A&M Report No 9, August 2008
Just a quickie. Margaret and I passed the huge dam near the Amari valley recently and were surprised the road now takes you across the dam, with parking and viewing spots enroute.  Even more surprising was the fact that there is some water there now!  See photo below.  This area promises to be another "Bramiana" and we shall monitor the rise in water levels over the coming year.  There has never been much traffic in this area and hopefully this will attract some species before long.

Photo by and A&M

A short visit to Agia on 7th resulted in sighting of single green sandpiper. (see photo below).  Nothing else of note there.

Green Sandpiper - Photo by and A&M


20th Aug:  Another hot day, so we decided to stay air-conditioned and drive to the Psiloritis refuge called Toubotos Prinos.  This is about 1,500 metres up the southern slopes of Psiloritis , off the east side of the Amari valley - a road that you started to attempt with us in your hire car last May.  Prior to reaching that road, I heard, and then Margaret saw, a couple of bee-eaters. At the same spot a juvenile woodchat was lunching on a cicada which it had impailed on a spike, and we believe we glimpsed a redstart in the same area.  Enroute to the refuge we encountered dozens of northern wheatears.  At the top - what a disappointment!  The refuge was shuttered up, nobody there and the area was vast and open.  No birds other than the usual ravens and griffons gliding along the high ridges.  We picnicked and then started our descent.  Things improved when we started seeing several young spotted flycatchers in a wooded area.  Then, an eagle, which appeared to be a lesser spotted, but it didn't hang around long enough.  Back in the lightly wooded area, Margaret and I separated, only to return having both seen two short-toed treecreepers.  However, the unlikely sightings that, again, we both reported back to each other, was a first sighting of a nuthatch, presumably rock nuthatch. There must be many more treecreepers in this area and possibly nuthatches too.  It is worth mentioning that this wooded area was at about 1,200 metres.  Time was getting on and, frustratingly, photo opportunities just did not present themselves.  Driving home via Arkadi Monastery, we stopped at a newly excavated area and watched 50+ ravens swirling around.  Then, amongst them a female marsh harrier, and then a black kite (surprisingly similar to the female harrier).  I have pics of the harrier, but you already have much better ones on the website.

We plan to make a re-run of this trip in mid-September and hope to get a photo or two for you.  In the meantime, a pic of the refuge and the surrounding area, taken from the end of the track a few hundred metres beyond the refuge.

Most likely a Rock Nuthatch but only one record in A Birdwatching Guide to Crete back in 1989 so a very, very elusive/restricted bird on Crete, hope A&M can refind, definitely identify and photograph it, Roy

Refuge - Photo by and A&M

24th Aug.  A drive south of Rethymno towards the gorges, using little known roads, some of which are now being prepared for tarmaccing.  No photos today, but a list of sightings that included, one solitary eleonora's falcon, six hoopoes in various areas, but all in and around sizeable trees.  Two juvenile spotted flycatchers, a single woodchat, a single whinchat and then our first red-backed shrikes of the autumn - two with fresh adult plumage.

26th Aug.  Bee-eaters heard above the house.  Drapanos area - blue rock thrush, woodchat, red-backed shrike and whinchat (see photo of latter).  One interesting sighting today at the house you rented this year - a raven flew between the houses.  Haven't seen one this low before!

Whinchat - Photo by and A&M

27th Aug.  Our monthly trip to the bank in Chania was extended to include Agia.  The water was the lowest we've seen (see pic) - another week or two and there will be none at all!  We will go again soon.  Today there were four eleonoras, three common buzzards, three grey herons, one purple heron, one little egret, one wood sandpiper, four kingfishers, one white wagtail and a few yellow ones. A complete family of little grebes, including three chicks.

Finally we are just starting to see large flocks congregating over Almyros Bay.  From the house we can't yet identify them, especially as the weather has been very hazy lately.

All best


Agia - Photo by and A&M

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