Monday, July 15, 2019

Birdwatching in Greece: Athens Full Day Trip, June 8 2019

Rob Van Epps in an enthusiastic nature lover who as on vacation on the island of Santorini and was so determined to see some cool birds that he flew from Santorini on Saturday, Jun 6 to go birding with us.

Picking him from the airport early in the morning, we headed straight to the adjacent farmland, to look for the Black-headed Bunting and the Rufous Bush Robin. We found both of them and had some really nice photos.

Rufous Bush Robin

Black-headed Bunting
There were also lots of Common Swifts, Crested Larks, Barn Swallows, as well as a Little Grebe and a Moorhen in a ditch close to the airport. 

We then moved north, to the still-flooded Spata fields. The Ferruginous Ducks were one of the highlights along with the Black-winged Stilts, the Great Reed Warblers and the Zitting Cisticolas. A Short-toed Eagle flew overhead while, Alpine and Common Swifts were flying around all the time. 

Ferruginous Duck
It was time for one of the Athenian specialties: the Ruppell's Warbler. We drove west and reached Mt Hymettus, where we managed to find one bright male at its usual post. 
Ruppell's Warbler
It was time for Mt Parnitha, Athens' highest mountain. The main target, the Sombre Tit, was found rather easily and along with that we saw Lesser Whitethroats (the sole breeding area in Athens), Red-backed Shrikes, Subalpine Warblers, Black Redstarts, Woodlarks, Nightingales, lots of finches and Cirl Buntings, among other species. 

Subalpine Warbler
Leaving Mt Parnitha, we headed east and reached Mt Penteli. Thre, we saw Rock Nuthatches, Cretzschmar's Buntings and a Tawny Pipit, which is a rare summer visitor to Athens. There were also Blue Rock Thrushes, Black-eared Wheatears, Stonechats etc. 

Tawny Pipit

The last stop for the day was Vravrona wetland. There we found Green Sandpipers, most probably very early fall migrants, Little Egrets, a Peregrine Falcon with prey in its tallons (most probably a chick Black-winged Stilt from Spata Fields or Artemis Lagoon), dozens of swifts (including Pallid), Cetti's and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and Goldfinches.  

The day was over and the tally was 57 species. Rob was very happy to have seen many lifers in a single day! 
                                                                   
TRIP CHECKLIST

Ferruginous Duck - Aythya nyroca
Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis
Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto
Alpine Swift - Apus melba
Common Swift - Apus apus
Pallid Swift - Apus pallidus
Water Rail - Rallus aquaticus
Common Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus
Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra
Black-winged Stilt - Himantopus himantopus
Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus
Yellow-legged Gull - Larus michahellis
Little Egret - Egretta garzetta
Short-toed Eagle - Circaetus gallicus
Common Buzzard - Buteo buteo
Common Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus
Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus
Red-backed Shrike - Lanius collurio
Common Magpie - Pica pica
Hooded Crow - Corvus cornix
Woodlark - Lullula arborea
Crested Lark - Galerida cristata
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Common House Martin - Delichon urbicum
Coal Tit - Periparus ater
Sombre Tit - Poecile lugubris
Great Tit - Parus major
Western Rock Nuthatch - Sitta neumayer
Short-toed Treecreeper - Certhia brachydactyla
Cetti's Warbler - Cettia cetti
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - Iduna pallida
Eurasian Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus scirpaceus
Great Reed Warbler - Acrocephalus arundinaceus
Zitting Cisticola - Cisticola juncidis
Lesser Whitethroat - Sylvia curruca
RΓΌppell's Warbler - Sylvia ruppeli
Subalpine Warbler - Sylvia cantillans
Sardinian Warbler - Sylvia melanocephala
Common Whitethroat - Sylvia communis
Spotted Flycatcher - Muscicapa striata
Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin - Cercotrichas galactotes
Common Nightingale - Luscinia megarhynchos
Black Redstart - Phoenicurus ochruros
Blue Rock Thrush - Monticola solitarius
European Stonechat - Saxicola rubicola
Northern Wheatear - Oenanthe oenanthe
Black-eared Wheatear - Oenanthe hispanica
Eurasian Blackbird - Turdus merula
Tawny Pipit - Anthus campestris
Common Chaffinch - Fringilla coelebs
Common Linnet - Linaria cannabina
European Goldfinch - Carduelis carduelis
European Serin - Serinus serinus
Black-headed Bunting - Emberiza melanocephala
Cirl Bunting - Emberiza cirlus
Cretzschmar's Bunting - Emberiza caesia
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus




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