Thursday, November 23, 2017

Birding in Athens: Full day trip, Oct 10, 2017

Alexander Yates is an American writer and nature lover who has travelled around the world since his early childhood. He and his wife Terhi decided to spend a few days in Greece and see as many birds as possible around Athens.

As his experience on Balkan birds was rather limited, he had a long 'wish list' so the itinerary included as many different habitats and sites as possible.

We started before dawn and headed to Lycabettus Hill, dowtown Athens, to look for Scops Owls, one of Alex's lifers. We saw a couple of birds, along with Blackbirds, Robins and Alpine Swifts, in less than half an hour.

Leaving Lycabettus, we drove north and reached Oropos Lagoon, the most important brackish wetlands of the area. The first wintering gulls had arrived; Slender-billed, Mediterranean and Black-headed. Sandwich Terns were also present, along with lots of waders; Dunlins, Sanderlings, Kentish, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers included. Flamingos, lots of Egrets and ducks had also arrived. Passerines of interest included Sardinian Warblers and Penduline Tits. Migrants like Pallid Swifts and Red-rumped Swallows were still present, flying low enough to give us wonderful views.

Pallid Swift

Sardinian Warbler

Sanderling
Birding in Oropos Lagoon

Great Egrets and Flamingos in the background


We left Oropos and drove southeast towards Schinias National Park. We stopped on the way to look for Sombre Tits and we managed to see a couple of these low-profile birds.

Sombre Tit
Schinias National Park, the most important freshwater wetland of Athens, is the best place to see Ferruginous Ducks. More than 20 were seen, along with Garganeys, Shovelers, Common Pochards and a couple of Pygmy Cormorants, a rare bird in Athens. 

Pygmy Cormorants and Garganey

We left Schinias and drove back to Athens with a few stops at Rafina Stream, Artemis Lagoon and Spata Fields. We enjoyed very good views of Water Rails at Artemis Lagoon, while a Yellow-browed Warbler was briefly seen at Spata Fields.

Before going back to the hotel, we had a last stop at the Aesthetic Forest of Kaisariani where we saw Hawfinches, Coal and Blue Tits, Spotted and Red-breasted Flycatchers, Firecrests and Short-toed Treecreepers. 

A total of 89 birds were recorded on the trip. A full day indeed!

TRIP CHECKLIST

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Garganey (Spatula querquedula)
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
Pygmy Cormorant (Microcarbo pygmeus)
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
European Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Gray Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Great Egret (Ardea alba)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)
Eurasian Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
Sanderling (Calidris alba)
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
European Scops-Owl (Otus scops)
Alpine Swift (Apus melba)
Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)
Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)
Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica)
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica)
Coal Tit (Periparus ater)
Sombre Tit (Poecile lugubris)
Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit (Parus major)
Eurasian Penduline-Tit (Remiz pendulinus)
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
Western Rock Nuthatch (Sitta neumayer)
Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla)
Firecrest (Regulus ignicapilla)
Cetti's Warbler (Cettia cetti)
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus)
Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala)
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva)
Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)
Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava)
Gray Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)
Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus)
Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)
Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)
European Greenfinch (Chloris chloris)
Eurasian Linnet (Linaria cannabina)
European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
European Serin (Serinus serinus)
Eurasian Siskin (Spinus spinus)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)
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