|Report 28 April 2010
1st. We had promised our grandson, Alex, that we would return to the Rodopou peninsular again, where he had his first "proper" birdwatching trip with us in April last year. With Easter early, and Alex on holiday, we went today in the hope of finding early migrants. It was a productive trip. Though we didn't see a wryneck, which was top of our wish-list, we did have good sightings of sparrowhawk, collared flycatcher, nightingale, redstart, wood warbler, subalpine warbler, and Ruppell's warbler. The latter was a female, with a couple of photos below.
Many other birds were seen - all common, so not listed here. Scattered around some of the more barren pastureland, we found Star of Bethlehem (ornithogalum collinum). Usually thinly spread, I found one group worth photographing - as below.
Alex thoroughly enjoyed his day, especially when we split up to investigate the surroundings. He found, and identified, a Greek trap-door spider in a burrow. Whilst the spider wouldn't emerge completely with us standing nearby, I did manage one photo of it just inside the burrow - look away now if you don't like spiders!
Enroute home we called in at Agia, and met Nikos, the contributer to this website. The water level is still high, though weeds are gradually covering the surface. Even birds the size of ruff, are able to walk on the weed, as below.
Other birds of note seen there today included ferruginous duck and
We were looking for Ruppell's warblers today, and were rewarded with
five males and a single female. Good sightings through binoculars,
but too far for photos this time.
(041009-12). The unlikeliest sighting of the day, and a first for us, was of great bittern. This large, heron sized bird, was noticed skulking in some bushes just off the roadside, but we could only see its bottom half! I stopped the car and tried to get the other side of the bushes, but unfortunately disturbed the bird. Margaret, still in the car, had a great sight of the bird emerging and flying off. I just managed a couple of photos off the bird in flight, disappearing fast - one below.
7th. A hoopoe flew past the house this morning while we were taking
breakfast outside. I decided on a late afternoon look at the
Viewpoint, which hitherto has been very disappointing so far this
year with high water levels. Not today though - two squacco herons
flying over the water, a little egret stalking the edges, three
night herons on the far side, at distance various sandpipers and
stints, but too far away without scope to hand. I wish I had taken
the scope though, (I don't find the one-eyed technique very easy),
as I picked out a bittern on a bank of distant reeds. As a coot
moved close by it I took a picture with full digital zoom, which,
despite being somewhat fuzzy, confirmed this was a great bittern.
Yesterday we saw our first ever, and now a second in a totally
11th. A damp squid of a Sunday gave Margaret a brief sighting of olivaceous warbler from the kitchen window as she prepared breakfast, shortly followed by a male blackcap. Later in the afternoon, with the weather brighter, but cool and windy, we set off for a drive south for a couple of hours. Along our lane we disturbed a hoopoe, and it was still there when we returned home. The drive produced no sightings of small birds - must be the wind again? We did however see a flock of c40 jackdaws race past us. A couple of minutes later we spotted them amongst sheep in a farmyard, so a picture below.
Only one other sighting today, but well worth it - lammergeier - twice! An adult which was quite high near mountain ridges to the south. Just managed photos on each occasion, about 20 minutes apart, the second below for the record.
13th. A pre-planned trip out to Rodopou with John and Patti Bayley gave us the usual diversion to Agia first - plus coffee! Birds seen were the same as above on 8th - 10th, except today a male little crake was in view, and a squacco was in the reeds just off the tow path. A better view of a single greenshank at the weir, so picture below.
We walked around the "back" of the reservoir, and had good views of marsh harrier and a very pale common buzzard with a big wedge of tail feathers missing. Also here we found (I think) serapias lingua - tongue orchid, as in picture below.
And so to Rodopou after lunch at Tavronitis. The weather was very pleasant, with high cloud and temperature around 16c. Once we had left the tarmac road behind, we had our first sightings - a small number of griffons, and then two hobbies. Very little else was seen until we reached our hitherto picnic spot from previous trips. It wasn't long before we had collared flycatcher and redstarts to watch, along with yellow wagtails, northern and black-eared wheatears. Above we had distant views of two golden eagles, a closer view of marsh harrier, and then, as we left, a nightingale was seen in thickets - never once allowing John or me that elusive photographic opportunity. We made our way to the church of Aghias Ioannis on the west coast of the peninsular. This is where we had seen wood warblers last time, and they were still there. An unusual pose of one below.
Also here we saw a single hoopoe, woodchat shrike and serin. As we
drove back onto tarmac we had our first spotted flycatcher of the
year, a possibly exhausted bird, giving great photo opportunities -
for John at least, as it was off his side of the car!
Also seen were common buzzards, griffons, ravens, crag martins, blue
rock thrush and a very distant peregrine perched high on a rock to
We had a drinks stop at a taverna enroute home - still quite near Elafonisi. Sitting on the balcony overlooking olive groves, I saw a golden oriole fluttering behind one of the trees. There was only one bird, but it was restless, and kept giving us good, but fairly distant views - so one picture below.
All in all, a good day out with some nice birds too. Alex
was pleased to see more "new" birds, but complained bitterly about
not seeing lammergeier, which was always a possibility in the area
we travelled through - his day will come!
The rest of the day was spent meandering further inland. We found the road from Patsos to Spili is now fully tarmacced, and along this road we stopped for sustenance. Across the road a lot of noise was coming from a very small pond - frogs or toads? We moved slowly towards the pond and counted a minimum of eight marsh frogs. I think that's what they are, though these were much smaller than the "big boys" at Agia reservoir. One photo below.
Travelling on to the Spili high meadows we found some orchids and tulips in bloom, the latter now going over. In this area, crested lark, woodlark, corn and ortolan buntings, stonechat and our first whinchats of the year. A female pied flycatcher resisted posing for a photo. As we emerged from the Kissos Gorge, many meadows were full of field gladioli. A close-up of this attractive flower below.
21st. First whinchats of the year yesterday, and today our first of
these birds we've ever seen in our garden, later followed by our
first spring sighting of a whitethroat.
I noticed a small nest in the olive tree closest to our house, and
saw a greenfinch there recently. Today I was just able to see the
adult feeding young in the nest. Too much foliage for a picture
from our balcony, but lovely to watch.
23rd. A day at home gave us our first sightings this year of
bee-eaters over the house - about 20 in all, moving west. Also seen
today, marsh harrier, light phase booted eagle and then a hoopoe
flying lazily through the garden.
26th. We had decided on one trip this week, before family arrive next week. Omalos was where we ended up - and what a mistake! The forecast hadn't been particularly good anyway, but at Omalos we could only see about 20 metres in front of us, such was the density of the swirling mist. At one point we came across a group of trucks, and a lorry across the road, emptying sheep onto pastureland. We commented on being pleased we weren't showing visitors this area for the first time! See pic below.
We saw no birds, other than jays that flew across the car, and cirl
bunting and woodlark that stayed on the roadside as we passed. If
there was a highlight today, it was having lunch in a taverna with
warming log fire in the corner - we were glad not to have taken a
picnic with us this time!
29th. With breakfast inside on yet another very cool morning, I noticed movement at the back of the garden. Grabbing the binoculars, I was surprised to see a great reed warbler - a similar sighting to one seen here this time last year. A couple of quick photos from indoors, then an even quicker run upstairs to take a photo from the bedroom balcony. That last photo is below.
Late afternoon, I had a look at the Viewpoint and saw water rail,
common and wood sandpipers, two little ringed plovers, two purple
herons, sedge warbler - and then surprised to find two white-winged
Back at the lake Alex watched in horror as a yellow-legged gull descended to pluck a chick from the water, and fly off. It caused a commotion with some other gulls and I took a distant picture as they started squabbling. Alex accepted that this is nature at work, but we then got a shock. We had met Nikos earlier, and he had seen the same incident, but with a clearer view he confirmed the "chick" was actually a little bittern - much bigger than the gosling. I had noticed one standing on weed in open water a few minutes before - poor thing! I have attached the photo - the gull on the left has the "catch" - I wasn't sure whether to include it, but as I said, it is nature at work.
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