Thursday, October 02, 2014

Birdwatching in Greece: 17-19th September Bird Trip - Day 3

After a full day at Mesolongi, the third day was dedicated to a completely different set of habitats; fir forests and alpine grassland!

We left Mesolongi early in the morning and headed to Mt Parnassos, via the towns of Nafpaktos and Galaxeidi. Mt Parnassos is very famous for the ancient oracle of Delphi, but also for the ski centres and the nighlife of the picturesque village of Arachova. It was, of course, very early in the morning, so we had to focus on birds; a large flock of Pallid Swifts and Crag Martins welcomed us!

The extensive fir forest of Parnassos is home to many interesting woodpeckers, including the majestic Black and the very elusive White-backed; we found them both!

Black Woodpecker

White-backed Woodpecker
 These, of course, were not the only birds we saw; Coal Tits, Nuthatches, Firecrests, Short-toed Treecreepers, Great Tits and Chaffinches were the most common, while Crossbills, Robins, Wrens and Mistle Thrushes were also present. Squirrels were also easily seen, as they are very common.

Red Squirrels of Greece are actually not red!
 The next stop was the alpine zone of the mountain. Unfortunately, very few birds were seen (Northern Wheatear, Willow Warbler and Black Redstart being the most common) and we had to leave the area because we wanted to check the plain of Kopaida, on our way back to Athens. This vast plain used to be a seasonal marsh but an extensive drainage canal network built in the early 1900s has converted it to very fertile agricultural land. We found several Common Buzzards, Long-legged Buzzards and Kestrels, along with literally hundreds of Yellow Wagtails, Spotted Flycatchers, Whinchats and Red-backed Shrikes. The drainage canals held Kingfisher, Cetti's Warbler and Penduline Tit.

Yellow Wagtail 
The time had passed and we had to return to Athens. We didn't use the National Highway, of course, but preferred driving back to the capital via Erythres, a small village with a very beautiful plain. There we saw, among others, a Short-toed Eagle and the typical farmland passerines. From Erythres, we moved east through the mountain of Parnitha and then reached Athens, via the very impressive Gorge of Yannoula. A day full of sights of beautiful landscapes, unknown to most of the tourists (and even the Athenians!)

(P=Parnassos, K=Kopaida, G=Galaxidi, E=Erythres)

Short-toed Eagle E
Sparrowhawk P
Common Buzzard PK
Long-legged Buzzard K
Pallid Swift P
Kingfisher K
Green Woodpecker P
Black Woodpecker P
White-backed Woodpecker P
Crag Martin P
Barn Swallow K
Red-rumped Swallow K
Yellow Wagtail K
Wren P
Redstart K
Whinchat K
Northern Wheatear PKE
Blue Rock Thrush G
Blackbird PKE
Mistle Thrush P
Sardinian Warbler KGE
Willow Warbler PKE
Firecrest P
Spotted Flycatcher PKE
Great Tit PKE
Coal Tit P
Long-tailed Tit P
Nuthatch P
Rock Nuthatch GE
Short-toed Treecreeper P
Penduline Tit KE
Red-backed Shrike PKE
Magpie KGE
Hooded Crow KGE
Crossbill P
House Sparrow KGE
Chaffinch P
Goldfinch K
Cirl Bunting PKE

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