pipit K
Robin G
Whinchat KL
Northern Wheatear KL
Blue Rock Thrush G
Blackbird G
Cetti's Warbler K
Fan-tailed Warbler KL
Reed Warbler K
Whitethroat K
Sardinian Warbler G
Willow Warbler KLG
Spotted Flycatcher KG
Blue Tit G
Great Tit KG
Penduline Tit KL
Red-backed Shrike KL
Magpie KL
Hooded Crow L
Jackdaw G
Raven G
House Sparrow KL
Spanish Sparrow K
Goldfinch KL
Linnet L
Corn Bunting L




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