Saturday, December 17, 2016

Birdwatching in Central Greece: Trip Report, December 7th, 2016

Claudio is a very young and enthusiastic bird watcher. Being from Spain, he misses all the Balkan specialties. As he had a chance to come to Greece in winter, he wanted to see species like the Rock Nuthatch, the Sombre Tit and the Syrian Woodpecker. The latter is found some 200 kms north of Athens but this was no problem for us!

Our first stop was the small village of Ypati, in Central Greece. The southernmost population of Syrian Woodpeckers can be found there; if you know where to look of course. We found more than two pairs and really enjoyed them! A very beautiful Red Squirrel (the name is misleading as the pelt color of Squirrels in Greece is dark brown, not Red) was also sighted at the village.

Syrian Woodpecker

"Red" Squirrel
Our next target was the Rock Nuthatch. We drove back to Athens and visited the northern slopes of Mt Parnitha, Athens' highest mountain and a very important area for birds

The Rock Nuthatch was there, showing up quite easily
Rock Nuthatch
A very beautiful male Blue Rock Thrush was also seen at the same site, while a Sombre Tit was "almost" seen, hiding all the time in the dense foliage. To see the Sombre Tit better, we headed towards the central part of Mt Parnitha, a part of the mountain hit by a large wildfire in 2007 but now home to several open-area loving species. The Sombre Tit was, of course, there! 

Sombre Tit
Another interesting sighting was a small herd of Cretan Wild Goats, an ungulate normally found only in the island of Crete, but now also found on Mt Parnitha as a population of escaped animals thrives on the mountain. 

Cretan Wild Goat 

Days in the winter are short, and we had no time to spend looking for Chukars. But Claudio was more than satisfied, after seeing the Syrian Woodpecker, the Rock Nuthatch and the Sombre Tit! 

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