Out and About June 2011

All photographs by and © A@M 

Hi Everyone,

BIRDS

A new month is upon us, and there is very little birding to be done now. Summer has finally arrived in earnest and the migration is over. That said, we were still hearing a male blackcap singing at length on 5th; a flock of bee-eaters passed over the house on 1st, and there are still at least four glossy ibis at the Viewpoint, as below.



Red-rumped swallows and turtle doves are seen daily.

A light thud, heard from our covered terrace, revealed a fledgling house sparrow that had fallen from a nest. I checked it out and it seemed ok apart from being stunned. I took the photo below, and then put it in a safe place on one of our balconies – away from our three cats!. In a couple of hours it had gone, but looking at the photo – could it fly? - the flight feathers and tail are not properly formed? We hope it got away, but just wonder if it found its way into the drain pipe!

In a field opposite the house, an unusually large gathering of hooded crows (a murder of crows!) kept our interest for a while.

The local male blackcap is difficult to approach and photograph, but some success on 8th. It was still being seen and heard on 30th.

Today, 10th and a visit to Vamos Post office gave me the opportunity to photograph barn swallow chicks at the nest. A series of three pictures tell their own story.

The four glossy ibis are still resident at the Viewpoint, and the photo below is from yesterday’s visit there, where one of them is just visible from the roadside.

We had promised our daughter, Alison, a visit to Prassanos Gorge for the griffons. With baby in tow it was a short stop enroute to a taverna – alas the griffons were not out in force today. The taverna is adjacent to the entrance to the St. Antonis Gorge. While we babysat Mihalis, Alison, her husband Kosta, and Alex went for a walk through the gorge. Alison returned with photos from the walk - plus bird photos! The jackdaw from last month’s visit was sitting outside its nest unconcerned by human activity below. Further on there was a lovely sight of crag martin chicks at a nest. Alison’s photos were good, but I was keen to have a look myself, and went there after lunch. Some photos below, including an adult bird resting at the rockface, near to the nest area. (009-011).

Breakfast on our covered terrace this morning (13th) was followed by a half hour of birdwatching. There were clouds approaching and the stormy look over the mountains was evidently a haven for hirundines. As I watched there was a large mixed flock of alpine and common swift, barn and red-rumped swallows, and a few house martins. Then, amongst them, two Eleonoras’ falcons (pale phase), and nearby four common buzzards and a kestrel. Across the olive grove the male blackcap was making its presence known, and a single turtle dove was restless, looking for a suitable perch. The half hour was completed with a visit to our garden by two spotted flycatchers – we don’t see many of these as summer visitors. Photo of the turtle dove below.

After seeing barn swallow chicks at their nest, we are now being entertained by fledglings being fed on overhead wires around the house. Most of the day there are three youngsters impatiently waiting for food. They become excited as the parent approaches and, within a split second, one gets some reward. I daren’t think how many photo attempts were made to record this activity, but four pictures below.

A missed opportunity this evening while watering the garden – a honey buzzard glided across the sky. My camera was at hand, but unfortunately I had left it on a macro setting from a butterfly photographed an hour earlier! This would have been my best honey buzzard photo by a mile, instead it just too fuzzy to include here.

Next day, similar swallow activity to start with, then the parent started “encouraging” the little ones to look for food themselves – almost attacking them to get them off the wire - they seemed to get the message. Earlier this morning (19th), I found a little-ringed plover and wood sandpiper at the Viewpoint, plus three of the glossy ibis.

I have finally had a close encounter with a tree sparrow, a bird I have only seen a couple of times, at distance – this one has started visiting next door’s tv aerial. After a few days its mate joined it on the roof and the two of them “inspected” a gap under the roof tiles – could be nesting?

On our house, house sparrows are the Italian hybrid (passer hispaniolensis x italiae) – they also like tv aerials!

I haven’t mentioned the white pelican for a while. Its companion, the mute swan has disappeared again. It did this last year, and came back after a couple of months. In the meantime, the pelican has discovered the local bars in the square in Georgioupoli! It rests up under one of the tables, but still leaves for a fly around the village at least twice a day. It will soon be three years since its arrival, and looks set for permanent residency.

Almost at the end of this month, and it appears at least two of the glossy ibis are seeing out the summer here – at the Viewpoint.

ANIMALS

The warmer weather has got the ants out in force. Outside our front gate, a long trail of ants, carrying pieces of plant life, were making their way into a part of our olive grove, where they have a huge underground nest. (021-022).

Our cats are very successful at keeping the local mouse and rat population down. However, one they didn’t get was found on our front steps.

Butterflies are proliferating now the weather has warmed up. Margaret snapped the next two images from a friend’s garden – common swallowtail and wall brown.



WILD FLOWERS

We have drawn blanks this month with photos of plants – we’ve not been out much either.

LANDSCAPES

No landscape pictures this month – instead just one small part of our “landscaped” garden, made with pebbles mainly collected from Petres beach!


 

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