A&M Report 30 - June 2010
Please note all photos by and A&M
Hi Everyone,

1st.  It's June and the birding is winding down for the summer.  After shopping in Chania, we took sandwiches to Agia and waited for some "action".  We didn't have to wait long for surprisingly late sightings of red-footed falcons (2), flying above the water and the taverna area.  Over the water a single whiskered tern was busy finding food.  Otherwise it was the expected sightings of little egret, squacco heron and a grey heron which flew in while we were eating.  The often seen female marsh harrier was around for a few moments too.  Hirundines were everywhere!  Back home the red-rumped swallows are much in evidence again, and I'm hoping to get pictures of them at a friend's swimming pool soon.

2nd.  An unusally dull and cloudy day for June, but great for jobs around the house.  An opportunity to photograph a spider, mainly because it had caught a fly and wasn't in any mood to move despite the close-up.  I've tried to identify it.  It's small, less than one centimetre long and looks like some of the jumping spiders we see here.  The picture is a bit gruesome!

Later I had a look around Kalivaki beach.  The white pelican is being fed by the pedalo people again, but the mute swan appears to have finally moved on.

3rd.  Not for the first time this month, I am still hearing blackcaps, and occasionally glimpsing them - could they be staying for the summer?

4th.  An Eleanora's falcon day!  We are in between family visits to us, and decided on a trip on our own to re-trace some roads we haven't been on for a year or so.  The area, south of Voukolies, is very sparcely populated and we hoped for some raptor sightings.  Thankfully, four Eleanoroas' falcons presented themselves at a very scenic spot, as pictured below.

and we were able to watch their displays for over half an hour.  Some photos below.

Later, at a picnic spot we heard blackcaps yet again, and just one momentary sighting.  Apart from this, it was just an Eleanora's falcon day!

7th.  Some weeding and pruning in the garden revealed this handsome bush cricket, a wart biter, which I now realise I photographed for my report this time last year! Two pictures below anyway.

8th.  After not seeing one for about three weeks, a woodchat shrike appeared in a field opposite the house today.  It was in an area where we have had woodchats stay for the summer - twice in the time we've been here, so maybe again?

9th.  Breakfast on our covered terrace, and a large number of alpine swifts were swirling high above the house.  As we watched, some larger birds appeared - four Eleanora's falcons.  They made their way down towards Kalivaki beach area, where we watched for a while, but the sun was against us, so we left them to it!

11th.  A day trip with family on holiday here.  During a visit to the strange cave church of St. John the Hermit, near Kolimbari, I saw a female blackcap at the top of a tall conifer - this being the first female I've seen for some months.  As we departed from the car-park, Margaret spotted a falcon sitting on top of a telegraph pole.  Thinking this to be a peregrine at first, many photos were taken.  It wouldn't have been the right habitat, and it didn't take long to find this was yet another Eleanora's falcon.  Pictures below.

As we made our way to lunch a hoopoe flew across the car, and remained in front of us for a while.  I guess this is one of a few staying for the summer, as these birds are usually early spring migrants.  After lunch we had a paddle below the taverna.  There were many small fish in the shallow water, but what took our eye were the hermit crabs.  Margaret picked one up and my close-up is below.

12th.  So far, no joy in photographing red-rumped swallows at a friend's pool.  However, finches are always around it, like the greenfinch below.

Sitting on our balcony this evening we watched a common buzzard land on a tall dead conifer opposite the house.  Immediately, a woodchat shrike flew up to the buzzard and started "attacking" it - jumping on it etc!  The raptor flew away, but when returning sometime later, two woodchats approached it and "removed" it from its perch.  So it appears we have a pair of woodchats nesting and staying for the summer?  We'll keep an eye on this activity - unfortunately its's too far away to photograph.

14th.  Took a picnic stool and sat in the olive grove opposite the house for an hour.  This was prompted by the bird activity recently viewed from the balcony, and I thought I might get a little closer to the "action".  The following birds were seen, and a few photographed; - serin, greenfinch, goldfinch, chaffinch, house sparrow, Italian sparrow, Sardinian warbler, olivaceous warbler, great tit, stonechat, woodchat shrike, blackbird, barn swallow, red-rumped swallow, common swift, alpine swift, kestrel, common buzzard, hooded crow, turtle dove, collared dove, and yellow-legged gull.  Blackcaps and cettis' warblers were also heard.

20th.  Took Alex, and two friends holidaying here, to Prassanos Gorge for griffon viewing.  We were not disappointed - it was as if the griffons were curious and wanted a closer look at us!  June has been the best month at this spot, where today we also had brief sighting of light phase Eleanora's falcon, raven, kestrel, wood pigeon, blue rock thrush and red-rumped swallow.  But it was the griffons that stole the show, so two more pictures below.

21st.  Our local common buzzard is still being pestered by a pair of woodchat shrikes, as soon as it lands on a tall dead conifer opposite the house.  One of the chaps I took to Prassanos recently has told me that the woodchats have a family of three youngsters, which he has seen early in the morning at Argimouri, not far from us.  We've noticed collared doves are now very local to us - they seem to be spreading out from the village.

26th. A trip to the south coast and back revealed no birds worthy of mention.  During the drive we did come across three donkeys together, untied.  We don't see so many donkeys these days, and it was gratifying to see these were being given some freedom - see picture below.

27th.  There is much activity in our garden with a family of Sardinian warblers seeking seeds from a linaria bush.  After house sparrows, these birds are probably the most common sighted here throughout the year - two pictures of a juvenile below.

30th.  Finally this month, another sighting of what I believe to be a honey buzzard.  This one was spotted above a "Toys R Us" equivalent shop outside Chania.  It was being chased of by hooded crows, and as I was waiting in the car park, I managed a couple of quick photos.  See what you think.

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