Thursday, November 10, 2016

Birdwatching in Athens: Full day trip, November 9, 2016

Joe Church from the United States came to Greece to run for the Marathon. Being a keen birder, he arrived to Athens a few days earlier so that he could enjoy birdwatching with Greece Bird Tours.

Starting the trip at 06.15, our first stop was the hill of Lycabettus, downtown Athens. Just before dawn, we put the first bird on our list (and a lifer for Joe): Scops Owl! This nocturnal bird of prey overwinters in southern Greece and is particularly common in parks of Athens.

Next stop was the Aesthetic Forest of Kaisariani on Mt Hymettus, a popular place for birders. We managed to find, among other things, two more lifers for Joe; Goldcrests and Hawfinches have arrived and were rather easily found. A Sparrowhawk was also seen, along with lots of Jays, Robins, Chaffinches and a flock of Siskins.
Hawfinch 
We left Mt Hymettus for another mountain: Mt Parnitha is the highest mountain close to Athens and home to many interesting birds like the Sombre Tit. Even though the weather was not good (fog and low temperatures), we managed to see it along with the Dunnock (common winter visitor and a lifer for Joe). We also enjoyed the view of several Red Deer!


We left Mt Parnitha for warmer habitats like Schinias Marshes. We explored Athens' most important wetland and even though it is fairly dry due to very few rains in autumn, the Ferruginous Duck was present in the Olympic rowing center, along with hundreds of Coots and a small group of Common Pochards. 

Ferruginous Ducks along with Coots and a Little Grebe

The sudden thunderstorm and the strong winds later on, hindered our quest for lifers but we managed to see both Meadow and Water Pipits (new for Joe) along with Fan-tailed Warblers, a Red-backed Shrike and two Barn Swallows (exceptional records given the date). Another beautiful sighting was a Weasel that came out in the open for a few seconds

Weasel 

Just before dusk we left Schinias and headed back to Athens. The total list of birds seen and/or heard is quite impressive, given the bad weather. Another successful bird trip was over. Thank you Joe for your wonderful company, hope to see you again in Athens!

TRIP BIRD LIST (L = Lycabettus Hill, H = Mt Hymettus, P = Mt Parnitha, S = Schinias Marshes)

Teal S
Mallard S
Pochard S
Ferruginous Duck S
Little Grebe S
Great Cormorant S
Marsh Harrier S
Sparrowhawk HS
Buzzard S
Kestrel S
Coot S
Common Snipe S
Black-headed Gull S
Yellow-legged Gull S
Collared Dove S
Scops Owl L
Kingfisher S
Woodlark (heard) P
Barn Swallow S
Grey Wagtail S
White Wagtail S
Meadow Pipit PS
Water Pipit S
Wren (heard) HPS
Dunnock P
Robin LHPS
Black Redstart PS
Stonechat PS
Blackbird LHPS
Song Thrush HS
Mistle Thrush P
Cetti's Warbler (heard) S
Fan-tailed Warbler S
Blackcap S
Sardinian Warbler HPS
Chiffchaff HPS
Goldcrest H
Blue Tit (heard) HP
Great Tit HPS
Coal Tit (heard) HP
Sombre Tit P
Rock Nuthatch (heard) P
Red-backed Shrike S
Jay HP
Magpie HPS
Hooded Crow PS
Raven P
Starling S
House Sparrow S
Spanish Sparrow S
Serin (heard) P
Greenfinch PS
Goldfinch PS
Siskin HP
Linnet (heard) P
Crossbill P
Hawfinch H
Cirl Bunting HP
Corn Bunting S










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