|A month of some expectation, but I had to wait ten days before
it became interesting. Since then I have been able to photograph 7
birds I haven't been able to photograph before.
2nd. For the first time we took ourselves off to Aghia reservoir
for early morning birding. This was quite an effort for us, so we
were somewhat disappointed with the sightings. The only birds
worthy of mention were 5 grey herons, 1 little egret, 1 little
bittern (juvenile), and 1 eleonoras falcon. We walked around
the "back" of the reservoir, and came across a pink lily type
flower. We couldn't tell whether someone had deposited the
bulbs some time ago, or whether the plant is truly wild. Only
one bulb from a group of 8 had flowered (see photo below). It resembles a Madonna
lily, but is pink. Maybe someone can throw some light on it?
Despite the somewhat disappointing birding, it was lovely to be
there at that time of day, and I for one will do it again. (sunrise
Photo above by and © A&M
Photo above by and © A&M
3rd. An afternoon drive to Kala Sikia area mainly on
unmade roads. Many small flocks of goldfinches and linnets, but one flock included
about 10 ortolan buntings, which hung around at some distance after
the other birds had moved on.
5th. c35 white storks seen over the bay from our house, and, for the
first time, 2 eleonoras in the same area over the sea.
6th. An hour after dark we heard bee eaters somewhere above the
house. Not heard them at night before. The following morning about
60-70 were high above the house, before moving on.
7th. An increasing number of spotted flycatchers and red-backed
shrikes in our local area. Over the bay we are seeing a large flock
of small birds skimming the water endlessly. This has been going on
for over a week now, but they are never close enough to the beach to
identify. Our best guess is cory shearwater, mainly from the colour
and the size of the flock - often in excess of 500.
Spotted Flycatcher - Photo above by and © A&M
10th. A walk up to Kallergi Hut from the Samaria Gorge entrance. We
(Tony Ward and myself) were entertained by bee eaters and choughs
enroute, but little else to report. Once there, none of the birds I
had hoped for, but a first sighting of isabelline wheatear made it
memorable. As far as large birds were concerned, just 2 griffons
and some ravens. We were there around lunchtime, and I guess
another time of day may have proved more productive? Enroute to
Omalos, and for a change I was not driving, I had a fine view of a
red kite flying over the National Highway near Chania hospital.
13th. A return to the southern slopes of Psiloritis in search of
nuthatches. As sure as we were the first time, no luck with any
sightings of them this time. Flies were a real nuisance and we were
confined to picnicking in the car. Two sightings of short-toed
treecreepers through binoculars brightened up our lunch. The
majority of birds seen in this area, at 1,400 metres, were
chaffinches, wrens, great tits, spotted flycatchers and crag
martins. A single redstart stayed within our picnic area for an
hour or so. At 1,000 metres it was mainly northern wheatears, but
fewer than our earlier visit.
Our route to Psiloritis was via the new dam near Amari. About the
same level of water as previous visit, but this time 2 grey herons
were seen and an unidentified brown duck, probably tufted or
ferruginous, but a long way off.
14th. A pedalo trip with my grandson along the Georgioupolis river.
Didn't take my camera, which was a mistake. Enroute we disturbed 10
purple herons from an overhanging tree - it would have been a great
pic as they were not far away! Then a kingfisher remained in situ
on a branch within 5 metres of us passing by. Another photo
17th. A drive taking in Kalikratis and Asfendou. As we left
Georgioupolis a hoopoe flew alongside the car for a moment or two,
and as we passed the lake viewpoint at the end of the eucalyptus
avenue, a marsh harrier swept past at low level. Nothing more was
seen until we stopped high above Imbros. A large flock of
c60 ravens erupted over a far ridge, and griffons began appearing -
each was looked at just in case it was something more interesting! -
but no. An unlikely sighting of a wren, in relative open
countryside, gave me an opportunity for a first photo of this bird.
Further along we had many bee eaters on telegraph wires and then a
pipit, with feathers being ruffled by the wind. We believe
this to be a tree pipit, which if correct would be another first for
us on Crete.
Photo above by and © A&M - Wren and interesting
20th. Our first really wet and overcast day for 4 months. A willow
warbler appeared in the garden - first this year. A single eleonora's seen over the bay, and a flock of c50 little egrets
circled the bay for a while before moving on.
21st. A breakfast treat! Presumably yesterday's weather
contributed to the first sighting of a subalpine warbler in our
garden. This was another first on Crete for us and hung around for
about half an hour. Many pics, one attached. The weather remained
mixed, and in the afternoon a spot of birding from our bedroom
window revealed a whitethroat, and then an olivaceous warbler. So,
three photos of birds I've previously not photographed, and all in
Photo above by and © A&M
A quick look at the Georgioupolis viewpoint late morning had
revealed 3 grey herons, one squacco, 2 common sandpipers and 2 wood
A walk "behind" Vamos before dark turned up two more whitethroats, a
willow warbler, a clear view, albeit momentarily, of a cetti's
warbler, a couple of spotted flycatchers and a flock of c20 bee
eaters, which was a nice finish to the day.
22nd. An afternoon trip, starting with a brief stop at Moronis River
nature reserve. We had to walk as far as the beach before any bird
was seen. Then, following a common sandpiper along the beach, it
led me to a redshank and 6 dunlin feeding off the water's edge.
Walking back a willow warbler showed itself, and a kingfisher sped
along the river.
Next stop was Aghia reservoir, where we stayed until almost dusk.
We were entertained the whole time by a young whiskered tern (see
photo below), which used every part of the lake to feed. Sand martins,
later joined by swallows and a single alpine swift filled the air
above the lake. Scanning the lake, we saw one purple heron, one
grey, one little egret, one marsh harrier, several shoveller, little
grebes, kingfishers seemed everywhere, and then a juvenile spotted
redshank. The latter was confirmed to me by a Danish birder, with a
group. They were holidaying nearby and visited the lake every day.
Yesterday they had seen pallid swift and ferruginous duck there.
Photo above by and © A&M
25th. A flock of c30 white storks flying around the bay - seen from
26th. A brief stop by the Georgioupolis viewpoint. A single
redshank, 4 little stint, 2 common sandpiper, and a single common
27th. We took some English friends, out here on holiday, to Omalos.
Enroute, a coffee stop at Aghia revealed the whiskered tern still
there. A single eleonoras flew past overhead. Many kingfishers
around, which were "firsts" for our friends. Up at Omalos at the
Samaria entrance where we lunched at the higher taverna - many
choughs and crag martins. Then, Hawkeye did it again! A
lammergeier drifted high away from us, near Gingolis peak. The
shape was diagnostic, and the quick photo taken confirms it despite
Having introduced our friends to the kingfisher - and a pair of
binoculars!, we then introduced them to the hunt for walnuts and
chestnuts. Our route passed many of these trees and our bags were
full by the time we returned home.
28th. It has poured with rain overnight, and we are hoping that
something interesting may turn up again. So far, a bedraggled
whinchat is sitting on the telephone line looking a bit sorry for
itself, and the garden is full of sparrows and great tits....... and
that's all we saw today!
29th. Took our friends to Souda Bay War Cemetery. Many yellow
wagtails in the undergrowth beyond the cemetery itself. A single
whinchat on the lawns and the largest flock of sparrows I've ever
seen - probably upwards of 150.
30th. A final look at the Georgioupolis viewpoint this afternoon.
2 redshank, 3 little-ringed plovers, 1 wood sandpiper, 2 common
sandpipers, 1 common snipe, 1 little egret and 1 kingfisher.