In our experience, July is the least interesting month for
birdwatching, being midway between spring and autumn migration. A
photo below of two glossy ibis seeing out the summer at the
Viewpoint in Georgioupoli – this would be a first since we have
At the Antonis Gorge I had another lucky moment with a jackdaw at
Unusual for this time of year, we took a drive to Omalos and the
mountain refuge above Irini Gorge. The latter proved unproductive
apart from a couple of short-toed treecreepers which were heard,
glimpsed, but no photo possibilities. At Omalos, however, we had
three good sightings near the pools. First, a tawny pipit. We
“agonised” while watching this bird, as its beak seemed longer and
stronger looking than usual – could it be a long-billed pipit? It
would have been highly unlikely, and later at home we could confirm
the tawny. A nice pose from a juvenile whinchat was next, and then
we noticed the red-billed choughs - about 30 or 40 of them on the
ground. This species is often seen here, but not in high summer
where they tend to be much higher in the mountains. There were young
birds mixing with the adults providing some nice photo
Of course we couldn’t return home without looking at Agia enroute. A
little grebe was in attendance at its nest, with one egg exposed. A
small flock of wood sandpipers did a low level circuit of the lake,
before settling on the far side. Two photos below.
Well the glossies are
not visible anymore as at 9th, and I can’t yet determine if they
have moved on. Will keep looking.
I had a week in the UK to visit my Mum, and finished with two days
in Bournemouth with friends. This gave me the opportunity to visit
Hengistbury Head at Christchurch harbour – one place I miss since
leaving the UK. So, two photos below from my walk around the head.
Male Reed Bunting
At my brother’s house, another photo of parent
feeding a youngster – this time house sparrows.
Following the week away in the UK, the birding remains quiet here on
Crete. Around the house we have daily sightings of house and tree
sparrow, Sardinian warbler, stonechat, serin, all the finches,
turtle doves, blackbird, common buzzard and kestrel. Morning song is
occasionally heard from a male blackcap nearby. By evening the skies
are full of swallows, red-rumped swallows, house martins and swifts.
We occasionally sight a barn owl at home and sometimes around the
village – a photo of this species is top of my wish-list. We have
just started hearing nightjars from across the valley. The water
level remains high at the Viewpoint, so nothing showing there at
present, apart from singles of little-ringed plover and little
Today, 26th, we heard some distressing news. The
Georgioupoli pelican was attacked by youths last weekend, resulting
in a broken beak and broken leg. The bird has been sent to the
sanctuary on the island of Paros, and will undoubtedly not be seen
here again. I won’t elaborate on our feelings, particularly as we
understand no action is being taken against the youths, who were
locals, and apparently under the influence of alcohol. (Have since
heard that the bird is being attended to in Athens).
We noticed increased numbers of house martins today, 27th.
Near our daughter’s apartment I photographed 50 of them along
telegraph wires, and then some around the houses and pool where Roy
and Raye holidayed in 2008. There were smaller numbers of barn and
red-rumped swallows here too.
My first “new bird” for some time. We have probably seen Spanish
sparrows before, without actually separating them from house
sparrow. Recently, I’ve decided to look closer, and near the
Viewpoint I found some in light woodland. Getting a worthwhile
picture wasn’t so easy, so it will have to wait for another time.
Almost month-end, yet still July, when we see our first large flock
of migrating somethings. Between 800 and 1,000 counted in the photo,
but only an educated guess that these birds are pintails. Their
formation very similar to previous years – if so, they are three
weeks earlier than last year.
At the Viewpoint, still trying for better photos of the Spanish
sparrow – instead good sightings of three Eleonoras’ falcons – too
close and too fast to get the camera on them.
The last day of July and we take a circular drive to stay
air-conditioned on another hot afternoon. The route, one of our
favourites, takes us through Asi Gonia, climbing the torturous
hairpins and on towards Kalikratis, Asfendou and Imbros. We started
out at 5pm hoping for some early evening sightings – and we got
lucky. An ortolan was mixing with a small flock of linnets and
goldfinches. Wheatears were everywhere – northern and black-eared,
the majority seemingly young birds. At the highest point enroute, we
always stop to take in the view. Margaret was quick to see a large
bird gliding along a high ridge. It then perched and remained there
for the duration of our stop. We hadn’t seen it in flight long
enough to identify, except very pale belly. Perched it looked a bit
like an osprey, but was very distant. My camera picked the bird out
and at home we could eventually confirm this was a Bonelli’s eagle –
always a good bird to see. Photos below of the ortolan, juvenile
wheatear, and the distant Bonelli’s.
As at the end of the month I confirm the glossies had departed the
Viewpoint about 3 weeks ago. There are reports that the single mute
swan has returned for the third year running. If I see it, I will
check for the ring to confirm the same bird.
During our short visit to Agia, dragonflies were everywhere, but the
most accommodating was the violet dropwing male.
Whilst gardening at home I noticed five different butterflies,
including the scarce swallowtail. Although this butterfly
is scarce in the UK, it is supposedly common here. In our
experience, the common swallowtail is seen much more – so for us the
scarce is scarce here too! They are not normally as obliging as this
The cicada (cicada orni) is a regular visitor here from mid June to
the end of August. If you are sitting in close proximity to a male,
when it starts trying to attract a female, you can’t hear yourself
speak! When hundreds of them start up, it’s best to go indoors!
Still, the best thing about them is that they are completely
harmless, and can be picked up or photographed at close quarters.
Turning over some soil in the garden, I came across this large grub.
Can’t imagine what it may have turned into if alive – it was 7 cms
After dark, while sitting on our upstairs balcony, a tree frog
appeared. It seems to use our watering can as a “second home”,
climbing up the wall from the garden below.
Nothing worth photographing this month, as the countryside begins to
look dry and parched. Many hillsides have a beautiful lilac hue from
the common thyme growing there, and steep gullies have oleander
flowering along their water courses – otherwise there are increasing
shades of light brown wherever you look.
With the Greek economy in a poor state there is much cultivation of
private olive groves and gardens to produce vegetables, allowing
some self-sufficiency. It came as a surprise though, when our own
garden was ploughed recently, by our daughter’s husband and his
friend. This part of our garden was “going to waste” – not now
though – we have tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, aubergine, cucumber,
melon and corn! – in small numbers, but it all helps.
A day’s drive to Elos and beyond on a hot day provided very limited
birding opportunities. Our drinks stop at Meltemi Taverna did give
us panoramic views of the west coast – one towards Elafonisi, and
the other of a zig-zag descent to the coast.