Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Birdwatching in Athens: Two day trip, October 4-5, 2017

Todd Katz is an American biologist who came to Greece for the first time and wanted to take the most of the Athenian birdlife. That's why he contacted us and asked for a two-day trip that would include most of the birding hot spots. 

We picked him up from the airport on October 4. We drove directly to Oropos Lagoon, Athens' most important brackish wetland. Birds seen there included Flamingoes, Mediterranean Shags, lots of Grey Herons, Great and Little Egrets, Kentish Plovers etc. We also saw Slender-billed and Mediterranean Gulls, along with Sandwich Terns. 

Our next stop was Schinias National Park. We reached it through the mountains of NE Athens, stopping on the way to look for the Sombre Tit, which we found close to the village of Grammatiko. 

Little Stint@Oropos Lagoon

Sombre Tit@Grammatiko

Reaching Schinias, we first visited the Olympic Rowing Center. The lakes were full of Coots but there were also a lot of Ferruginous Ducks, Garganeys and two Pygmy Cormorants. 

Ferruginous Duck@Schinias NP

Pygmy Cormorant, Garganeys and Coots@Schinias NP

Apart from the rowing center, we walked through the central marsh which is almost dry at this time of year but still interesting due to the number of passerines. 

After Schinias we headed back to Athens and called it a day as it was late afternoon. 

The next day, we drove to Cape Sounio, we first walked around the temple of Poseidon and found lots of Chukars, a Hobby, a Turtle Dove, Tree Pipits, Blue Rock Thrushes and Alpine Swifts, among others. A single Scopoli's Shearwater was spotted off coast, along with Yellow-legged Gulls and Shags. 

Chukar@Sounio

Hobby@Sounio 

Next stop was the small Artemis Lagoon. We had very good views of Water Rails, a Black-tailed Godwit. 

Black-tailed Godwit@Artemis Lagoon

It was time to look for woodland dwellers. We drove to Athens and stopped at the Aesthetic Forest of Kaisariani, on Mt Hymettus. There we found several warblers, flycatchers, tits, robins and blackbirds, and Short-toed Treecreepers. 

Short-toed Treecreeper@Mt Hymettus

On our way to the hotel, we stopped at Lycabettus Hill, where we saw some late departing Barn Swallows, and the small stream of Pikrodafni, where we found Grey Wagtails and Rose-ringed Parakeets, both target species of Todd. 

Two days of intense birding were over. We managed to find some 78 species overall, 65 of which were new to Todd. A very productive trip indeed! 

Todd scanning the coast for shearwaters


TRIP CHECKLIST

Mute Swan Cygnus olor
Garganey Anas querquedula
Green-winged Teal Anas crecca
Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca
Chukar Alectoris chukar
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus
Scopoli's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea
Pygmy Cormorant Microcarbo pygmeus
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Great Egret Ardea alba
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Coot Fulica atra
Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
Sanderling Calidris alba
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Little Stint Calidris minuta
Common Redshank Tringa totanus
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus
Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis
Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
Little Owl Athene noctua
Alpine Swift Apus melba
Common Swift Apus apus
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Hobby Falco subbuteo
Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio
Jay Garrulus glandarius
Magpie Pica pica
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix
Crested Lark Galerida cristata
Sand Martin Riparia riparia
Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Sombre Tit Parus lugubris
Great Tit Parus major
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus
Rock Nuthatch Sitta neumayer
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus
Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
Robin Erithacus rubecula
Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
Stonechat Saxicola rubicola
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Blackbird Turdus merula
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
White Wagtail Motacilla alba
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri



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