Monday, August 15, 2016

Athens Birding Trip report: August 6-12th 2016

Birding tours around Athens in August can be frustrating, since the heat is usually keeping birds very silent and rather lazy to move. However, autumn migration has started, so one might have the chance to see great species, usually in the morning.
We organized 3 different birding trips during these days, for fellow birders visiting Athens for holidays, who had an extra day for birding.
Firstly we set a tour for Tomasz K., a nature photographer from Poland. We decided to visit Schinias National Park, as the best area close to the city to watch birds during this month.
We started from Ramnounda fields, were we saw the first lifer, a male Woodchat Shrike. After a while, we saw several more adult birds, and a few juveniles. In the same area, we managed to get a second lifer for Tomasz, a nice Cirl Bunting, hiding in the olive trees around us.
Moving into the central marsh of Schinias area, we got great views of soaring Short-toed Eagle. The bird had a lizard caught in its mouth and landed on the highest wooden pole to eat it.
Apart from these, we had Black-eared Wheatear, a nice Black Stork (very rare for Athens indeed!), and several other species such as Sardinian Warbler, Cuckoo (not easily seen in Athens during autumn)

Black Stork
Sardinian Warbler
Short-toed Eagle
Woodchat Shrike

Then a half day trip was organized, in order to take a look at the wet areas of the marshes. We saw 20+ Black-winged Stilts, Snipes, Curlew Sandpipers, Wood Sandpipers, Little Stints, Common Sandpipers, lots of Red-rumped Swallows, Hoopoe and the first Lesser Grey Shrikes and Spotted Flycathcers for this autumn migration. 
Spotted Flycatcher 

The third visit at Schinias National Park was on Friday, August 12th, with Ellen Smith, a birder from Austin TX. Ellen was rather lucky to see so many birds in a half day trip, and checking 12 lifers in 4 hours! We had an amazing moment while watching a Little Owl, were we had 4 species on the same wire: Little Owl, Lesser Grey Shrike, Hoopoe, and Cuckoo a bit further away!
Little Owl
Black Storks
Lesser Grey Shrike
Hoopoe and Little Owl
and just beside: Lesser Grey Shrike!
We even saw the Short-toed Eagle again, a 5 Black Stork landing on the main observation tower of Schinias, truly a very rare sighting for Athens.

Overall, we saw 58 species. Here's the complete bird list:
Little Grebe
Ferruginous Duck
Black Stork 
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Black winged Stilt
Wood Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Little Sting
Curley Sandpiper
Short-toed Eagle
Common Buzzard
Common Kestrel
Marsh Harrier
Water Rail
Collared Dove
Turtle Dove
Little Owl
Scops Owl (heard)
Yellow-legged Gull
Crested Lark
Red-rumped Swallow
Barn Swallow
House Martin
Common Swift
Pallid Swift
Black eared Wheatear
Nothern Wheater
Spotted Flycather
Yellow Wagtail
Black-headed Wagtail
Woodchat Shrike
Lesser Grey Shrike
Red-backed Shrike
Hooded Crow
Great Tit
Cetti's Warbler
Sardinian Warbler
Zitting Cisticola
House Sparrow
Cirl Bunting

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