July 2008 Report

                        REPORT FROM KISSAMOS BAY AREA

All pictures attached to monthly reports are photos taken on the day of the actual species mentioned and are not archived shots.

This months regulars ……12 species.

Crested Lark….Hooded Crow…. ….Italian Sparrow….Sardinian Warbler….Blackbird…. Greenfinch….Rock Dove….Buzzard….Great Tit….Goldfinch…. Raven….Collared Dove, are seen daily and not recorded in the lists below unless they are seen in significant numbers. Not forgetting our resident Bats.

This month we look forward to seeing our first families of Woodchat Shrike. Griffon Vultures young should fly soon and hopefully we will see an increase in the numbers over Gramvousa.

On the 7th, 15 Griffon Vultures over Gramvousa, to distant to tell, but maybe these are adults with their young.

The 8th is a young bird day as we see families of Great Tit and Blue Tit. A pair of Sardinian Warbler with 3 young; Swallow on nest with 4 young, Juv. Northern Wheatear, our resident Buzzards with one noisy juv.  Greenfinch  and Goldfinch also with young.

A trip to Omalos and the White Mountains on the 9th….. 30+K off road…..gives us another first for our Crete bird list. We sight ….TWO different adult Lammergeier.

Our largest group sighting of Raven on the 19th

Golden Eagle and we think Eastern Imperial Eagle on the 31st


Hooded Crow 20c, Northern Wheatear, Swallow, Alpine Swift, Woodchat Shrike, Juv Stonechat, 3 Eleonoras Falcon, Kestrel, 3 Griffon Vulture fly out onto Gramvousa, inline 200 metres apart. Swift and Nightjar.


Northern Wheatear, Blue Tit, Woodchat Shrike. At 0905 distant on the Gramvousa ridges two Bonelli’s Eagles. Kestrel 2, swallow, Eleonora’s Falcon 1, Bee-eaters [heard]. At 19.45 1 Griffon Vulture was seen 300 metres to the north and landed on a rock ledge. Three Cretan Hares together on the hills at the back of the house.


Woodchat Shrike, a flock of 15 Linnet, Northern Wheatear, Swift, Alpine Swift, Swallow and a Barn Owl in the Olive Grove.


Our first sighting of the day two Eleonora’s Falcon circled over the house for ten minutes giving superb views. One of our resident male Woodchat Shrike continually swooped on one of the local Buzzard as it sat on the rocks nearby. Swallow, 3 Blue Tit. At 11.00 six Griffon Vulture lifted from nearby hills and circled high before heading off in line towards Falasarna ridge. Northern Wheatear, lots of juveniles flit constantly through the olive trees.


C20 Hooded Crow flew noisily nearby, many Northern Wheatear present in the olive trees, 2 Blue Rock Thrush, our resident Buzzard fly with two young that call repeatedly and land on the crags behind the house. 1 Eleonora’s Falcon was joined by a single Kestrel and they swooped repeatedly over the house. Two Turtle Dove were seen throughout the day as they flew in the olive trees,  Swallow and a Little Ringed were seen along the beach and a Scops Owl was heard in the distance in the late evening.

Cretan Hare on the hills.


19c Hooded Crow, and Northern Wheatear were all that could be added to the usual birds. As temperatures rose to 31oC with reduced visibility there was little chance of seeing much bird life.


Our resident Buzzards woke us this morning as dawn broke; they flew and landed on the rocks to the rear of the house and called for most of the day.

Woodchat Shrike, Northern Wheatear, Swallow, Blue Tit. At 09.15 a Peregrine Falcon flew low over the house and spent the next fifteen minutes hunting in the area. At 10.05 it returned with an Eleonora’s Falcon, they both flew over the house, quite low, they were joined by a pair of Raven, all giving fantastic views.

Eleonora’s Falcon,
photo by and © C&S

photo by and © C&S

At 14.00 4 Griffon Vultures were sighted on the distant southern inland ridges and moments later fifteen were seen on the ridges of Gramvousa for about 3-4 minutes before they flew onto the peninsula, we hope these are the adults showing their young the feeding grounds that they will using.

A Little Ringed Plover was seen in the fields along the beach road.

21.05… A single Eleonora’s Falcon flew over the house and headed north along the coast, by now it was nearly dark, an hour later a Nightjar was heard very close to the house unfortunately Mia barked aggressively at it and it disappeared off down the hill.


Buzzard a pair with one young, Hooded Crow 15+, juv. Northern Wheatear, Woodchat Shrike a pair, still  no sightings of young, we know roughly where the nest is but do not wish to disturb, so we are keeping a watch on the general area. Lots of Italian Sparrow, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Greenfinch and Sardinian Warbler with young. And a nest with four young Swallow in a friends garage/storage area. We noticed on arrival at their house an adult fly in where they were packing cucumbers for the wholesale market and as there was a lot of human activity inside we snapped off some pictures, Our friends told us this was the fourth brood this pair had reared this year so we knew they were not going to get disturbed by us.

Swallow nest and four young soon to fledge,
photo by and © C&S

Adult Swallow coming in to feed the young,
photo by and © C&S

Five Sardinian Warbler,
photo by and © C&S

Raven, crested Lark and three Eleonora’s Falcon completed a nice days lazy birding.

A last sighting…. Barn Owl, sat once again on the fence just outside our bedroom.

Lizards seem to be everywhere today and one is very obliging when we move closer to get some photos.

Young Balkan Green Lizard,
photo by and © C&S


We awoke early this morning 0400 for a trip to the White Mountains in the hope of avoiding the heat of the day. With 35oC predicted for the afternoon we set off at 0500 whilst it is still dark. We should arrive at our selected track after Lakki village, which would take us high into the mountains at just after 06.00.

As we left home, we presume our Barn Owl from last night… was sat on the telephone wire opposite our neighbour’s house, a nice tick to start the day…..

Along the beach road we heard a couple of Little Ringed Plover.

On route as dawn broke we heard Blackbird, Italian Sparrow and Chaffinch.

Northern Wheatear were seen along the whole route throughout the day with 60-70c seen.

Northern Wheatear juv,
photo by and © C&S

Woodlark were seen early on in small numbers.

Sardinian Warbler, again lots seen and heard throughout the trip but we never counted them.

Not long after we left the asphalt road we sighted 8 Chukar with the closest views yet, before they flew noisily along the road and out of sight.

photo by and © C&S

Raven, only 2 seen today, 1 Kestrel, and 3 Buzzard.

At 07.15 we saw our first Griffon Vultures…for most of the day there was usually one in sight somewhere over the mountains, we saw initially, 2 then 2 more and then spotted 14 sat on a one of the ridges.

Some of the Griffon Vultures,
photo by and © C&S

Here we spotted our first Lammergeier, an adult… as it flew over the Griffons ….superb !!!! It did a couple of loops before heading off south.

photo by and © C&S

We set off once more and had a Wren land in a small tree alongside the car that was too close to get the Tamron 200-500 lens to focus, we watched its antics for a short while before it moved on.

photo by and © C&S

We stopped next at a makeshift pool that a shepherd had installed, there was barely any water in there but it was full of bees and we were lucky to see Crag Martin and Blue Tits with young here. A Jay was heard and later in the day on Omalos Plateau we saw two.

Moving on we had to traverse a track that the sheep and goats had reduced to a fine dust inches thick, we followed a large flock of sheep through here with visibility virtually nil.

We emerged onto a hill that overlooked the gorge of Samaria  and as we stopped to get some pictures of the view we sighted our second adult Lammergeier of the day this time flying just below us and into a small gulley to our right it entered this area twice  but never re-emerged and again we managed some pictures. If we had not stopped where we had and gone straight on for a few hundred metres we would have been at the head of the gulley the Lammergeier had entered and would have had it fly just metres above us as it exited into the next valley. Later when we looked at the photos we saw that they were two different birds as luckily the first had P7 missing on the left wing. Always a delight to see one of these spectacular birds but two, we are privileged indeed.

photo by and © C&S

Moving along once more we see Greenfinch, many Linnet, Blue Rock Thrush, Alpine Swift and Swallow.

We descend down from Kallergi hut area onto Omalos Plateau, as we leave 2 Griffon Vulture fly just above us.

Griffon Vulture,
photo by and © C&S

Griffon Vulture,
photo by and © C&S

 On the plateau we get a brief sighting of around 12 Chough. Woodchat Shrike are seen on the fence posts.

We now get our new bird for the Crete list, WOOD PIGEON, yes Wood Pigeon, they are around usually in small numbers here, so another nice spot as 20c fly from the fields to the tree area of the hills and back, due to sheep and shepherd disturbance in their feeding area.

Wood Pigeon, not the best of pics,
photo by and © C&S

In this area we also find on one of the two dwindling pools of water, 2 f. Cirl Bunting , m&f Linnet and juv. Goldfinch. Common near our house, we sight just 2 Hooded Crow here.

Cirl Bunting f,
photo by and © C&S

Linnet f,
photo by and © C&S

Goldfinch juv,
photo by and © C&S

We leave the area at 14.30 and head home, we see a few Common Buzzard along the way. It is very hot now and as we drive towards the beach road near home we spot an imm.Yellow-legged Gull sat in the harbour. Whilst along the beach road, 2 Little Ringed Plover move along the shoreline feeding and 3 Turtle Dove fly up from the scrub at the roadside, as we now head up towards the house Crested Lark rise up and scatter into the fields.

We hope they get quicker as yesterday we saw two men in the fields with a shotgun obviously on the lookout for small birds.


A very hot and windy day with some work for us so not too much birding …. Swallow, Woodchat Shrike and Northern Wheatear.

We also saw the largest Whip Snake today at least 1.5 metres as it crossed the road through the village of Neo Chorio, near Kaliviani


Our Local Buzzard with young woke us early this morning at 6am they were very vocal. Woodchat Shrike still in the same location and no sign of young yet.0950-1000 10 Griffon Vulture flew past the side of the house at 50 metres distant and headed onto Gramvousa with a single Eleonora’s Falcon in attendance. Northern Wheatear was the only other species apart from the regulars. A strong force 7B wind picked up by 11.00 and a single Griffon Vulture flew by at 16.50hrs.

At night a barn Owl.


Griffon Vulture 2+5+2. The first sighting this summer of a juvenile Woodchat Shrike, later an adult. Northern Wheatear.


Griffon Vulture 9, Northern Wheatear, 1 juv and 1 adult Woodchat Shrike, 2 Turtle Dove 1 Kestrel and a Nightjar.


 Six Buzzard called noisily and soared for fifteen minutes over the house, 1 Eleonora’s Falcon at 08.05, 9 Griffon Vultures at 09.20, Northern Wheatear. Along the beach 3 Little Ringed Plover, 2 Turtle Dove, Goldfinch and Crested Lark.

 A rabbit fed in the dark amongst the olive trees. And a few feet away a Beech Martin raided our wild pair tree before we could get the camera out it had selected a pair and shot off through the trees…another chance missed for a picture.


 At 08.00  2 Eleonora’s Falcon  followed a short while later by another that sat on the rocks above the church occasionally flying off to hawk insects before coming back to the rocks to eat its catch. Two Woodchat Shrike, Swallow, Swift, Alpine Swift and Northern Wheatear.  Along the beach, Little Ringed Plover, Goldfinch and Crested Lark. At night a Scops Owl.


Northern Wheatear, Blue Tit, Blue Rock Thrush, Buzzard 4, Woodchat Shrike and Swift. Two Spotted Flycatcher, at 10.15, 2 Griffon Vulture flew onto Gramvousa peninsula followed later by small groups that joined up to a total of 15 soaring over the ridges, they were joined by 18 Raven.


At 07.40 a Peregrine Falcon, Swift and a distant unidentified Aquila was briefly seen as it rose above the ridge and then disappeared from sight. At night three rabbits and a Scops Owl.


Northern Wheatear, 11.00hrs 2 Eleonora’s Falcon and at 12.45, 5 Griffon Vultures. Along the beach road Little Ringed Plover and at Falasarna Beach at dusk maybe 20+. A Scops Owl  and 2 rabbits seen at 23.00hrs

Also a Buzzard silently glided past the house heading for the trees along the road at 22.45, possibly taking advantage of the full moon.

Earlier in the day a pair of Raven flew over, one flew into the rocks above the small church and was seen to take off with a white egg, about quail size, having seen no birds in the area I walked up to investigate apart from a scrape  under an overhang there were no other eggs and no sign of any other bird. How the Raven found the egg….straight in and out from this hidden place or what had laid it remains a mystery. Any ideas welcomed, the only thing we can come up with is Barn Owl.


A single Eleonora’s Falcon, Northern Wheatear and a Spotted Flycatcher could be added to the daily list . The only other significant spot of the day was at 22.25hrs when 40 Raven were seen heading onto the peninsula followed from another direction 13 more the most we have seen at one time. 


At 03.00 Nightjar and Scops Owl called nearby. 3 Eleonora’s Falcon , 18 Raven, 3 Buzzard, 14 Griffon Vulture, and Northern Wheatear.

Eleonora’s Falcon, we nearly confused this one with a Hobby !,
photo by and © C&S


We set of early for a walk along the Deliana Gorge. It was supposed to be  dark on our arrival at 0600 but we overslept !!!  We did arrive though at 08.05 the gorge at the northern end would remain in shade for most of our walk to the small church part way in.

Blue Rock Thrush, Stonechat, Chaffinch, Great Tit and Blue Tit were soon seen. The noise of the Cicada’s made any bird song impossible to hear and most small birds that were seen flitted from one piece of cover to another.

A couple of Buzzard and Raven flew most of the time we were there and a Kestrel was occasionally seen.  Italian Sparrow seemed to be everywhere. We stooped at our favourite vantage spot to see the Griffon Vulture nest sites and quickly spotted that most were empty but birds were soon seen perched nearby, we counted ten partially hidden in the crags and later another nine flew in, some very low into the gorge allowing great views as they arrived back from their feeding with crops full.

A few Hooded Crow were heard but not seen and Feral pigeon were seen in the entrances to rock holes, several Turtle Doves were also seen amongst the large Plane trees. Sardinian Warbler were spotted when we stopped to observe Crag Martins tearing about along a sheer rock face, here we also spotted Blackbird and a flock of Linnet.

Leaving the gorge we spotted Alpine Swift and stopped to photograph Barn Swallow on a wire we were delighted when they were joined by a small number of Red-rumped Swallow that were not bothered by our closeness and allowed us some close up photos. Collared Dove were in most villages and Crested Lark were seen along the beach road near home. A single Little Ringed Plover flew over the road and seventeen Hooded Crow sat on our telephone wire.

We spotted an Ocellated Skink as it scuttled into some cover jus before the sun set.


 Not much birding done today, Kestrel, Little Ringed Plover, Northern Wheatear, and a Barn Owl were all that could be added.


Blue Tit, Swallow, Northern Wheatear, a Juv Woodchat Shike and a juv. Yellow-legged Gull.


During the night we had very strong winds gusting to 9B which continued into the morning. Once again a very quiet day with the regulars plus a few Swallow, a couple of Northern Wheatear, a juv. Woodchat Shrike and a Turtle Dove.


Little Ringed Plover, 2 Turtle Dove, Kestrel Swift, Alpine Swift, Eleonora’s Falcon.


Alpine Swift 200+, Northern Wheatear, Swallow, 1 Griffon Vulture, Swift, juv. Woodchat Shrike, Swallow.

We watched a Weasel for fifteen minutes as it systematically worked its way through our olive trees. First climbing one then another, along each row. It was attended by two Blackbirds, three Great Tits, two Sardinian Warblers and a Northern Wheatear which noisily announced its presence to any other living thing that was in the way of this small predator.

photo by and © C&S


Northern Wheatear, Swallow and Alpine Swift. Three griffon Vultures were seen at various times throughout the day as they soared over the ridges of the peninsula. Late evening, Black-eared Wheatear, Stonechat, Nightjar and Scops Owl.


Northern Wheatear, Eleonora’s Falcon, 6 Buzzard soared over the house. A single Griffon Vulture at 0915 followed later at 1100hrs by 3 more. Swallow, House Martin, Alpine Swift, 1 Juv Yellow-legged Gull, 1+ 4 Turtle Dove.

We received a call from our friend Bob to say he had a large flock of waders on a local beach. We arrived at the beach to find that a flock of 350+ Wood Sandpiper were sat on the waters edge a few hundred metres from the holiday makers. They lifted off several times and Bob told us that there had been the same number in another flock that had already left , we watched them as they continued landing and lifting off before they all finally lifted to a few thousand metres and flew off in a south westerly direction.

Raven and Barn Owl .


Swallow, Peregrine Falcon, Eleonora’s Falcon, 20-30 Raven on the higher ridges of Gramvousa, Northern Wheatear and Stonechat.


Eleonora’s Falcon 2 at 08.15 and 08.35, at 08.10 a Peregrine Falcon, 1 Griffon Vulture at 10.30hrs. In Kissamos  a Barn Owl.


Eleonora’s Falcon 6.

Eleonora’s Falcon,
photo by and © C&S

Griffon Vulture 9. Kestrel 2. Raven 8. At 1130hrs two Aquilla were seen flying together over the ridges of the peninsula, one a Golden Eagle the other, an Eastern Imperial Eagle.

The Aquilla’s over Gramvousa,
photo by and © C&S

Northern Wheatear 2.

At night on the beach …… A Beech Martin scampered along the sand.


Nightjar…A disappointment this year, with sightings on only four nights this month. Last July we heard and saw them most evenings. Light pollution and building work nearby may have affected their breeding area and we never heard wing claps at all.

Another disappointment is the lack of sightings of Lammergeier and Aquila’s over Gramvousa area, although we continue to spend a lot of time watching the ridges and the skyline they are not to be seen.

Eleonora’s Falcon numbers and visits seem to have increased over the house giving great close views of this fantastic Falcon.

Highlight of the month, the sighting of 350+ Wood Sandpiper just east of Kissamos. Initially spotted by Bob, who gave us a call, we were just in time to get about fifteen minutes viewing of them before they all decided to head off south west. Thanks Bob.

So as we head into August we look forward to more raptor sightings, with the return of Hobby and Booted Eagle. Bonelli’s Eagle should start showing more now and Kingfishers again at Agia.

The start of the hunting season…. 20th August and runs until 29th February. Be wary out there.

Colin and Sue

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