Thursday, April 17, 2014

New Birding Guide for Greece!

A new birdwatching guide for Greece is available from the Hellenic Ornithological Society! A 240-page book, covering 33 Important Bird Areas of Greece, from pristine forests to rocky islets.

For every site, a detailed map is given, along with thorough instruction on how to get there and what to expect to see.

Needless to say, bird photographs are simply...brilliant, thanks to the effort of Chris Vlachos, who also wrote the texts.

As you have already seen in the sample pictures, the guide is in English, (translated by Lefteris Stavrakas) so you better hurry up and get a copy now!

For more information, contact the Hellenic Ornithological Society:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Spring arrivals@Vravrona

This is the best period of spring migration and every day brings new birds to Athens. Today, a Great Snipe was seen along with several Common Snipes, Wood Sandpipers and a Ruff in a flooded vineyard, very close to the wetland of Vravrona. Red-throated Pipits were also present, while Squacco Herons were fishing at the estuary of Erasinos river. Very close to the estuary, a Little Crake was foraging in the flooded banks of the river.
Squacco Herons are very common in sprin

Little Crake is regular and widespread in spring, albeit very hard to see (if someone is not patient enough)

Red-throated Pipits are usually seen in the ground, rarely perching on wires 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Isabelline Shrike at Mesolongi lagoons

Isabelline Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)
An Isabelline Shrike was recorded last week at Mesolongi lagoons, close to Neochori village. Only a handfull of sightings of this species in Greece, previously recorder twice in Athens (Spata and Schinias)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Spring migration update

One day is left for April to come and spring migrants are already building up their numbers. Nightingales are now common in Vravrona, along with Reed, Great Reed and Sedge Warblers. The Yellow-browed Warbler is stil there(!), while Woodchat Shrikes are becoming frequent sights.
The Woodchat Shrike is the most common shrike seen during migration
Loutsa Lagoon was also very productive. Black-winged Stilts, Little Stints, Ruffs, Marsh Sandpipers and a Glossy Ibis were among the newest arrivals. 

Black-winged Stilt 

Marsh Sandpiper

Glossy Ibis

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Spring migration is fascinating

Birdwatching in Athens during spring migration can be lots of fun: enjoy some recent photos!
Great Spotted Cuckoo at Rafina

Great Spotted Cuckoo at Rafina

Chukar at Pendeli mountain

Yellow wagtail at Rafina's stream

Little Ringed Plovers at Rafina's stream

Little Egret at Rafina's stream

Lesser Kestrel at Spata fields

Wood Sandpipers at Loutsa lagoon

Little Owl in tamarisk blossom, at Schinias National Park

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: East Attica Day Trip, March 16th 2014

Spring is all around and Southern Greece welcomes the first migrants from early March already. That's why a day trip east of Athens can yield many interesting species.

Our first stop was at Mt Hymettus (or Ymittos), close to the Monastery of St John Kareas. We went there before dawn to have a chance for the Scops Owl; we found three birds but, unfortunately, they gave us very few chances of seeing them. Very close to the Scops Owls, Firecrests, Jays, Great Tits were the most common birds seen. A Chukar was calling from the rocks above the monastery, but we didn't have to look for it as many more birds would be seen more closely on our way to Sarina Ravine, uphill.

This small ravine is the best site to check for Rock Nuthatches and Blue Rock Thrushes; both species were present, and especially the latter were very easy to see. The surprise of the day was the male Ruppell's Warbler (a week earlier than usual) that was singing at the top of the Kermes Oaks. Winter visitors, like Robin, Wren and Dunnock were still common while the Chukars gave us very close views as they were foraging the track, right in front of us!
Ruppell's Warbler Sylvia rueppelli is common in dense maquis scrub 

The Chukar Alectoris chukar was introduced more than 30 years ago 

Blue Rock Thrush prefers rocky otucrops, both coastal and inland
Next stop was Vravrona Wetland; a small but very important coastal wetland. Before that, a visit to a local bakery where we had some delicious pies that kept us full of energy for the rest of the day! The highlights of the day for Vravrona were the Cirl, Rock Buntings and the Penduline Tits found close to the archaeological site of the Temple of Artemis. An overwintering Yellow-browed Warbler didn't show up, unfortunately, though it was heard twice...

Before reaching the last stop of the day (Schinias National Park), we had to visit the Great-Spotted Cuckoo that had arrived close to the town of Loutsa. We were more than happy to see it, as it offered great views while perching on a bare tree for a few minutes.

Schinias National Park offered good views of the Zitting Cisticola (aka Fan-tailed Warbler), and a good number of early migrant waders: Black-winged Stilts, Little Ringed Plovers, Wood, Marsh and Green Sandpipers, along with Spotted Redshanks and Ruffs. A Great Egret was also seen, among several Grey HeronsMarsh Harriers were common while a single Hen Harrier was seen just before the end of the trip.

Penduline Tit is common in Schinias National Park and Vravrona Wetland

The day ended with a delicious dinner at Neos Voutzas, close to the city of Rafina!

The full checklist of the day:

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
Chukar Alectoris chukar
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Great Egret Ardea alba
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Water Rail Rallus aquaticus
Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
Coot Fulica atra
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
Dunlin Calidris alpina
Ruff Philomachus pugnax
Snipe Gallinago gallinago
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
Redshank Tringa totanus
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius
Scops Owl Otus scops
Little Owl Athene noctua
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Dunnock Prunella modularis
Robin Erithacus rubecula
Whinchat Saxicola rubetra
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
Blackbird Turdus merula
Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla
Sardinian Warbler Sylvia melanocephala
Ruppell's Warbler Sylvia rueppelli
Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
Firecrest Regulus ignicapilla
Great Tit Parus major
Rock Nuthatch Sitta neumayer
Short-toed Treecreeper Certhia brachydactyla
Penduline Tit Remiz pendulinus
Jay Garrulus glandarius
Magpie Pica pica
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs
Serin Serinus serinus
Greenfinch Carduelis chloris
Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis
Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus
Rock Bunting Emberiza cia
Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus
Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Arrival of the Subalpine Warblers

Subalpine Warblers are common and widespread summer visitors of middle and high altitude maquis scrub. First birds arrive in mid March and by the end of the month most of the territories are occupied by excited males that perform their characteristic "parachute" songs. In some areas, like Mt Penteli, north of Attica, and Mt Pastra in the northwest, they are literally found everywhere, being by far the most common warbler. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Great Spotted Cuckoo arrivals!

Athens has become the most reliable area to look for the Great Spotted Cuckoo as several breeding pairs have been recorded across the Prefecture. This week, an adult was seen close to Loutsa Lagoon, in a site with numerous Magpies, the favorite host of this cuckoo.
Great Spotted Cuckoo Clamator glandarius

Other favorite areas of the species are Vravrona Wetland, Cape Sounio and Schinias National Park. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Birdwatching in Athens: Great Spotted Eagle still at Schinias National Park

Great Spotted Eagle was seen yesterday at Schinias National Park. The bird arrives usually by end of November, and leaves by mid March. Together with the eagle, the first Black-headed Wagtails, Ruff, Garganey, and hirundines were recorded, so spring is just around the corner!
Great Spotted Eagle @ Schinias National Park (photo by M.Kotsakis)

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Birdwatching in Northern Greece: Evros Delta and other interesting sites

Birdwatching in Northern Greece is always rewarding, especially is you visit important bird areas sush as Evros Delta, Porto Lagos lagoons, as well as Axios Delta close to Thessaloniki. Here are some pics from a recent bird trip in the area. Interesting species observed: Spotted Eagle, Long-eared Owls (5 roosting at Kalochori), White-headed Duck (a group of 35 at Lake Vistonida)

Lanner Falcon at Evros Delta

Lanner Falcon at Evros Delta

Long-eared Owl at Kalochori

Northern Harrier at Evros Delta

Rook at Thermi's cemetery, Thessaloniki

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