Report 35 November 2010
All photographs by and A@M and family!


Hi Everyone,

As luck would have it, and for the second time, my comprehensive November report "disappeared" when I logged on to my draft emails last night!!!  So, like October's, I can only summarise our November sightings with descriptions of the photos taken.

I'll start by saying that we have never experienced a November so warm and dry.  The average noon shade temperature at home has been 21.5c, with 28th being the warmest day at 29.5c - this contrasts starkly with the UK, experiencing their coldest November for 17 years.  Olive picking started earlier this year, including us, with many locals taking advantage of the dry weather.  Our crop was poor this year, so I am now busy with some harder pruning, hoping for better results in the next year or two.

Highlights not photographed included a flock of griffon vultures above our house, as we returned from voting in local elections on 7th.  An osprey sighted at Ravdoucha while we ate lunch with John and Patti Bayley.  First black-necked grebe arrivals at Kournas Lake are keeping to the furthest reachest of the lake.  A missed opportunity in Georgioupolis, as the swan and pelican flew low along the river - together!  Would have been a great picture.

So, to the photos:

This kingfisher was taken at the beginning of the month on the small bridge that crosses the river at the far end of Kalivaki beach.

Spotted flycatchers become uncommon by November - this one was not far from the house.

The Georgioupolis Viewpoint has not been very productive this year, but at least this ferruginous duck was within reach of my new camera.  Since taking this picture, three were sighted here a couple of days ago.

At the end of last month's report I had a photo of an early arrival male black redstart.  Although the female is plain by comparison, this one posed for me!

Unlike the pelican, the mute swan on the river is reluctant to fly.  However, once this month I saw it flying low along the river, only to land near St. Nicholas chapel at the end of the breakwater!

Our favourite birdwatching area - a few kilometres south of Ano Mallaki, has not been "up to standard" this month, so a picture of this area we call harrier country.

Our daughter, Alison, contributes to this month with a photo of a ruby-tailed wasp sighted on her patio.  We have never seen one ourselves.

We have had two or three diversions to Agia this month without anything memorable to record.  Three photos from there below; the first being two amorous dragonflies, with an onlooker.  The second, a little egret which kept returning to the perimater path.  Lastly, a sparrowhawk overhead.  This species has been particularly common for us this month, including a "sparrowhawk moment".  As I walked along the side of the house, a sparrowhawk glided past me within two metres at only knee height!  Without a flap, it drifted across the lawn (yes - we have grass!) and disappeared into the olive grove opposite.

A day out with John and Patti Bayley.  John took us to Omalos, where we enjoyed summery weather of 23c all day! - but very few birds.  A small flock of red-billed choughs was the highlight there, and John caught sight of a single water pipit.  Before leaving, we drove up to the area above the Irini Gorge.  Since this road was tarmacced a couple of years ago it has been a favourite of ours.  Today, a little late in the afternoon, we took in breathtaking views as clouds rolled in from the south, and drifted up the gorge towards the distant wind turbines.  Just as we were leaving the day was made even more worthwhile with a distant but very clear view of lammergeier.  This was John's first opportunity to photograph this majestic bird - our photos ended up being of similar quality (not great at such distance), with my one included below for the record.

No apologies for another kingfisher pic.  This time I caught the bird by surprise on the Kalivaki headland - probably my best one to date.

With temperatures down to 17c, drizzle and low cloud, we took a Sunday afternoon drive to Kourtaliotis Gorge in hope of seeing bonellis' eagles hunting below the low cloud cover.  Instead, we viewed two short-toed eagles high above the gorge as the clouds broke for a while - too distant to photograph.  Photos show a view of the gorge looking south, and a silhouetted photo of three griffons - we counted over thirty in total.

The iffy weather only lasted three days in the middle of the month.  On one of these we walked a track, that we had earmarked some time ago when it was too hot.
To reach it we drove up the Theriso Gorge and turned towards Drakona.  A few minutes later we forked right and drove to where the tarmac finished.  We walked for three and a half hours in increasingly cloudy weather.  The views were spectacular - Chania and Rodopos to the south, Lakki and Zourva to the west, and foothills of the White Mountains to the east.  Not too many birds of note - mostly buntings, finches, larks and of course a sparrowhawk.  Two pictures from the walk below.  First one shows ancient terracing from where we parked the car, and the second a view of Chania in sunshine.  This gap in the clouds was momentary - one of those must photograph moments!

The drive back down from Theriso meant we were back in sunshine when we reached the coast.  Margaret thought a quick look at Moronis Reserve may make up for the lack of bird sightings earlier, though the walk had been so good it hadn't really mattered.  It was Margaret (Hawkeye), who spotted a bird some way down the Moronis River.  It was crouching by the water's edge - it was a juvenile night heron.  I was probably a hundred metres away for the photo below, before the bird flew off across the bay.  Later it returned, but by then we had moved to the Nature Reserve beach area and couldn't see where it landed.  We believe someone else reported seeing it there that week.  When the heron flew back, so too did a great white egret - the other photos below.

Juvenile night heron and moorhen

The 19th was a Red Letter day for me.  At Kalivaki I spotted a gull on the flooded areas behind the beach.  I couldn't immediately work out what was different about it, except that I don't usually see gulls at this spot.  A few photos, and at home I could identify it as a first winter slender-billed gull (thanks to Colin Turvey for confirmation that evening).  At one point a little egret was accompanying the gull.  Some pictures below.

My first 2010 sighting of cattle egret - again on the Kalivaki flooded meadows.  It only stayed for a day.

There are a few crocii about this month, but the photo below is of cyclamen graecum.  A large member of this family photographed at the John The Hermit cave church near Kolymbari.

More photos of the slender-billed gull at Kalivaki, including photos of it, and little egret, seen on the beach itself.  The gull stayed for about 10 days, and during that time, Margaret, John and Patti, Nikos, and Colin and Sue all had sightings - a very accommodating bird!

Kalivaki is my patch and I visit it frequently.  It's a picturesque area, but it was the clouds that took my eye the other day.

Having seen my first cattle egret of the year, five were spotted at Tavronitis on 28th.  They were in flight, but later in the day - a result - they were with cattle!  Cows are fairly uncommon here, and all our previous sightings of cattle egret have been with sheep.  The photo below show cow and bird eyeball to eyeball.

Our Tavronitis day out concentrated on the coastal strip between there and Kolymbari.  Apart from the cattle egret, we had two small flocks of pintail flying high over the car in red arrows fashion.  There were five sightings of a female hen harrier (probably the same bird each time), two sightings of sparrowhawk, and flocks of meadow pipit everywhere.  The photos below are close-ups of a chiffchaff in different poses, plus one distant photo of the hen harrier - just couldn't get it in flight as it kept surprising us.
A new sighting for us on this trip was seeing flying fish off the coast.  They were about 100 metres offshore, and I would estimate their "flight" was about 20+ metres.

Our local pelican has been with us since October 2008 and is currently displaying some breeding plumage and a generally pinkish hue.  The mute swan is an ever present companion - we don't know the sexes of these two - just wonder if there is a new species on the way, maybe a peliswan or swanican!!!

That's all until December

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