Friday, August 08, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: First wave of autumn migration at Vravrona Wetland

August is here and the first autumn migrants have arrived. The Lesser Grey Shrike is always seen in the first week of the month, perching in wires close to cultivations.



Lesser Grey Shrikes are regular autumn migrants 

Families of Red-rumped Swallows sweep the sky above the wetland, taking advantage of the numerous airborne insects. 

The Red-rumped Swallow is a common and widespread summer visitor and passage migrant of Athens



 Woodchat Shrikes are also starting to migrate, even though passage birds are difficult to tell from local breeders

The Woodchat Shrike is very common in passage, both in spring and autumn

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Birdwatching in Central Greece: Storks of Meteora

A few days before their departure, young White Storks are still hanging around their nests. Their parents have already left the area and now it is time for those youngsters to start their epic journey to Africa.


The Black Storks are also getting prepared for the same journey, even though their migration is far less spectacular, due to their low numbers. Still, it has become a fairly widespread breeder in mainland Greece, from Thrace to Thessaly. The area of Meteora holds many breeding pairs of this beautiful bird.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Ferruginous Duck@Loutsa Lagoon!

The small brackish lagoon at the coastal town of Artemis (aka Loutsa) is one of the best spots for autumn wader migration. It also hosts Ferruginous Ducks, usually not more than a handful. Today, however, we had the record number of 13 Ferruginous Ducks, which is very good news for this tiny wetland! The birds may have come from Schinias National Park, the closest site that has breeding population. The majority of the birds were juvenile but there were also some adult males.

Adult male Ferruginous Duck

Juvenile Ferruginous Ducks

One thing's for sure; Autumn migration is on!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Summer warblers of Vravrona

The reedbeds and the tamarisk "jungle" of the Vravrona wetland hold significant populations of Reed and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers. Both species, of course, are very difficult to see out in the open but late July is usually a good period for photographing them as many juveniles are around and the adults are starting to build up fat for their upcoming migration to Africa, being less shy.
Olivaceous Warblers prefer trees but they can also be seen in reedbeds

Reed Warbler is a very common breeder of Vravrona,
staying always inside the dense reedbed of Erasinos river

Friday, July 25, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Cretan Wild Goats of Athens

The Cretan Wild Goat is an endemic species, its natural distribution confined to the island of Crete. A small, naturalized, population originating from captive-reared animals can also be found at Mt Parnitha, especially its western part, close to Moni Kleiston, a monastery built in the 16th century AD. The steep slopes of Arma, the highest peak of the site, provide excellent habitat for this unique creature.



Other interesting species of the area include the Crag Martin, the Rock Nuthatch and the Blue Rock Thrush. The surrounding woodland is home to tits, like Coal and Long-tailed, Cirl Buntings and finches. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Birdwatching in Peloponnese: Collared Pratincoles@Metochi mudflats, Strofylia Forest

The area of Strofylia is one of the best birdwatching destinations of the western Peloponnese, as it combines several different habitat types (wetlands, maquis scrub, conifer and deciduous woodland) and is home to a great number of rare and endangered birds. The Collared Pratincole is one of them, and the mudflats close to Prokopos Lagoon are an ideal breeding site. 



Furthermore, the extensive reedbed of Lamia, south of Prokopos is home to many species; Little Bitterns, Penduline Tits and Great Reed Warblers, like the juvenile of the photo below.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens:Snapshots of summer in Athens...

The secret colony of Bee-eaters in Athens is doing fine!

Young Great Tits discover the world 

The usually wary Jay perches out in the open

Friday, July 18, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Frogs and terrapins of summer

When the heat makes any birdwatching attempt vain, the small wetlands of Eastern Attica may provide some quite interesting alternatives for nature lovers. Few know that a very rare and critically endangered freshwater fish, the Marathon Minnow, is found in a few locations like Schinias National Park and Vravrona Wetland. Terrapins are widespread, so are the Greek Marsh Frogs, an endemic of southern Greece. 


Balkan Terrapins are the most common terrapin found near Athens, preferring ponds and slow-flowing streams



The Greek Marsh Frog is very widespread, found in every freshwater wetland

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Eleonora's Falcons over Athens!



We may be in July but Eleonora's Falcons' breeding season hasn't started yet. Birds can be still seen flying over the mainland to look for their favourite prey; large insects. Therefore, wandering individuals are often found above the Acropolis, the hill of Lycabettus and other vantage spots of Athens!


The Eleonora's Falcon is an icon of the rocky islets of the Aegean.
However, from April to July it mostly frequent the mainland. 

Apart from the Eleonora's, Alpine Swifts are the most common bird seen flying above your head, if you visit one of the hills of Athens.

It is always a joy to watch the Alpine Swift. A good photo is always a difficult task, however, especially when the summer haze drives the autofocus system crazy!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: The heat is on....


July is traditionally the hottest month of the year and the intense heat prevents most birders from going outdoors in Athens. Birds are still there, however, and albeit less active they still hang around their breeding territories...

 Hoopoes are well known to nest close to human settlements. This year has been a very successful one in terms of breeding success as we have seen more Hoopoes close to man than ever. This one was photographed at Porto Rafti, a densely populated town close to Vravrona Wetland.

On the other hand, Reed Warblers are confined to dense reedbeds, always skulking under cover. This young bird never stepped out in the open, preferring to play hide-and-seek with us...Vravrona Wetland is one of the best sites to look for it.



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