Friday, February 27, 2015

Birdwatching in Greece: Cretan specialties

The island of Crete is the best place in Greece to look for large birds of prey, like the Griffon Vulture, the Bearded Vulture and the Golden Eagle. Its rugged terain offers great nesting sites and the thousands of free-ranging goats and sheep provide ample food supply.

The Bearded Vulture (aka Lammergeier) is a very rare raptor,
a handful of pairs are nesting in Crete

The Griffon Vulture is very common and widespread
Another common bird of the Cretan mountains is the Chough. Flocks of up to 100 birds can be easily seen in most of the mountain ranges, from sea level to the alpine zone. 

Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
 But it's not just the mountains; coastal areas can also provide very interesting species, like the Pallas' s Gull (Larus ichthyaetus) found in the port of Herakleio.

Pallas's Gull Larus ichthyaetus

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Birdwatching in Athens: The first House Martins have arrived!

The first House Martins of the year were seen at Vravrona Wetland, in the afternoon of February 6th! This species is always the first to arrive, and Vravrona is one of the best places to look for such an early migrant.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Birdwatching in Greece: Evros Delta day trip, January 14th, 2015

Evros Delta is one of the top Greek birding destinations in winter. Thousands of waterfowl, lots of raptors and several rarities render this site the place to be in January and February.

Even a single day is enough to get most of its specialties (Lesser White-fronted and Red-breasted Goose, Lesser Spotted Eagle, etc)!

Smews are regular but rare

The Dalmatian Pelican has become very common and regular in winter

Red-breasted Goose is among the least common winter visitors

Lots of Great Spotted Eagles are foraging the flat expanses of the Delta
The complete checklist (74 species)

Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)
Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus)
Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)
Smew (Mergellus albellus)
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Pygmy Cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmaeus)
Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus)
Gray Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Great Egret (Ardea alba)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Greater Spotted Eagle (Clanga clanga)
Eurasian Marsh-Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)
Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Slender-billed Gull (Chroicocephalus genei)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull (Larus canus)
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
Syrian Woodpecker (Dendrocopos syriacus)
Eurasian Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica)
Rook (Corvus frugilegus)
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)
Common Raven (Corvus corax)
Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calandra)
Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)
Sky Lark (Alauda arvensis)
Great Tit (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Cetti's Warbler (Cettia cetti)
Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta)
Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)
Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
Eurasian Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)
European Serin (Serinus serinus)
Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Little Bustard seen in Thrace, Northern Greece!

The Little Bustard is a very rare winter visitor to Greece; very few birds are seen every year and the vast majority are found in the northern areas. I was very luck to come across one individual, while on a bird trip in the region of Thrace, close to the borders with Turkey!
It was standing some 30 meters away, feeding on seeds and other plant material, moving with caution but sometimes being very confiding.

I really enjoyed that rarity, I only hope it will survive the winter because despite their small numbers, they are frequently shot by hunters...

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Birdwatching in Athens: Vravrona on ice!

Snow in Athens is not very common, especially in the coastal areas. I hadn't actually seen Vravrona wetland in white before!
Snow reached the coast!
There are also numerous birds at the area; Great Egrets, Jack Snipes, Mediterranean Gulls, Slender-billed Gulls, Spanish Sparrows, Rock Buntings and many more!

Spanish Sparrows are regular winter visitors to Vravrona

Reed Buntings are abundant, even in "dry" areas

Rock Buntings are regular, though scarce, winter visitors

Monday, January 05, 2015

Birdwatching in Athens: Vravrona's wintering highlights

After a few days of sunshine, the rains (and snows) are back in Athens! This means that birding trips are not as easy going as they usually are; on the other hand, if you are persistent (and lucky) you can have a lot of interesting encounters, even under heavy rain:
The Jack Snipe is a widespread winter visitor, but very difficult to find

Mediterranean Gulls are frequent winter visitors

All the fields are full of finches, like those Serins

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Birdwatching in Athens: Interesting winter visitors to Vravrona

The small wetland of Vravrona is a very nice choice for those who don't have much time and still want to enjoy some really interesting species in winter.
The Great Egret is a regular winter visitor, always seen in the coastal zone

Slender-billed Gulls are scarce but regular sightings

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Wishes for a very happy 2015!

At last, the snow has fallen in Athens! All the major mountain ranges of Attica received good amounts of snowfall the last couple of days and that filled all of us with joy, because lots of accidental visitors may come along!

We wish a very happy new year to all of you!

May 2015 be a year of joy, prosperity and (of course) lots of birding trips!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Wintering Wrynecks at Vravrona Wetland!

The Wryneck is a fairly common passage migrant and summer visitor, even though its secretive habits make it very difficult to be seen. It is also a very rare winter visitor, its observation being much more hard as it very rarely calls during the winter.

Therefore, I was really surprised to find not just one but three Wrynecks calling from a stand of large bushes at the wetland of Vravrona!

The birds never showed up in the open...

The olive trees seem to have attracted the birds as they are full of delicious fruits

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Rare Kittiwake sighting!

The Kittiwake is a very rare winter visitor of Greece. Every year, very few birds are seen, mainly due to the species preference of open seas. However, every now and then a juvenile bird chooses a harbor to rest and then it offers great views. Needless to say, such an occurence is a great event for Greek birdwatchers!

This year, a juvenile was found at the small coastal town of Stylida, very close to Lamia in central Greece. The bird was seen along with Black-headed Gulls, showing no fear and providing excellent views and shots!

Perched with a group of Black-headed Gulls

Quite active, flying away quite a few times, but always returning to the same spot

Very tame, it allowed some really close shots

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