Monday, December 08, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Bird Trip, December 6th, 2014

Winter is not a quite period for birdwatchers of Athens, as many different species overwinter and a bird trip is always full of beautiful encounters. Such was the December 6th full day trip around Athens; we visited Mt Hymettus, the tiny wetland of Rafina and the marshes of Schinias National Park.

The day started with a visit to Hymettus, the closest Important Bird Area to Athens. Even though all the summer specialties are now in Africa, there are several residents worth seeing, like the Rock Nuthatch and the Chukar Partridge. Many wintering birds (Robins, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Wrens, Dunnocks) were also present along wtih Coal Tits, Chaffinches and Blackbirds.

Next stop was the tiny river mouth close to the port of Rafina in the east coast. This very small wetland was the stopover site for a Baillon's Crake a few days ago but, unfortunately, the bird wasn't there. A couple of Little Egrets, along with Kingfishers and several White and Grey Wagtails offered some compensation. A very quick visit to the port added more than 500 Black-headed Gulls and a single Mediterranean Gull to the list.

The rest of the day was spent on the National Park of Schinias and the surrounding area. The wetland itself was very generous; We found the Great Spotted Eagle that has been visiting the area for almost ten consecutive years! The bird was seen soaring and perching and we had really lovely views with the fieldscope. We also saw several Marsh Harriers, Common Buzzards, Sparrowhawks, Kestrels and a male Hen Harrier.

A juvenile male Marsh Harrier
There were also more than 80 Grey Herons, perched on a a stand of tamarisks, close to the lakes of the Olympic rowing center, while a Great Egret flew above the central marsh. 

Great Egret
 Ducks were surprisingly few and the male Pochard at the rowing center was the only one that gave us some good views.

Pochard
The Moustached Warbler was also one of our target species and we found two birds! The wetland was full of Coots, while a Greater Flamingo at the lakes of the rowing center was also a surprise. The farmland was full of finches (mainly Chaffinches) and Corn Bunting.

Last stop was the hills of Sesi, northwest of Schinias where we looked for the Sombre Tit. We managed to find a few, along with several other tits (Blue, Coal, Great and Long-tailed). 

DAY CHECKLIST

(H=Mt HYMETTUS, R=RAFINA PORT, S=SCHINIAS NATIONAL PARK, E=SESI)

Gadwall S
Mallard S
Shoveler S
Pochard S
Chukar H
Little Grebe S
Great Crested Grebe S
Great Egret S
Grey Heron S
Flamingo S
Marsh Harrier S
Hen Harrier S
Sparrowhawk S
Common Buzzard SE
Spotted Eagle S
Kestrel S
Moorhen S
Coot S
Snipe S
Black-headed Gull RS
Mediterranean Gull R
Yellow-legged Gull RS
Kingfisher RS
Crested Lark S
White Wagtail RS
Grey Wagtail RS
Meadow Pipit HS
Water Pipit S
Wren HS
Dunnock HSE
Robin HRSE
Black Redstart HRS
Stonechat HS
Blackbird HSE
Song Thrush HSE
Cetti's Warbler S
Zitting Cisticola (Fan-tailed Warbler) S
Moustached Warbler S
Blackcap HSE
Sardinian Warbler HRSE
Chiffchaff HRSE
Long-tailed Tit E
Blue Tit SE
Great Tit HSE
Coal Tit HE
Sombre Tit E
Rock Nuthatch H
Magpie HRSE
Starling S
House Sparrow HRS
Chaffinch HSE
Serin S
Greenfinch S
Goldfinch S
Linnet S
Reed Bunting S
Corn Bunting S









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