This should be the "quietest" month for birdwatching here, while we
anticipate the earliest return migrants in mid-August. So, I ask,
what were seven bee-eaters doing flying above the house while we
were having coffee on our terrace? - going, coming back, or
staying! Earlier, while watering a friend's house in Kefalas, I
watched a flock of ten ravens swirling high above, before separating
and heading westwards.
A hot and windy afternoon, so a couple of hours drive to stay
air-conditioned! We made for the Kourtaliotis Gorge in search of
Bonelli's eagle again, and parked up in our usual place by the
picnic tables. With steep sides to the gorge, watching birds here
can be uncomfortable - crick in the neck etc - and to begin with we
saw griffons swirling around, some at great height, so a crick in
the neck was definitely on its way.
After about 40 minutes we had a pair of Bonelli's in view, quite
high up, but worth the watch. My hopes they would descend for
better photos did not materialize. We made a circuit of the drive
and returned via Kali Sikia, near where we had our last lammergeier
sighting. Mid afternoon is not the best time for birdwatching and
the most interesting birds in this area were buntings - corn, cirl
6th. A morning trip to Chania Airport to drop off a friend
gave us the opportunity to take coffee at Agia. Like last summer,
this will be our only summer trip to the reservoir, as it isn't too
interesting this time of year. However, we were surprised to see a
yellow wagtail here, since these birds normally migrate to the
mainland. It was a little distant, but a couple of pics below for
There seems to be an increasing number of species that appear to be
staying on as summer visitors. During the latter half of June, and
up to now, we have sighted hoopoe, red-footed falcon, woodchat
shrike, turtle dove, bee-eater, blackcap, and now yellow wagtail,
all "out of season" for Crete - long may it continue, or is this
another indication of global-warming?
10th. A short drive to Vamos to drop off a birthday card for a
friend. Margaret asked if I was taking binoculars and camera, but I
said no. She had her binoculars in the car anyway. Just as I was
closing the front door, I was reminded that we tend to see something
worthwhile when I don't have the camera with me! So I took it!
Well they are not exactly uncommon here in summer, but it was lovely
to see red-rumped swallows on telegraph wires. Three pictures below
of juveniles seen at Vamos. They were being fed by their parents -
but not while we were close by. Thank you darling!
11th. A Sunday afternoon drive to Theriso Gorge, which is one of
the prettiest roads at this time of year with trees in full leaf and
much roadside oleander. Following an ice-cream stop at Theriso
itself, we made our way back via Drakona - another very scenic
road. Along here we saw cirl buntings and a single spotted
flycatcher - the latter not normally a summer visitor, but another
to our list of spring migrants staying on. Further along we found a
different kind of roadside guard - a cow! Guard dogs along the road
are common, the odd tied-up donkey is usually seen too, but never a
cow, as these are fairly unusual sights even in the "right" place.
Obviously it wasn't a guard, but its position was right for one!
The last pictures are of turtle doves combing the road - three
together, so possibly a family?
Unfortunately these photos had to be taken through the
13th. An evening walk after temperatures dipped to 28c! Not really
expecting to see anything, but a surprise sighting of a single
starling - at distance on farmland near to home. An unfortunate
sighting of an oiled green sandpiper juvenile as we crossed the ford
near to Georgioupolis Viewpoint. We had earlier seen an adult on
the dried out "stinky pond" enroute. At the Viewpoint, one grey
heron, one little egret, some very distant sandpipers, and then a
woodchat shrike on trees overhanging the water from the roadside.
Plenty of dragonflies on this walk, like the one below, which thanks
to Roy, is identified as a violet dropwing.
Earlier today I watched a pair of wood pigeons descend into olive
groves not far from the house. These are the first we have seen
from home. We are now hearing nightjars churring at dusk each
evening, if we sit outside - they're a long way off, but clearly
14th. I went back to find the dragonflies and was pleased to find a
male and two females this time. A picture of the female below.
Further on, where I had seen the green sandpiper by the ford, I
found several pond skaters on the still water. I photographed one
just as it moved, as below.
Returning home by the same route, this time I found the male and
female dragonflies on adjacent posts. It wasn't possible to get
them in the same photo, but one of each below, hopefully shown
together here. Roy?
17th. Driving across the bridge in Georgioupolis today, I noticed
a mute swan on the river. Late this afternoon I went down to find
it, and confirmed it was the same bird that was with us all last
winter through to May - the bird has the same ring. It will no
doubt "befriend" the pelican again, but for today it was happily
standing amongst the resident geese on the riverbank.
18th. This has been a particularly good year for agave americana to
flower - commonly known as "century plant". We have several
impressive specimens we can see from the house, like the one below.
All are 20 to 30 feet tall.
19th. Power cuts today, while the electricity grid is upgraded, so
we had a morning drive into the hills around Asfendou and
Kallikratis. Juveniles - linnets, goldfinches, stonechats and
black-eared wheatears were the main sightings, until a distant view
of black kite beyond the Kallikratis plain. Not much else, except
the usual sightings near the steep cliffs above Miriokefala of rock
dove, raven, kestrel, buzzard, crag martin, barn swallow and red-rumped
swallow. Back at home a juvenile buzzard whines most afternoons,
while its parents attempt to get it off its perch to persuade it to
find its own food - and probably its own territory!
21st. Hot temperatures have brought an influx of flying ants, and
the hirundines are having a field day (or evening!). Amongst
them are many alpine swifts. Because they are always on the
wing, swifts are particularly difficult to photograph, especially
with the shutter time delay with a digital camera. I have had
many photos of blue sky and nothing else! See below.
23rd. A common bird, the common buzzard, but the juvenile below
made a good photo opportunity, while we were out for an afternoon
31st. A quiet birding month finishes with an evening walk to
Kalivaki beach. Just two minutes from home Margaret noticed a small
bird fly onto a wire - a spotted flycatcher. Another of this
species which has presumably found Crete a place to stay for the
summer? The same applies to the woodchat shrike, which can be found
most evenings while panning with the binoculars from our balcony.