April 2008 Report
 

REPORT FROM KISSAMOS BAY AREA 

A fantastic start to the month, we head off to Omalos and Kalergi hut refuge on the 1st. Three Golden Eagles, one Bonelli’s Eagle, one Lammergeier and several Griffon Vulture give great views.

This months migrant arrival dates………

Purple Heron 4th , Squacco Heron 4th , Greenshank 3rd , Woodchat Shrike 3rd , Nightingale from the 2nd  and Black Kite 2nd & 4th , Turtle Dove 9th, are among the arrivals.

A great day for us on the 8th and more Stone-curlew on the 9th

The 18th first Night Heron and Little Bittern at Lake Agia

Eleonoras Falcon arrive back on the 19th as does the first [seen] Bee-eater.

Our first Ortolan on the 22nd takes our Crete list to 177 species and then first migrant Spotted Flycatcher.

The Red Footed Falcons move through on the 25th possibly 200 seen high above the ridges

Other notables

Black Kite and Short-toed Eagle on the 23rd

An Osprey on the24th  

Golden Oriole  on the 25th

Black and Red Kite near Kandanos on the 26th

In the first week we find a new, fairly inaccessible wetland site near Falasarna that turns up a few migrants.

All pictures attached to monthly reports are the birds and flowers seen on the day and not archived shots

This months regulars ……15 species.

Woodlark….. Crested Lark….Hooded Crow….Chaffinch….Yellow-legged Gull….Italian Sparrow….Sardinian Warbler….Blackbird….Cetti’s Warbler….Greenfinch….Rock Dove….Buzzard….Great Tit….Goldfinch, Raven and Collared Dove are seen daily and not recorded in the lists below unless they are seen in significant numbers.

1st

Weather . The day dawned with sunshine calm seas and no wind with good visibility, 13.9oC our day looked good for a trip.

From home …….Hoopoe 2, Swallow, Yellow Wagtail, Alpine Swift.

We packed the car, scope, camera, binoculars, food and dog and headed off at 0830 for Omalos and Kalergi Hut.

Birding on route we saw….Hoope 2, Chaffinch, Stonechat and a Cormorant. Crested Lark, White Wagtail, Cetti’s Warbler, Northern Wheatear 2 f, Goldfinch, 12 Yellow-legged Gull sat on rocks near Kissamos Port. Italian Sparrow, Meadow Pipit, 2 Little Ringed Plover, Collared Dove, 6 Buzzard, Hooded Crow, and Blackbird.

Stopping here and there to get better views of birds and flowers and loo stops for the dog.

As the roads climb, twist and turn after Chania the views are stunning. We notice a distant Griffon Vulture circling above Lakki village against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. The air is filled with the song of the Woodlark and Blackbird.

As we climbed further at 1105 we see a Griffon Vulture followed by a Lammergeier….

Lammergeier: photo by and © C&S

Camera and scope out to get excellent views of an adult bird, we were then treated to two immature Golden Eagles circling with them until 11.11hrs.

The two Golden Eagles: photo by and © C&S

As we drive through Omalos plateau we see, 3 Griffon Vultures, Great Tit, Linnet and Woodlark. Skylark, Buzzard, Subalpine Warbler, Whitethroat, Jay 3, and Tawny Pipit. The first Tulips Tulipa bakeri opening, another Cretan endemic. Fields smothered with Lesser Celendine, Daisies, anemones and countless other small wild flowers. Snakes Head Iris are flowering much later at this altitude.

We stopped to listen to noisy Chough, Jay and Cuckoo at least three of these were heard.

We drove up to Kalergi Hut, the road was very rough but passable in a 4X4. We stopped to watch and photograph three Wren displaying close to the track.

Wren: photo by and © C&S

Small cushions of Aubrieta tumbled down the rocks. As we climbed ever higher some pockets of snow were still remaining on the sheltered bits of road making the trip a little more hazardous.

At the top looking down into the basin area of meadow, we saw 10 Chough and a single Hooded Crow feeding. The meadow was covered with Crocus Siebreri ssp Sierberi This crocus is endemic to the White Mountains the area was so covered in them we could not walk there, it would have been impossible to step between them.

Crocus covered meadow near Kalergi Hut: photo by and © C&S

Also prolific were Chionodoxa nana  this little plant with its blindingly blue flower peeped out from the herb bushes.

Chionodoxa nana: photo by and © C&S

Our first close views of Chough, all day they flew around calling living up to their name.

Chough: photo by and © C&S

We stayed in this location for about five hours where we hoped for more Lammergeier views. Although these were not to be, we saw Raven, Crag Martin, Alpine Swift, Kestrel, Black-eared Wheatear 2, Northern Wheatear 2, Linnet, Sardinian Warbler and Italian Sparrow, with a total of 5 Griffon Vulture through the afternoon as they drifted on  thermals.  At 13.50 one Griffon Vulture, I Bonelli’s Eagle, I Golden Eagle [adult] soared above for some minutes.

Several Blue Rock Thrush sang and flitted from rock to rock, whilst Woodlark kept up their beautiful song. We enjoyed our packed lunch in this remote spot in glorious sunshine, the only noise being birdsong and the occasional rock falls. The air was clean and scented with the pine trees far below..

As the afternoon mists rolled in we made our exit, the descent seemed even more perilous than the ascent but safely on the plateau we checked the two water pools and numerous other flooded areas but were disappointed to find no waders present.

We saw around the plateau, flocks of Linnet. 2 Hoopoe, 2 Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, 2 Cirl Bunting, Wryneck was heard. Great Tit and Greenfinch.

On the way home we stopped off at Agia lake just before dark. We saw Water Rail 1, Garganey 1m 1f , Coot, Moorhen, Mute swan 1 imm, Reed Warbler 1, Sedge Warbler 1, Cetti’s Warbler, Shoveler 4 pairs. Swift, swallow, House Martin, Crag Martin and Red-rumped Swallow flew in their hundreds, Little Grebe and Blackbird.

We arrived home after a long and invigorating day at 8.30pm.

2nd

Shag 1, Kestrel 5, we had hoped to find these were Lesser as they hunted on a ridge above us but they flew nearer and were judged not to be. A single Griffon Vulture, 1 Sparrowhawk, 4 distant Harriers that we were unable to identify. Raven, Woodlark, another distant raptor, a Honey Buzzard. 5 Nightingale, Redstart 2.

Track to nearby church

11 Kestrel, slowly moved north onto Gramvousa, Sardinian Warbler 2, Goldfinch 5, Chaffinch 7, Hooded Crow 6, Raven 2, Serin 30, Corn Bunting 1, Song Thrush 1, dark throated Black-eared Wheatear 1, pale throated Black-eared Wheatear 3, Crested Lark c30, Rock Dove 20, Stonechat 4, Woodlark several heard. Griffon Vulture 1, Bonelli’s Eagle 1, Sparrowhawk 1, Blue Rock Thrush 1, Linnet 6, Black Kite 1.

Site 1

Chaffinch, 3, Stonechat 2, 1m 1f,Crested Lark 3, Linnet 2, Blackbird 1, Italian Sparrow 8, Goldfinch 6 one carrying nest material.

3rd

From home ….

Hoopoe 4, Woodlark, Nightingale 3, Swallow, Subalpine Warbler, 3 Tree Pipit, House Martin.

Tree Pipit ?: photo by and © C&S

From the beach road…. Dark throated Black-eared Wheatear 1, light throated Black-eared Wheatear 1, Hoopoe 1, Northern Wheatear 6, Little Ringed Plover 1, Greenfinch 4, Corn Bunting 1, Greenshank 1, Goldfinch, Woodchat Shrike 1, Crested Lark, Great Tit, Stonechat and Chaffinch.

Late afternoon, seeing three small waders through the scope, feeding on the rocks near Viglia hotel, we shot down only to find the birds had flown, not to be disappointed we managed to find and photograph both a dark and a light throated Black-eared Wheatear.

Pale throated Black-eared Wheatear: photo by and © C&S

Dark throated Black-eared Wheatear: photo by and © C&S

We also saw Hoopoe, 6 Northern Wheatear, 1 Little Ringed Plover, Greenfinch and Corn Bunting. Nearer home we were pleased to see on the waters edge our first Greenshank of the year. Looking decidedly tired it sat there with its eyes closed more than open, we left it to its rest. Soon after we sighted another first for the year, a Woodchat Shrike sat in a distant tangle of bramble bushes. Crested Lark, Chaffinch and Great Tit completed this little trip out as darkness fell.

In the evening our dog Mia found an Eastern Hedgehog feeding in the olive grove.

? Common Blue Butterfly polyommatus icarus: photo by and © C&S

4th

At 09.30 we sighted a Black Kite soaring over the sea. Six Shag  fished along the shoreline. Swallow and House Martin. A Nightingale came close and sang for us one of several we heard and saw throughout the day.

Nightingale: photo by and © C&S

A Hoopoe called in a neighbours olive trees. Raven flew across the valley onto Gramvousa. A Sparrowhawk at 09.50 with another at 10.08. Woodlark again called from across the hills At 10.50 3 Buzzard crossed the bay heading north followed at 11.25 by 7 more.  A kestrel showed briefly at 11.22 and Red-rumped Swallow swooped over the flower covered fields below.

We headed for Falasarna at about 12noon via the beach and Kissamos town.

We saw 4 Hoopoe in the beachside fields, a Tawny Pipit fed on the beach along with a single Corn Bunting and Crested Lark. Four Shag rested and aired their wings on a nearby rock. Northern Wheatear 8 and a pair of Stonechat. Italian Sparrow Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Yellow-legged Gull, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler and Collared Dove.

As we drove the main highway to Falasarna we observed 18 ******** Buzzard over the distant hills.

Arriving at Falasarna we headed to …

Site 4…

A large flock c.60 Short-toed Lark fed on the meadow.

Short-toed Lark: photo by and © C&S

Sardinian Warbler called in the shrub. Five Little Ringed Plover were observed feeding near five Hoopoe. Crested Lark called and fed amongst the S.T. Lark whilst six Yellow-legged Gull occasionally scattered them as the swooped in low. We saw 7 Griffon Vulture fly off Gramvousa in singles and pairs. Two White Wagtail came in to join the larks and a Kestrel hunted on the ridge above.

An hour later we headed to

Site 3…

Four Yellow Wagtail and six Wood Sandpiper were seen at a flooded area we noticed that there was a lot of water covered area giving us an opportunity to give this place a bit more coverage.

Wood Sandpiper: photo by and © C&S

Northern Wheatear and a 2 Hoopoe were seen on the beach. Hooded Crow harassed a Sparrowhawk whilst above the ridge an Eagle was seen heading south looking very like a Steppe Eagle. Goldfinch and Collared Dove were everywhere.

We heard a Wryneck call from a nearby Fig tree and although we looked hard we could not find it. Two Squacco Heron were found and a Purple Heron rose from under our feet as we walked to discover the extent of the water area.

Two Kingfisher were also observed one along a flooded ditch the other sat alongside one of the Squacco Heron and a lone Greenshank the first Kingfisher we have seen in this area. Two birds were noticed sat on fenceposts which turned out to be Cuckoo another nice find for us. Swallow and House Martin swooped across the reeds and water at times the rush of wind as they passed so close to our heads. A Skylark was heard then found as it called from high above us. Two Woodchat Shrike were found perched on poles in the fields.

Woodchat Shrike: photo by and © C&S

A Buzzard circled a short distance away and a Sedge Warbler came out of low cover and gave good views for a few moments Greenfinch and a pair of Moorhen completed out afternoon observations.

Late in the evening we saw a female Marsh Harrier hunting the lower fields.

5th

The day dawned with yet more rain that stayed in for most of the day with all the usual birds seen. Also of note a single Shag then late afternoon two sat on rocks near Viglia Beach. At 13.13 we spotted a female Marsh Harrier sat in a field  were we had good views for about half an hour later it flew hunting for perhaps an hour before leaving the area, followed moments later by a Sparrowhawk.

6th

House Martin, Swallow, Woodlark, Nightingale. Two pale throated Black-eared Wheatear.

Pale throated Black-eared Wheatear: photo by and © C&S

Crag Martin, 7 Hoopoe, Subalpine Warbler.

Subalpine Warbler: photo by and © C&S

Blue Rock Thrush, I Griffon Vulture, 2 Shag.

Along the beach road….

Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Crested Lark, Sardinian Warbler, Greenfinch, Corn Bunting, Whinchat, 6 Little Ringed Plover.

Little Ringed Plover: photo by and © C&S

Italian Sparrow. A mixed flock of Yellow Wagtail ssp’s. Stonechat, Great Tit, 8 Northern Wheatear, 2 Tawny Pipit, 3 Yellow-legged Gull, 1 Common Sandpiper.

Common Sandpiper: photo by and © C&S

Swallow, Cetti’s Warbler, 2 Blackbird and a Black-eared Wheatear, black throated.

Site 2

Very poor today with wind and rain we only saw 2 Chaffinch, 1 Cetti’s Warbler and 2 Blackbird.

7th

Although the weather improved a little only the following were added to the daily list…….. Shag 2, Swallow, Sparrowhawk 10.00& 1614hrs, 2 Griffon Vulture, Subalpine Warbler, House Martin, Kestrel 1. At 15.10 a sub adult male Marsh Harrier lifted from the fields below and moved westward, 3 Hoopoe

8th

DOLPHINS and FRITILLARY’S…………

We awoke at daybreak intending a long day trip onto Rodhopou peninsula . However all the best laid plans are flawed in some way, what was intended had to be hastily changed when we spotted first one then two Bottle Nosed Dolphin swimming lazily just 100 metres off the beach. Our first sightings after six years of sea watching and, from our front balcony.

Two Bottle Nosed Dolphin: photo by and © C&S

Bottle Nosed Dolphin: photo by and © C&S

Our joy at seeing this splendid dolphin species and within metres of our house. Well, we took our time and enjoyed the spectacle as they surfaced every few minutes gently breaking the surface of the water with spray immitting from their blow holes, they stayed with us for over four hours or rather we stayed watching !. We enjoyed our breakfast sat on the balcony totally enthralled and then went in the car to the nearest location in the hope of some good photos. We were joined by a local Cretan and a French couple, all of us captivated by these beautiful mammals. Whilst watching we also saw 12-14 circling Buzzard along with a single Bonelli’s Eagle, a Griffon Vulture and five Shag.

Bonelli’s Eagle: photo by and © C&S

Tearing ourselves away we got our gear together and headed off to Rodhopou . Our list of birds from home before setting out was now several species more than it would have been.

Woodchat Shrike 1, 3 Hoopoe, House Martin, Swallow, and Woodlark.

Just east of Kissamos we saw a spiral of eight Buzzard all of which turned out to be Common, Yellow-legged Gull were everywhere along the main highway towards Kolymbari. Great views of a Woodchat Shrike soon after we left the main road.

Woodchat Shrike: photo by and © C&S

Cetti’s Warbler were heard everywhere but never seen, plus several Stonechat. Lots of Great Tit called and flitted from tree to tree.

Four Common Buzzard were seen throughout the day on the peninsula.

We turned off the main track onto  a side track, finding a small flooded pool near a sheep pen we watched Northern and Black-eared Wheatear. Whilst we ate our lunch Linnet and Serin constantly came to the pool to drink and bathe, a lone Hoopoe flew past, landed in the sheep pen and unconcerned commenced feeding .

A pair of Blue Rock Thrush flew about and sang on a rocky ledge, the male in his beautiful blue stood out in the sunlight. Blackbird, Woodlark and Crested Lark were seen and heard, their songs ringing out on nearly the whole of our route. A lone Isabelline Wheatear hopped beside the road  feeding  and a pair of Raven noisily patrolled the sky. A distant Griffon Vulture, then two more flew along the ridges.

As we headed further on 4 Marsh Harrier flew by at 14.52hrs disappearing into the distance as they migrated north. Later as we were returning at 18.08hrs we saw another seven fly by one after the other also migrating northwards …what a sight after our usual ones and twos in the fields at home. Another flooded area produced a single Green Sandpiper a nice find out here in the hills. We found four Redstart, 1 male and 3 female. More Black-eared Wheatear both dark and pale throated were seen with two pairs oblivious to us engrossed in their courting rituals. We stopped for a coffee at a small building a shepherd uses, silently a Cuckoo arrived and sat in a nearby tree staying in this location we had it briefly perch on nearby fence poles and branches for about an hour giving excellent views. Two distant Kestrels were seen as they patrolled the eastern ridges.

As we walked our dog in the Garrigue Sue found the flower she has longed to see Fritillaria messanensis, hunting around two more were discovered.

Fritillaria messanensis: photo by and © C&S

A pair of Collared Flycatcher caught our attention, first the female perched on a trackside fence was  joined for a moment by the male which then took off and patrolled another area of fence, living up to its name taking large fly’s whilst the female sat quietly near to our car. We heard the unmistakable call of a Subalpine Warbler in some small trees and after some time managed several brief glimpses of this colourful little warbler. As we neared Rodhopos village we saw Collared Dove, a single Blue Tit was seen and heard Corn Bunting.

We returned home just after dark at 8.15pm to the sound of a Barn Owl hunting nearby ….what a day, another of those special ones to remember.

9th

A trip along the beaches and small streams east of Kissamos today came up with some nice surprises.

Our Crete list increased today after looking through and adding we now stand at 176 bird species seen.

From home we saw Alpine Swift, at 07.50 a Sparrowhawk, 2 Woodchat Shrike, at 09.35 & 17.00 Marsh Harrier, Great Tit carrying nest material, Northern Wheatear,  Swallow, Shag 6, Little Egret 2, a flock of c.60 Yellow Wagtail. At 10.25 five Griffon Vulture moved SW followed a short while later by three more. A Kestrel at 10.40, Meadow Pipit, 2 Black-eared Wheatear a dark and pale throated. Three Turtle Dove fed in the Olive grove a nice sight as usually we only see them dashing through, when we returned in the evening they were still present, feeding themselves up and resting before their move further north. Two Sandwich Tern fed just offshore. Whinchat, House Martin and 4 Hoopoe.

On our trip looking into the small rivers and along the beaches and fields just east of Kissamos we found lots of Whinchat….

Whinchat: photo by and © C&S

Chaffinch, Blackbird, Yellow Wagtail, 6 Little Ringed Plover, Yellow-legged Gull, Goldfinch, a single what we believe to be Penduline Tit flitted momentarily into view along a stream feeding on the rushes growing there, another first for us. Lots of Sedge and Willow Warbler. Greenfinch, Collared Dove, 4 Woodchat Shrike, 4 Buzzard Another first for us a Great Reed Warbler as we stopped to look into another small river bed.

Great Reed Warbler: photo by and © C&S

Red Throated Pipit gave good views.

Red Throated Pipit: photo by and © C&S

Hooded Crow, A large flock of Yellow-legged Gull were seen feeding close to a farmer ploughing closer examination revealed two Black-headed Gull. We stopped to look into the field where last spring we saw our first Golden Plover, not there this year but instead four Stone-curlew were found, only our second good sightings of these birds, this time moving slowly through the field occasionally feeding and laying down, we stayed to observe their behaviour for an hour….wonderful.

Sardinian Warbler, Common Sandpiper 6, Little Egret two groups 1 then 5 sat together on coastal rocks. Kingfisher 1, Black-eared Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Swallow, Great Tit, Italian Sparrow, Crested Lark, Stonechat, Corn Bunting, Cetti’s Warbler, and White Wagtail.

10th

A shopping trip to Chania, with a stop at Tavronitis River and Agia Lake.

First seen at home …..Yellow Wagtail, Hoopoe 2, Swallow and Woodlark. Buzzard a group of 10 circled to the north. House martin, Willow warbler, Whitethroat, 2 immature Shag, Swift, 6 Griffon Vulture, a 2 cy male Marsh Harrier, at 09.45 a single Bonneli’s Eagle hunted the distant high ridges. Alpine Swift about in small numbers.

On the way to and from home on our trip out…..

Blackbird, Linnet, Stonechat, Crested Lark, Italian Sparrow, Corn Bunting, Yellow wagtail, Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit, Whinchat, Little Ringed Plover, Blue Rock Thrush, Collared Dove and 9 Buzzard seen at different locations along the main highway.

At Tavronitis River the water was still flowing well, our visit was marred by the sound of automatic rifle fire which came from the military base firing range. And men at work with pneumatic hammers near one of the new water pumping stations.

Our first sighting near the old WW11 Bailey bridge,a Purple Heron flew upstream, Common Sandpiper 4, Yellow Wagtail, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Little Ringed Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Blackbird, Whinchat, Woodchat Shrike 2, Cetti’s Warbler, Shag, Chaffinch, Sedge Warbler, Moorhen, Sardinian Warbler, Yellow-legged Gull, Great Tit, Buzzard 2 and Red Rumped Swallow.

At Lake Agia….. Mute swan, Little Egret 4, Marsh Harrier 1, Yellow-legged Gull c.60, Little Grebe c.60, Garganey 2 pairs, Coot c.70, Shoveler 4 pair, Little crake 1, Cetti’s Warbler, Ruff 2, Wood Sandpiper 3, Squacco heron 1, Italian Sparrow, Moorhen, Swallow, Cormorant 1, Grey Heron 1 and Greenshank 2.

We went to the area near the church [to the south of the lake] where we found the picnic area being improved. To the right [east side of lake] at the rear of the pumping station we found that bulldozers had been to work cutting a road through along the fence perimeter, whether for the good or not it provided us with some good views of previous unseen areas. A slow and quiet approach can be really beneficial there are also lots of Warblers in this area.

We found the Jersey or Lax-flowered Orchid Orchis laxiflora in this area.

11th

Another field trip to Falasarna late morning.

From home we spotted the regulars plus….Shag 5, Swallow, a male Blackcap, 2 Tree Pipit, 1 Hoopoe, 19 Yellow Wagtail, then at 07.53 a male Sparrowhawk flew low past the house, Woodlark sang in the low scrub and rocks and a Nightingale sang in the olive grove , we stood in the spring flowers hoping for it to show and were rewarded with a few moments of brilliant views and a couple of photos.

Nightingale: photo by and © C&S

At 08.22 two pairs of Kestrel were seen and a male Blue Rock Thrush sat on the crag above the little chapel singing his heart out. Whinchat and a dark throated Black-eared Wheatear called from below the chapel. Swift wheeled in the skies above. A  Little Egret sat on the coastal rocks. 10.05 hours and 15 Griffon Vultures were seen to lift off from Gramvousa, we watched as they rose high into the sky then individually fell back behind the ridges before rising once again as a body, they repeated this several times before they peeled off one by one towards the higher area of the peninsula. Their place was taken moments after by a spiral of 8 common Buzzard and a pair of Raven.

Whitethroat, Willow and Subalpine Warbler flitted through the olive trees, Alpine Swift noisily appeared and as quickly moved on. Corn Bunting could be heard with their jingling call echoing of the rocks above. The final show of the morning …at 12.45 a pair of Bonelli’s Eagle appeared to the north for a matter of seconds before they to followed the route of the Griffons.

As hard as it was we had planned a trip out so tore ourselves away to collect our gear.

FALASARNA……………

Packing ourselves a lunch we headed off to Falasarna, the dog stayed at home as the temperatures where high. As usual we recorded birds along the way, we saw….. Hoopoe, Chaffinch, Woodchat Shrike 2, Sardinian Warbler, Greenfinch, Sparrow, Buzzard, Whinchat, Great Tit and Blue Tit, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Subalpine Warbler, Serin, Whinchat and Yellow Wagtail.

We took a new route [for us] heading between olive groves and greenhouses to a small church, where we parked up and watched Wheatears flitting around… Northern 6, Isabelline 1 and Black-eared 2. Crested Larks sang and perched on rocks, Stonechats darted around with their throaty clicking, Linnet enjoyed bathing in a small puddle, the beautiful song of Nightingale filled the air and Chukar seemed to be trying to compete. Whitethroat darted in the low bushes, Swift and Red-rumped Swallow soared around. Moving on from this spot we found a comfortable place for our picnic, cool breezes by the coast. We watched White Wagtails and Swifts flying across the road, heading off to a small island of rocks and Yellow legged Gull. After lunch we continued along the road in the car scanning the rocks, bushes. We were very lucky to notice a Purple Heron stood on the side of the beach close to the road, he froze and we just sat watching, as he realised we weren’t going to bother him he continued with his search for food. All the time we carried on photographing him and as luck would have it he found an Ocellated  Skink, it always seems such a privilege to see such things not lucky for the skink as their numbers are on the decrease.

Purple Heron with lunch: photo by and © C&S

Purple Heron: photo by and © C&S

We sat observing him for a good hour and then went on to see what else was around. Across the wet fields we saw…. Purple Heron 5, Little Ringed Plover 6, Wood Sandpiper 4, Squacco Heron 2, Kingfisher 1 Little Egret 3, Little Stint 1 Collared Dove, Swift, Alpine Swift, Kestrel 1, Raven 2 and a single Buzzard.

After a wonderful afternoon we headed for home, we took a track across the ridge overlooking Falasarna, this can be a very good place for wild flowers, saw the last of the yellow Turban Buttercups and some orchids which we have yet to ID. This is a very rough track in places only suitable with a 4x4 vehicle. Good for a walk though, magnificent views of Falasarna. We got home just before dark to an excitable warm welcome from the dog.

Later after dark we sat on the balcony listening to the Nightjar, Scops and Barn Owl

12th 

Saturday at home provided more good views and the superb song of a Nightingale.

A very quiet day with no wind and temperatures touching 30oC

Blue Tit, at 12.08 a female Marsh Harrier flew close to the house, Buzzard 6, Shag 2, Woodlark, Swift, Swallow and . In the night Barn Owl and the first Scops Owl for some time called nearby.

Our first snake for the year, a Balkan Whip snake Hierophis gemonensis

Along the beach road.

Collared Dove, Shag 4, Yellow-legged Gull 2, Yellow Wagtail 3, Little Egret 1,Whinchat, Hooded Crow, Great Tit, Crested Lark, Chaffinch and Swallow.

13th

Another very hot day 31.9oC so we stayed at home to see what turned up.

A distant Harrier was seen at 08.55 showing a small white area on the rump we took it to be either a Hen or a Montagu’s. 6 Griffon Vulture, 2 Woodchat Shrike, Nightingale, 7 Buzzard circled high and distant. At 11.00 a dark morph Booted Eagle flew by, joined at 11.15 by a pale morph they circled with the Buzzard for a while before disappearing to the north.

Swallow, Swift and Alpine Swift by the hundreds wheeled and soared as they noisily called and fed, filling the insect laden sky for an hour, too numerous and dense where they to count, a brilliant sight, all to soon the skies emptied and silence was upon us once more.

Kestrel 2, a pale throated Black-eared Wheatear. At 13.10 2 Bonelli’s Eagle showed briefly, Raven, Woodlark. At 14.30 a Grey Heron flew into a nearby field. Red-rumped Swallow. A group of 10 Spanish Sparrow noisily sat in a nearby bush the males resplendent with their red brown heads and bold black streaked  breast and flanks, a noticeable difference from our local Italian Sparrow.

14th

The temperatures dropped slightly but Saharan sand still filled the sky and made the visibility very poor.

Birding was very poor we could only add to the usual birds….. Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, 1 Hoopoe flew into the lower olive grove, Alpine Swift, no more than 12 flew north, Woodlark, at 11.25 nine Buzzard we seen on the high ridges circling high, a single Shag sat on the coastal rocks below whilst above a single Griffon Vulture also sat surveying the area.

In the evening Nightjar and Barn Owl were heard near the house.

We went onto Gramvousa for a few hours mid afternoon ……A single Griffon Vulture probably the same one seen from home lazily circled above us , 2 Marsh Harrier 1m 1f, 6 Buzzard, 1 Turtle Dove, Great and Blue Tit, Raven, Hooded Crow. Two Black-eared Wheatear, Corn Bunting, Stonechat, Woodlark, Nightingale, Kestrel 1, Whinchat, Swallow, Chaffinch, Sardinian Warbler, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Short-toed Lark 1, Blue Rock Thrush. The calls of a few Chukar were heard from the distant scrub and rocks. Isabelline Wheatear 1, Cetti’s Warbler [heard] and Crested Lark.

15th

Another very quiet day…

House Martin, Corn Bunting and two Scops Owl late at night could only be added to the regulars, whilst in Kissamos and the beach road, Collared Dove, Little Egret 1, Little Ringed Plover 2+1, Red-rumped Swallow. With the weather prediction for the next few days of southerly winds we can only hope that things will improve.

16th

Corn Bunting, Northern Wheatear, Stonechat, 08.56 Two Griffon Vulture, Swallow, Two female Marsh Harrier one sat in the fields giving good views. Viglia beach Black-eared Wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, Woodchat Shrike.

Viglia Beach road and beach east of Kissamos

Viglia…. 3 Little Ringed Plover, Whinchat, 2 Shag, Corn Bunting, Cetti’s Warbler, Yellow-legged Gull, Crested Lark, Goldfinch, Sardinian Warbler.

East Kissamos Beach….

1 Black-headed Gull, 1 Little, Stint, 2 Little ringed Plover, Swallow, Greenfinch, Italian Sparrow, 60+ Yellow-legged Gull….unfortunately no sign of any Stone-curlew.

Deliana Gorge for a spot of Vulture watching.

Wren sang everywhere, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Black-eared Wheatear, Stonechat, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Scops Owl two called throughout the afternoon, Griffon Vulture 12 + 3 young could be seen on the nest. We watched as the adults flew in, changed places and fed the young for a great four hours. Blue Rock thrush 2, Crag Martin, Sardinian Warbler, Collared Dove, Kestrel 2, Goldfinch, Raven 2, also with young in the nest with a lot of very noisy feeding taking place. Buzzard and Italian Sparrow.

17th

A pair of Black-eared Wheatear, Whinchat, Buzzard 5, Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Stonechat, 2 Shag, Northern Wheatear, Blue Tit and 2 Griffon Vulture.

Cetti’s Warbler: photo by and © C&S

18th

Corn Bunting was the only bird to add to the regulars at home as we set off early for a trip to Omalos, Where we were to meet with Brendan and his wife Grainne for a visit to Kalergi Refuge and Lake Agia. Brendan has supplied a trip report to the website in the past and loves to film raptors

On the way we sighted …at Viglia Beach ….

3 Little ringed Plover, Whinchat, Chaffinch, 1 Woodchat Shrike, Swallow, Cetti’s Warbler, Yellow-legged Gull, Hooded Crow, Italian Sparrow, Blue Rock Thrush, Goldfinch, Blackbird and Collared Dove.

The road to Omalos…..

Lots of Blackcap in then wooded areas before Lakki, Cetti’s warbler, Buzzard, Kestrel, Stonechat and Raven.

Omalos Plateau and Kalergi….

7 Cough , Greenfinch, Wren, Chaffinch, 5 Griffon Vulture, 3 Kestrel, Alpine Swift, Sardinian Warbler, Northern Wheatear, Whinchat, Black-eared wheatear, Blue Rock Thrush, 1 Peregrine Falcon, a distant Aquila possibly a Golden Eagle seen momentarily very high. Chukar, Cuckoo, Crag Martin, Great Tit, Woodlark, Buzzard, Cirl Bunting, Woodchat Shrike, Stonechat, Blue Tit, Hose Martin and Serin.

Lake Agia …….

No less than eleven Little Crake were seen, Coot many with young, Little Egret 7, Squacco Heron 2, 2 pair of Shoveler, Little Grebe 30+, Moorhen 30+, Cetti’s Warbler, Common Sandpiper 2, Wood Sandpiper 4, Greenshank 2, Ruff 1, Yellow-legged Gull 30+, Italian Sparrow, Hooded Crow, Grey Wagtail 1, Swift, Swallow, Crag & House Martin. Ferruginous Duck 3, Garganey a pair, f. Marsh Harrier, Little Bittern 2 m. Night Heron 1, Sedge Warbler.

19th

Our first Eleonoras Falcon of the year and first Bee-eater seen.

Corn Bunting, Shag 2, Alpine Swift, Swift, House Martin, Swallow, Woodchat Shrike and our local 2 Buzzard  + 8 distant. At 10.45 our first sighting of returning Eleonoras Falcon, it is really great to see these fantastic falcons back for the summer. 10.50 Marsh Harrier 2, Raven, 1158 Griffon Vulture 6, Goldfinch seen feeding young, Yellow Wagtail 5, Kestrel at 1340, Nightingale, Bee-eater 1, Stonechat.

Bee-eater: photo by and © C&S

20th

A very hot and windy day, with lots of Saharan sand in the air.

Whinchat, Swallow, Crag Martin,  at 10.50 a Sparrowhawk, 11.10 Griffon Vulture 2, Alpine Swift, Swift, Kestrel and heard distant at 22.30 a Scops Owl .

21st

07.50 Shag 2, 08.00 1 Bee-eater, again at 18.15, two sat on the phone wires, Swallow, Turtle Dove 2 we found sitting in a dead bush 20 metres from the house resting up, eyes closed they sat covered in dust. Stonechat, Kestrel 1, Nightingale, at 10.25 1 Griffon Vulture and later 6 @ 16.00. At 10.58 a f. Marsh Harrier and later at 18.00 a male. Whinchat, three Woodchat Shrike sat on fencing about 100 metres apart. 15.25 a Hoopoe fed 10 metres from the house and Alpine Swift.

22nd

Our first bird of the morning, a new one to our Crete list, an Ortolan a beautiful male, sat in dead bush 20 metres from the house we managed a few rushed pictures before it flew off towards the hills.

Ortolan Bunting: photo by and © C&S

Swallow, a 2cy m. Marsh Harrier, Whinchat, 4 Woodchat Shrike with the males singing away, at 10.11hrs a f. Marsh Harrier, a Hoopoe landed 10 metres away on the balcony we were stood on gave one of their grating calls and flew into the adjoining field and started to feed. Shag 3, 1 adult and 2 imm. Eleonoras Falcon 1 at 12.08, 12.23hrs Griffon Vulture 1, Corn Bunting, Bee-eater again a single bird !. Redstart 1m. Pied Flycatcher 1f, the first migrant Spotted Flycatcher 1, Blackcap 1f.

23rd

Tree Pipit, Blue Tit, Woodchat Shrike, Northern Wheatear, Swallow, 100+ Yellow-legged Gull, Shag 6, a Nightingale sang and gave superb views in the gulley, Red rumped Swallow, 08.44 a f. Marsh Harrier flew above the fields below and landed,  staying for some 15 minutes. A Turtle Dove flew from the Carob trees near the gulley. Buzzard…seen throughout the morning in groups of 6+22+5+5+8+2+2 there were probably more but many were very high and we no doubt missed many more , but nice sightings of 50 birds. A pale throated Black-eared Wheatear, at 11.10hrs a Black kite circled gaining height before joining a group of Buzzard. Alpine Swift, Swallow, Swift, House Martin and a couple of Sand Martin filled skies again, a wonderful sight. Bee-eaters… at last c.30 arrived with that wonderful lilting call and flew straight out onto Gramvousa …brilliant.

At 12.00hrs a single Eleonoras falcon was seen with a group of Buzzard high over Gramvousa. A distant UID Accipiter, at 12.12hrs a Short-toed Eagle flew from inland and straight lined northwards. Stonechat, Little Ringed Plover 1 was seen on the beach road. 14.55hrs a single Griffon Vulture with two Buzzard in attendance flew north very high. Corn Bunting sang nearby and a surprise Great Reed Warbler headed up through the gulley.

In the evening a walk nearby produced a Willow Warbler, a Cuckoo, Blackcap f, Pied Flycatcher 1f ,a Barn and Scops Owl.

24th

Swiss, Brits, Danes and Osprey at lake Agia. ……

Starting the day early we spotted the usual species plus a Corn Bunting before setting off to Agia for 08.00….

On route we found Spotted Flycatcher, Chaffinch, Swallow, Yellow-legged Gull, Greenfinch, Italian Sparrow, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Blue Rock Thrush, Collared Dove, House Martin, Cetti’s Warbler, Blackbird and Buzzard.

At Agia we met up with Roy who arrived a little before us and was on the far side of the lake.

Scanning the tree line we found 4 Grey Heron sat in a tree above the Hooded Crow nest, one pair of Garganey, 5 little Egret, about 50 Coot some with young, c.30 Moorhen, Little Grebe [numbers not counted], 1 f Marsh Harrier, Cetti’s Warbler, 4 Little Crake, Alpine Swift, Swift, House Martin, Sand Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, 1 Mute Swan, 20+ Yellow-legged Gull.

A coach party of Swiss arrived and dispersed along the lakeside hunting out the wild flowers and the wildlife, followed by a group led by Stephanie Coghlan, Stephanie is author of “A Birdwatching Guide to Crete”. we chatted with the members of the group and enjoyed a few hours with other enthusiasts, something of a rarity here, we joined forces for a while and found 1 Ruff, 2 Wood Sandpiper, 2 Squacco Heron, Yellow Wagtail sp Feldegg and Hooded Crow. We met a very nice Danish couple and watched a Dice snake moving through the water, the main party were also watching a Dice snake further along the bank when a single Osprey called in for a quick look, deciding that the lake was overcrowded it did not linger and headed off in the direction of the Lefki Ori, our first sighting of an Osprey at Agia.

Osprey: photo by and © C&S

A short while later a Buzzard soared nearby, as Sue picked it up in her binoculars she saw a distant bird which turned into a pale morph Booted Eagle another nice tick for the day.

The groups and Roy all headed off to other locations, we stayed and enjoyed the company of Claus and Nina the Danes, we went off to the far lakeside on a flower hunt, Other bird species on the way Nightingale, Sedge Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Stonechat, Blackcap, Serin, Great tit, Blackbird and Goldfinch. At 14.10hrs a Peregrine flew over followed by 2 Crag Martin.

A Little Bittern was reported seen across the south side but we were unable to locate it.

Reptiles seen…………

Dice Snake 2

Marsh frog

Stripe necked Terrapin in large numbers

Giant Emerald Lizard  Lacerta trilineata

What was supposed to be a few hours in the morning prior to a shopping trip turned into over seven hours at Agia ! A very nice seven hours, we met new friends who share our passion for wildlife. Our trip had to come to an end though so we reluctantly took ourselves into Chania to get our weekly groceries. Arriving home late evening we heard Scops and Barn Owl calling.

25th

Red Footed Falcons, Golden Orioles….and Deliana Gorge

Our first birds of the day are Swallow, they dart around the house accompanied by the chattering Italian Sparrow.

At 08.15 we see Red Footed Falcon in large numbers. After giving this area a miss last year we catch sight of around 100 as they slowly work their way along the distant ridges of Gramvousa, heading north. In previous years we have been lucky and have seen hundreds feeding in the lower fields and along the beach road it looks as if they are going to pass through this year and we will miss their company yet again.

Buzzard 3, Griffon Vulture 1, Whinchat and a pale throated Black-eared Wheatear are quickly added to the days list. All the usual species are soon ticked off and we add Swift, Alpine Swift, a singing male Woodchat Shrike, House Martin and Red-rumped Swallow are seen as we breakfast on the balcony. At 09.20 we catch sight of a female Marsh Harrier as she hunted the grass fields below, while watching her effortlessly float over the fields we catch sight of a flock of c.60 Yellow Wagtails dropping into the tall grass to feed or catch a rest before their flight further into Europe.

Today we are off to the Gorge at Deliana with our friends Bob and Dawn to see the Griffon colony there.

Dawn questions whether we ever get to where we are going as we detour to the beaches east of Kissamos to see what birds may be around.

We eventually get back to the main highway after seeing…. 2 Little Ringed Plover, Yellow-legged Gull, Crested lark, Collared Dove, Whinchat, Northern Wheatear, Swallow, Red Throated Pipit, Greenfinch, Yellow Wagtail, 3 Red Footed Falcon. The sighting of these looks promising for a as the winds are now from the north it looks like we may get a few days of watching these as they sit on the telephone and electric wires before dropping to the ground to  pick up some tasty morsel. Goldfinch, Blackbird and  a single Sandwich Tern sat amongst a group of c.30 Yellow-legged Gull.

Arriving at Deliana we saw Wren, Griffon Vulture 13, with four nest sites under observation we had good views of three young, 1 Peregrine Falcon , Blue Rock Thrush, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Spotted Flycatcher, Crag Martin, Goldfinch, Blackbird, 2 Raven seen several times as they returned to their young still on the nest, as a pair of Kestrel constantly harried them.

After a trip through the mountains on the return home we stopped at Bob and Dawns for a quick cup of tea and spotted Golden Oriole in the trees behind the house, we counted 7 males and  2 females.

Golden Oriole: photo by and © C&S

Leaving Kissamos a quick tour of Viglia beach area gave us Red Footed Falcon, Little Ringed Plover and Corn Bunting.

26th

Blue Tit, Swallow, Blue Rock Thrush, Swift, Alpine Swift, House Martin, c.30 Yellow Wagtail [flava], Redstart and Whinchat.

Not to be disappointed we see the Red Footed Falcon still around, not in great numbers but we are lucky this year and they stay for a few more days these little falcon give great views as they bob up and down like yoyos feeding on the small ground insects.

Female Red-footed Falcon: photo by and © C&S

Male Red-footed Falcon: photo by and © C&S

Griffon Vulture 3 at 09.40hrs and at 09.58 a Peregrine Falcon, 1 Kestrel and a male Woodchat Shrike sang from a nearby shrub.

We set off at 10.00 for a trip in search of Orchid and birds in the Kandanos area.

Birds seen on route, Blackbird, Crested Lark, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Red Footed Falcon c.20, Kestrel 1 + a pair later in the afternoon, Collared Dove, Raven.

At 13.40 two Kites lifted over a ridge directly in front of us, metres away they quickly lifted higher but directly into the sun we had a brief glimpse, we turned every bend and they reappeared in front of us but moving further away, a nice sighting. A Black and a Red Kite.

Goldfinch, Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Stonechat and Woodlark. Northern Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear, Whinchat, two sightings of Turtle Dove three in all.

Turtle Dove: photo by and © C&S

Spotted Flycatcher, Cetti’s Warbler, Nightingale, Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush, Griffon Vulture 3 and a Common Sandpiper on the coast as we arrived home.

27th

The first sighting of the day a female Marsh Harrier hunted the fields below, she spent the whole day in the area. Red Footed Falcon c.20 still sitting on the phone wires and hunting in the vicinity. Alpine Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Woodchat Shrike, Stonechat and Woodlark. A single Griffon Vulture, Blue Tit, Swift. At 12.30 a male Marsh Harrier joined the female, at 12.55 a Peregrine put in an appearance, Greenfinch. On the coast road 1 Shag, Corn Bunting, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Kestrel, and c.50 Yellow Wagtail..

28th

Taking out the dog early in the morning the first sound to be heard Bee-eater c.30 appeared later another 10 were seen. A family of Great Tit were spotted with the adults busy in their hunt for food returning and moving along the young. Swift, Woodlark, at 0920 a Sparrowhawk, Greenfinch, Alpine Swift, Swallow, Shag 3, 09.28 a single Griffon Vulture followed later by four more.

09.33 a Black Kite, Red Footed Falcon 10, 09.50 the female Marsh Harrier was again seen in the lower fields, 10.04 a single Kestrel, a pale throated Black-eared Wheatear, Tree Pipit, at 10.50 a male and female Marsh Harrier flew over heading north. At 11.06 a male Hen Harrier was seen also heading north. The lovely sound of Golden Oriole came to our ears and we spent a while looking in the Tamerisk trees before we actually spotted a single male.

Sat having lunch at 15.50 a Peregrine Falcon tore through the garden and an Italian Sparrow busy trying to nest build under our pergola crashed down nearby as it evaded the hawk, the peregrine glided slowly off into the olive grove meal less.

At night Barn and Scops Owl nearby.

29th

At home before a trip to our new found wetland site at Falasarna we saw, 2 Golden Oriole, 50+ Swallow, Buzzard 2, Red Footed Falcon 30+, Kestrel 1, Stonechat 1, Woodlark, many House and Crag Martin filled the skies, c.20 Yellow Wagtail [flava], a different female Marsh Harrier hunted the lower fields the paler one having moved on. Whinchat, 1 Shag, 1 Turtle Dove. Late in the evening at 20.05hrs two female Marsh Harrier hunted the fields before settling in the grass.

On our trip to Falasarna.

Sardinian Warbler, Great Tit, Turtle Dove a nice sighting of eight together working through an olive grove. Whilst at the wet site now daily drying out, 5 Little Bittern, woodchat Shrike 1, Corn Bunting 1, Yellow Wagtail 6, Wood Sandpiper 8, Whinchat m&f, Blackbird, Collared Dove 6, Raven 1,Greenfinch, Sue just butts in from reading the list with “this sounds like the football results”, Purple Heron 1juv, and 3 adults, Spanish Sparrow 10 [rugby score now] bathed in a puddle with a Whinchat.

Picture: Spanish Sparrow  

Italian Sparrow, Squacco Heron 4, Little Egret 3, Temmincks Stint 1, Sand Martin 20+, Little Ringed Plover 1, Bee-eater heard, and a Crake that showed momentarily but dashed as it saw us not giving enough views to ID it. Moorhen 3, Swallow everywhere. Little Stint 4, Sedge Warbler 1, Curlew Sandpiper 3.

Curlew Sandpiper: photo by and © C&S

Along the beach road on way home… Crested Lark, Common Sandpiper 2, Red Footed Falcon 15, Shag 3, Yellow-legged Gull, Chaffinch, Italian Sparrow, Corn Bunting, Marsh Harrier 1f, Hooded Crow, Buzzard, Northern Wheatear, Little ringed Plover, Kestrel, Goldfinch, Collared Dove and three Little Egret.

30th

Greenfinch, Whinchat, two small flocks of Bee-eater, a high accipiter , Woodlark, 09.00hrs 2 Griffon Vulture, Raven 2, Red Footed Falcon 4, Shag 3, Blue Tit, a pale throated Black-eared Wheatear, Woodchat Shrike.

At Irini Church on Gramvousa peninsula 2f Marsh Harrier, Yellow-legged Gull, Kestrel, black throated Black-eared Wheatear, Woodlark, Crested Lark, Pied Flycatcher 6, flitting in the oleander bushes, Goldfinch, stonechat and a single Shag.

APRIL SUMMARY

A superb month with great sightings of those two brilliant Falcons ….Red Footed and Eleonoras with their different feeding techniques.

Spotted Flycatcher numbers seem to be lower this year but we may see more in May.

The calls of the migrant birds, Nightingale, Golden Oriole, Bee-eater are always a pleasure to hear and this month did not disappoint we hear and see more than before.

Also nice is the number of Turtle Doves with many more sightings.

Next month we look forward to spotting the Lammergeier from home again, we have not had any sightings for a few months now. It was the same during the first months of 2007 then numerous sightings during May and throughout the rest of the year, so we will be keeping up the watch for these rarer vultures.

Also during May we will be helping The Ornithological Society of Greece with the Common Bird Count and Breeding Birds of Greece.

With many of the smaller breeding species here now fledging we will also be on the look out for the young of Blue and Great Tit, Whinchat and Stonechat and of course all the larks and wheatears.

We hope to get more photos of the Griffon Vulture young as they start to emerge onto the ledges, probably in the middle of May.
 

Back to diary index