Monday, April 08, 2019

Birdwatching in Athens: Full day trip, April 5 2019

Spring migration is at its best and a full day around Athens is certain to yield a good number species.

Chris and Pam from Washington DC had a day free while in Athens and the initial arrangement was for Saturday, April 6 but we had to change it to Friday, 5 because the weather forecast was not very optimistic about Saturday.

We started very early on Friday morning (05.45) because we searched for the Scops Owl at Lycabettus Hill, a quite easy task actually as by 06.15 we were already heading to our next stop: Mt Hymettus.

On Mt Hymettus, we visited the Aesthetic Forest of Kaisariani to look for the Tawny Owl and passerines like the Short-toed Treecreeper and the Firecrest. We managed to get great views of all three along with lots of Blackbirds, Jays, Great Tits and a couple of Cirl Buntings.

It was time to move to Vravrona Wetland, the very beautiful site of the east coast. Two Little Crakes were seen for a while as they were foraging in the river Erasinos flooded banks. Mute Swans, along with Great, Little Egret, Grey and Night Herons were also seen at the estuary. The most interesting passerine seen was the Eastern Bonelli's Warbler, while several other warlblers (Cetti's, Sardinian, Sedge, Willow and Chiffchaff) were also present.

Little Crake

Eastern Bonelli's Warbler
Spata Fields was the next destination; a very rainy winter and early spring has transformed large part of the cultivated area to a vast freshwater lagoon. Dozens of Ruffs and Wood Sandpipers were there, along with Garganeys, Little Grebes, Coots and Moorhens. The surrounding dry land was full of migrants like the Yellow Wagtail, the Tawny Pipit and wheatears (Northern and Black-eared). Two Short-toed Eagles passed through and a pair of Great Spotted Cuckoos passed overhead. 

The next destination was even richer in birds. Schinias National Park, the most importand freshwater wetland of Athens was full of waders: Greenshanks, Spotted Redshanks, Black-winged Stilts, Black-tailed Godwits, Wood, Green and Marsh Sandpipers were easily seen in the area. Migrant Garganeys and breeding Ferruginous Ducks were also widespread along with Little Egrets, Purple Herons and Glossy Ibises. 

Spotted Redshank

Glossy Ibis

Ferruginous Duck
It was time to leave Schinias and make a quick pass on Mt Penteli to look for the Cretzschmar's Bunting; we found it quite easily and headed to Mt Hymettus again, this time to the top of the mountain for the Ruppell's Warbler. The Ruppell's was, again, very cooperative and a Chukar was the last bird to be seen by us. The total number of bird species was 86, a full day indeed!

Ruppell's Warbler

Chukar

A last-minute 'selfie' 
TRIP CHECKLIST

Mute Swan - Cygnus olor
Garganey - Spatula querquedula
Northern Shoveler - Spatula clypeata
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
Eurasian/Green-winged Teal - Anas crecca
Ferruginous Duck - Aythya nyroca
Chukar - Alectoris chukar
Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
Rock Dove - Columba livia
Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
Great Spotted Cuckoo - Clamator glandarius
Common/Pallid Swift - Apus apus/pallidus
Water Rail - Rallus aquaticus
Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra
Little Crake - Zapornia parva
Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
Little Ringed Plover - Charadrius dubius
Black-tailed Godwit - Limosa limosa
Ruff - Calidris pugnax
Common Snipe - Gallinago gallinago
Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus
Spotted Redshank - Tringa erythropus
Common Greenshank - Tringa nebularia
Marsh Sandpiper - Tringa stagnatilis
Wood Sandpiper - Tringa glareola
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
Caspian Tern - Hydroprogne caspia
Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea
Purple Heron - Ardea purpurea
Great White Egret - Ardea alba
Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
Black-crowned Night-Heron - Nycticorax nycticorax
Glossy Ibis - Plegadis falcinellus
Short-toed Eagle - Circaetus gallicus
Western Marsh Harrier - Circus aeruginosus
Eurasian Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus
Common Buzzard - Buteo buteo
Eurasian Scops Owl - Otus scops
Little Owl - Athene noctua
Tawny Owl - Strix aluco
Eurasian Hoopoe - Upupa epops
Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus
Ring-necked Parakeet - Psittacula krameri
Eurasian Jay - Garrulus glandarius
Common Magpie - Pica pica
Hooded Crow - Corvus cornix
Woodlark - Lullula arborea
Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Coal Tit - Periparus ater
Great Tit - Parus major
Long-tailed Tit - Aegithalos caudatus
Short-toed Treecreeper - Certhia brachydactyla
Common Firecrest - Regulus ignicapilla
Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti
Eastern Bonelli's Warbler - Phylloscopus orientalis
Willow Warbler - Phylloscopus trochilus
Common Chiffchaff - Phylloscopus collybita
Sedge Warbler - Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Great Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
Eurasian Blackcap - Sylvia atricapilla
RΓΌppell's Warbler - Sylvia ruppeli
Subalpine Warbler - Sylvia cantillans
Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
European Robin - Erithacus rubecula
European Stonechat - Saxicola rubicola
Northern Wheatear - Oenanthe oenanthe
Black-eared Wheatear - Oenanthe hispanica
Song Thrush - Turdus philomelos
Eurasian Blackbird - Turdus merula
Western Yellow Wagtail - Motacilla flava
Tawny Pipit - Anthus campestris
Meadow Pipit - Anthus pratensis
Common Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs
European Greenfinch - Chloris chloris
European Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
European Serin - Serinus serinus
Eurasian Siskin - Spinus spinus
Corn Bunting - Emberiza calandra
Cirl Bunting - Emberiza cirlus
Cretzschmar's Bunting - Emberiza caesia
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus
Eurasian Tree Sparrow - Passer montanus




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