APRIL  2013

Hi Everyone,


As at 15th, we have little to report, partly owing to work going on to repair our boundary wall!  We have increasing numbers of swallow, swift and house martin, and yesterday (14th) we had our first booted eagle for several weeks – a pale phase that was quickly seen off by a couple of hooded crows.


(booted eagle)



The occasional little egret, grey heron and little bittern seen through this month, but the surprise was the sighting of the pygmy cormorant again, after an “absence” of a whole month.  It must have found places to rest which are not viewable – if it is swimming among hundreds of coots, it’s almost impossible to find – it’s of similar size and colour!  Fortunately, it was perched on a rock not too far from the road.   The photos were taken on 2nd, but it was still around as at 22nd……but not since.



(pygmy cormorant)



News of an unconfirmed sighting of great snipe at Georgioupoli was posted on Colin Turvey’s Crete-birding website.  I went down to have a look, and came across a German chap on holiday, who had seen and photographed the bird.  Further visits by me were unproductive, but at least I can confirm it was there.



We have had a mild winter, with little rain, but very strong winds.  Coupled with more agricultural activity around the meadows, this year the area has been the most disappointing since our arrival in Crete.  The odd sighting of common and green sandpiper, and now woodchats and northern wheatears are all we can mention!



We have had a number of good red-footed falcon sightings this month, but none better than near the shops at Kavros, which we frequent regularly.  This female was happy to stay put while I photographed her.


(red-footed falcon)



One or two visits to quiet beaches this month, only revealing little egret, common sandpiper, little-ringed plover and little stint.  The latter below.


(little stint)




We made a visit to Agia and had a flock of night herons fly over – eight in all – a mixture of adult and juvenile.  The variety of wintering ducks is dwindling, but nice to see a couple of black-winged stilts on the bank.  The reservoir is home to a large number of terrapins, and on the perimeter path Margaret found a baby one – maybe two inches long!  After the photo it was placed in a safer place.


(night herons)


(black-winged stilts)





Today we made another visit to Drapanos Head in search of Ruppell’s warbler.  We struck lucky with just one - a noisy male holding territory above us on the hillside.  An obliging black-eared wheatear was also seen, but not much else.


(Ruppell’s warbler)


(black-eared wheatear)



We like to make a visit to Rodopos peninsular at this time of year, and have hired a 4WD in the past.  Last year, though, we found the track surface to be much improved and made a second visit with our own car.  This year, to our dismay, the track had reverted to a poor surface, and we had to abandon our drive before reaching our desired picnic area.  We found our first pied flycatchers of the year, a subalpine warbler, whinchats everywhere, a distant hoopoe, and a flock of bee-eaters as we left the area.  But the icing on the cake for us was an Eastern imperial eagle – a new bird for us – which circled above us briefly, before gliding away.  This juvenile bird had been seen a few days before, and it was with this in mind that we made the trip today.


(subalpine warbler)


(Eastern imperial eagle)

We made a detour on the way home, going onto the Akrotiri peninsular near Chania Airport.  In an area of vineyards, where last year we found red-footed falcons, we were lucky again.  Besides these, we watched a male Montagu’s harrier hunting in the area, (but the photo of that wasn’t good), and a female hen harrier.  

(red-footed falcon)


(hen harrier)



We couldn’t resist another visit to Akrotiri, and got lucky with the male Montagu’s harrier this time.  It made several circuits of the area we were in, mostly hunting low over the ground, occasionally soaring.



(Montagu’s harrier)



We made a visit to the lagoon at Kokkinos Pirgos with John and Patti Bayley.  This south coast lagoon will be dry soon, so we thought it could be worth visiting now.  We were right!  First sighting was a new Crete bird for us – gull-billed tern.  A flock of 16 were resting on a sand bar in the lagoon, before flying off.



(gull-billed terns)

We drove round the lagoon and the small wetland areas next to it, and came across the following species – little egret, redshank, spotted redshank, greenshank, black-tailed godwit, common sandpiper, wood sandpiper, green sandpiper, curlew sandpiper, ruff, black-winged stilt, little stint, Temminck’s stint, yellow wagtail and tawny pipit. Some images below from this visit.  To top off a great day, we had a distant lammergeier sighting on the way home, just south of Spili. 

(black-tailed godwit)


(spotted redshank)


(greenshank/little stint)


(curlew sandpiper)


(Temminck’s stint)


(wood sandpiper)


(six species in one shot)



We took a picnic out to the favoured area of Ano Mallaki, but found very little this time.   Red-footed falcons and jackdaws were the only photos.  However, on the way, we heard golden orioles in a lightly wooded area and stopped off for a walk.  During the next 20 minutes or so, we saw at least 12 of this species, mostly flying quickly from one tree to another,  No photos were possible, but their song was amazing with so many singing.  Although the same area was silent on our return, we did sight three more.


My annual early morning trip to Agia, for sunrise, was taken today.  I took a Swedish friend, Bengt, with me, and we had the entire place to ourselves for nearly three hours!  Again, golden orioles were heard but not seen.  The variety of birds was somewhat disappointing this visit, though today was my first sighting of squacco herons this year, and little crakes were still around.  We also saw grey heron, little bittern, night heron and little egret.  Of the smaller birds, sedge warbler, reed warbler, and blackcap were the main sightings.


(little crake)


(black-winged stilt)



I have enjoyed preparing these Crete reports over the past 5 years, but sadly this will be my last.  I will keep the website informed of anything of particular interest, be it just information, or with photos.  Going forward, a small selection of my Crete bird photos can be viewed on flickr.com/photos/alanakis – there are always a few new images each month.

I have enjoyed my monthly visits to Crete via A&M's reports as I am sure you have done, so on your behalf many thanks A&M. Roy
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