Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Birdwatching Athens: birding weekend March 25th-26th

Greece Bird Tours organized a tailor made birding trip around various locations in Athens, for canadian birder Burke Korol, from Toronto. Burke had an extensive life list of 2900 species and was seeking some of the countries specialties. We managed to find about 60-65% of the desired species, only missing some later arrivals.
The first day we started from Oropos Lagoon, were there were plenty of waders, ducks and raptors. We enjoyed 3 Kentish Plovers on the beach, Little Ringed Plovers, Marsh Sandpipers, a few Black-headed Wagtails, and some Cirl Buntings.

Cirl Bunting at Oropos Lagoon, Athens

 We continued at towards Marathon area, and started birdwatching aroung Schinias National Park. A Little Owl was sitting on the road next to the main road, so Burke had very good views and took some nice photos. Other highlights in the marshes were a Spotted Crake, Ferruginous Ducks, Blue Rock Thrush in the surrounding hills, and a few Red-rumped Swallows.

Black-headed Wagtail at Schinias National Park, Athens
We really wanted to see Sombre Tit, so we headed north, to Grammatiko fields. We managed to have good views of a few birds that we singing between the olive orchards.
Sombre Tit at Grammatiko, Athens 

 We made another stop at Pendeli Mt were we have excellent views of recently arrived Subalpine Warblers. Also, a Raven was soaring around the rocky summits, mobbed by Common Kestrels and Common Buzzards.
Raven at Pendeli Mt, Athens
 Our next day started with Kesariani Monastery. Sparrowhawk, Wood Warbler, Coal Tit, Sardinian Warblers and Cirl Bunting were the most interesting sightings. Since Burke was interested in both flora and fauna of Athens, we both loved to see Marginated Tortoises that seemed very active!

Marginated Tortoises in Athens
We drove up to the summit of Hymettus Mt looking for Rueppell's Warbler. Although it was rather early for their arrival, we saw 3 birds at an altitude of 850m, very close to the top of the mountain. A few Subalpine Warblers were singing from the bushes, along with Sardinian Warblers.
Rueppell's Warbler in Hymettus Mt, Athens
Our last location for the bird trip was Vravrona Estuary, east from Athens International Airport. We were lucky to see numerous flocks of Yelkouan Shearwaters, a total of about 200 birds. Together with them, we also saw 3 Cory's Shearwaters and a Shag, all being lifers for Burke! Close to the paved little bridge of Erasinos stream, we had a Little Crake, chased by two Water Rails.
Little Crake at Vravrona, Athens
Our last stop next to the archeological site of Artemis Temple, did not bring us Penduline Tit that we were looking for, but a very curious and rather tame Stoat that responding to our pishing sounds!
A very friendly Stoat at Vravrona, Athens
Burke from Toronto, birding with Greece Bird Tours
Here's is the Bird List (87 species )for the two days birding around Athens

Cory's Shearwater
Yelkouan Shearwater
Great Crested Grebe
Little Grebe
Black-necked Grebe
Great Cormorant
Little Egret
Grey Heron
Great White Egret
Mute Swan
Ferruginous Duck
Little Crake
Spotted Crake
Water Rail
Common Buzzard
Common Kestrel
Marsh Harrier
Northern Harrier
Grey Plover
Little Ringed Plover
Kentish Plover
Black-winged Stilt
Marsh Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Little Stint
Yellow-legged Gull
Mediterranean Gull
Sandwich Tern
Collared Dove
Little Owl
Common Swift
House Martin
Barn Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow
 Meadow Pipit
Tree Pipit
Water Pipit
Crested Lark
Black-headed Wagtail
White Wagtail
Grey Wagtail
Rock Nuthatch
Northern Wheatear
Blue Rock Thrush
Great Tit
Coat Tit
Zitting Cisticola
Cetti's Warbler
Wood Warbler
Sardinian Warbler
Rueppell's Warbler
Subalpine Warbler
House Sparrow
Tree Sparrow
Corn Bunting
Cirl Bunting

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