A&M’s LOCAL BIRDING DIARY - August 2012

 Hi Everyone,

There have been no birds to report on during the entire first week of August, which has been memorable only because of the hot and oppressive weather – day and night.

The second half of the month should see the first autumn migrants passing through.

 FROM THE HOUSE

 8th.

One week earlier than last year, we see our first flock of c50 pintail flying low across the bay.  Identification from the house isn’t really possible, but these birds were acting exactly like the similar flocks in the same area last year, which we were able to identify and photograph from the beach.  Also today, a single griffon flew high over the house, something we only see 2 or 3 times a year from our own property.  Finally, our first sighting since spring of sand martins.  A small flock were noisily hunting flies above the house, too high and too quick for photos.

 9th.

Slightly larger flock of pintail over the bay, shortly before sunset.

 13th.

Early evening we see a woodchat shrike perched on a small dead tree.  This same tree has been used by woodchats throughout the summer in several of the past years, but this bird is probably a migrant, as it’s our first sighting here for a few months.

 14th.

Having breakfast on our terrace, we have glimpses of a whitethroat at the back of the garden.

 15th.

While scanning the area from our terrace, we see our first red-backed shrike of the autumn migration.  With the lesser grey seen on our travels on 12th, we now have a “full set” of shrikes in the first half of the month.

 18th.

This evening we have our first sighting of little egrets flying low over the bay.  Although my photos can’t do justice to the distant sighting, they do enable me to do a count – two flocks of 65 and 18 birds respectively.

 19th.

Our local pair of common buzzards continue to encourage their single offspring to find its own food.  The youngster calls throughout the day – a plaintive whistling call.  This morning my photo shows this bird in full cry.

 

juv common buzzard

 

23rd.

This evening we count four red-backed shrikes opposite the house – all at the same time, in the same area.  Three adults and a juvenile.  It’s humid and all the hirundines are about, plus alpine swifts.

 27th.

A surprise this morning.  While finishing breakfast I spotted a wryneck in the garden.  It was nestled in the “V” of an olive tree trunk.  I had no camera to hand, and as I called Margaret, a van came past the house and the bird flew away.

 This is our 76th species sighted from the house.

 29th.

Some larger flocks now being seen at distance across the bay, mainly herons.  Then, a large “white” flock, which turned out to be little egrets (c.250), with twelve purple herons tagging along.

 

little egrets

 

little egrets

 

 GEORGIOUPOLI VIEWPOINT

 10th.

My first look here for about five weeks, and only garganey to mention.  Three seen dabbling with the resident coots. (five by 18th).

 29th.

Finally, the water level is lower!  First “new” arrivals are three ferruginous ducks.  More distant I counted five waders – they appear to be green sandpipers.

 30th.

First sighting since May of marsh harrier.  We believe this female is actually resident here, but is rarely seen in high summer.

 KALIVAKI MEADOWS

 Much cultivation has taken place here during the summer – the recession is making people use their land more – and a quick look round on 17th revealed nothing but sparrows and crows.  On 23rd, the same, plus a spotted flycatcher.

 KAVROS MEADOWS

 All quiet here during all of August.

 NORTH COAST BEACHES (KALIVAKI TO PETRES)

 23rd.

A brief look at the little river mouth between Kavros and Petres revealed six little ringed plovers, a kingfisher, and then glimpses of both great reed warbler and sedge warbler behind the beach.

 30th.

At Kalivaki, a flock of herons came in off the bay, circled and made off again.  Whilst all appeared to be grey, I identified a few odd purple amongst them.

 

grey herons

 

grey herons

 

OUR TRAVELS

 12th.

We take a late afternoon drive to Kallikratis, via Argyroupolis and Asi Gonia.  Not really expecting any worthwhile sightings, we are very surprised to find a lesser grey shrike hunting near Argyroupolis.  For us this is two weeks earlier than any previous sighting of this species, and a photo is just possible.  Then, as we ascend the torturous road from Asi Gonia, a large bird is seen being mobbed by a crow.  The crow looks tiny, and Margaret and I both call out – lammergeier!  It was a sub adult bird.  Photos were very distant, as the bird headed for the mountains behind Asi Gonia.  We continued to Kallikratis hoping it would return, but didn’t see it again.  At Kallikratis we had a female ortolan bunting, juvenile cirl bunting, woodchats and spotted flycatchers.  Many other common species too, so a productive drive.

 

lesser grey shrike

 

lammergeier

 

ortolan

 

 22nd.

An early evening drive to Drapanos Head, expecting red-backed shrikes to be the main sightings.  We were right – 3 adult males, 1 adult female, and at least 10 juveniles!  One good sighting of Margaret’s favourite bird, the hoopoe, also seen, and this is her photo.

 

red-backed shrike male

 

hoopoe

 

 24th.

Two lesser grey shrikes seen during a drive this evening.  This year’s count of this species is set to be our best ever.

 ….and two more in Argyroupolis area on 28th!

 31st.

We chose the Rodopos Peninsular for an end-of-month trip.  Much of the track has been improved, and a four wheel drive vehicle isn’t really necessary.  We saw no large birds, but plenty of spotted flycatcher, red-backed shrike and northern and black-eared wheatears.  Two willow warblers and a whitethroat also to mention.  As we left the peninsular, approaching Rodopos village, we had a close-up view of wryneck.  I have always found these difficult to photograph, but the one here is my best so far.

 

wryneck

 
We had a brief look at Agia on the way home, and found an immature whiskered tern hunting over the water.

 

whiskered tern

 
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